Prior to my divorce my kids lived a fairly privileged life. We lived in a nice house with a pool, had lots of holidays and experiences, not to mention spending a lot on Christmas and birthday presents. We were not super rich, but the kids never missed out or thought money was an issue.
Fast forward three years and things are quite different. As a sole parent to 3 kids, our household income has dramatically decreased. We’ve had to move house and change a lot of things about our lifestyle.
Admittedly, at first I overcompensated for the situation and spoilt them but that was not sustainable.
It’s been a tough adjustment for the kids and I have also had to learn some new skills, both emotional and practical.
At first I felt guilty for not being able to give my kids everything they wanted. At times I felt like I was failing as a provider. I worried that letting them know money was tight would put undue pressure on their young shoulders.
However, as time goes on and I gain a greater perspective about the important things in life, I am actually happy I can’t give my kids the world.
To be clear, my kids don’t miss out by any stretch of the imagination. Despite a tight budget, they are far from underprivileged. I’m learning to be a savvy shopper and I still ensure my kids have access to great opportunities.
However, if they want something frivolous or expensive, there has to be a trade off. They need to either use their own money, work for it or it will count as a birthday/Christmas present. They are learning that money doesn’t grow on trees and it should be spent wisely.
When it comes to my older two (9 & 11yo), I am so proud of some of the decisions they now make in regards to money. No longer nagging for every fad or trend, they have learnt to hold off on impulse buys until they are sure it is something they really want.
They pool their money to get things they can both benefit from and are often working on schemes to earn money. To date, they have run street stalls selling our home grown fruit, mowed lawns, helped neighbours and even sold unwanted toys to earn their own money.
When it comes to the household, they are also starting to gain an appreciation of how much things cost. Most kids wouldn’t think twice about leaving lights on, running air conditioners or how much food costs. However, my guys are gaining an understanding of these fundamental life expenses, which will definitely stand them in good stead later in life.
The biggest thing my kids have learnt through our lifestyle change is appreciation. They know when they are given an opportunity or something of value it has been through hard work or sacrifice.
So while I can’t give my children the world, I am content in the knowledge I am giving my children the skills they need to survive, and thrive, in the real world.