My husband has served in the United States Army for almost 15 years, making me a military wife for the past 7.5 years.
The military life is definitely not for everyone and that’s is okay, but for us we truly love it! As a newlywed couple we moved to San Antonio, Texas which is where our first son was born, and then on to Fayetteville, North Carolina where I met some of the most amazing military families. These spouses and children are so strong, welcoming, and some of the bravest people I know.
Even though my husband has left for training missions in the past, a deployment is different. Contact will be more difficult being in different time zones and/or areas with little reception. Depending on where he will be sent, this will also weigh heavy on us each day along with the fear of the unknown.
So as my children and I face our first deployment in the near future (August 2019), I reached out to my military friends and asked what I should expect: how they handled their deployments, what to look out for in regards to my children, and how I can tell my friends what I may need when they ask. As I expected they had the most honest and real answers for me.
Here are 5 ways to help a military spouse during a deployment:
Offer to watch the kids for a couple hours one night every 2-3 weeks. This would allow for some alone time to go get a pedicure or even just take a bath to decompress and relax!
Just check in on her to see how she's REALLY doing. Not the “I’m fine and it’s good” type of conversations, but bring a bottle of wine and some chocolate to sit down and just talk. True friendship is hard to find, and having someone to be able to laugh and cry with is even harder to find. Military wives are more than likely far from home, so it’s always a challenge to move and make new friends (and grow deep connections) over and over again. It can get very overwhelming and lonely. It’s always nice to have someone genuinely care and check in on you and your family from time to time!
Don't forget the kids. They too are going through a stressful and confusing time. Just making them feel special every once in a while, is great. Letting them know you care and are thinking of them by bringing them a little gift bag with their favorite coloring book and some crayons or something small that would brighten their day. Anything to let them know they are loved.
If this military family is new to the area (as most move often), they may not have anyone to look after the children. Things like doctor appointments, and hair appointments can be really hard to tow kids to all the time. These moms have the kids AAAALLLLL the time with no break so having reliable, affordable childcare would be fantastic. Make a list of babysitters you could offer to them, childcare drop in facilities in the area, or even invite them to a playdate.
Drop off a meal. These seem cliché but truly are a great help to these sweet families. Not only does it show that they have support and someone cared enough to think of them, it gives the spouse a night off from cooking. This may seem small, but this gesture is huge. The combination of not having to think about what's for dinner that night, and the kids being tired of moms repeated crockpot meals, makes this gesture priceless and really appreciated.
Military spouses who are at home become both Mom & Dad for their children during this time. They have to continue on as though life is normal, even though nothing is normal.