How soon is too soon? How long do you wait? Should other steps come first?
While each couple must answer for themselves, here are some indicators that worked for us…
If you’ve read my post on “5 Steps for Dating with Children” you’re already aware of my somewhat-careful approach to dating. Unfortunately, there are no magic numbers for the ‘right time’ to do things. Some say not to date at all, just raise your kids first. Others would argue that having a ‘whole’ home with dual parents brings many benefits to children that are otherwise lost in broken homes. (I agree with the latter.)
That said, there’s no need to rush into things. In our case, there were several factors or behaviors that led to the decision.
1.) Marriage and Cohabitation: Depending on your religious views, this may heavily influence your decision. Whether you like it, agree, or not, others may ‘judge’ or think less of you for moving in without marriage for religious reasons.
If either of you aren’t ready for the big “M Word” then there are other options available. Regardless of your approach, I don’t feel that cohabitation should be considered without a long-term commitment. Birdy and I are both looking for a lifetime partner. Being both divorced, we take marriage seriously and want to be confident in our new, blended family before taking that step.
2.) Child Comfort Level, are they ready? In our case, Lil’Pill would say “Dosh?” every time they drove past my street. She would throw a FIT if Birdy dared to swing by the house for something, and not stay. She slept just as well (or better) at my house than at home. She was ready.
The big kids were missing me when I wasn’t around, family nights weren’t cutting it any more. Bedtime stories now required hugs too. They felt comfortable at my house, and weren’t so timid about playing with toys, etc.
Our kids were starting to not just play, but cuddle with each other too. TBear took multiple snowballs in the others defense. They were ready. Our family was starting to function as one, for birthdays, outings, school events, etc.
3.) Logistics: A single parent’s life is busy. There’s just as much to do, but one less parent to do it all. Eventually, traveling to and from each others houses seems like a waste of time (because it is) but convenience or expense shouldn’t be a significant factor in your decision.
Where we live, we get severe winter weather. It’s prolonged, and may have ‘cold snaps’ where it doesn’t go above 0 degrees Fahrenheit for two weeks! Were we ready to have a holiday season together? Had we met the family? Were we ready to handle the stress of a school morning? Yes, these were important challenges we felt ready for.
Are you ready? Then stay tuned for part two, where I discuss our decisions and process for “moving in.”