Do something sweet for a single mom who has a busy, stressful life
March 21, 2013 9:26 PM   Subscribe

What sweet or thoughtful things could I do for a single mom that I'm dating?

I've been seeing a single Mom for about month. We both live in the same city, but she works about 30 miles away and stays with her family four or five nights per week week (in that city) so she doesn't have to make the commute every day. Not only is she a single mom, but she works full time as a preschool teacher, and is doing some grad school courses online. She's very busy and our work schedules rarely overlap, so it's been tough to spend time with each other.

What nice things or fun surprises could I do for her? (I did have flowers delivered to her work a little while ago when she was having a tough week and she really appreciated it.) What similar things could I do that would be sweet and thoughtful, but go beyond just buying things?
posted by mtphoto to Human Relations (12 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
How old are/is her kid(s)? If they're young enough, try suggesting fun things that you can all do together sometimes so that she doesn't have to worry about finding someone to watch the kid(s). Also make sure to go out on alone time dates with her, but try coming up with childcare options for her for those times so that she doesn't have to worry about it.
posted by cheerwine at 9:37 PM on March 21, 2013

First, you are awesome.

Some ideas:

- Dishes. A month is early, but as soon as you start spending time at her house, do a load of dishes when you can. Hugely, hugely helpful and sweet.
- Suggest a mellow, easy date, and make it happen. For example:
- Make dinner for her. Homemade dinner made by someone else is amazing. Or bring takeout. Basically, be the one to make dinner happen so she doesn't have to.
- Bring over a movie or a board game and a bottle of wine. Something relaxing and low-stress.
- As much as you can manage it, avoid pressuring her about getting babysitting etc so you can hang out. She will likely do her best to spend as much time with you as she can, and it will likely be way less than both of you wish it was. Be as patient and generous about this as you can.
- Not right away, but at some point if you can afford it, consider splitting the cost of the babysitter with her. She's paying so she can be with you.
- Make room for her to tell you about her kid. Ask questions about the kid like, "what's s/he like? What is s/he into?" etc. Be curious and interested. The kid is the most important thing in her life, so for this to work, you have to show respect for that relationship.
- Similarly, when you two are ready for you to meet the kid, show the kid you are interested in them. Be open and attentive. Assume that the mom knows what's best for the kid and your role for now is to be friendly, curious and fun.
- The same sweet things you would do for any new romantic partner: leave little notes, send sweet texts, get little things like a nice chocolate bar or whatever.

Have fun!

- A Single Parent
posted by latkes at 9:44 PM on March 21, 2013 [16 favorites]

Yeah, my single-mum friends would kill to date you! :)

Seconding everything latkes said. Also, I made my single-mum friend a week's worth of freezer dinners in individual containers, and left them on her doorstep with a bottle of wine and bunch of flowers poking out the top. She cried. So, if you can cook...there's that.
posted by Salamander at 9:52 PM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

Her little boy is only 6 months old. I've already been to her place twice and when we went swimming for a second date, I held the baby.
posted by mtphoto at 10:01 PM on March 21, 2013 [2 favorites]

My friend has an 8-month old baby boy. I think that what would mean the most to her is a partner showing genuine interest in, and full acceptance of, her little boy. So, sounds like you're doing great!
posted by Salamander at 10:24 PM on March 21, 2013

A short-but-sweet text message to say "good morning" or "I hope your day is great" every day. Or even a short in-joke that is meaningful to both of you.

(This single mum was swept off her feet in part because he let me know he was thinking of me, but I wasn't pressured to reply or get into a long text conversation.)
posted by malibustacey9999 at 3:10 AM on March 22, 2013

- Tell her she's a great mom

- A gift certificate for a massage

- Offer to help out with the baby in whatever way she thinks she could use help

- Baby clothes and toys (even if she doesn't like them, she'll appreciate the gesture and the time spent and effort made and interest shown - and a plus for you is she'll think of you every time she sees them)
posted by Dansaman at 3:57 AM on March 22, 2013

Nthing everything latkes said, but as a single mom I'd add one caveat: you've only been dating a month and I know from my experience you have to walk a careful line between being an attentive new boyfriend and a little "too" attentive which can feel overbearing.

As you so sweetly note, she's a very busy woman and she will appreciate you more if you respect that, so be careful about not appearing too "I'm the new man in everyone's life," if that makes sense.

She has a son and has to allow you into the family unit slowly.

The "I'm thinking of you" texts are a great idea. Also, in early dating days, my now-fiance mowed the lawn and changed my car's oil without me asking. I loved that he was able to be helpful without having to ask, "How can I help you?"

Lastly, I LOVED it when the fiance came over with dinner, ice cream sandwiches for the kids, wine for us and the TV series "Get Smart," (so all my kids could watch some awesome classic tv). It really showed that he was willing to spend time together with me and my kids but it was an important recognition that first and foremost, I'm a very tired mom that he wanted to be with.
posted by kinetic at 4:02 AM on March 22, 2013 [2 favorites]

Car oil change, for sure. I'm not even a single mom and I would be awed.
posted by amodelcitizen at 5:53 AM on March 22, 2013

I'm a full time single mother of three children. The thing that tires me out the most is that all the decisions for me and my little family are mine to make. So when a man asks me out and then wants me to plan the date, well, it's just more work for me. I don't keep those guys around very long. The best relationship that I have had was with someone who made the decisions for us. He took the time to really get to know me and what I liked and what I needed. Then, he would plan outings that fit both of our needs and passions. I say both because I did have a relationship where he planned everything around me and that felt suffocating.

Talk to her, find out what she is interested in and when she is free and then plan the dates from start to finish. Don't get angry or upset if things don't go as planned, but have the plan in place so that she doesn't have to worry about a thing. Pay for everything. As a mom, if I spend $10 on myself then I do feel badly because that $10 should have gone to something for my child. Gas up and go to the ATM before you pick her up. And always, always be on time or 5 minutes early.
posted by myselfasme at 7:02 AM on March 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am the single mom of a 14-month old. In addition to the excellent suggestions above, I'd add "anything that's hard to do with one hand while carrying a baby in the other arm." Given her living situation, some of these may not apply, but perhaps there are similar things that do.

- dealing with the garbage and recycling
- carrying groceries or other things in from the car
- any kind of projects around the house--moving furniture, hanging pictures, fixing things

And I'd absolutely echo what everyone else has said about not having to make decisions. I am all for autonomy and feeling like I have choices on a philosophical level, but this past year, I have been so tired that if someone asks what I want for dinner, all I can think to say is, "Food." If food magically appeared, I'd eat it whatever it was.
posted by newrambler at 2:53 PM on March 22, 2013

I am all for autonomy and feeling like I have choices on a philosophical level, but this past year, I have been so tired that if someone asks what I want for dinner, all I can think to say is, "Food." If food magically appeared, I'd eat it whatever it was.

Yes, a million times over, especially when I'm handed a glass of wine, placed in front of the tv, and he rattles around in the kitchen and sits down with me a few minutes later with a beautiful salad and bowl of pasta.

Then he cleans the dishes and puts everything away.

You marry those men.
posted by kinetic at 12:15 PM on March 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

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