With the mess going on overseas, as well as just knowing what your husband signed up for in the military, there comes that feeling of knowing any moment life could drastically change with a few words.
“I’ve got orders to deploy.”
Preparing for a separation, shift of duties, and an entirely different parental role for months to over a year is challenging. You’re suddenly realizing that your husband does do more than you thought around the house. You may wonder how you can keep doing your part and pick up all the extra when he leaves?
The best thing to do is to try to give yourself some slack in those first few weeks. Ask for help when you need it, and you will. It takes a while for any major life change to get in a routine. If you have time to plan ahead, that makes some things easier. But it can also begin to add to the stress of preparing for someone to go while juggling all the things that will come up.
Whatever you can put off doing until he leaves, wait. If you want to hire a housekeeper, someone to take care of the lawn – think about what can be left just until the dust settles.
Prepare your time. Make trips to see family if you can, have others come out. Do things with the kids that might have been hard with Daddy’s work schedule. Take this time to really focus in on them when you can, they’ll need the extra attention as much as you. Have fun things planned that you can look forward to, it makes the time go much faster and breaks it up into smaller chunks of home life.
Things that should be taken care of ahead of time to help with the transition are childcare (so your children can get used to the person before their dad leaves), daycare, school drop offs and pick ups, and any changes you’ll need to make with work.
Try a few different routines for a while if you can’t find one right away that’s comfortable. Let the kids know that things will be different and maybe more chaotic for a while.
Remember to leave some memories at home. Have your husband record a video of himself talking to the kids, or narrating a book that they can listen to at night. Take pictures before he goes.
Know where things are and how to work them. I have no idea how to care for our lawn that my husband puts hours into, or what to do with a hot water heater if something happens to it. So if he deploys, I’ll need him to show me (perhaps more than once) how to do some of these things and what to do in a situation where I can’t get a hold of anyone.
Have all the ways to get in touch with him or his commanders in case of an emergency. Put them on the fridge, in your cell, give them to your family.
Have your kids/family/friends participate in preparing and sending off care packages and letters. Little reminders from home are things my husband told me got him through rough days. While it’s incredible we can almost all Skype now, no matter how far apart, nothing quite replaces a handwritten letter for your husband to carry. From you or your children.
What are some of the ways you make deployment a little easier? Do you find that the weeks ahead of him going are the hardest emotionally?
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