This review was made possible by iConnect and Duracell. I was provided compensation to facilitate this post, but all opinions are 100% mine.
Are you currently a military spouse or service member? Do you often wish that you didn’t have to miss out on important milestones or connecting with your child during a deployment? Deployments are not only hard on the service members but your family members have to adjust to your long term absence too. Your spouse has to step up and be the supporting role model for the family for the entire length of your deployment. While you are gone you not only miss your family but you also miss many important events or milestones in your child’s life.
Today, I wanted to share 10 tips on how to find ways to continually connect with each other during deployments. I was a former military spouse for several years and went through a deployment when my older son was a baby.
Take Time Off Before and After your Deployment
If it is possible, try to take some time off before your scheduled deployment so that you can spend some much needed quality time with your family before you leave. During your time off, make sure that take the time to connect with your children and even talk to them about your upcoming deployment. Don’t forget to take as many photos as you can so that you can look at them.
Also when you come home from your deployment, you will want to make sure that you spend plenty of time with your family first. Giving your family first dibs on your time is super important even if friends and other family members want to see you. This will give you plenty of time for you to adjust and your family to adjust having you home again.
Print Out Family Photos
As you are sifting through the family photos, print a bunch of them off using your printer or send them to the photo lab. Hide the photos around the house so that your family will continue to find them while you are gone.
Also, you can even hide a few photos in your solider’s gear before he leaves so that when he/she arrives at their destination they will have a small surprise too!.
Recruit Help From Relatives
Buy a few greeting cards or write a few fun letters in advance to your family. Then give them to a relative to send out at random times during your deployment. This way your family continues to get communication from you if you are in an area where sending snail mail is not easy. Plus, your spouse and children will love this idea.
Use Technology to your Advantage
Depending on where you are deployed to, you might be able to take a laptop or even get an international cell phone to take with you (some cell phone plans let you use your existing service plans overseas for a nominal charge). Technology would make it so much easier to be able to communicate with your spouse and family. Some areas have computers for you to use but they have to be shared by everyone in the unit.
If possible, take the time to schedule video chat sessions or send plenty of emails. I have heard that many family members often look forward to this special time despite huge time differences. The more often you can communicate with your family the easier it will be to reunite once your deployment is over. Just remember that with technology, there are things that could go wrong so don’t get too upset if something interrupts your scheduled communication session. Have a back up plan in case this happens.
Get a Voice Recorded Stuffed Animal
I wanted to share this testimony from Duracell because they recently had the honor to meet a military family in California. The young daughter showed them how she was able to have the comfort of her father’s voice during his deployment through a battery-powered recordable teddy bear. They were so moved by this family, that they made a film inspired by their story. See the video below (mascara alert).
Use Skype to Communicate with Your Family
Sign up for a skype account so that you can communicate with your family. Skype is a free and you can use it to send text messages, call your family, or even video chat. It was designed to connect families (and businesses) when they are apart for free or low cost. Simply log into a computer where ever you are deployed to and enjoy communicating with your family. If your in the field, this isn’t always an option.
Plan Ahead and Decide Now How to Handle Certain Situations
During your deployment, your spouse is going to have to make decisions that affect the entire family. However, if you talk about certain situations such as how much news exposure you will allow your children to watch while you are deployed. This is important especially if you are going to be deployed to an area where there are conflicts going on. Try to think of other things that you might need to talk about and work out the details in case you don’t have to opportunity to talk about the situation when it arises.
Don’t forget to talk to your children about where and why you are going to be gone for a long period of time. I think that it is super important to be open and honest with your children. After all, they are going to realize that you are gone once you leave. You don’t want your children to think that you left for good or abandoning them.
Keep your Family’s Routine
Children thrive on routine so it is very important that you continue to run the household the same way that you do when your spouse is at home. You should even continue to do fun things that you would normally do. Don’t be afraid to plan new things to do such as playing games, going for a walk, ect too!
Staying busy will help pass the time and keep you from getting depressed. Your kids are relying on your to be strong and carry the family while their daddy or mommy is away.
Find a Support System
Deployments can be super stressful but it doesn’t have to be. It is very important that you build a strong support system of people who are able to help you through the length of the deployment especially if you don’t have family nearby. If you don’t have very many friends, you can connect with other family members that have spouses who are deployed. Ask your spouse for the information prior to leaving in case you need help. Also, each base has family support services who can help you with just about anything that you might need.
Send Care Packages
Your spouse will enjoy getting small care packages from home. Don’t forget to include the kids too! Here is a list of items that military soldiers enjoy getting:
- hard candy (no chocolate since it melts)
- personal care items
- baby wipes
- drawings from the kids
- powered drink mixes
- protein bars
- card games
- writing materials
- scrapbook of photos
Before mailing off your care package, check with your local post office to find out what restrictions there are when sending packages overseas. Most military families recommend numbering packages, if you mail more than one at a time. This allows them to know that there are multiple packages coming their way.
Interesting Deployment Facts
Here are a few interesting deployment facts:
- Since the war in Afghanistan began in 2001, more than 2 million American children have had a deployed parent. Many of them have seen multiple deployments: 3, 4, or even 5 family separations.
- A major issue that children have during a military deployment is the void that opens when they lose their parent’s daily affection and love. Recordable teddy bears, along with other battery-powered devices such as recordable storybooks provide reliable comfort no matter when or where their parent is deployed.
Help Support Military Families
In honor of all of the families who stand beside our troops, Duracell wants to power more comforting moments for loved ones through a donation of $100,000 to USO’s Comfort Crew for Military Kids. Continue the conversation by sharing the film and find out how you can donate to the cause through the USO at http://www.uso.org/donate.
I was a former military spouse who survived a deployment with two children. It wasn’t easy but I am thankful that I had the opportunity and knowledge to share these tips with you. Thank you to all of the military families.
Photo Credit: Flickr via Creative Commons