The Path Back To Couplehood

As single parents| we've spent a great deal of time sorting out how to successfully re-frame our time with our children| careers| friends and personal time. We've reached the point where we're ready to include a relationship into the mix| and we've done something about it. Successfully! Now what?

No matter how ready we feel| the logistics of fitting this new dimension into our lives can be challenging and throw us off course for a while. The early stages of a romance are thrilling and energizing| but they can also result in compromising some of the things you've worked hard to establish - like a fitness routine| healthy diet| adequate sleep| and personal time. How do we make the transition a successful one?

It comes down to self-awareness and clear communication of our needs. We may be fond of our routines| but when it comes down to making a choice between enjoying a spontaneous evening or doing laundry - who are we kidding? The laundry can wait!

While we may have it together in our single parent routine| some flexibility and resourcefulness is absolutely essential to making this transition work without damaging the budding new relationship or yourself.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you navigate the passage back to couplehood:

Take a moment to check in with yourself to make sure you're making a decision that feels right for you| rather than one that pleases your new partner. Giving away the things that are central to your beliefs is not a positive way to start over again!

Get creative about finding opportunities to spend time together. So your weekends are out of sync - any night can be a date night! And one or two hours of found time beats holding off for the perfect situation and feeling resentful as a result.

Stay in touch - even if it's just a brief text message or email note to let your new friend know you are thinking of them.

Avoid - at all costs - taking on a counselor role in the residual parts of their former relationship. You went through your own stuff - and you don't need to go through theirs as well. Be understanding - but don't become engaged in it.

Prioritize - Recognize that any relationship requires compromise| so make sure you are prioritizing the parts of your life that are off limits| like time with your kids| and look for areas that truly can flex (like keeping up with vacuuming - any excuse!)

Protect your personal space and time - if phone calls when you have your kids or with friends feels intrusive| be honest about it rather than trying to juggle it and feel badly.

Get some sleep! The fastest way to tear down your physical| mental and emotional state is to be reckless with your sleep habits. Remember when you were a new Mom? Find other times to give a nap priority if your regular 10:00 bedtime has more inviting options for a while. A good perspective on life always requires adequate rest.

Take your time. Despite the rush of feelings and enthusiasm for having a social life again| you want to remain aware of the personal progress you have made and maintain that. It was earned the hard way| and is critical to making you who you are NOW.

Don't forget about your friends. They were there for you while you healed and needed companionship. They deserve to see some of the rewards of their commitment to you...and you don't know if you'll need them again. Or they| you.

It can be an intoxicating and energizing time when you are in a new relationship and full of hope and positive emotions. You already know that life happens in phases| and each step along the way requires awareness to navigate successfully. Have faith. Remain positive. Try your hardest to stay attached to reality - as you make your new reality.
Sandie Orlando is a writer who recently hit the jackpot and met a wonderful single dad.