Raising children is hard. Raising Military Brats is even harder! Especially during those doggone deployments, TDY’s, duties, Uncle Sam randomness…separations are hard no matter how long or short.
So here are a few things you can do to make it all seem more “normal” for the brats.
Pretend That It’s Normal:
Even if you don’t like it or you don’t feel like it, pretend that separations are simply part of life when in front of your kids. Technically it is your family’s normal, so you may as well get used to it. Children need to know that you’re their rock, and you can’t portray that to them if you’re always whining about how much you miss daddy/mommy.
There are 3 things I do with my kids when hubby is away that help with this process:
- I explain to them that daddy is very special because he helps to protect us and other people, and the only way he can do that is by leaving us once in a while. This makes them perceive their daddy as a hero instead of a dead beat who leaves the family for long periods of time.
- We talk to daddy on the phone or by skype together often: this one is pretty self explanatory, right?
- I keep my attitude in check: I know I already wrote about this on Army Wife 101, but I think it’s worth it to say again. If your attitude sucks, don’t be surprised if your kids’ attitudes suck too. Choose to be upbeat all the time and they will follow suit.
Make A Schedule and Follow A Routine:
Kids thrive on a routine and schedule. If the only thing they have that’s normal is a routine, then mommy or daddy coming and going all the time won’t faze them as much, and will save your sanity in the long run. Knowing exactly what’s going to happen next makes them feel so much more secure (and you’ll feel better too, I promise). Here are a few of my quick tips on the subject:
- Your Routine/Schedule is meant to be a guide, NOT a burden.
- Keep it simple: All you need to do is get into the habit of doing the same things every day roughly at the same time.
- You won’t get to everything ALL the time: don’t force yourself into a box and try to do everything perfectly. You will burn out (I know this from years of personal experience)!
- Research, read, refine, repeat: it took me many years to refine my routine to where it is now (which is working quite well for me at this point). I spent hours reading up on time management from many different angles before I was able to make one work for me. This will probably apply to you as well. Check out Money Saving Mommy’s free ebook for more information.
- Don’t quit! Give yourself at lease 6 months to a year to get into a routine that works well for your family. That’s about how long it took me to educate myself on the subject, put it into practice, and refine it before I felt like a pro at it.
Take A Personal “Vacation.”
If you have no children then this may not be as important to you, but it‘s still worth a mention because it‘s really easy to become a hermit and stay at home all day watching TV and checking facebook. You’ll be doing yourself a favor if you at least make friends and get out every once in a while.
If you do have kids then you MUST get a break! Too many of my own military friends stay cooped up at home with their kids grating on their nerves all the time. You will compromise your relationships if you DO NOT get away, even if it’s only to the library for some peace and quite for a couple of hours.
Don’t have the funds for child care? Here are a few things you can do:
- Find a way to make extra money.
- Save money.
- Make friends with others who have kids so you can swap watching children for each other for free. The friends I have are always pretty willing to take care of my kids for a short period of time every once in a while.
- Check your base’s CYS Services: they often have special childcare free of charge for families with deployed soldiers.
There are numerous things you can do to make things easier for the brats during separations, but these are the few that have helped me the most that I’m positive will help you as well.
Military spouses, anything to add?