There was a time I was trying to compete against the ex-wife. Being a coach you train yourself and your players that there are winners and there are losers... I brought that same mentality to my divorce. It took me a while to take a deep breath, a step back and be better.
Every situation is different including mine. My children live in Southern California with their mother and her boyfriend - thats 3000 miles away from me since im in North Carolina - that alone would drive people crazy with the thoughts that could go thru ones head... and trust me it did!
I see my kids usually once a month and have them every other holidays - my daughter usually comes out during spring break and summer - my son has a heavy swim schedule so its very difficult for him to come out! Not the ideal situation but ive learned that when you work on solutions there are no excuses and no negative mindset!
Because of my career in sports my kids have been able to experience some amazing things that in the past I would look at it as a "win" for me in the parent department. I was always worried that since I don't live near my kids that I had to always show them "great times" - I was basically saying "look at me Preston and Gabby" - I was shamefully competing every single time...
But as time went on... I realized I was spinning my wheels and it was exhausting trying to "one up" the ex-wife... So i adjusted my focus on strictly the kids - I know many of us say that is what we should do but it takes a lot of work to do. That hard work took some time but I came up with a few points that helped me and hopefully will help you!
1 - ENGAGE WITH THEM - My time with the kids is usually spent on facetime/ the phone and I had to do a better job of engaging with them. It was more than just asking "how was your day?" - it was about digging deeper and listening to what was going on in their lives. It was asking probing questions to get them to start talking. I know that my daughter needs to talk when she gets more excited with every word that comes out of her mouth! If the ex gets something great for the kids resist the urge to say "thats nice" and move one - resist the urge to go out and buy them something! Engage with whatever new they have - by doing that you are showing interest in THEM.
2 - STOP TRYING TO "ONE UP" - Too many of us see what great adventure the ex has in store for the kids and then we try to do one more better - STOP IT! Instead of finding a better place to go - find a better time to be with them... go on a hike, record a song together, laugh and tell jokes - those are the times they will remember.
3 - SAY NOTHING - Just because you are choosing to not compete doesn't men that your ex go the memo! Its always better and tougher to say nothing and smile! Biting your tongue is a big part of it and will take practice but if I can do it - so can you! After a while, it wont be fun to compete with someone that doesn't play!
Trust me this isn't easy! Ive been accused of being a "disneyland" dad, of being strictly a bank account, and a piss poor father and every time that happens I definitely don't want to bite! But its about the kids and what they think and feel. Continue on being a light, a hero and a dad in their eyes... If you still want to compete - compete agaisnt yourself to see how good of a parent you can be!