1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #461


Dividing Time 

Taking a few days off to camp with Dad and eat bacon!

Taking a few days off to camp with Dad and eat bacon!

My husband came home for 3 weeks after being away for 8 months.  My kids had lists of things that they wanted to do with him that couldn’t humanly be accomplished in 21 days unless he chose not to sleep or eat.  I was quickly reminded of a phrase that I live by – What is fair, isn’t always equal.  I had spoken to my husband ahead of time to warn him that he and I would have little time together given the needs (and wants) of our kids on his time and that there was only three weeks.  We also said no to a lot of other visits and family time – I am not sure we were overly popular with this but it was the right thing to do. I think it was helpful to talk about all of this ahead of time but it was still a 3 week long juggling act!

 We decided to base our time decisions around three things:

* Is it important to our kids?

* Will it happen again at a later date when we have more time?

* Will it be time well spent together and fun?

Of course, there were things we couldn’t do and wanted to but in three weeks a lot of fun was had.  In the end, it was three weeks of trying to do things the kids had been dreaming of doing with their Dad in 8 long months.  Of course there was a list a mile long of things we needed to get down around the house, papers signed, bills, etc. but in the end we have no regrets as our kids got the only thing they ever really want – our time.  Don’t get me wrong, now that he is gone again I can often be heard muttering around the house about the things that should have been done or feel frustrated that I didn’t ask about one thing or another.  There is no perfect answer to these quick breaks but I think we came close as our kids were a lot happier for it.

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

 

 

1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #462


Talking 

Communication

As we head into the last weeks of going it solo I am now spending a lot of time thinking about how we are all going to come back together as a family and some of the things that need to be said. We have lived in the same house for approximately 100 days in 3 years. In that time the kids have grown and changed and we both have too.  There are a lot of things that were awful and difficult about all the time away but there were also a lot of things I enjoyed too.  All of this needs to be talked about.

Tips for communication:

* Don’t take on any heavy topics for the first few weeks. Focus on fun and spending time together.

* Carve out time to talk each day once you have begun to settle into a routine of some sort. Even if it is for 5-10mins this is important and will truly help.

* Try to choose one or two things to tackle at a time.

* Be prepared to hear things you don’t want to.  No one enjoys hearing negative things about themselves or about all the things we are doing wrong but we aren’t perfect and if you don’t know what is bothering someone you can’t move forward.

* Be honest and courageous in your conversations not angry and spiteful.

* Set some common goals – we are talking about this because we both need/want…

* Listen to understand, not to be understood.  There is a huge difference and it will make a difference if you really try to understand what it is they are saying.

* Start and end conversations with something positive even if you have to dig deep!

* Take time outs when you get emotional. Talking when you are in a heightened state will accomplish little and may take you back a step or two.

* Conversations should not take place in front of children or family members. Go for a walk, sit outside, wait until the kids are out or have gone to bed.

* Don’t try to have discussions when either of you have been drinking or are exhausted. I don’t believe this has ever been a successful technique particularly as the other person may wonder if it was said because of intoxication or if it was even true or they just wanted to get to sleep.

* Turn off phones, TV, etc. I am not sure I know of anyone that appreciates someone watching the TV, texting or answering the phone in the middle of an important conversation.

Feeling anger, frustration, sadness and so many other emotions is normal and natural but… To have a healthy relationship you will have to let go of these things (eventually) and you can’t let go until you let them out!

For more information about my tips, resources or books go to:  www.whileyouwereaway.org

Living It Week 35 and 36


Calendar – Tip #25

When my husband was away, I was great (if I do say so myself) about keeping a calendar with everything and anything on it.  The kids even got into the habit of looking at it (I know you may be thinking that is a small accomplishment but it really isn’t in my world!).  It really helped to keep us organized and maintained some sanity.  Then my husband got home and all routines fell apart and the calendar was just taking up space on the board in the kitchen.  After two weeks of missing appointments, never knowing where everyone was, being totally out of sync and becoming really frustrated we quickly realized that it was something small that made a huge difference!

IMG_4102

I took my own advice and…

1) Asked that everyone put their things on the main kitchen calendar (it isn’t overly helpful to me to know that it is in your phone calendar…) and did the first input with everyone right there to get them started

2) Colour coded the calendar for people so that you would know which things were yours by quickly looking

3) Went over the calendar once a week at dinner (for the following week) so we all knew what was happening, who needs to be taken places, etc.

