As a parent, you want to provide your kids with the best that you can afford — of everything. But when your ex’s spending power significantly eclipses your own, you may feel that what you are able to offer them pales in comparison to your ex’s efforts.
While that may be understandable, this is a self-defeating mindset in which to get caught up. While you might not be able to add zeroes to your bank account, there are many different ways to enhance your parenting opportunities with your children — and the costs are minimal.
Plan a great staycation
If your ex is able to whisk the kids off to exotic locales in the summer and on breaks from school, be happy that they have those opportunities. Then, create your own memorable “staycations” when the kids are with you.
Take the kids on a nature hike at the Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens in Humble. Admission is free and there are both indoor and outdoor areas for children’s activities. Plan a picnic lunch and make a day of it with the kids.
Organize a weekend sleepover
Kids love to plan and participate in sleepovers with their friends. For the cost of a couple of pizzas, drinks and some popcorn, you can create memorable moments with your children and their friends that they will look back on fondly in the years to come.
Boys (or girls!) can play “fortnight” to their hearts content, while girls (or boys!) might appreciate an evening of home spa treatments that cost little or nothing and consist of items in your own makeup drawer or kitchen cupboard.
The thrill of eating at four- or five-star restaurants is usually lost on the younger set who often prefer drive-thru fare to fancy dishes. But even fast-food meals can get expensive for single parents.
Instead, involve your kids in meal planning and preparation. Plan meals around their favorite staples with special desserts that they love. Even young kids can help “cook” by adding ingredients and stirring the pot. Incorporate family recipes while sharing the cultural backgrounds of the family members who taught you how to make the dishes.
Throw impromptu dance parties
Crank up the tunes on Pandora or Spotify and show the kids how to cut a rug. Not much of a dancer? Pull up YouTube videos of different dance crazes and have a family contest to see who can do the best Twist, Running Man or Cabbage Patch.
Still worried about the income inequality between you and your co-parent? If either parent’s financial circumstances have greatly changed since the split, it might be possible to seek an increase in child support that could help level the playing field.