In the dating forums, EAM_at_44 wants to know: "I am 44, divorced almost 2 years, a working mom of 3. I started dating a few months ago using an online service to meet men because otherwise I don't know when I would have the time to meet new people. I have gone out with 4 men as a result of screening them by email and phone first. All 4 of them were great at the start but a few weeks into dating it's like they looked like the same people but didn't act the same. I feel like I'm wasting a lot of time. Some people might be able to weed through them faster but I can only date once a week when my sitter is available and once a month I get a whole weekend when my ex has the kids so I feel like I'm putting a lot of time into each man just to get a bad surprise a month or 2 in to each effort. Suggestions?"
As a starter, I would suggest to EAM_at_44 to book a spot in speed dating event during her next scheduled bout time alone. This way she can meet a lot of people in a small amount of time, without having to weed through a larger number of potentially interesting people. (see: What Is Speed Dating, How To Speed Date and reviews of some of the major speed dating companies for more information).
I'd also recommend looking at dating a bit differently than you have up until now. From your post, I get the impression that you want a relationship NOW, and don't have or want to spend the time to let something fully evolve into whatever it's going to be. As a single parent myself, I understand completely. There's only so much time in a day, and when you're parenting full time and solo, it doesn't leave a lot of time for your own personal, adult relationships.
So here's what I suggest: think of this initial stage of dating as something fun and lighthearted. A chance to get to do the things you've always wanted to, but couldn't, or a way to meet new folks where you *may* share interests, but likely won't - and that's okay. Because the kind of dating I'm suggesting isn't putting out the intention of, "Don't waste my time, I'm in it to win it!" but rather, "I'm happy with my life, and would love to share it with someone special. Is that you? Maybe, but let's go do something fantastic that I've always wanted to try, and if you're that person, great. If not, I thank you for the time you did invest in getting to know me, and best of luck."
Hopefully, you can see the shift in what I'm saying. Instead of putting all this pressure on your date to be something or someone, instead, just get to know the person in a fun, interesting way, doing something you wanted to do anyway. If you enjoy their company, say so, and if you realize after one or two dates that it's just not feeling the way you want it to, say that pleasantly as well. No harm, no foul, because you still checked off something from your bucket list AND met someone cool in the process. They might not be your mate, but they're still a unique individual nonetheless.
What do you think? For those of you who are single parents and dating, I'd love it if you shared what has worked for you and your family.