Deployed with Kiddos: Tackling everything on your own.
It’s time for deployment. In many cases, we know it’s coming and we have attempted to prepare for it, but sometimes it arrives unexpectedly. Deployments are hard no matter what
stage of life you are in, but they add an extra level of tough when you have little ones at home. For 3, 6, 12 or more months, you truly become a single parent, because you cannot call or text your spouse at any given time. You can send an e-mail and wait for a phone call to tell him about the decisions already made and not to consult him about those decisions to make them together.
Children are interesting, though. When they are really little, we wonder if they even notice Daddy’s absence. Past 2 years old, however, we notice a difference. Tantrums, outbursts, and sleep regression happen all too often during deployments; so it is not unusual to wonder if there is a relationship between the two.
But the main question is: How can we make it a bit easier on the kiddos and on ourselves?
Here are a few suggestions:
1. Mention Daddy as much as you can
In my experience (having lived through a few deployments) and after talking to many of my fellow spouses, one of the best thing to do is talk about Daddy often. In previous blogs, I have mentioned having a second clock in the house pointing to Daddy’s time zone as well as having a countdown system to the day when Daddy will be home. One of my friends used to keep Hershey’s kisses in a jar and her son would get one every night to celebrate being one day closer to Daddy’s homecoming. Saying goodnight to Daddy every night also helps; even if it is
Saying goodnight to Daddy every night also helps; even if it is just a picture or via FaceTime when possible. It might not avoid meltdowns and “I miss Daddy” tears, but it will always make them feel like even if Daddy is not there in person, he is still there somehow.
2. Ask for help and even for a visit
One thing I cannot stress enough is making sure we understand that we are not expected to handle everything on our own. If hubby will be gone for a while, it is always ok to reach out to family and friends and have them plan a visit if possible. Not only will you welcome the company, but it will give you something to look forward to in the short-term, while you wait for him to come back home.
If everyone in the household gets a cold (which will likely happen) do not hesitate to reach out to a fellow spouse and ask her to deliver some chicken soup. It is not an inconvenience and trust me, you will most likely repay the favor later.
3. Have a good cry when you need one, and then count your blessings
I know this might sound cliché, but it helps. Especially on the extra tough days, when the dishwasher breaks, one of the kiddos got into a fight at school and you did not have time to pick up groceries, all you want to do is sit on the couch, grab a blanket and have a good cry. So after you put the kiddos to bed, do it! And once you have let all of those emotions out, think about 10 things you are grateful for. It is an exercise many life coaches recommend and it truly can turn tears into smiles.
Lastly and most importantly, make sure you give yourself a pad in the back at least once a week! Hang in there mama, you will get through this and you are doing an amazing job!
We’ve been there. Get more advice from other MilSpos here.