Oh, deployment. I remember when my husband told me a little over a year ago that he was going to be leaving in January. I thought, alright we got this, I have done it twice before. The thing with deployments is they are never the same. Each time they are just slightly different.
The First Deployment
The first deployment was perfect if there is such a thing. I was about to do my student teaching and Luke was leaving. This meant that I was able to focus completely on the task at hand and get through it. At least I got a puppy out of the ordeal. It was lonely and it was the first time in my life I was all by myself. However, I had my teaching to do and even volunteered to be the mascot for the school. Whew! What a hot gig.
The Second Deployment
The second deployment was a bit different. This one came without warning. I had M (2) and was about to give birth to our second little girl. The day before going into the hospital, Luke received the call that he was going to be deployed in 6 weeks. So in the morning, I got up, got a shower, put on a little makeup and we drove to the base to print out orders. Then we topped off the morning by going to the hospital to have a baby. This deployment had its own challenges. We ate a ton of cereal and toast. My two-year-old and infant did not mind.
This deployment happened 4 years later. My girls, now 7 and 4, understand what is going on. They can not live on cereal and are a bit pickier when it comes to what we do each day. This deployment happened with remote schooling, possible family medical news, and a whole lot of organizing. It has been a whirlwind of ups and downs and it is the first time I have not had Luke here in the summer. We are a little more than a month away from being reunited and it feels so good to have it so close. However, the last few days are always so much longer than the entire months behind you.
So What Did I Do to Pass Time on Deployment?
One thing I did to help the girls and I have a visual on how long it will be is I created a paper chain. You know those paper chains you probably made in elementary school around Christmas to use as decoration because the teacher was burnt out and ready for the break. When there are about 10 weeks left, I create a chain to count down the weeks. You could make it longer (sooner?), but I like to do it when it is a bit closer for two reasons:
- I don’t have to create as many ideas
- It doesn’t lose its luster
Each Saturday we pull a chain off and complete it that week. I will admit I may have gotten a bit behind on this. Eeek. My girls certainly hold me accountable though. It is so much fun to watch the chain get smaller each week as we get closer to Luke’s arrival.
So, what kinds of things do I include in our chain activities?
Tip number one: label them with dates. This helps you know if you fall behind at all.
Tip number two: check with your calendar. We had a birthday party, golf tournament, and Fourth of July so those were easy to put on a chain.
Tip number three: It does not need to be complicated. Keep it simple with a few extra fun things. Kids just love the time spent together and counting down, they do not care about the activity as much.
Here are some ideas:
- Game day
- Ice cream party
- Mini golf
- Movie marathon
- Sleepover in the living room
- Make popsicles
- Watercolor painting
- Water balloon fight
- Craft activity
- Go to the zoo
- Picnic at the park
- Play dress up
- Go to the pool
- Beach day
- Sprinkler fun
- Scavenger Hunt
- Go hiking
- Make Ice Cream in a bag (this works!)
- Tye- Dye
- Make Welcome Home banner
- Create a themed care package for parent
- Spa night (my girls love doing little facials and painting toes)
- Roller Skating
- Obstacle Course in the backyard
- Farmers Market
- Make a tent inside
- Have a campfire and roast marshmallows
- Make puppets and put on a show
- Playdate with friends
- Make a favorite snack and invite friends over to enjoy it with you
- Buy some flowers and make cards for friends and neighbors who have helped you during this time
- Plant a garden
These are just a few ideas. We did some this time and some during the last deployment. Again, it does not need to be super complicated, it is mostly just about doing something fun to mix up the days and spend time together. Let me know what types of things you do when your spouse is deployed! I would love to hear in the comments below.