Holding Down the Fort While Your Spouse is Defending Our Nation
When married members of the military are deployed, their spouses remaining stateside often experience difficulties adjusting to and maintaining their lives and their families’ lives during the absence of the deployed spouse. Here are some quick tips on how you, as a non-deployed spouse, can ‘hold down the fort’ at home.
Accept Your Emotions But Don’t Over-Indulge in Them
It’s important to acknowledge how you are feeling. Lonely? Frightened? Angry? Sad? Overwhelmed?
Acknowledge that you will likely experience some of the emotions referenced above at some point on most days throughout your spouse’s deployment. There will be good days and bad days; the key is learning to cope with these feelings and being able to function well despite them.
Allow yourself the opportunity to experience your feelings, situationally appropriately, and then do what you need to do to move forward. After all, like your deployed spouse, you have jobs to do too: attending to your children, fulfilling your responsibilities to your employer, taking care of your home and vehicles, etc.; and your spouse is depending on you to perform your jobs just as s/he is performing his/hers.
As a non-deployed spouse, it is essential that you maintain your support system, which may include family, friends, support groups on base, and digital resources.
Your support system can provide you with intellectual support (i.e., good information), emotional support (i.e., a shoulder to cry on), social support (i.e., someone to go to the movies with), and an opportunity for a much-needed get-away (i.e. with your children, going to visit your parents for a week).
Spend time acquainting (or reacquainting) yourself with the additional responsibilities that you will be absorbing during your spouse’s deployment.
Volunteer on or off base. Take up a hobby. Take a course at a local community college.
Focus on your children and what you can do to help them during the deployment.
Set some attainable goals to achieve during your spouse’s deployment. For example, you may decide to organize all your photographs into chronologically-ordered photograph albums by the time your deployed spouse is scheduled to return home.
Keep in Touch with Deployed Spouse
Write letters and e-mails. Send care packages (don’t forget to send pictures of your children so that your spouse can see them maturing and feel that s/he is still a part of it all). Call and video-chat when those options are available.
If your spouse usually handled family finances, you will need to learn what your family’s monthly bills are, which bills are paid by check and which by electronic fund transfer, what the timing of bills is relative to the timing of deposits, etc. You will also need to learn where your extra check blanks are, how you order more of them when you are running low, your bank’s hours of operation, etc.
Your spouse’s income will change when s/he is deployed, so your household income will change too. You will need to adjust your budget accordingly. Spend money wisely. Do not incur credit card balances that you cannot pay in full each month. Set aside some money each month in a savings account or sound investment.
Health and Wellness
Eat right. Exercise. Get eight to nine hours of sleep nightly. Refrain from drinking too much alcohol.
If you suffer an injury or illness while your spouse is deployed, don’t be afraid to ask for help. For example, someone may need to watch and feed the children for you if you are on bed rest.
As with illness and injury, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Take a friend to your doctor’s appointment. Ask another friend to be your Lamaze coach. Visit with the mother-of-two next door to learn how she has handled spousal deployment with two little ones at home.
Take lots of pictures and videos of your developing pregnancy. You may even consider having a videographer record the birth of your child. Send pictures and videos (or stream videos) to your spouse so that he feels included in and informed of the process.
Your children may feel abandoned, grief-stricken, or worried that they may never see mommy/daddy again. Spend time talking with your children. How are they feeling? What’s on their minds? Let them know that they can speak freely with you, and respond appropriately to their questions and concerns.
Your children may be young enough that they don’t understand why mommy/daddy has to leave. You will need to explain (perhaps many times) that mommy/daddy is defending our nation and what that means to your family specifically (i.e., temporary separation and all that goes with it) and to all Americans generally (i.e., continued freedom).
Your children may be “tweens” or teen that understand why mommy/daddy has to leave but still experience rejection and resentment because of the absence. You will need to balance comforting your child (emotional support) with reframing how your children view the departure (intellectual support).
By following the tips above, you can successfully hold down the fort at home while your spouse is deployed.
For more useful tips; continue to visit Nannies4hire.com.