Living It – Week 12


Computer Time – Tip #58

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There is no arguing that computers and electronics are useful tools.  For most of us, we are using electronics of some kind throughout the day to do business, connect with people and check in on what is happening in the world.  I am old enough to remember when the internet was introduced and we were doing this fabulous thing called “email” that saved me the hassle of buying a stamp and getting the letter to the mailbox – not to mention how quick it was!  Now, jumping ahead over 20 years I use it for almost everything and when there is a power failure I tend to miss my computer/electronics more than having light or a working fridge.

I believe that the downside to all of our technological advancements is that it is replacing the face to face communication which in turn can leave us feeling alone or isolated and not even realize it.  Being able to see or hear people is important and often devalued by many (including myself at times).  About 6 months ago I couldn’t seem to carve out the time to actually get together with people in person – at least that is what I thought.  It is definitely easier to text, email or get onto Facebook than take the time to have the more personal and meaningful interaction with others especially when you are already feeling overwhelmed and sleep deprived.  I started taking a good look at my schedule and the time I was “saving” by connecting over the internet or by texting and started to take my own advice.  I committed to being off the computer by 6pm and to spending time with my kids in the evenings (at least until they were tucked up in bed), I started plugging in my phone and putting it out of sight, I told colleagues that if there were work emergencies to call my home line, I made a promise to myself to meet up with friends once every month, I stopped taking out my phone when I was walking the dog and deleted a bunch of games on my phone that I played mindlessly.  I am not saying I am perfect but I am now more aware of the world around me and am part of the Look Up movement (www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z7dLU6fk9QY).  I also discovered that I had more time than I thought.  I really had no sense of how much of my valuable time was being put into the world wide web rather than where I needed it to be.

While I am not saying completely ditch technology (I would never survive), I am saying that there needs to be a balance and I think many of us struggle with that.  I still play some games while watching TV with my family or friends (sometimes the shows are scary and I just need a distraction and sometimes they just aren’t interesting enough!).  We need time to disconnect from electronics and reconnect with the people that make us laugh, love us and understand us even when we don’t always understand ourselves.  The bottom line is that military life can be exhausting, life consuming and frustrating on a good day but I just don’t think that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. are going to support and energize you the way being with or talking on the phone to a humanbeing can.  Take up the challenge – disconnect more from electronics and spend more time with people face to face.  I haven’t regretted a moment of the time I have stepped away from my cell phone or computer but definitely regret it when I spend excessive amounts of my time on my phone or computer!

Disconnect to reconnect

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

1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #453


Responsibilities Chart

In our house can be painful trying to get my kids to lift a finger at times (okay, a lot of the time).  I am usually greeted with things like, “I have too much homework”, “I am so tired”, “_______ never does it.”.  It is frustrating and when my husband is away it leaves me to be the only one nagging which frequently sends me over the edge!  There was always a potential argument brewing about who walked the dog last, whose turn it is to empty the dishwasher, putting away their laundry, help with dinner, etc. until we started marking it all on a calendar I got in the after Christmas sales (you need to get one with big boxes for writing).  It is so exhausting having to ask and ask for things to be done that I am often tempted to do it myself to save the aggravation but I don’t want my kids to grow up believing that if you complain enough, someone will do it for you.

The only thing that has stopped the discussions (mostly) is our chore chart and dog walking schedule.  It is in the kitchen, written out for everyone to see so that we can avoid having a lengthy “debate”.  We make it together each month, agree it is fair before posting it up and stick to it whenever possible (my next goal is to work on teaching them to pitch in even when it isn’t written down or jump in when you see someone else is overwhelmed but I think that might need to be a long term goal!).

It has marked on it dog walking, their activities, help with dishes or dinner.

It stands out as we use different colours for things and I put it on the fridge as it is a high traffic area where everyone in the house goes regularly.

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

A whiteboard calendar will also work!

A whiteboard calendar will also work!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living It – Week 11


Hide Pictures – Tip #68

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This is advice of mine that I followed just last week.  I had my husband pull four faces as I snapped pictures and then had multiple copies printed of each.  I got card stock cutouts and spent a few minutes writing phrases, comments and requests and attaching them to the different faces of their Dad!  I not only had a big laugh doing it but already it has paid off!  There is one in the fridge reminding them to listen to me, one by the recycling asking them to take it out, one in the linen closet reminding them to put their laundry away, there are ones in their rooms telling them how much they are loved and I have even hidden some in winter coat pockets for them to find in a few weeks time.  There have already been several smiles and laughs about it.  It is just another fun way of reminding them they are loved, that he is never too far away and that he can nag too!

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This one is in the bathroom on the inside of the cupboard – I hear giggles on a regular basis!

