Living It – Week 22


Sleep – Tip #59

Sleep

When I wrote this tip I was trying to work through a reintegration with my husband after a long deployment.  I was sleep deprived (working full time and trying to look after 2 children – under 3 years old at the time).  I knew that sleep was important and once I followed my own advice the world seemed like a much better place and my husband instantly became more reasonable!  Jump ahead now to our current deployment and I am still struggling to get enough sleep so that the people around me love me rather than fear me.

I know that sleep is something that needs to become a priority when trying to survive a deployment but is MUCH easier said than done.  There are nights when I am totally committed to getting to bed and actually turning off the light and going to sleep early.  I am struggling to move from thinking about doing it to actually doing it…

Over the years I have discovered that not only am I more sane when I have slept more but also that I eat better and this results in me not gaining tons of weight and feeling even worse.  The National Sleep Registry says that adults need between 7-9 hours of sleep a night.  9 hours of sleep makes me happier, I eat less, I react less and I am generally a more reasonable and pleasant person to be around.  Knowing this doesn’t seem to help me though and on average I am only getting 6-6.5 hours of sleep right now.  This past week I decided that my “Living It” should be to commit to my own advice of getting enough sleep.

Things I accomplished:

*I turned off my phone rather than just plugging it in (I often hear the vibration and then check it so that stopped that bad habit)

* I have stopped using my bedroom to watch TV in – I will often fall asleep watching a show and then wake up at crazy hours

* I have reinforced a regular nightly routine with the kids (there were nights this week when I was ready for bed before they were!)

* I have been cooking dinner 30mins earlier so that I can get things done after dinner a few minutes sooner and I am not awake because I still have energy from the food I ate at dinner

* I stopped eating or drinking anything after 7pm

This week I definitely felt better, was more cheerful and I wish I could tell you I ate less but… I am a stress eater so that will continue to be a work in progress.  The bottom line for this tip is that sleep is something we need to make more time for as it makes the times you are awake so much nicer – if you truly follow this tip, it will also help you to survive deployments, reunions and all the other things military life throws your way a little better.

For more information about our tips, resources and books go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org

Living It – Week 21


Tip # 58 Create a Pillow Case

T-shirt pillow

In “101 Tips for Military Families Experiencing Absence or Deployment” I suggested making a pillowcase that they could lay their head on every night that would be comforting.  When I wrote it I was thinking that you could put a picture of your loved one and some comforting things to help your children.  Since I decided to “Live it” this week I took some time to think about what would be fun to do and practical (I always love it when these two combine!).

So, I decided to go through my husband’s closet and use some of his older t-shirts to make a pillow case out of.  The older t-shirts are soft, my husband has dropped 60Lbs and all his older t-shirts are too big so I wasn’t worried about him freaking out about their repurposing!  If you have any doubt, lay them out, take a picture and send it to your loved one asking if there any you can use.  Look through your own too and see if there are any that would work for this.

My kids have a lot of happy memories attached to some of those shirts and they realized that their Dad would too so we actually made 3 pillowcases and sent one over to him so that he could have something comforting too!  This gave our family comfort, something to do together as a family and something we can treasure.

Here is a link for a no sew pillow if you just want something easy and fun: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E1EZPhRpCMA

For more information about our tips, resources and books go to:  www.whileyouwereaway.org

Living It – Weeks 18, 19 & 20


Pamper Yourself – Tip #9

I am convinced that I didn’t write this tip during a deployment as finding the time to pamper myself has been somewhat of a joke.  But I was determined to try and follow my own advice, even if it meant getting a pedicure and then coming home to clean the house.  You may have also noticed that this tips spans three weeks.  That is how long (even though some of it was over the holidays) it took me to carve out time to do things for myself.

I still believe in this tip but making the time to do things for yourself is NOT EASY!  Having said this, it was so worth doing and something everyone should do regardless if you are experiencing a deployment or not.

My Tips & The Results:

* Get a Pedicure – I went with my best friend and I felt so good being pampered like that.  Go to a place where they also have the massage chairs… so worth it!

* Get Your Hair Done – It feels so much better when I look in the mirror when all my grey isn’t staring back at me!  It didn’t even matter that I had no where to go and that my kids didn’t even notice.  I noticed and felt great.

* Go Shopping & Only Buy for Yourself – I think that this bit of advice may need some tweeking…  when time is precious there was no way I was going to be in a mall and not pick up the other things my kids needed BUT I did go with the purpose of finding something I will feel great in.  Got a fabulous sweater!

