Life for military moms is a unique kind of difficult, and while it might seem as though you could never get used to it or learn to cope successfully, there are military moms out there with a lot of experience and helpful advice. If you’re struggling with balancing deployments, raising kids, or just thriving in military life, consider these tips.
10 Tips from Military Moms Who Have Seen It All
1. Find a Routine
Childhood for military kids is challenging as they navigate new schools, friends, and hobbies. It becomes so much harder on them and their military moms during deployments and moves when all sense of normality is thrown out the window. During these times, do your best to stick to some type of routine as best you can. Keep bedtime consistent, implement a calendar, and just try to let your kid know what’s expected of them and when. It will help bring a sense of safety and relief during an otherwise stressful time.
2. There’s No Such Thing As Too Many Letters
Even with the ease of telecommunication, it can be exhausting for military moms to keep up a connection with a deployed spouse and to help their kids stay on top of communication. But it’s important to do your best to stay in contact in whatever way you can. Encourage letter writing, send care packages, and let your kids make it personal. Your deployed spouse will appreciate the effort and it will help your kids feel more connected throughout this confusing, long-distance parental relationship.
3. Keep Your Body Moving
It’s easy to sit on the couch and binge-watch television shows or to let your kids play video games for hours. These are activities that don’t take a lot of effort, but after a while, they also don’t make anyone feel better.
Keep yourself, and your kids, moving. Get outside and go for a walk or a bike ride. Find a nearby hike or nature trail and explore it. Keeping your bodies moving regularly will help you all feel better and worry less.
4. Have a Deployment Plan
Let’s be honest: deployments never get easier. If you know your spouse is getting deployed in the near future, start planning now and give yourself and your kids things to do while your servicemember is away. Create goals to accomplish for the length of the deployment, and help your kids set some of their own. Plan to visit family or friends (safely), take a vacation — it’s important to give yourself and your kids something to look forward to.
5. Be Generous With Hugs
Hug your military spouse when they’re with you. Hug your children. Hug your friends. Don’t hold back on love because you never know when military life may throw you a curveball.
According to Virginia Satir, an experienced family therapist, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need eight hugs a day for maintenance. We need twelve hugs a day for growth.”
6. Get Deployment Buddies
It’s always easier to go through tough times alongside someone who understands your experience. Make an effort to include yourself in a community of other military families who understand the trials and tribulations of deployment and can bond with you and your kids. This will give you, and your kids, people to talk to who know just how you feel.
7. Give Your Kids Chores
Military moms have a tendency to think they need to handle everything on their own, which simply isn’t the case. Not only will giving your children chores help lighten your workload, but it will also teach them discipline, responsibility, and help them build a good work ethic.
Giving children tasks to accomplish, even simple ones like making their beds and cleaning up their toys, can benefit their development, character, and overall quality of life.
8. Bloom Where You’re Planted
It can be tempting to think the grass is greener on the other side, but the truth is, it’s only greener if you let it be, or if you refuse to bloom in the place you’re planted. Military life takes you all of the country, sometimes all over the world — and not every situation is going to agree with you. But you have to learn to make the most of every opportunity. Put in the effort to make friends and keep up with existing relationships. Find a favorite breakfast spot, volunteer at a nearby charitable organization, plant a garden in your backyard, or go to local events, if possible. Create a life you enjoy. Military life can be difficult at times, but that in no way means you can’t thrive.
9. Emphasize Experiences Over Things
All kids like toys and games, but as all military moms know, military life involves a lot of moving. Don’t make your job harder by collecting a lot of unnecessary objects. Allow your children to have the things they want, need, and love while maintaining balance. Encourage them to prize experiences over material things, to seek out memories over objects, and you’ll not only have a much easier time moving but your child will grow up well-rounded and grateful.
10. Don’t Expect It to Get Easier
Even the most experienced military moms will tell you that, no matter how much you’ve been through in the past, this lifestyle doesn’t magically become easy. You’ll learn coping mechanisms and communication techniques over time, but that doesn’t mean deployments won’t still be hard. You’ll become an expert packer and budget interior decorator, but moving will still cause stress. Military life, while very rewarding, is not easy. But you can do it, and you and your children can thrive.
What are some of your tips for getting through military life? Let us know in the comments below.