Military life prepares most of us for long term separations. They aren’t easy, they aren’t something to look forward to, but it’s a fact of life for us. At some point, your spouse will spend a long time away from you and your family.
What many of us don’t realize until we’ve had a taste of military life is that short separations happen more frequently. We are gearing up for another that will last 6 weeks and take my husband to the other side of the country, all while I’m 9 weeks pregnant at the time with a 3 year old.
Because of this short amount of time, it’s not really financially wise to change a lot about help around the house. If he was gone on a deployment, I might look for yard help or more sitter time. And any routine we get into will be short lived.
There are a few ways we plan for him being gone. One is to make sure we both have access to Skype so he can visit while away. This is so important for Bella because at three years old she doesn’t quite understand him being “in the phone”. It lets her see where he lives, who he’s rooming with, and for her to be able to show him things she’s done here at home.
Another is telling her only the day before. I know it sounds harsh not to say anything, but she doesn’t comprehend time. To her, Daddy leaving in two weeks or 4 days means now. That being at work is him gone, and this bothers her unnecessarily. We tell her when she’s able to grasp it and have an age appropriate amount of time to process.
When Bella was little (and therefore flew for free) we would go out to see Sam at whatever base he was living at. This isn’t an option for us this time around with both price and it being just a 6 week separation, but it was a lot of fun. We were able to explore the area and see other military stations, which made choosing (or avoiding) some later on a bit easier.
As much as possible, I keep our routine going here. We try to get out a little more with friends since it’s just me entertaining her at home.
This time around, with Bella being older, I’ll be doing small care packages with her to send to Daddy every so often.
How do you work through shorter separations? What ideas do you have for making them easier on little ones?