By Jaimi Erickson
When my military family found out that we were going to live on base at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, it was exciting. The home we were assigned was built just after World War II. In a sense, it is a piece of American History. Living in a historical military home feels so humbling. There have been so many families that lived within these walls.
Every day I think about the families that lived in this home before us. The babies that were brought home from the hospital, the teenagers that graduated from the local high school, and the military family reunions that occurred within its walls. I often wish that there were record books for each home. It would allow us to look back through history. Servicemembers who served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Afghanistan and Iraq lived here.
The connection to the military history of my spouse’s branch of service is the thread that keeps me grounded in this chaotic military adventure. It is a reminder that many military spouses have come before me. Many have waited for their spouse for months and even years. Many held onto hope to stay positive in the midst of wars, deployments, separations and bad news.
Having been through a few deployments as a military spouse, I know how hard it is to work through military separations. It is my service as a spouse. I keep the home fires kindled, the family functioning, and my own mental health stable in order to support my servicemember and my country.
That is a heavy load to carry. We all have our coping strategies. This is mine. This is my list of ideas to stay positive during military deployments and separations.
Ideas for Military Spouses to Stay Positive During Deployments
Set Goals for Yourself
Yes, it is your servicemember’s career, but this journey will help you grow, too. There are so many skills you can gain as a military spouse. Set goals during separations. I always look at these times apart as opportunities to work on me.
After the kids go to bed, or while they are at school, the windows of time can be used by you to focus on your goals. If setting goals is hard for you, or you are looking for ideas, try these goal-setting ideas.
Read Books About Self-Improvement
Feeding your mind and soul with quality encouragement is vital. We cannot pour from an empty cup. Let me repeat that: We cannot pour from an empty cup. It is okay to admit you cannot do it all while your servicemember is away.
Read books to keep your mindset positive. I love many on this list.
Get a Hobby
Give yourself something to look forward to during the quiet moments. Whether it is time in the evening or your child’s naptime, working on a hobby fills those windows of time with something that is just for you. I love working on a project during deployments.
Scrapbooking is something I spent time on years ago. Then, I started blogging. This list of hobbies may help you find a project to focus on during your next military separation.
Connect with Other Spouses
Knowing you are not alone during times of deployment or separation helps your mindset. Yes, military spouse groups can go sour. But, I have also found my absolute best military spouse friendships by joining or creating military spouse community. Connecting with other military spouses is essential. We are the only ones who really understand this lifestyle.
Talk to Family More Often
We do weekly FaceTime chats or phone calls. Plus, I often receive texts or Facebook messages throughout the week from close family and friends. Reach out and ask those important people in your life to talk more frequently. It can be a morale boost to get some adult conversation with people who love you.
People can’t support you if they do not know what is going on in your life. This regular communication helps build your support network.
Maybe it is just pushing the stroller and walking a mile a day. Maybe you have childcare so you can get solid time at the gym. I even streamed free workout videos during one deployment. There are so many ways to adapt exercise to fit into your schedule.
The power of endorphins to support a positive mood is clear. Plus, when you get a workout in, you just feel more accomplished. If you need an accountability partner, workout with a friend. These are creative ways to fit in exercise.
The Bottom Line
No matter the length of your upcoming deployment, or term of your next military separation, many spouses have conquered the same or similar situations. You have an entire cheering section you may not know out here in the military spouse community. Military spouses know, these times when your servicemember is away, affect each of us differently. But, if you focus on taking care of yourself in a balanced way, you will be successful, too.
Remember, you are not alone. Generations of military spouses have been in your shoes. You’ve got this!