In my last blog I began this new series about making a deployment something other than miserable. I talked about travel and gave a great example of something that you can do with your kids while your spouse is deployed. In this blog, I want to focus on you. I think that we can get so caught up with our children and making sure they are well taken care of and happy during this time that we forget about ourselves. We spend months doing handstands and bending over backwards trying to keep the "sad monster" away from our kids only to find ourselves feeling empty and lost. What we FAIL to realize is this: our mental and physical well being is every bit as important as that of our kids!
One of the most important things for you and I to do once a deployment begins is to set some goals for the year that he/she is gone. Those goals can have to do with nearly anything, so long as you can actually see progress and results. What does that mean? Easy. Don't set yourself a goal of something like "I'm going to get along with my in-laws better". Huh? What kind of goal is that? First of all, we should all know THAT will never happen! (Ok, I jest, but you get my drift!). What I'm talking about is something that you've always wanted to do or accomplish but never felt you had the time or energy. Believe it or not, a deployment is the perfect time. You get to set the family schedule. You get to decide what is important for you and the kids and what isn't. Time management is all yours! So it's time to make the most of it! Let me give you some examples.
Back when my wife was gone on her deployment, I decided that I wanted to start running again. Now, as a big guy (6-1, 260) running doesn't really come that easy. That really didn't matter to me. I just wanted to run. Along with that, I decided to make it worth my while to run, so I entered the Army 10 Miler. It gave me something to think about and plan for and something to do. And yes, I did finish the ATM two weeks ago, thus fulfilling one of my goals. While becoming a runner may not be your cup of tea, the point is for you to find something that you've wanted to do or try or work towards and do it. Maybe you've always wanted to read a certain book. Go get it! How about learning to cook a certain meal? Hit the grocery store and buy the ingredients! What about getting more fit and losing weight? Set a gym time 3 days a week while the kids are in school and go! Want to learn to play an instrument? Find a teacher and start learning! There are so many different things that you can accomplish during a deployment.
The thing is... we have this mentality that once he/she is gone, we're going to be up to our necks in keeping things together and believe that all we can hope for is just to survive. The truth is, though, if you are only hoping to simply survive, then you are wasting a huge opportunity to make changes in your life and do things you've always wanted to do.
So how do you work your way to accomplishing whatever it is you've set out to do? The most important thing is to make it part of your routine. As most of you probably already know, a solid, iron clad routine is the key to raising kids and keeping up with the home while your spouse is deployed. It keeps the kids on the same page as you and provides a bit of sanity to our lives. Whatever it is you set out to do as your deployment goal, it MUST become part of your routine. Otherwise, it will get dropped and you'll lose track of your goals. Make working towards your goal part of your day. Maybe it is only 2 or 3 days a week. Fine. Just make sure you plan your days around it. Remember, you are in charge of your time. What you do during the day is up to you.
Finally, and most importantly, as I told a friend recently who is going through a deployment there is one thing that you ABSOLUTELY MUST remember: mommy/daddy guilt is NOT ALLOWED. What do I mean by that? Simple. You are not permitted to feel guilty because you are thinking of getting a sitter to come over and watch the kids while you go out for some YOU time. Your proper frame of mind depends on how much stress you are able to release. If you feel like you just can't leave the kids with a sitter because their mommy/daddy is deployed, then you need to switch that off ASAP and call that sitter! Find a neighborhood teenager who you trust to come over once or twice a week. They love to work for some spending money, the kids love playing with them, and you'll love being in a car ALONE and listening to whatever you want to! Go to the gym. Go for a run. Go take a class. Do whatever you are interested in. Whatever it is, make some time for yourself. Work towards something you've always wanted to do. You'll find you're a lot happier than you imagined you could be during the deployment!
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