Winner, winner chicken dinner!
Release yourself from the notion that households are in competition with each other; we are all doing the best we can with what we have (or should be). When everyone is doing their best everyone wins.
Give yourself permission to both be proud of the efforts and attention you are putting forth for your blended family under your roof, and also celebrate the good that is happening in your child's other household. Both are important to embrace for a positive well-being for you and your children. When you are accepting that both can be/are good, you are releasing negativity that will only drag you down and give you frown lines (just think, you may be able to decrease your Botox bill lol).
I think it is natural as human beings to be curious and want to compare our lives to others. Having a blended family only intensifies this and feeds both. Our children are spending time, making memories, and building relationships with a family that is not your own. As a parent in this situation we can feel out of control; watching from afar that which is such an influential and important part of our child's life. It is completely unnatural for a parent not to know first hand, or have zero control of what is going on in half of their child's life. If this is you, like it is me, know that it is perfectly OKAY for you to want to know. Do not let anyone try to shame you for feeling this way (especially you ex). Struggling with this is something that will be ongoing; it is a reality of this lifestyle. You need to allow yourself to feel what you need to feel, but also get on with life.
So here we are, parents of a split family, and feeling like an outsider in a huge chunk of our kid's lives. Now what? Well, I think we need to acknowledge our struggles and learn how to turn them into something that won't affect us in a negative way. Because our kids have multiple households, we often find ourselves comparing and contrasting each. We can find our selves sitting in judgement and insecurity wondering if our kids like it better here or there, wondering if their lives are funner, happier, fuller away from us. This, however, is a very hard and often destructive road to go down. The truth is it doesn't matter, nor is it even relevant to your effectiveness as a parent. We can spiral in our curiosity and insecurities about this very thing, when in all truth, both homes are of equal importance and equal value to our children. Their happiness or "like" of either over the other should not matter, or be made out to be more important than that fact. If your kids are lucky enough to have both a Mom and Dad present and accounted for, then celebrate the fact that they get to do life with both.
It is a fact that our children are going to experience different ways of living in each home, so spending too much time and energy on it is just plain useless. Accept that each household has a different level of income, different opportunities to go and "do" things, different aesthetics, different adventuring desires, different environments, different neighborhoods, different rules and consequences, different expectations, etc. Instead of getting stuck in comparing and contrasting said differences, because that all just is what it is, consider celebrating that your children are being exposed to different ways of doing life. When circling this drain myself I remind myself that my kids are getting their eyes opened to more of what life has to offer. They are more well-rounded. They are getting exposed to fun and good things that they wouldn't if they only lived under my roof. They are going to have different references to pull from when they have their own family one day and have more knowledge as to what works for them and what doesn't (being more informed will only help them be better adults and family members). I allow this train of thinking to comfort me and allow me to celebrate all they get to go do with their Dad and his new family instead of feeling insecure that I am not living a lifestyle myself that would expose them to something I see them loving so much. It is no joke to sit in wonderment if your kids are just as happy and secure with you and your home as they are in another.
What I have learned is that it is so important to take control of your mindset and frame things in a way that won't be destructive to your well-being or to your kids'. If you find yourself painting the other household as wrong, less than, different, unfair, difficult, evil, or it in any other sort of negative light, you are transferring that negativity onto your kids (whether you know it or not). When kids feel that negativity towards their other household from you, it puts a mental block up in them that holds them back from fully enjoying the fruits from the successes of their other family. When you can embrace that differences are okay and a reality, and that what matters is value and importance over superficiality, you will be able to be happy for your kids when they are able to be with anyone else doing things that better them. Their happiness or life experiences somewhere else does not rob you of your equally significant and meaningful presence in their life. Instead of the focus being on which household is "better", it needs to shift to a celebration of everyone winning in their own right. When kids are existing in two winning households, they are winning at being well adjusted and able to embrace all the love they are given in both without feeling pulled in one direction or another.
Love and Peace,