I had a date a few weeks ago. Needless to say, it hasn’t resulted in another one so I am still in firm possession of my ‘Queen of First Dates’ crown.

The next day over coffee my lovely, although ‘single with no kids and a 9-5pm job’, friend grilled me about the details.

“We went for dinner and then I drove home, was asleep by midnight” Was my response.

“Wait…you didn’t sleep with him?” She said.

“Are you mental?” I replied “The kids were at home and we had separate cars”

Of course being a normal person who gets to sleep past 6am on a Sunday and hasn’t ever changed a nappy she found this equally hilarious and horrifying.

But the truth is, if you’re trying to date as a single parent then you’re basically a teenager trying to date. And here’s why;

  1. You never have any alone time.

So I am what you would call a ‘professional’ single parent. Yes it was a new term to me too. Basically, one of my children doesn’t have a Dad. So I do it all on my own. At this point it’s absolutely worth pointing out that I do NOT do it all on my own. I have an AMAZING Mum (who I lie to frequently about my dating life – sorry Mum) who helps me out all the time, and I have an incredible bank of friends who I can also offload #3 on to should I want to go out and get awkwardly fondled in the back row of a cinema. But, for arguments sake (and societies) I am alone with my child. Which means that I don’t get a lot of free time, a bit like in high school when you couldn’t just sneak out for the evening whenever you wanted. There are nights I can’t do, and curfews I need to adhere to, and then I work at 7am most mornings so late nights really aren’t my thing anyway.

2. You can’t take them home.

So today #3 threw broccoli at me from across the room. She also shouted ‘mama my bum!! My bum on the floor’ at me when I was putting ironing away in the other room. I soon discovered that this meant she had taken her nappy off and had pissed all over said floor but it just magnifies that actually taking some home as a single parent is just as daunting as when you take that boy you like home to meet your parents. For a start, my kids are wild (as are my parents I may add), they are messy and they are noisy and evidently they piss on the floor (Something I’ve never seen either of my parents do by the way). When you were 16 you worried your parents would embarrass you with tales of what you did when you were younger, now you’re worried the kids will announce that you pee in the shower and also divulge quite nonchalantly that you’ve not had a shag in a while (not to self – do NOT discuss sex life with friends in ear shot of #1).

3. You sometimes have to lie a fair bit.

Remember when you told your Mum that you were going to your friends to study when actually you were going to drink shots of vodka with a boy and then probably maybe have a bad shag in a cabbage field? Yeah me too. Dating as a single parent involves a lot of lying. I know my Mum worries about me. I’ve fallen for a couple of crackers let me tell you. I know she wishes I would either 1. Just stay single forever or 2. Find a nice boy with similar interests who doesn’t have mental health issues. But at present neither of those things are happening, so I sometimes have to pretend that I’ve not met them on Tinder or embellish the fact that ‘so and so knows him so he’s not mental I promise’. I’m under no illusions that it works, she knows me better than anyone but it makes me feel slightly better that when I do go out she isn’t at home worrying about me. I also can’t be bothered with the judgement sometimes. Things aren’t the same as they were when my folks met, its a bit different now. And I like to pretend that my Mum thinks I’m doing it the old fashioned way.

Having said that, the one thing that does (usually, there’s always exceptions after all) differ is the sex. When it happens, if it happens (I wouldn’t know, I do first dates only and I’m a lady) it is usually after a fair few ‘home by 10pm, Mum doesn’t know I’m on a date’ dates and it is normally always good. And that certainly didn’t happen when we were teenagers. I can’t promise that the boy in question will be any more mature than when you were 16, but I’m an eternal optimist so there’s always hope.