Surviving Deployment

Since moving to Japan, we have been through a lot of deployments with Adam. While I know I’m not the only one who has to deal with them, I thought I would create a list on how we survive deployments in our family. Maybe some of these ideas will help you. Or someone you know.

Surviving deployments as children:

Our oldest daughter just turned 2. Adam has been deploying off and on since she was 5 weeks old. This is the first year that it’s starting to really affect Brooklyn. It is difficult for a toddler to understand why Daddy is gone to work and won’t be returning for a very long time. In fact, it’s pretty much impossible for their little minds to grasp, so I have tried the best I can to help her through this difficult time.

1) “See” Daddy every day. I have placed a lot of pictures around our apartment of Adam. Brooklyn can then see him via pictures all the time. This allows her to have a visual of him and brings her to talk about him a lot.

2) Buy a Daddy doll. We have a Daddy doll that Brooklyn absolutely loves. It’s a great way for Daddy to go everywhere with her. The Daddy doll is the perfect size to squeeze and snuggle with at night as well.

3) Create a deployment countdown. There are multiple ways to do this, but we have created a paper chain deployment countdown. Brooklyn loved help make it and it’s a fun thing for her to participate in each day.

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All you need is construction paper, a scissors, and tape.

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Cut the paper into strips (one for each day they will be deployed). Or, save time and energy by using a cutting board if you have one. Unfortunately, I do not.

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Let your child help by handing you the strips, taping the pieces, or whatever you would like.

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Finished product! After taping each individual piece and linking them together, hang up in a visible place. Then, each morning have your little one take one off. The chain will continue to get smaller and smaller as the excitement of Daddy coming home will grow!

4) Record videos before he leaves. I show these to both our girls. It’s great for Brooklyn to see her Daddy, but also great for Scarlett to hear her Daddy’s voice.

For Moms:

1) Make small goals. Don’t look at the deployment as one huge hurdle to get over. Instead, create small stepping stones to help you get through. Plan a small trip, invite people to visit, train to run a race. Having small things to look forward to allows the time to move by more quickly.

2) Find people in similar situations. We live on base here in Japan, so I am surrounded by women who have deployed husbands as well. It is so nice to be able to talk with them, commiserate about the same things, or just have a shoulder to cry on.

3) Kid-free time. This is key for me. While I absolutely adore my girls, I need a break every once in a while. So, I hire a babysitter once or twice a week to come for a couple hours so I can get away. This allows the girls to get used to someone other than their mommy, and allows me to run my errands at a fraction of the time it takes if I had the girls with me. You’d be amazed how refreshed you feel afterwards!

For Dads:

1) Send packages. I make it a point to send Adam something every 2-4 weeks while he is deployed. It may be something as simple as a card from me and the girls, or a big package full of goodies, movies, magazines, etc. Regardless of what it is, Adam loves receiving things in the mail from us. It is the highlight of his week.

2) Record videos. I try to record a video of our girls and send them to Adam every day. It allows him to see what new accomplishments each girl is reaching and helps him not feel as left out. (he was able to see B’s first steps via video and S’s first time rolling over). Technology is a wonderful thing!

3) Email. They love to hear from you no matter if it’s a good day or bad. It helps them feel more involved and up to speed on how life on the home front is going.

I would love to hear what you do to make it through the deployments!

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