Four Tips for How To “Keep It Together” During Deployment
by Kasey King, MS
One of the hardest things to deal with, as a military spouse, are deployments. Not only are we often uprooted from our hometowns to places where we know no one, now we are left feeling alone. In the past eight years of my marriage, we have gone through four deployments, with one just finishing last month.
Our daughter, who is 8, has been present for all four, with the first starting at two months old; our son, the past two.
As the parent who is left home, I often struggle: hearing tears every night, constant requests for daddy and even things that daddy does (he’s the fun one). As the one who misses their companion, your days are also lonely, and your help is often limited.
After experiencing the deployment bug (as some spouses call it), I compiled a list of tips that helped me get through these emotionally draining deployments over the years.
I think at this point, we all know that communication is the foundation of successful relationships.
Communication is not just about speaking every day, but the way in which we do so.
How are we communicating?
How are we expressing our frustrations?
Are we limiting our arguments?
Deployment time is so stressful, and balancing schedules and times zone are equally exhausting, that most of our phone and video conversations should be positive. It’s easy to talk about the stressors that we are going through, but from experience, it also places a strain on the limited time available to talk.
There is a time to discuss the not-so-fun aspects of deployment, but discussing school and sports accomplishments and other great moments will help you get through the hard times.
When scheduling family video time, understand that couple time is equally important. Put time in your schedule for what I call “video dating.” I remember times when my husband and me would video chat, while sitting outside and having a drink.
It was a perfect time to check in on your relationship, create post deployment plans, etc.
Interactive Home Projects
Creating home projects during the deployment not only keeps the children engaged but also keeps them busy. There are tons of great ideas for care packages and deployment countdown activities on the internet.
Being a Navy spouse, the FRG committee has been a lifesaver during deployment season. This group of spouses come together once a month for fellowship and updates on deployments. They can also have creative activities for the children, with a certificate at the end of deployment. The committee is always available to assist spouses with whatever resources they need.
One thing we recently created is a secret battle buddy. Each spouse put down their address and listed of favorite things, and they all were equally dispersed to other spouses in the group. Each month the spouses would receive a care package on their doorstep, and right before the end of deployment, there was a party to meet your battle buddy. This was an amazing idea and kept the spouses uplifted during deployment.
Find out who is in your community and network with them. If it were not for my real life battle buddy, I would’ve had to quit my job.
Also, keep your family close and updated on (necessary) changes and any assistance that you need.
Remember, just because you are without your spouse, you do not have to be alone.
One of the things therapists preach the most is self-care, and I am no different. With the many circumstances us spouses face during deployment, how are we taking care of ourselves?
Do you really know what self-care looks like? Self-care prevents burnout, limits stress and the negative ways in which we may treat others as a result.
I must admit, I struggled with self-care during this last deployment. I had only one friend I could rely on and she kept my kids 2-3 days a week. Therefore, I felt bad asking her to keep them on the weekend so I could be alone. How does that look, me trying to be alone and her having 4 kids?
I had to tell myself that even though leaving home would be ideal, it shouldn’t be the only way to take care of myself. I started working out in the garage after my daughter got on the bus. I’d wake up early or stay up late to have alone time. I read more and dedicated time to projects that were on my to-do list for a long time.
Remember, self-care could be just meditating, or hiking, as long as its stress free and fulfilling. No matter how much time you have, self-care is a must. Short on time? Check out the quick “15 minutes” list provided.
Whenever our loved ones are away, whether it be school, TDY, or deployment, our household dynamic shifts. We often go into a frenzy to make sure life is normal, but it is okay to not be normal. As spouses, our resiliency is one of the many things which makes us a unique group. This list helped me have smoother and less stressed deployments.
Let’s face it, all deployments have stressful moments, but utilizing some or all of these tips can make your days a little better.
How do you “keep it together”?
Pictures courtesy of Pinterest and www.getmombalanced.com
Kasey King is a Marriage and Family Therapy post grad, currently pursuing licensure. She is from Baton Rouge, La. but resides in Mississippi with her husband, who is a United States Navy Chief, and two children. As a military spouse and veteran, Kasey has the desire to help strengthen military families. Currently, Kasey is the lead family therapist at a Child Advocacy Center, and also has her own blog, Hopeful Inspirations, which focuses on marriage, families and relationships.