4) Printed out 3 months at a time so we also knew what things were coming up in the next months that were important too

5) Took a picture of the calendar and texted it to everyone

While I know that we are all in the era where we generally believe that technology can do it faster and more efficiently, this printed calendar in the kitchen may have actually saved the lives of my husband and children as I was teetering on the edge of insanity with the chaos!

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

Living It – Week 34


Tip #18 – Ask Questions

COnversation Cards

I can honestly say that at this point in the deployment there is little extra I am willing to or wanting to take on – I am beyond tired and just want to spend a solid week sleeping.  I know that when my husband gets home he will be tired (I have to constantly remind myself that he has been working for 8months solid with no breaks so it hasn’t been a picnic for him either).  One of the things we struggle with is what to do as a family to get conversations starting again and begin filling in the gaps of missed time.  My husband isn’t the best conversationalist and the kids haven’t seen him for 8 months so this reunion I decided that we would do Meal Question Cards.  This takes the pressure off everyone to have to come up with their own questions and keeps us laughing and talking.

Tips:

* Make a mix of silly and serious questions

* Give incentives to people with the best answer (no dishes for the best answer, chore free day for the most thoughtful response, extra dessert if everyone laughs, etc.)

* Choose one meal a week to do them at so that it isn’t a pressure at every meal or everyday

* Put a few “Pass” cards out too so that people have the option not to answer something they aren’t comfortable with

* Hide them under their plates so they can’t cheat and plan their answers ahead of time

Hopefully your family will have fun with this, begin to reconnect and start talking about the big and little things that matter to them!

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

Our Reunion Handbook can be found at (conversation cards on page 26-33):  http://wywa.ca/DEPLOYMENTRESOURCES/Reunion-Handbook-Ver5.pdf

Living It – Week 33


Tip #61 Seek Support

Support

Most people don’t reach out for help until they are in a crisis.  We aren’t going to wait!  I have been 8 months without my husband and have only shared a house, kids and room with him for just over 150 days in 3 years.  I know that we are going to need counseling so I am not going to wait or feel embarrassed about it.  I am also not going to fall into the trap of saying we don’t have enough time to go – we have to make the time.  I have time to watch TV so I have time to go to counseling.  We also cannot use the excuse that it is too much money as there are tons of free services for military members and families – we are going to use the services offered to us.  We are both committed to making the time.  I know that there are definitely families where both couples aren’t committed and ready to go but at the least make an appointment for yourself so that you can have a neutral person with no emotional ties or investment in your relationship to talk to.  I am lucky we are both ready and willing but if my husband wasn’t, I would go anyway.

Great Websites:

These are a few that I found and have used but please feel free to add your own if you know of any.

For more information about our tips, resources, and books to go:

www.whileyouwereaway.org

Living It Week 30 and 31


Short Term Goals – Reunions!

Sharing the bed

It has been a long couple of weeks with some unexpected twists and turns.  Now that we are coming to break in the deployment and a three week visit, we are all tired and ready for a change of pace and desperately in need of an extra set of hands to help out with things.  This weekend I was a taxi driver, homework helper, gardener, baker, laundress, grocery shopper, party organizer, dog walker, and so much more! I nearly sat down and openly wept at the lack of “me time” I have for anything but then I remembered that we are three weeks left to go until I get a break and pulled myself together.  After all, I have made it eight months!  :)

This reunion I am setting some goals for myself that will hopefully support our whole family.  In past deployments, reunion has always been the hardest and I am hoping that doing a few things differently will make coming back together a bit easier…

Short Term Reunion Goals:

* Constantly remind myself about what is important – if some things don’t get done when he is back for a couple of weeks, they don’t get done and the world won’t stop because the fence wasn’t fixed.

* Making a small list of things that are priorities but with the expectation that it isn’t going to all get accomplished in three weeks and only putting things on the list that are driving me nuts.  The list can also overwhelm my husband in that he feels like he has to do it all and that puts pressure on him that isn’t necessary

* Inviting friends and family around all for one big event – this allows everyone to have a visit and for us to spend a lot of family time together too without trying to schedule in tons of different visits.  The last time we spent the entire time going from one event to another and it was tiring.

