I work 20 hours a week. I have very little money, especially now. I try to do things with them, spend time with them but when they are 5 and 7, toys and candy are way cooler than spending quality time. I keep telling myself that as they get older they will see through his bulls*t but right now it f*cking hurts. Just plain hurts!
Burn everything love then burn the ashes.
I read somewhere that, between the ages of 5-11, kids are easily manipulated by things. They are more likely to be distracted by the bright, shiny toy so that they overlook the negative aspects of the Disney parent's behaviors. Once they hit the preteen years, though, kids will see the forest for the trees, though unfortunately, they also become adept at manipulating the Disney parent to get what they want.
I know it's hard-- my younger two are close in age to your two-- but the fun, sparkly visits will begin to tarnish in a few years when your kids begin to see your ex for who he is.
Trust me, I know how much it sucks. But you will carve out your own niche with them. And for little guys, don't underestimate the power of structure against overstimulated chaos.
I have conceded Disney dad to ex-shat and I purposefully look for other things that I know he won't do. Afternoons at the beach, hiking a trail, keeping a garden, overnight camping trips, building/fixing something in the house, painting pics. See? Nothing big and expensive. But experiences that reinforce structure and togetherness.
Even when we were married, STBX had to buy them EVERY Thomas Train, ALL the tracks and buildings, EVERY superhero, EVERY car.
And did he ever sit and play with them?? NO!!
Who built all the tracks and set up the buildings? ME!!
I even bought them a boy's like dollhouse, one just made of wood with ladders and different rooms, and our superheroes had a "fort" to play in, plan their missions, save each other, etc..
It's all about spending the time with them! Buying them stuff doesn't mean crap if you just give it to them and tell them to go away, which is exactly what he does..
DS9's favorite thing to play with right now is Total Drama characters, that I printed off Google images in black and white, and he makes teams and "eliminates" people, and he has a ball. And if he loses one, I just print off another one. It has cost me PENNIES to have the best time playing with the kids..
You really can find very cheap ways to do fun things with the kids. It's like when you buy them a $100 gift and they play with the box.. It's all about the time you spend with them, getting to know them, finding out what they like and don't like, and I find it to be a fabulous time to throw in a few moral and life lessons and to teach them about appropriate behaviors (one of those Total Drama characters is a real asshole, lol).
Do you have a computer and printer? I would try printing off the characters from their favorite show and having some adventures. There's no reason to spend hundreds of dollars on real figures..
Good luck!! Hugs!!
I have always been the "penny pincher." I've made them sock puppets, which they still play after 3 years. I print out games and coloring pages. We play Yatzee, checkers, Monopoly. DS7 wants to learn how to play poker, chips and all. He is hilarious placing bids and figuring out what is considered a good hand. They help me bake and cook. I take them for walks and bike rides.
WH spent gobs of money for almost every Geotrax set that Fisher Price made. Guess who helped them set up their tracks almost every day? Me. WH taught them both how to play chess. I'm impressed that DS5 knows how all the pieces move. I'm not a very talented chess player. Well, when they returned from their visit last week I was told that they aren't allowed to play chess anymore because they accidentally chipped one of the pieces. Seriously? For all the money you spend you can't afford some glue? Or better yet, buy a plastic set for them to play with if you don't want your expensive set broken. Which, I might add, I bought that set for his years ago when we were dating. Now that I think about it, maybe it isn't that WH is afraid the set will get broken, he probably doesn't want to be bothered to play with them. DS5 told me that he is always on his phone. Probably texting OW.
I know I need to stop focusing on WH. I know that this is who he is and always has been. I've just chosen not to see it. Looking back he would do the same thing with me. Buy me gifts and think that made everything ok. He never gave me the intangible things that I needed. Love, Respect and Honesty. On DDay#2 he told me to take whatever I needed from the house. He wanted to make sure I was provided for. I walked right up to him before I left and told him everything in the house was just "stuff." What I really wanted was inside of him and he was incapable of giving it.
I just hope my boys don't end up as hurt as I am. But, I guess I can't protect them from everything. I can't control WH actions. I can only give my sons a safe place to land if/when WH decides that he doesn't want to be bothered with them anymore.