One of the hardest things about getting through a deployment with kids is knowing how hard it can be for them. They might not totally understand what is going on or they might have a very difficult time missing one of their parents through a long time of being apart.
How can we help our children get through a deployment?
- Plan fun events with your children. You don’t have to spend a lot of money to do this. From planning fun trips to the park or attending events on post, keep your children busy with fun memory building activities. Kids really enjoy making memories with you even if they are missing one of their parents. It really helps them keep the focus off of missing them and to continue to have fun even if a member of the family is missing.
- Communicate with your children about the deployment. If they want to talk about it, listen to them. Let them know what they are feeling is normal. You want them to be able to always come to you during the deployment.
- Put up a lot of pictures of the deployed parent. You can get your kids a Daddy Doll or make a picture poster. I have also heard of putting laminated pictures around the crib for babies.
- If your child is school age, let their teacher know that Mom or Dad has deployed. This can help the teacher help your child. Some schools even have groups for kids with deployed parents.
- Make a scrapbook of the deployment. Involve your children and let them make pages of the activities you have done since your spouse has been away. This can be a great way to look back on the deployment and the kids will be very excited to share it with their Mom or Dad when they get home.
- Before your spouse leaves have them record themselves reading a few different books. Kids love to listen to these during the deployment. It helps them feel a little closer to the deployed parent.
- Make a fun countdown. Some families like to put candy in a jar and take one out each day. Others like to make a chain or just cross dates off of a calendar. Talk to your children and find out what they would like to do.
- When the deployment is coming to a close, have your children make shirts and banners for homecoming. They love to make these and it gets them even more excited about their returning parent.
Deployments will always be hard on children. The best thing to do is just to try to make it as easy for them as possible. Most Military bases and posts will have resources for you as well. Take advantage of deployment perks such as money for sports and activities. Know that your children are not alone and you will be able to make it through the deployment together.
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