Our Single Parent Sessions are a series of interviews where we speak with single parents about all things dating & parenthood.
Alex da Silva is a business owner, wellbeing coach and breathwork practitioner. Alex is a married father of four and based in Bedfordshire.
Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a father and a business owner. I founded my business Happy as Larry Group in 2016 – we’re a wellbeing company specialising in mental health, addiction and healing.
I live in Bedfordshire with my wife Lucy, and my two youngest children.
What does your current situation as a parent look like?
I have four children – a boy and a girl from previous relationships, and a boy and a girl with my wife. My son is 24, my two daughters are 17 and 3, and my wife’s just given birth to my second son who is two months old.
How would you describe your current relationship status?
I’m married – Lucy and I have been together for 6 years.
How do you spend time away from your kids?
I train mixed martial arts, something I’ve gone back to recently, so I do that three to five times a week. I love to work with other people, but I like to work on myself as well. I often go to healing ceremonies, do meditations, breath work, and just chill out!
I love reading as well – just learning, consuming new information and content.
Oh, I forgot, my motorbike is currently being built, so very soon i’ll be spending more of my spare time out on that!
When did you start dating after your separation/divorce?
I’ve had a few experiences of dating and having children because I had my son at 17 and then I had my daughter at 24. When the relationship with my daughter’s mum broke down I went through a period of being single for quite a while – a few months i’d say.
How did you find the time to date alongside work and being a parent?
I had shared custody – I had time with my kids on pre-specified weekends and school holidays. This meant I was able to date around those timings fairly easily without compromising quality time with my children. I know not everyone will find it as easy, especially if they have sole custody – that’s why building up a support network around you is so key.
What is the biggest struggle dating when you are a single parent? What one thing would’ve made it easier?
I dated and had a few long term relationships, but there was always an issue due to me being a parent. Even if they accepted it initially, it did cause problems down the line. I would always come across the stumbling block around dividing my love between a partner and my children. For me, that was something I never understood – I couldn’t get my head around it because I knew it was possible to love both my kids and my partner unconditionally.
I eventually realised there was nothing wrong with me – it’s just the fact that the people I was dating couldn’t truly accept that I had children. Meeting someone else with children probably would’ve made things easier!
When I actually met Lucy, it was kind of a breath of fresh air because she understood and there were no issues around it. It’s not the easiest thing in the world but as we now have our own children I think she understands it even more.
How did you and your current partner meet? Did you discuss your kids straight away?
We met on a dating app! I was very honest from the start – I had pictures on my profile of me with my kids. I never, ever lie about it – it’s not something I need to hide or tell someone later down the line.
One thing I was very clear on is not introducing anyone to my children unless I’m confident that it’s going to be a long term relationship- it’s not fair on the children, I don’t want to put that pressure on either of them. So yeah, I made it very clear from the start.
Describe your ideal first date
I’d love to go skydiving – I love stuff like that. I’m a big adrenaline junkie so it would have to be something fun!
When did you introduce your current partner to your children? Any tips or lessons learnt?
I think it depends on the circumstances because sometimes how people meet can really vary. For example, you might be friends already in which case your kids may already know of each other. For me – as I had met someone completely new I waited 6 months – as that’s when I felt really confident that Lucy was in it for the long-term just as much as I was.
I really wanted to respect my children – it can be hard enough on the children seeing their parents go through a break up, and I did not want to be moving from partner to partner or introducing them to a different “friend” every few months.
My advice is to always put the child first. As parents, it’s our responsibility to teach them but also to protect them as well.
Was it important to you that your next partner was also a single parent?For me, it’s always about the individual and how we connect. I was incredibly lucky to find Lucy as she is so understanding and accepting of my children.
What are your thoughts on a ‘blended’ family?
It can be tough, but I’d advise approaching everything as openly and honestly as possible. Keep those lines of communication open. One of the things I’ve always aimed to do with kids is to be honest with them, and for them to give them that space to be honest with me.
It takes time to build trust, but the outcome is so worth it. Now my eldest children have a great relationship with Lucy, they trust her and have some really personal conversations – they share things with her before me sometimes!
Describe you as a parent in 3 words.
Loving, silly, caring.
If you weren’t in a relationship at the moment, would you download Playdate to seek a new partner and fellow single parent?
Definitely, 100%. I think it’s a great idea.
It’s tough as a parent. You’re putting yourself out there and being vulnerable with the added pressures and worries that parenthood can bring. Having an app which specifically caters to single parents would really help make the dating process feel less daunting!
What one piece of advice would you give to fellow single parents who are too scared or nervous to start dating again?
Just go in with honesty and open-ness and enjoy it. I know that can be easier said than done, but just be you. I often see people pretend to be something that they’re not, but remember – you are amazing and incredible, exactly as you are.
Alex is co-founder of Happy As Larry Group – a wellbeing company dedicated to helping people become the best version of themselves. Alex is a frequent speaker at events, you can watch his latest TedX talk here.
Want to hear more advice and stories from other single parents? Read our blog with Dina here.