Deployments are hard. No matter how you look at it, there’s no getting around the fact that your sister, brother, husband, wife, cousin, mom, dad, etc – will be gone for an extended period of time. Now, I fully understand that deployments “today” are MUCH easier than deployments say 5-10 years ago when the mail system wasn’t as reliable, internet connections were spotty, and fighting was much more intense, and for that, I am beyond thankful.
Nearing the end of our 1st deployment, I thought I’d make a short list of things that we’ve done to survive during this time – I shall call this the Operation Surviving Deployment list:
* disclaimer – most of these apply to spouses with young children (just FYI)
1) TAKE LOTS OF PICTURES! Every single day, I tried to take “at least” 1 picture of the kids. I tried to chronicle our daily routines, activities, kids playing together, my growing baby bump, things that I was doing around the house, etc. My husband has told me on numerous occasions this made him feel as if he were still there and he felt he was able to watch our kids growing and developing. (even tho he was clearly thousands of miles away) We both have iPhones and via our shared photo-stream, he was constantly able to see all the photos I took (versus me emailing or printing them out and sending them to him). SUPER simple!
2) Facetime or Skype as much as possible! Now, I know that this is not always an option for everyone, but we were fortunate enough to get to Facetime about once a week. My husband was able to have real conversations with the kids – and they were able to remember him: his mannerisms, his voice – things that just can’t be translated in picture. Here’s my husband and at the time 1-year old daughter playing peek-a-boo with each other via Facetime
3) Get on a BUDGET! Yes, the paycheck during a deployment are nice. But if you don’t budget appropriately during this time, at the end of the deployment, you’ll have nothing to show for it and will be overwhelmed trying to adjust down to a financially fitting life again. We are huge Dave Ramsey fans and used this deployment as a financial blessing and challenge. We immediately started an online budget via www.mytotalmoneymakeover.com where we could both input our income and expenses. We each had real-time access to it so we could see where we were in our monthly budget. This has been a powerful tool in helping us stay on track with our budget, be accountable to ourselves and each other, and save a set amount of money each month.
4) Don’t be afraid to learn how to fix things and do things for yourself. Inevitably, the moment your spouse gets on that plane, the fridge will break, your microhood will stop working, your ceiling fan will die, and you’ll decide you just need to move around all the furniture to “fit” better. Although sometimes you need to suck it up and call the repair man, YouTube has also become my new best friend. From learning how to hang shelves through the drywall, to figuring out the right way to refinish a chest of drawers, to figuring out exactly how to work all those fan remotes that have individual codes when they all get mixed up with each other….when you set your mind to something and you TRY, you’ll be amazed at what you can accomplish. In this deployment, I’ve definitely become more independent and self reliant. Sink or swim people, sink or swim.
5) STAY BUSY! When you keep busy, I’ve found that you spend less time missing the ones you love. Of course we all still “missed” daddy, but we kept occupied so our days and lives were still full! During this deployment, here’s a list of some of the things that we’ve done or have started to do:
– Joined the Children’s Discovery Center for fun field-trip days ($150-ish for a year membership for me and my 2 kids)
– Made it a point to visit more playgrounds, have more play-dates, and go to the Ko’Olina Lagoons to watch the sunset as much as possible! Getting out is great not only for the kids to burn off some energy, but the fresh air was nice and relaxing for us all!
– Started purchasing small furniture pieces on Craigslist (or at yard sales) and refurbished them to meet our needs (vs going out and buying new). Saved lots of money too! *Future blog post to come*
– Started a garden with my kids! So far we’ve grown cucumbers, tomatos, carrots, beets, pretty flowers, green onions, chives, and soon to be cantaloupe and strawberries! This is a great way to introduce the kids to a variety of healthy fruits and veggies. I know that they’re not grown with chemicals and pesticides, and the kids were more willing to try them since they physically watched them grow (and helped me water and weed). *Future blog post to come*
– Got more into sewing (learning as I go…no pro-sewer here by any means!) Sewed 5-7 maxi skirts for myself as my belly began to grow and clothes just weren’t fitting right. Also ambitiously struggled through sewing our Halloween costumes! Trial and Error. My sewing strategy…
– Focused on crafting – this is what I would do at night and during naptimes once the kids were sound asleep 🙂 I love the feeling of being able to be creative, so I made sure to keep my hands busy! I ALSO ATTENDED A CRAFT FAIR! 🙂
– I became a coach with Beachbody and focused on my health and nutrition during this pregnancy as well. It’s made a HUGE impact on my overall energy, activity levels with my kids, gaining a healthy amount of pregnancy weight, boosting my immune system, etc.
For us, #5 – STAY BUSY, was the key to us all surviving this deployment. My husband was able to watch us being active – adventures to the pumpkin patch, zoo, animal farm, all my crafts, kids gardening, playground fun, carnivals, fairs, etc – and he was able to rest easy knowing that WE WERE OK and HAVING FUN! Yes he was “physically” apart from us and that was sad, but we were still able to carry on, for all of our sake, and this took a huge weight off of his shoulders knowing that everything at the house and with the kids were taken care of. He could focus on work and everything going on where he was instead of having home-life distractions to worry about.
I’m sure there’s lots of other things I’m leaving out, but off the top of my head and in a nutshell, this is how we’ve (so far) managed to survive this deployment!