* Go for a Massage – Not going to lie…  didn’t get to it.  There really aren’t enough hours in a day BUT I did beg a few friends for a quick neck one and then booked one for a month’s time (something to look forward to).

* Get Dressed Up and Go to a Fancy Dinner – Over the holidays my goal was to see how many consecutive days I could year yoga type pants (no zipper and all comfort – I lasted 3 days!).  Getting dressed up felt like another hassle so while we did go out to a nice place but I wouldn’t say any of us made too much of an effort with our appearance.  Drying and brushing my hair was all the fancy they got!  It was nice to go out to eat, to eat something that wasn’t fast food and not to have to shop for it, prepare it or clean up after it!

I am so glad that I chose this tip.  When I looked at it I thought it was the perfect time to do it and that it would be easy.  It was nothing short of miraculous that I made time for myself this holiday and I don’t regret a minute of it.  I am really going to work on carving out a pampering time for myself each week – even if it is only to take a bath in silence or read (uninterrupted) for an hour.  It doesn’t have to cost a lot but the benefits will keep on giving and giving.

Pamper yourself

For more information about our books, tips and resources go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org

1001 Tips for Military Families – #457


Spaces – Tip #457

It never surprises me that I quickly take over many of my husband’s “spaces” when he is gone.  I already sleep in the middle of the bed, have filled the closet with my clothes and moved in on his office space now – there seems to be no stopping me.  I also have a tendency to be MUCH tidier than he is and clean up and throw out things without a second thought.  This year I decided to not throw anything out but I did pack up some things that were just gathering dust.  What I am going to have to try hard to remember is that when he gets back he needs to have places and spaces that are “his” too and that all the things he left are still there when he returns!

Before he gets back I will:

* Move out of places (like the office area he loves) that he uses daily or at least make it a shared space

* Put all the things that I “tidied” up (packed into buckets) back where I found them

* Start sleeping back on my side of the bed a month before he returns

* Make sure that there is plenty of closet space for him to ‘move back in’

* Make areas for his things, reorganize myself and create spaces that he can ‘fill’ comfortably

reserved

The bottom line is that I know that it is important for any returning family member to feel like they belong and ‘fit’ into their home and family’s life when they return and taking over all the entire house isn’t going to help at all with the already difficult task of reuniting.

For more information about our tips, resources and books go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org

1001 Tips for Military Families – #456


Sanity: Keeping It or Getting It Back!

Losing it!

Losing it!

Keeping your sanity during a deployment is no easy feat (it is actually a challenge for me even when I am not going through a deployment). This week I’ve totally lost mine – I realized this when I was standing in a parking lot yesterday with a cart full of things and crying uncontrollably as I looked through the window to see my car keys locked inside (for those of you old enough to know this reference – I looked like Alice Cooper).  This week I have had to juggle work, kids, no kitchen (reno happening because of a flood), a basement in chaos, water heater not working, Christmas shopping, taxiing my kids to and from things, getting groceries, cleaning the house and so many other things I will not bore you with.  Locking my keys in the car was the final straw.  Many of my readers lately have asked me how I can be so positive and optimistic all the time.  Well… I am not!  I think the only positive thing I can muster up about the last few days is that there was no bloodshed (it is actually miraculous)!   Last night as I crawled into bed after making lunches in the living room, filling out trip forms and trying to find a place to hide Christmas presents, I thought about how I was possibly going to keep remotely sane over this holiday season and throughout the rest of this deployment.  Here is my sanity saving list!

1) Ask for help – I have asked my in-laws to take our dog during our crazy house renovation and I even put a plea out on Facebook for help with painting my basement.  I know that people are often happy to help and it is nice to have others taking some of the pressure off.

2) Say “Yes” – When people offer to do things, say yes.  Try not to worry about the burden you are putting on them (this is hard for me to do).  Two of my favourite people on the planet offered to drive and get my husband’s car (that was 2 hours away) and I didn’t want to let them but I realized it was my sanity or a little guilt – I went with feeling a little guilty!

3) Cry – I found myself crying twice in the last week and I haven’t cried before then in weeks and weeks.  It felt good and now I am able to move forward.  While I don’t think sobbing uncontrollably regularly is a good thing, a good cathartic cry every now and again is healthy.  My son saw we sobbing into a paint tray on the weekend and it was good for him to see that I am human too, that things get to me and I need TLC like everyone else (he was also extremely helpful all day which was an added bonus!).

