Preparing Kids for Deployment (Again)
I don’t know how this one snuck up on us. Five months came and went and here we are prepping the kids for daddy to be gone again. One of our main reasons for coming out to Japan was the deployment schedules. Shorter but more frequent deployments were more appealing than the current 7-9+ month deployment schedules in the states. Daddy’s are missing entire school years back at home. Being away from our main love for that long is just too much for us. All of our hearts ache and the boys have no idea why they are so quick to anger. This will be our 4th deployment, but hopefully will be a bit different for us since the boys are both old enough to understand what’s going on. Logan is 6 this year and Brayden will be turning 4 in a few months.
The BIG talk: We had the talk the other day. I try not to give them too much notice so they dwell on daddy leaving, but I also want to give them time to process it and ask daddy all the questions they want to and to get in all the snuggle time they can instead of running off to do something else. At this age I also don’t give dates to them. Logan understands a calendar. But he’s also very “by the book” and dates change so frequently I can barely keep up until he is actually out of the house and on his way. I probably won’t keep a calendar for them for this reason, but we’ll do a countdown chain so I can sneak in chains or take off chains as dates fluctuate. I think it’s important to recognize though how different kids are and what might cause one child anxiety might comfort another.
How do we keep ourselves busy? This deployment will be different for us. For one, the length, but also the possibility of popping in to see him during port visits. I cringed at the thought of taking kids on the long 13+ hour flights to visit him when he was deployed from the east coast, but even the boys were able to handle the 6.5 hour flight back from Singapore alone with this momma when we went a few months ago without causing me too much stress. More importantly the time zones are fairly similar. So we’ll focus instead on the in between moments. I’ll be using this opportunity to teach my oldest a bit more on world geography. He can follow along with where daddy has been and perhaps I can get a lesson or two in on longitude and latitude. I also plan on having him type his own emails to daddy. Perhaps I’ll set him up with his own private email so he can feel special conversing with him on his own. This would introduce him to typing and give him additional practice on spelling and dictionary referencing as well. I will also be looking to involve them more in the planning. We can research countries or places we’d like to visit together and they can give input on activities they think would be fun. I find they are more vested, cooperative and happy travelers the more involved in the process they are. Part of our BIG talk was talking about additional responsibilities while daddy is away to keep the house peaceful and happy. For me, that means focusing on the process and not the end result. For instance Logan is 6, but recently I found out he’s perfectly capable of folding his own laundry. It may not be perfect, or fast, but he does it with a big smile on his face. I’ve started asking myself “why am I fighting with them over this?” as Brayden has the same preschool party shirt on as he did the day before, but today it’s backwards with one short sock and one long sock on his feet. And I will happily send him to “play school” because it makes him happy, and really, what does it hurt?
Creating special moments: I want to make this time with just mommy special too. Oftentimes I think we focus so much on who is missing. I know I was guilty of this. This time I want to focus on creating special moments for them and for myself as well. Perhaps a slumber party with mom in the fort that we spent making that day. Or dessert before dinner one day. I will remind myself that if we only create memories while daddy is home, I’m missing out on a lot of their childhood. I will remind myself to stop feeling sad that daddy is missing out on this day and be happy that I am here for them now. Being present in the day means emotional investment as well. Be happy for this day.
In my last post I talked about Saying No and never is this concept so important than during deployment. My family focus changes a bit during deployment. Being a single mom to children grieving for their father’s time gets exhausting. There’s also outside forces at work on military wives during deployment. I’m convinced Murphy’s Law takes effect the day after the boat pulls out. It’s easy for us to get overwhelmed. Learn how to say no gracefully. Decide if it’s people pleasing or busy work and if it aligns with your family focus. Lastly have grace for those who tell you no. Share your good days with others. Perhaps I will get the kids involved and make an extra meal and freeze it for another wife. You never know when she could really use a day off cooking.