How to take care of the kids

My son has always been at an age that was manageable and that he didn't fully understand what was going on. The last deployment he would get upset when we would Facetime Dad, but he still couldn't voice how he felt or why he was frustrated. The next time my husband deploys Jax will definitely understand what is going on and this is going to be hard. I've already established some things in the past that will keep everything as normal as possible.

Explain it to them: If they are old enough, make sure you explain to them what is going on. Make sure you explain that your deployed parent will be back it will just be awhile.

Get books that describe what is happening: Last deployment I got two wonderful books that talk about deployments in the way children will understand. He really enjoyed the books and I think this is a great thing for kids at any age. I got the first two listed below, and I will list a few others as well that I like or plan on buying in the future.

I almost forgot about this! United Through Reading is an amazing company that my husband found out about on his last deployment. They had their program set up in the USO and we were so grateful for it. It's a program that has your service member video record reading a book and then they send the book and the recording on a USB to you. Jax would laugh and smile every time he saw Daddy reading his panda book on my laptop. It seriously cheered him up so much and you should look into this.

Have kids journal: If they are old enough have them journal what is going on and how they are feeling. They can write down things they want to talk to the deployed spouse with. Or if they're still younger they can fill out this activity book for things that they did during the deployment.

Make a "deployment wall": I plan on doing this for our next deployment so that Jax can visually understand where Dad is and how many days there is to go. I've looked up a lot of these on Pinterest and think they're a great idea. Most have a clock for the time zone your spouse is at. A map to show where they are located. A mailing center where they can place mail to send your spouse and mail they have received from the deployed spouse. A jar full of kisses that they can eat one in the morning and one at night, just like they are getting a real "kiss" from Dad. Two jars, one empty and one full of items for how many days they are deployed for. Each night they can move one of the items to the empty jar. And a picture of Dad in his uniform!

Talk to them about their emotions: They are going through just as much as you are but don't fully understand it. So make sure you talk to them about everything they are feeling.

Create a routine: Create a routine for everybody! Routines help normalize everything and keep everything functioning well. This will put some normalcy back into their lives until your spouse gets back!

Be strong for them: Be strong for them even if you don't feel strong. It is okay to show your emotions but still be the backbone they can lean on. Try not to take out your emotions on them,

Have fun: Schedule outings or time with family that will cheer them up! I went and actually lived with my in laws for 3 months because Jax's Busia (Grandma) is a teacher and would have the summer off. It worked out very nicely and helped both of us out beyond belief.

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