For me, the first and last month of a deployment are always the worst. There's the time leading up to it, where as a couple you are prone to stupid arguments because it's easier to detach that way. Then there are the few days into a deployment where the task before you is daunting, and little things make you inexplicably sad. For me, it was doing the laundry that set me over the edge. I would be putting away his clothes and thinking to myself, "He won't be wearing these for months." It's almost a grieving process. But then the days start to go a little faster, and there are some ways to ensure that you won't be devastated by a deployment. Here are some ideas I've compiled.
1. Get a new hobby. Do something for yourself for once. You don't have to be preparing a fancy dinner every night, cause you know the kids would prefer chicken nuggets for the fourth night in a row anyway. Spend some of your extra "alone" time catching up on your scrapbook, taking dance lessons, or whatever thing it is you've been putting off. Now's the time!
2. Home improvements. Get some project done around the house you've been wanting to do. Tackle something you've never done before. That's what Google is for. I remodeled our entire bathroom while Brett was gone last time, and it felt great! Do I have any experience in this area? Absolutely not! But not only did it keep me busy, it gave me something concrete that I could look at each day and be proud of. I did that. Better yet, it gives us a sense of empowerment. Wow, I didn't think I could do that, but I did! What else am I capable of? Even if you're just painting a room, that small change can feel great!
3. Travel. This one is my favorite. Now I know many of you have school aged kids, so this might be limited to weekends and breaks, but GET AWAY! Nothing is more therapeutic than recharging your batteries with people who love you. Take a trip to your parents. Not only will they give you a break from the kids, nothing is healing like your mom's homemade cobbler. I visited fellow Navy wives that I missed, my brothers, and more! I even took a girls only trip to Las Vegas! The point is: getting away from it all is so important, and well worth the money and effort.
4. Book club. One thing I like to do during deployments is catch up on my reading. Join a group that discusses books, so you get some adult time all by yourself. Being with the kids all day is taxing, and you need time to flex your vocabulary muscles that we lose from only talking to kids.
5. Bible Study. Nothing is encouraging like reading the Bible. God made us, and knows what we need. Use this time to lean on Him, and seek His guidance. It will keep you focused on the important things, and center you on what you have to get through.
6. Set goals. What would you like to accomplish? Now's the time! Always wanted to learn to play the guitar? Ride a horse? Take hip-hop dance? Lose 10 Pounds? Focus on that. Anything will be a welcome distraction, and make the days pass faster. If you have something to look forward to each week, those weeks will be crossed off the calendar in no time!
7. Get a haircut! My husband loves my hair long, and I respect that, but I love a short cut. Now, of course I want him to find me attractive, but when he's gone... The last couple of deployments I have drastically cut off my long hair, donated it, and rocked a short cut. By the time he was back, it was decently grown in! :) You get the idea... do something for you. Get a makeover. Feel good about yourself.
8.Retail therapy. Do a little shopping. Get a dress that makes you feel pretty. Get some shoes that make you feel fabulous. Looking good sometimes equates into feeling good about yourself. Worried about money? Our men get an extra $250 for Separation Pay a month, and another $450 if they're in a Hazardous Duty Zone. Think of that extra money as a little room to have fun.
9. Surround yourself with people. Being home alone is only going to depress you. Don't set yourself up! Get out of the house. Have a lunch date with a friend. Take your kids to the park. You get the idea.
10. Exercise. We all know exercise makes us feel better about ourselves. We release endorphins, and getting thinner doesn't hurt, either. If we consistently hit the gym, we will not be down to those last two weeks trying to shed 35 pounds so we can look great when our husband gets back!
11. Girls Nights. Go out with the girls. Dress up. Be with other adults. Treat yourself to a great dinner, and dessert, too!
12. Don't Play the Martyr. Deployment sucks. There's just no way around it. But those who stay behind serve, too. We are an important part of the equation. Remind yourself of that. Just like Rosie the Riveter, WE CAN DO IT! Don't wallow in self pity. We are strong. We are independent. We are capable. You will get through this, and you will be stronger as a result! Sometimes we don't realize what we can do until we are forced to do it.
Love to you, and all military families! May God grant you peace and comfort.
My hubby on his last deployment
What has helped you get through deployments?