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Dating Advice for the Single Mom

When it comes to dating, it's hard enough when you're on your own. When you're a single mom, the challenge of finding someone the second time around gets much more complicated when you have children who need your support and attention.

"[Divorce] was such a scary time for me, and I felt alone, and I didn't know who my friends were and who his friends were," says Kerri Zane, author of It Takes All 5: A Single Mom's Guide to Finding the Real One and a single mom to 19- and 22-year-old daughters.

That's why Zane wanted to give women a resource and let them know that someone else had been through the same struggles. In her book, Zane talks about her five-point philosophy for finding a "rock-solid" relationship, and she chatted with us about why dating's worth the juggle (even when your to-do list is long!) and that big question—when you should introduce your new guy to your kids.

How to mix dating and motherhood...

"When you’re a single woman, and you’re out dating, you’re pretty free to pick and choose who you want. But when you’re a mother, your kids have opinions, and they’re not afraid to express their opinions. That’s not to say that you have to take everything that they say into consideration, but you definitely do have to take them into consideration—and your lifestyle."

What moms should look for the second time around...

"When I talk about physical and what is important physically, rather than looking at somebody and saying, 'Oh, he has blue eyes. I’m only going to date somebody with blue eyes,' [ask] 'Do they take care of themselves physically?' 'How do they take care of their children?' Those sort of things become important."

How can moms make their dating life easier on the kids?

"As a rule, kids want to know that their position in your life is secure. And that’s an important part of dating. You have to let your kids know that no matter who comes into your life, they’re No. 1, and you love them unconditionally, and nobody can take their place. And that gives them a sense of peace so they can be more open to having people in your lives.

"Another thing that moms may not realize is that your kids, they see you going out and you’re happy and you’re excited about it, in a way it releases their responsibility to make you happy, and they can spend time with their friends and feel good about that."

When to introduce your significant other to your kids...

"My rule of thumb is three to six months. You don’t want to introduce somebody too soon in case it doesn’t work out. But you also don’t want to wait too long, because if your kids find out—let’s say you wait a year and your kids find out that you’ve been dating the same guy for a year—they’re going to be mad at you for what you’ve been hiding. You’ve been lying to them. That’s not the role model you want to be. You don’t want your kids to lie to you, so you shouldn’t lie to them."

MORE: Hollywood's Single Moms

The biggest challenge to getting back “out there”...

"I think that guilt plays a huge part in wanting to go out and date again, and I really encourage women and people that I coach to release that. Again, it’s going back to that idea that kids need to see you happy, so that there’s no guilt attached to that."

How much say should kids have?

"You can take your kids’ opinions into consideration, but at some point if you’re really happy with somebody, you have to separate it, and let your kid know, 'You don’t have to love this guy, but he’s my friend and I’m staying with this person, and my expectation is that you will treat him with respect and kindness, just like I treat your friends with respect and kindness.'"

Why dating is worth the juggle...

"Dating is an important part of your life. Having a social life. It’s part of what makes you feel good. When you find that someone is attracted to you, it’s healthy and confidence-building. I don’t think it’s something that you should put aside."

The dating advice she's given her daughters...

"In general, I’ve always tried to instill in my daughters a sense of independence. I would love for them to go out into the dating world in a 'I want to have a relationship' vs. 'I need to have a relationship' (way). I think it shifts the perspective on who you choose to engage in a relationship."

MORE: Becoming a Single Mom

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