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Supporting your kids through deployment

I just wrote a blog post on how to support yourself through deployment ("Supporting yourself during deployment") and how to support the military spouses in your life through deployment ("Supporting military spouses through deployment"), so the next post in this series should naturally be about how to support your children through a deployment.

Nearing the end of our second sea tour, I can say that going through deployment with an infant and going through a deployment with a 3rd grader are vastly different, just as going through deployment with one child compared to multiple children has also been very different. So my disclaimer for this post is that this is a general guide for getting through deployment with kids. I would love to hear about how you get your children through deployment at their ages and stages! My oldest, as I write this post, is 9-years old in 3rd grade. We also have twin 6-year olds, a 3-year old, and a 1-year old.

1. Familiar routines
This has bee…
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Supporting yourself during deployment

I recently posted my top 10 ways to help a military spouse through deployment in my blog post "Supporting military spouses through deployment." It can be really hard to know exactly what to do to help a friend or neighbor or whoever the military spouse in your life is when they are navigating the deployment of their spouse.

But how can you, as the military spouse, help yourself through a deployment? Help comes in various ways and sometimes the help you need is abundant and everywhere you look and sometimes you can't catch a break and feel completely on your own. So what are things that you can do to make your life just a liiiiitle bit easier?

1. Deployment pre-planning
To quote Monty Python, "No one expects the Spanish Inquisition." Before deployment, before you are navigating the emergency situation on your own, make a list of every phone number you could possibly need. It sounds ludicrous, but when you start making this list and you struggle through the research…

Supporting military spouses during deployment

Recently on one of my submarine spouse groups, a spouse asked what kind of support is given to the military families while the service member is deployed. Several people answered, but here's the bottom line: no support is guaranteed.

Your boat might not have an active FRG (Family Readiness Group). Or Wardroom (for officer spouses). Or you might be geo-bacheloring and nowhere near any of the military support. Or maybe you haven't connected at that particular duty station or you just moved there or you live across country from all of your friends and family or maybe you are going through a hard time: mentally or physically.
But here is the great news! Support for military families can come from anywhere: your neighbors, the military community, your friends and family, your existing support networks and social circles, your church, your gym, your kids' schools, long distance, your FRG, your Wardroom, your military base and the programs offered there.
Even better, if you know a m…

One hundred and forty-four days

One hundred and forty-four days.

When I say it aloud, it feels like a lot. And a short amount of time, because I know it should have been longer. It should have been longer because my husband had to stay behind and finish a school for the Navy, PNEO (Prospective Nuclear Engineering Officer). The timing of his class meant he had to stay behind and finish PNEO for a couple extra weeks after his crew had already left.

Those were weeks of bliss. I'm sure for him it was challenging-- PNEO is a lot of studying. But, from my perspective, the PNEO schedule was much better than the boat schedule. He would study in the morning, come home for lunch, study in the afternoon, and come home shortly after I picked the children up from school.

It felt like I actually got to spend time with my husband. It was the perfect way to spend our last couple weeks before deployment.

Because, in the blink of an eye, our lazy mornings in bed together were gone. Our family evenings together were gone. Our wee…


You know what never gets easier? Breakfast. And heading out to school in the morning just makes the mornings even CRAZIER.

One of the biggest problems that I have with my children at mealtimes (outside of the kid that can make mealtime a 10 hour event) is that they suddenly will STOP eating something. Why? I don't know. We will go weeks with all 5 of our kids eating breakfast well and then suddenly breakfast is a battle ground again! For instance, for awhile our boys really enjoyed eating cereal in the morning. Then I started having the problem that halfway through a bowl of cereal, one of them would burst into tears saying he didn't want Captain Crunch, he wanted Mini Wheats. Or one of our boys would eat a whole bowl of cereal, ask for a second, eat two bites out of it, then say he was done.

So here are my tips to make breakfast a little less crazy.

1. Establish routines

During the week when I have to get 5 children out the door in the morning for school or daycare, I do &quo…

Conversations with my best friend...

I've been having a lot of conversations lately, mostly with my best friend, about parenting. I think her and I are both at this point where we are moving from one phase of parenting to the next. For my best friend, she's been adjusting to life with three children. Her oldest is a year away from kindergarten. Her youngest is approaching her first birthday. For me, we've been adjusting to life with five children. This is my second year with three children in elementary school. Our oldest is in 3rd grade and it's his last year in the single digits. He turns 10 years old next year! (10 years old! I've been changing diapers for a DECADE.) Our twins are in 1st grade. My youngest recently turned one and our fourth is becoming a full-fledged preschooler. I had a hysterectomy earlier this year and so, for the first time after our youngest child turned one, we aren't considering when we should have our next baby.

I had a conversation with her the other night and she was …

Confessions of a military spouse

Something that I have struggled with my entire decade as a military spouse is to find meaning in military life. When we first got married, I talked to seasoned spouses in our FRG and they would have these stories about how, "Oh, I remember this one deployment right after our first baby was born... He was deployed after our second was born as well..." Or, "That was the move that the movers broke half our furniture and the moving company was refusing to pay us a dime for it..." They all had these stories to tell about their misadventures as a military spouse.

As a newlywed, I would come home and (attempt to) make these elaborate dinners. I remember the night I made gravy with dumplings and he never came home until I was in bed that evening. I was so disappointed that I couldn't even eat any of it myself. I would tell this to the seasoned spouses and they would say, "Oh, yeah. My husband couldn't be reached when one of our kids broke a bone" or "…