In 2015, there were over 150,000 US servicemen and women stationed overseas. While some were able to take families with them, most left behind husbands, wives, and children. With so many children dealing with the deployment of a parent, we thought it was important to recognize deployment as a real factor in the social emotional health of many young children in our country. Luckily, we were able to ask a few experts (AKA spouses left behind with kids) and they were a wealth of knowledge about ways to help children cope with and understand deployment. In this post, Allison gives us some ideas on how she helped her children through her husband's recent deployment.
Allison Evans is a military spouse who has moved a number of times with her two girls and who experienced deployment firsthand when her husband, a Navy officer, was sent overseas. Here are some ideas from Allison on how she made the deployment easier on her girls:
1. Allison's husband made each girl a bracelet before he left so that they could know he was thinking of them. He put a simple statement on each bracelet. "I love you" or "I'm thinking about you right now!" would be really sweet but it could also just be a shared joke or your initials together. You could also simply make friendship bracelets with your favorite colors together.
2. The family made a Countdown Calendar out of a paper chain. Each day, you remove a link until the links are all gone and the parent returns (I have read that return dates are not set in stone so you may need to add links from time to time). I have always been a fan of Eeboo's gorgeous paper chains. They even have sets with holiday prints. Of course, plain construction paper works well too.
3. Celebrate surviving each month of the deployment with frozen yogurt, ice cream or another treat.
4. Make a "Kiss Jar" from the deployed parent (with Hershey's Kisses) and allow kids to have a "kiss" when they need it (or you could do a daily kiss). This would be easy to make yourself but I also found one on Etsy
5. There are many good children's books dealing with deployment. Here are a few recommendations:
Deployment is never easy, but it can be a little more tolerable with some preparation and care. Remember to give your children's feelings a name. Ask them frequently how they are feeling and have fun remembering fun times (and planning future fun) with the deployed parent. Take care of your own feelings and know that it is ok to let your children know when you are missing your spouse. Together, you will make it through.
Let Them Fly!0