5 Single Parent Dating Tips

04/01/2015 03:23 pm ET | Updated May 31, 2015

Being a single parent isn't easy. There are countless challenges, one being finding the time to go on dates. So, when a single dad sent me email stating that he didn't want to "waste time" when it came to dating, I thought of some good ideas for him and came up 5 Single Parent Dating Tips:

1. Don't judge someone by thier online dating photo. I know this is hard to hear, but I think people place WAY too much emphasis on a thumbnail photo of someone. Of course you have to be attracted to the person, but sometimes I think there are a lot of missed opportunities because of a photo, and that dating services might be better off without them.

2. Don't make a decision within the first minute of meeting him or her. I love to tell the story about a blind date I had several years ago, when the guy came to the door and I rolled my eyes thinking, 'Great. I have to spend the next 3 hours with this guy who I'm not even attracted to.' About an hour into the meal, I was laughing and talking to him like a best friend. Then I looked into his eyes and I was attracted beyond belief. We ended up dating for six months!! (He dumped me, by the way.)

3. Try phone dates. Maybe you could explain your situation to the person and say, "Would you mind if we had a phone date?" After spending 20 or 30 minutes on the phone with someone, one of two things will happen. You will say good-bye and never speak again, or you will be really excited to meet him or her!

4. Consider a "speed" date. As a woman with children, I can tell you that I would not be the least bit offended if a single dad asked me to meet for coffee or a drink and said over the phone (or online), "I am a single dad and it's hard for me to leave my daughter. Would you mind if we meet for 45 minutes? Please don't be offended. I'm really doing the best I can." I actually think I would have respect for that. Additionally, knowing upfront that the date was going to be short would help to not take anything personally. Because, I would know that even if the guy loved me, we agreed on the short time span, and that is why he was leaving.

5. Ask for help. It took me many years to realize just how OK it is to ask friends and neighbors and other community members for help with my kids. But once I started asking, my life got so much easier. You will be so surprised at how much people are willing (and actually want) to watch your kids for a couple hours. They could do homework at someone else's house and have a snack, or just have dinner there. And, it's good for them, too, to have some more socialization. And always offer to reciprocate.

Dating as a single parent has its challenges, but if you make the effort, you will enjoy the socialization and have some fun. And please, please don't feel guilty for leaving your kids for an hour to meet someone for coffee! You deserve adult time. You deserve to have companionship and love from someone other than your children. And most importantly, your next date could end up being the love of your life.

Jackie Pilossoph is the author of her blog, Divorced Girl Smiling, and the comedic divorce novels, Divorced Girl Smiling and Free Gift With Purchase. She also writes feature stories, along with the weekly dating and relationships column, "Love Essentially" for Chicago Tribune Media Group local publications. Pilossoph lives in Chicago. Oh, and she's divorced.