 

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

1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #451


“When I Do It – When You Do It”  Chart 

During a deployment that is half way around the world, it is sometimes hard for us to imagine what our loved ones are doing while we are at home living the daily grind and it is another way for kids to understand the time differences that exist.  It can also be hard for families to understand that it isn’t always easy to have well timed phone calls or Skype chats.  We have created a chart and it is filled out and on our fridge for everyone to reference – it is also in our deployment journal for kids.

Understanding time zones

Understanding time zones

 

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

Living It – Week 10


 Display Photos – Tip #22

This week the  Living It advice I am taking from my tips books is about displaying pictures (not just selfishly enjoying them on my IPhone!). My husband is leaving this week for a longer deployment.  I have taken a few deep breaths, eaten my body weight in chocolate, went to look at all of my own advice for preparing for a deployment, have kept my pre-deployment checklist close by (see tip #449 on the blog) and then asked for help.  In the past we have had a little more notice so there was time to do more to prepare.  This time we have days to prepare so I had to prioritize what was important – photos came first.  We hadn’t had proper family photos taken in a couple of years so I asked a family friend to come and take some – he was amazing and dropped everything to come and do this for us and they are fabulous (another tip – I printed out more than I needed so that they were ready to give as Christmas presents too!).  I then went out immediately and had them printed and got frames right away.  I know myself – if I waited a few days it would never get done.   They will be displayed in high traffic areas and I have printed out a variety to also put on the fridge.  I also made sure we had some funny ones that are really “us” to put up (and send with him) as those are true to who we are and I want the kids to remember to laugh every day and my husband will then have something to laugh about while he is away too.

 

Our 'real' family photo!

Our ‘real’ family photo! For more information about our resources, tips and books go to: www.whileyouwereaway.org

 

Us being us!

Us being us!

 

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

1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #450


While You Are Away Candy Jar 

Full jar ready for our next deployment!

Full jar ready for our next deployment!

As we are preparing our kids for another deployment it was funny to hear about the things they remembered from the last time… deployment quilts, a vacation in Florida, having great pictures of all of us taken before he left and most importantly… the candy jar!  There are few easier and more effective ways (that I know of) to countdown the days and time passing.  Due to the fact that this deployment is longer, that my kids are older and a jelly bean a day isn’t going to cut it (like when they were younger) – I had to go out and buy a bigger jar.  Thankfully, it is Halloween time so finding candy in smaller sizes didn’t cost a fortune and was easy to find.  I bought fabric paint at Walmart and marked four depths on the jar (“It is going to be awhile”, “Making progress”, “Still Waiting”, “Nearly home”).  I also put extra candy in as we have no idea about return dates.  While our dentist will probably not be pleased this is something easy to do and is a small treat for surviving each day without their Dad.  It took less than 30mins to put together too which is a bonus when we are madly trying to cram a thousand and one things into 2 days!

The lid!

The lid!

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

1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #449


As our family gears up for another deployment it was definitely time to update our pre-deployment checklist!  I hope you find this as helpful as we do.  Some of the items may not apply to you or your family but I have tried to make them as general as possible.

Here is the link to it in a printable format:  http://wywa.ca/DEPLOYMENTRESOURCES/Pre_Deployment_Checklist.doc

Pre-Deployment Checklist

To Do

Additional Info

Done

Walk through of house to locate:1) Fuse box2) Water Shut off3) Breaker

4) Gas Valve

   
Health Insurance Information, Policy number, etc.      
Mailing address during deployment       
Military Family Resource Contact Information during the deployment      
Contact info for:Rear Party: ___________Unit Contact Information:_______Email: ____________________    
Update Contact information for schools     
Update family and friends with contact information      
All bills and payments are on prepaid schedule or set up and accessible      
Updated will & power of attorney       
Power of guardianship completed       

 

Marriage certificate, birth certificate, health cards, etc.  all accessible     
Location of mortage or rental agreements      
Household budget agreed upon and summarized      
Emergency Contact Lists done – phone tree created      
Authorization to access accounts and information      
Pay office information and pay allotments organized      
Passwords available – computer, internet, etc.   Computer: ________________Alarm: ___________________Internet: __________________Other: ____________________  
Update calendar with important events and dates and give to each family member or have an online calendar everyone can access    
Create first aid kits and emergency kits      
Give set of house and car keys to friend or trusted colleague      
Car Maintenance and Insurance all done and up to date   Name of mechanic/ contact info:____________________________  

 

Get CAA/AAA  Membership # ________________    
Permission to travel with children form completed     
Organize yard maintenance, snow removal, grass cutting  Contact #’s:     
Create a “need to know” sheet for the fridge     
Get family photos taken      
Vet Information      
Emergency Car Kit    
Create a countdown calendar for the kids or candy jar     
Put up pictures in the kid’s rooms      
Create a set location to put mail & make an agreement on what to open and not open     
Other:      
     
     


Goodbye

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

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