If you talk to military spouses who have experienced deployment, you’ll discover that everyone has different advice on how to save your sanity while your spouse is away.
Making a Deployment Plan can make the time seem to go by faster. Some things to include:
Create a Master Binder to corral important information
- Make sure you know who to call if you need help or information.
- Have contact information for your spouse’s chain of command.
- Make copies of important papers – including insurance plans
- Get a general Power of Attorney and keep it as part of your master notebook
Explore your Military Spouse resources. Most branches invite spouse to attend pre-deployment briefings or information meetings. There are programs and services available for spouses and families of deployed troops. Do some research and find what all is available to you while your spouse is deployed.
Join your unit’s family readiness group. You’ll find support from others going through deployment, be among the first to learn any news, and make some new friends!
Take time to discuss expectations with your spouse. Talk with your spouse about expectations during deployment – his and yours. Do they want mail? Care packages? If possible, will they try to call weekly? Are face-to-face chats possible? Knowing how you can best support them while they’re gone will give you direction. And if they give the go-ahead on care packages? Plan them out in advance! Your spouse (and possibly even his unit) will love them.
Learn to ask for and accept help. People may ask if there is anything they can do for you while your spouse is deployed. Be ready! Have a list of things that you’d feel comfortable asking for: maybe a friend could make you dinner one night, so you don’t have to cook. Or perhaps someone could watch the kids for a few hours so you can either get errands done, or just luxuriate in a tub without interruption. Arrange for carpools, help with yardwork, assistance with grocery shopping. Those who are offering will love having firm direction on how they can best lend a hand while your spouse is deployed. Let’s face it, we all can use help sometimes!
Accept and Honor your Feelings. Even the strongest people cry sometimes. Don’t bottle up your emotions. You’ll most likely experience sorrow, joy, grief, gladness, anger, happiness, frustration, and days full of grace during deployment. Allow yourself to feel and honor your emotions and then move on. It might be helpful to start a journal and record what you are thinking and feeling to help you sort through the myriad of emotions that come along with deployment.
Go back to school. Enroll in a certificate or career training program. There are many online or in-person options to consider. The coursework will keep you busy while the resulting training, skills, certificate, or degree will help make yourself more marketable. Research military spouse scholarships (i.e., MyCAA) and grants to offset the cost of your training.
If you are struggling, talk to a pastor or counselor. There’s no reason to wade through this on your own. These professionals can help you during this time.
Get a handle on the household finances. Learn how to budget and how to save money. Set up a system so that you can share your plan and financial goals with your spouse when they return.
Tap into things that bring you happiness. Perhaps you’re a museum buff? Are you an avid runner? Or maybe antiquing brings you joy. Whatever it is, find ways to incorporate more of those joyful experiences into your life.
Learn something new or pick up a new hobby. Have you always wanted to learn to speak Spanish? Would you love to learn how to knit, sew or paint or create scrapbooks? Use this time to learn a new hobby!
Practice Self Care. Join a yoga class or download an app on meditation. Learning how to properly breathe can help calm yourself during moments of anxiety.
Do something nice for yourself once a week. Meet a friend out for shopping and lunch. Get a manicure or pedicure. Treat yourself – you deserve it!
Create a countdown calendar and enjoy marking off each day that passes, bringing you closer to homecoming. A countdown calendar is especially helpful for children who might not have a grasp on the concept of time.
Turn off the news. Spending too much time on the news will just make you anxious. Turn off the TV or watch all the movies you’ve wanted to see but haven’t had a chance to! Plan out a movie list to watch during deployment and watch one or two a week. It will give you something to look forward to!
Take a photo every day to document what you did during deployment. This will provide a visual diary of events, and help you share what you, and the kids, did while your spouse was away. The photos don’t have to always be of people, they can be of a colorful flower at a local park, a sweet dog you met on a walk, or a beautiful sunset. Create an album online or in print of these photos to serve as a reminder of the ways you helped pass the time while you were apart.
The time apart can be hard, but it can also serve as a time for growth. Feed your soul, grow your friendships, improve your skills. There is much to be done during deployment!
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