It doesn’t matter what branch of the military your loved one is in, separation is eminent. Deployed service members have a rough road ahead of them, but often the struggle at home is overlooked. Those family members left behind are challenged to “keep the home fires burning” and that is usually easier said than done, especially when children are involved. Here are a few ways to help you survive your loved one’s deployment.
Care packages are a fun and easy way to pass the time and it can involve everyone in the family. Not to mention the morale boost it will give your loved one. Care packages can have fun themes or they can be filled with items that are useful or needed by the service member. Have fun making them and don’t forget to include a letter. Most of the time that is the most important part of the care package!
Say something nice every day. This is especially relevant when you have a spouse or significant other that is deployed. It is so easy for tensions to run high during a deployment. Oftentimes, stress and loneliness can be interpreted as anger, frustration, and blame to the spouse/significant other. While these feelings may be felt, it is important to remember that communication is the only thing you have at this point in time, whether the communication be by email, Skype, letters, or phone calls. Saying something nice, comforting, encouraging, or funny can help boost spirits on both sides of the deployment. Concentrating on what is good in the relationship will help keep the two of you strong and bring you even closer together in the end.
Keep a journal. Write in your “deployment journal” daily about your feelings, your day, your dreams, and anything else that comes to your mind. Once your journal is full, you can send it in a care package to your loved one for them to read or you can keep it for yourself. Either way, it is a therapeutic way to channel your feelings and emotions during a deployment.
If you have children, make a “homecoming chain”. The children in our Family Readiness Group made paper chains to hang in their houses of the days left until homecoming. Each day, the child can tear off one of the chain links. This is a great craft to do and it keeps the children involved and excited about homecoming. Also, children love to send their pictures and artwork along with a letter to the service member.
Find time to do things for yourself! Maybe you have put finishing your degree on hold or maybe you have placed things you once loved on the back burner. Deployment is a perfect to do those things and to put your interests first again. Go exercise, pick up a new hobby, learn something new, or attend a special interest group meeting. Doing things that you enjoy will keep you busy, boost your own morale, and help the time seem to pass quickly.
Attend Family Readiness Group (FRG) or other support group meetings. Being left behind when a loved one is deployed can be very difficult. These groups share the same experiences that you are going through and can provide support and friendship. Most groups schedule lots of activities, play dates for children, and meetings to keep busy and informed.
Remember, staying busy is the key to passing the time quickly!