* Keeping his return low key – we will make a banner, we will get excited, we will get his favourite foods in the house but not make it into the biggest event of the year.  It reduces the pressure on all of us and gives him time to settle in quietly without tons of expectations and obligations

* Set limits with people – many people will want us to do things and go places and we have to be willing and comfortable saying no.  He is only home for three weeks.  We all need a slower pace, low stress and family time (I may be sleeping non stop but I will be physically there)

* I will keep my resentful comments about him not having to run a house, take care of kids and a dog, and have a full time job to myself (at least try to)!  Rationally, I know that we have both had it hard and to compare would be crazy as it is truly like comparing apples and oranges but I do tend to get caught up in the who had it harder game and am going to work hard not to

* I am a person that only feels relaxed when things are tidy and clean – I know on one level it is sad but it is me.  I am going to work hard to not ‘lose my noodle’ when my husband begins to spread like a fungus all over the house.    I am going to remind myself that it is three weeks and don’t want to spend them nagging about cleaning up.

* Selfish “me time” – As I have said before, being selfish is not a horrible thing that you need to feel guilty about.  I am going to have a selfish day before my husband comes home so that I am not burnt out and bugging him to give me time.  I will still bug him to give me some time but I won’t be quite so desperate.

A lot of my goals are either about being self aware or mentally preparing myself to share my life, our kids, the house and bed again (I still am waking up sprawled across it!).  My ultimate piece of advice is to take some time to pamper yourself and think about what it is you want and don’t want before your family member comes home, be prepared to give up some things and set limits!

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

 

A Company That Gives Back to Military Families


While I have not personally experienced Caliber Collision ‘s work and rarely blog or support for profit businesses, I was convinced when read about what kinds of work Caliber is doing.  They are focused on supporting veterans and military families in great ways and I didn’t know about any of it so I thought that I would share with some of you that might want to apply or access these services.  Caliber Collision has over 300 locations within the United States, specializing in auto body repairs and doing wonderful things to help out military families and veterans.

Having to balance your daily activities and work schedule without a vehicle can be a struggle, and Caliber is making every effort to eliminate this stress from military families.  It is our pleasure to refurbish vehicles and gift them to military families in the Austin, TX, and Dallas, TX, areas.  These vehicles have been restored to excellent driving condition, and were able to gift them to deserving families.  Through Recycled Rides, they were able to donate 20 vehicles in 2014, and in 2015, we have over 25 scheduled vehicle donations.  You can nominate yourself or a deserving individual through this nomination form.

Carry the Load is a national relay designed to raise recognition for our military, law enforcement, firefighters, and rescue personnel.  Caliber has different teams that will trade off walking the entire 2,000 miles starting in West Point, NY, and ending in Dallas, TX.  The relay will be going through 27 cities including Philadelphia, Washington, DC, Charlotte, Atlanta, Nashville, Memphis, and Little Rock, and people can join the walk at any point in the relay.  Their team will participate in the 27 day walk, finishing on Memorial Day in Dallas, and Caliber will hold events in Austin and Dallas to commemorate this event.  While there is no required registration or fee, registration is encouraged to allow for adequate supplies.  The money raised will help support national non-profit organizations including Heroes on the Water, Snowball Express, Team Red, White, and Blue (RWB), and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS).

Many Caliber employees are veterans so we understand the challenges of finding employment after you leave the military.  They have partnered with 3M to help returning veterans find careers in the collision industry while giving them the correct education and support.  They work directly with 3M and the Collision Repair Education Foundation to provide veterans with scholarships and support for collision repair training.  In addition, the 3M Hire our Heroes program is able to fund rehabilitation for wounded veterans through Operation Comfort’s Automotivation program.  Through this program, they are able to help wounded veterans learn automotive skills in a new way so they can continue their automotive skill training.  In addition, many of their shops are eager to employ military veterans.

As a corporation, Caliber participates in Recycled Rides, Carry the Load, and Hire our Heroes, and many of our individual centers participate in other military organizations such as the Celebration of Love, Valentines for Veterans, and the Wounded Warrior Project.  They are committed to helping our military heroes because of the sacrifices they continually make for our country.  We will be eternally grateful to our country’s military, veterans, and their families, and we are thankful to have the opportunity to restore them to the rhythm of their life®.

 

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

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