We're pretty blessed with the air frame Brian flies to have advance notice of when he's going to deploy next. I am definitely a planner so as soon as I know when the next deployment is scheduled for**, I break out my planner and my notebook and I set to prepare. Deployments are not easy but a little planning ahead can make things go a little smoother and hopefully include less "Is it bedtime yet?" kinds of days! Here are my tips to keeping busy during a deployment:
**Funny thing is the day I started this post, Brian got word of when his next deployment is which will be in a few months. So I'm putting my advice to work as we speak! :)
1. Plan out the deployment in advance. Obviously if a last minute deployment gets sprung on you, you can't do too much ahead of time. When we get word that my hubby is deploying I pull out my calendar and my notebook and I just plan as many things as possible. Sometimes I'll write a "deployment bucket list" for fun activities to look forward to while Daddy is gone. Usually too I'll look up what is going on in the community. In Omaha we have access to a great website Moms Of Omaha that has a calendar of activities happening around the area. I use it when Daddy is home too but we seem to try and do more activities when he's gone to keep busy.
2. If possible, have a deployment buddy (or two or three!). Find someone deploying with your spouse or find someone who's spouse is deployed around the same time yours will be. Having someone going through the same thing at the same time that you can call and commiserate with or spend dinners with makes things SO much better! It's no fun to be lonely, it's nice to spend time with others that know exactly how you're feeling and miss their spouse just like you do.
These were my deployment buddies that first deployment. Us with our boys waiting for our hubbies to return!
3. Have trips/visitors to help break up the time and to give you a break! As part of my deployment planning I try and see when I can have visitors come or when I can take a trip home to keep from going crazy. For me the weekends are the hardest so if I have a visual of say, I only have to make it 3 weekends until we have a visitor, then 2 more weekends till we travel, and then 4 weekends we have another visitor, and then in 5 weeks he'll be home that makes it much easier. I seem to count the time by how many weekends until he's home. Having plans during the weekend seems to help me cope better too.
4. If you have kiddos, sign them up for new fun activities. I remember Brian's first deployment and Brady was 10 months old. I signed him up for swimming, a baby music class, Gymboree, and we would go to a free baby gymnastics class. I went a little overboard that deployment but my oldest wanted to constantly be stimulated (which was exhausting to do by myself) and it was nice to be around other people when I was feeling lonely. I just seem to do better when I'm out and about but no need to overdo it with a ton of new activities, maybe just try one or two!
5. Do something for yourself like pick up a new hobby or get involved in an activity yourself. Usually when Brian's gone I make it my #1 goal to lose weight. I'm pretty successful at that while he's gone. It's much easier to eat healthy when I'm cooking for 1.5 (I only count the kids as .25 each since they don't eat much!) I usually fall off the wagon when he's back home and I'm cooking big meals again though. My local gym (that is literally blocks away) has childcare so I plan on taking full advantage of exercising and getting some me time while the kids play and have fun. I also told myself that this fall I would get more involved such as in my MOPs (Mothers of Preschoolers) group and with the squadron. Knowing that he'll now be gone this fall I know that I'll have activities to keep me busy.
6. ACCEPT HELP! I can't stress this one enough although this is the tip I need the most help with. I tend to go with the "I can do it all" mentality and that's just not good for anyone. There's no reason to stress yourself out when you have family and friends willing to help you out. So if someone offers to watch your kids for a couple hours to give you a break, mow your lawn so the city doesn't come a knockin on your door, or bring you dinner so you're not eating mac and cheese for the 5th day in a row, TAKE IT!! For our next deployment I am forcing myself to take help!
7. Try to embrace the positives. There are some positives to being on your own like: Controlling the remote, after kids go to bed it's "you time" to do whatever you want, and getting to sprawl out on the whole bed. Ok, I know there aren't too many positives but take what you can get!
8. Make the homecoming a big deal. When we get word that Brian will be coming home soon we head to our local party store and pick up decorations, we make signs, get fun homecoming outfits, and plan the fun things we'll do when Daddy will be home. That homecoming is one of the best things in the world so knowing that's coming makes things so much better. Especially those last couple weeks because they're the worst. I think the next deployment we'll do some sort of countdown since Brady's older and understands a little more. I think that a visual will be good for him.
Our first homecoming
I know that there are so many things you can do to make a deployment more bearable...military mamas any other good ones you can suggest?