4) Go to Bed Early – One night last week I went to bed when my kids did (8:30pm).  I realized that I had a huge smile on my face!  I got out my book (that was gathering dust) and actually read for 30mins before going into a virtual coma.  I woke up feeling so much better.  Once a week I am going to forget all the other things I should be doing and just get on my pyjamas and go to bed!

5)  Vent – While I really do believe that I am a very fortunate person and that many, many people have it MUCH harder than I do, I am so lucky to have a friend that I can vent to.  There are times when I just need someone to feel sorry for me, get something off my chest and then laugh about the craziness that is my life!  Find that person you can vent to – search until you do.  My best friend is sometimes the only thing between me and a straight jacket.

6) Do Things That Make You Happy – I spend a lot of time trying to make everyone happy.  I like being a caregiver and wouldn’t trade being a Mom or working in a school for all the money in the world but I also have to get better about doing things for myself too.  The most affordable thing that I could do to make myself happy would be to have a day in pyjamas, eating whatever and reading my book with a cup of tea.  I have marked on the calendar, “Mom Day” and over the holidays I am going to take it… no matter what.  Do the same – take a day that is just for you doing something relaxing, selfish (selfish shouldn’t be a dirty word) and that makes you happy!

The other things I do to create a healthy level of sanity aren’t as proactive or healthy (eating chocolate, having a lovely glass of red wine or watching movies until my eyes hurt).  The bottom line is that everyone feels stressed out, drained, and insane during a deployment.  You are not alone and just because I normally write some lovely proactive, positive tip doesn’t mean I don’t live with a healthy level of insanity myself!

For more information about our tips, resources, and books go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org

Living It – Week Seventeen


Breakfast for Dinner – Tip #85

Breakfast for dinner

It may be considered slightly sad that my idea of shaking it up a little is to have breakfast for dinner!  Having said this, when we do shake it up and have breakfast for dinner there is always something a little lighter and fun about this meal.  The kids laugh more, we all eat everything on our plates and it usually comes as a welcome relief not to cook another dinner that someone will find something to complain about.  I am not going to lie, it is also nice to hear the supportive cheer about what I am making.

Some of my suggestions for this tip were:

* Pour the pancake batter into large cookie cutter shapes - they turned out quite hilariously and not at all what they were supposed to be!  We had fun trying to guess what they actually were.

* Make a smoothie or punch to go with dinner – I made smoothies as I was able to sneak in more fruit and some greek yogurt for protein

* Use fancy or paper plates – I used paper plates and while I know this makes me a horrible environmentalist for the day, it was an easier clean up and I am all about that when attempting to survive a deployment!

* Eat in a different room – We have no choice – just before my husband left we had a flood (something like this always happens over a deployment with us, I think it is a rule) and now our kitchen is in utter chaos!

For more information about our tips, resources and books go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org

 

1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #455


Board games – 

Board Games

While I fully recognize (and acknowledge that I do it from time to time) it is easier to send your kids to the nearest electronic device and grab some “me” time, it is equally important to play a game or two with them.  Board games have made us laugh together, given great opportunities to talk about things that wouldn’t have come up otherwise and to spend some quality time together (I turn off my phone, don’t answer the landline and give them my 100% attention).

During this deployment, I have committed to having one ‘board games’ night a month.  We have also used this as an opportunity to clean out our board games and add a few new ones to our Christmas wish lists.

Our recommendations are:

* Apples to Apples (not sure I have ever laughed as much with my kids as I did playing this one)

* Pictionary (There is an adult and kids version.  You don’t have to be an artist to play and in most cases it is better if you aren’t)

* Cranium (Each category appeals to a wide range of skills but, I think, you need a group of people so you can make mixed ability teams)

* Monopoly (Honestly, this is my son’s recommendation – he loves this game.  I find it looooong and a bit painful!)

* Taboo (Funny for kids to watch adults struggle to find the words and a great vocabulary builder as a bonus)

* Heads Up (Popularized by Ellen and it is also a great App on your phone it also helps when in line ups, waiting for food at a restaurant, at the doctor’s, etc.)

* Chess (It is not always possible to get a group for games and chess allows for quieter moments together too.  There is also an online version that you can play.  While his Dad is deployed they are playing against each other online.  Sometimes my son will wake up and be so happy to see that his Dad has made a move!)

The bottom line is that it really doesn’t matter what game you play with them.  The important thing is that you are laughing together, talking and coming together as a family even if we are one family member short!

For more information about our tips, resources and books go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org

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