5 Tips for Surviving Deployment
Updated: Apr 10, 2021
It's been a little over 100 days since we said "see you later."
We've settled into routines, we've adjusted to the time difference, we talk to daddy regularly.
It's not bad, it's not good. It's just...different.
The hard moments arise when the boys ask for daddy, why he won't be home for Christmas, or in a fit of tantrum they cry saying they miss him. When I'm so tired from being everything to everyone all the time I can hardly keep my eyes open.
The best moments are when they hear his voice, the excitement in their eyes when they can tell him about their day and their wild adventurous imaginations.
When I finally get to see his face, even if it's pixelated.
I don't know how wives did this in years past, before technology, before facetime.
It's hard. And we miss him.
But we've made it through 100+ days, we can make it through 100+ more.
In an effort to find some sense of normalcy in the craziness, we've adopted these five things to keep the days from blending together too much:
From school time to play time to everything in between, write it all down. Brain dumping everything you have to do and when you have to do it frees up your energy for other things, like crafts or care packages. And it doesn't have to be complicated or color coded, unless that's how you work. I plan out when the boys' school time is and everything else is planned around that. I try my best to meal prep or menu plan so it's even less thinking I have to do come mealtime. I even planned when I clean the house so I'm not overwhelmed one day of the week - each day I tackle a different room and do one load of laundry. If something comes up that you didn't plan for, like an unexpected visit or opportunity, you now have the ability to say "unfortunately, that doesn't work with our schedule," and that my friends, is empowering. You can only control two things while dealing with a deployment: your time and your attitude, and we need to guard both.
Get Out of the House
Covid-19 has made this a lot harder, but it's still necessary for my sanity. We take trips to the store or anywhere we can that's outside. We have friends nearby who we spend time with at least once a week. Grandparents have been essential when we need a change of scenery. With the weather cooling down, I'm hoping to do more drive thru activities, like light displays, and using the changing weather to experience new outdoor activities - my kids have always been too small to sled but this year that's about to change. Getting out of the house breaks up the week and helps the day itself go by faster.
Routine Routine Routine
I've never been one for routine. I always liked to fly by the seat of my pants. But since starting a schedule, I've noticed patterns in how we do things. So we've honed those. It started with just me - I have a morning routine I follow to set the pace for my day. I'm up before my kids, usually between 5am and 5:30am. I drink my coffee, set my goals, get a workout in, and start waking the kids for school. This has helped the rest of the family fall into a similar morning routine, and our attitudes are all better for it. We repeat this in the evening. We start getting ready for bed around 7 (bath, brush teeth, pajamas) then we put on a movie or read a book. My boys are generally sleepy and in bed by 8pm.
Enjoy Some Alone Time
One of the reasons my kids are in bed so early is because I need some peace and quiet. I'm betting you do too. If you can call upon some help to get away for a few hours, do it. If not, as is the case with me most of the time, I use early morning and after bedtime as my "me" time. It usually involves a facemask and a relaxing beverage or an activity I love. When I do have help, I like to take my time returning from doctor's appointments, maybe treat myself to a coffee and just savor the moment. Intentionally carving out time and enjoying those little moments have been crucial for me, and maybe they are for you too.
This one...if you take nothing else away from this rambling blog post, please take this. It has been so important these last 100+ days.
You are human and this is HARD.
It's also hard for your kids and hard for your spouse. Your spouse misses all the milestones and is spending his/her days so far away from the family they've committed to protect and provide for. Your kids will never get used to having one parent away, in a totally different part of the world. You are everything to everyone all the time - that's a lot of responsibility.
Forgive easily, especially with yourself.
One way I do this is I started setting small goals for myself, one thing that would help me feel accomplished for that day. Today it's the dishes. And if it doesn't get done today because the kids are crazy, that's okay.
I've heard it said before we shouldn't just survive deployment, we should thrive. We should learn a new language or completely makeover our home or master a new craft. I personally think that's a lofty goal, especially with small children. Sometimes thriving for us looks like everyone is still alive at the end of the day and you had time for a glass of wine.
And that's okay. This deployment is different.
So if surviving is all you did, kudos to you. You're doing just fine.
What are some of your tips for surviving this deployment?