Deployment: its the word that sets all military spouses’ teeth on edge. For the most part, its completely unavoidable and usually happens at THE WORST possible time. But when it’s time to say goodbye and begin the process of separation, it can leave even the most seasoned spouse feeling lost and alone.
Some spouses are able to go and stay with family for a while to help lessen the stress of life without their service member– I’ve done this myself, with two kiddos and a dog, traveling across the country to visit my parents while Garrett was gone. Totally doable, and it doesn’t make you “weak” to go stay with loved ones who can help you through this tough time!
For those who can’t (or won’t) have the opportunity to travel, finding ways to trudge forward can feel daunting. But its oh so necessary, especially for your peace of mind (and overall well-being).
Here are a few tips to help you get into your own groove and back on track after your spouse heads downrange:
1. Get your documents in order
We all know that as soon as boots are out the door, life happens and things go wrong. Like, seriously wrong. While you can’t prepare for everything, you can get yourself as ready as possible for some eventualities. Get your POA (Power-of-Attorney) and make sure it’s specific. If you plan to take out any loans or need to file taxes, your POA will have to cover those bases to ensure you can act in your spouse’s place. Make sure birth certificates, passports, marriage licenses and all other vital documents are safe and secured, and in a place where you can get to them should they be needed. And, if you’re having a baby while your spouse is deployed, make sure you register with the hospital well in advance!
2. Take time for yourself
This is a big one, and don’t underestimate the importance of such a simple thing! It’s pretty dang hard to give from a cup which is empty, so taking care of yourself, both physically and emotionally, is super important. Maybe make time for yourself each morning to enjoy a cup of coffee alone, or read a book, meditate, watch your favorite show. Doesn’t really matter what it is you do– just do it for YOU! Let it be something that simply makes you content, because that’s where you’ll come away feeling grounded and able to handle whatever craziness deployment throws your way.
3. Budget your time
This sort of ties into #2 above, but includes all your daily tasks. Like money, we should also be budgeting our time to make the most of it (and still have time left to fill our own cup). I use an extra-large desk calendar on the wall in our kitchen, where everyone can see it. Everything goes on there in color-coded ink, so I know exactly what we have going on. It keeps my foggy mom brain nice and organized, because let’s face it, we all forget things! Another great tool for task management is Omnifocus, which allows you to create projects and organize them into neat little to-do lists, all synced across iOS devices! Pretty cool, eh?
4. Give yourself something to look forward to
Every time Garrett is gone, whether it’s training or deployment, I plan something fun for the halfway point which gives us all something positive to look forward to. Maybe it’s a trip to the beach, or spending the Holidays with family. But we do this every time and I assure you, it works! For goal-oriented people, giving yourself a family experience to work toward can really up your productivity and help you to feel like time isn’t standing still. Because anyone who’s ever gone through deployment knows that at times, you can feel every single second in the day! Plus, you can get the kids involved in the planning process! Maybe they can help choose where you go, or help plan activities. Just getting them involved will get everyone excited and help keep positive!
5. Divide and conquer
If you’ve got kiddos, this one is for you! The entire world does not need to be placed on your shoulders. Repeat: DOES NOT need to be placed on your shoulders! Kids of all ages can be responsible for certain chores– even the littlest of ones! We have a chore chart in our home with a list of all the daily and weekly chores the kids need to keep up with to help me run our household (without going insane). They don’t do it for rewards or allowances, although you can absolutely do what works for you. They do it because I talk to them in the weeks before Garrett’s departure so they understand that Mama will be doing Daddy’s chores, which means I need their help to keep things running smoothly. Pinterest has awesome chore charts for toddlers, school-aged kids and teens, and can really be a great source of inspiration if you’re feeling overwhelmed with delegating tasks. No kids? Consider hiring a weekly cleaning service or lawn maintenance crew to help lessen the load of keeping up with the chores, especially if you’re working or have a super busy schedule!
Lastly, know that you are absolutely not alone! Deployment sucks for all of us, and you can always reach out to your FRG leader, neighbors, and other military community groups to ask for help. Trust me when I tell you that there are some incredible people out there waiting to lend a hand to any spouse in need. I hope these tips help you stay positive and productive during deployment, and as always, I’d love to hear if YOU have any tips to share!