101 Tips for When They’re Back – Tip #216

Family Wish List – Tip #216

When your family completes a deployment it is important that you find ways to come back together as a family by creating new goals and following through with some old ones.  You have not shared the same world or experiences for the entire time they were deployed and it will be important that you begin to create new and happy memories together.  This will help to remind you that you still love and care about each other, have some of the same interests, can laugh at some of the same things and most importantly love being together.


* Make a list of 50 – 100 things that you have always wanted to do, interested in doing or thought would be fun

* Highlight the ones in a particular colour that you can do within the month and use another colour to highlight the ones that you will do the next month or within the year

* Ask other people to give input on the list too

* Remember to put a mix of things that are both short and long term, easy and hard to achieve, need no money and that you would need to save for

* Post your list in a high traffic area so you don’t forget your dreams and goals

* Check them off as you do them and look through your list and make any changes you want at least on a monthly basis

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

To submit a tip of your own, write to: Megan@whileyouwereaway.org

101 Tips for Troops – #17

Care Packages – Tip #17

It is unlikely that you will have time to make a care package for  your family at home, while deployed (not to forget that there aren’t a lot of choices of what you could put in it – sand?).  My tip is to do it before you even leave.  There are times during an absence or deployment when your family and friends discover that you are the peace keeper, idea person, creator of fun(ny) moments or just the person that could keep everyone from getting on each other’s nerves.  It can be opened during the deployment when you call or open an email and discover that they are at the end of their rope or if you have a nosy/snoopy family, give it to someone with instructions on when to give it to your family, girlfriend, children, wife, etc.

‘I Care’ Kit Ideas:

* Their favourite DVDs

* CD of pictures of you all together

* CD of mixed songs for the car that you both liked or that made you sing or laugh

* Recordable frame with a special photo and a few words of encouragemen/love from you

* Non-perishable food -their favourite candies

* A ‘hang in there’ card.  Write and tell them what you are probably missing most about them.

* A t-shirt you used to wear all the time or some new pjs

* A gift certificate to their favourite place

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

To submit a tip of your own, write to: Megan@whileyouwereaway.org

Guest Blog #3

VoiceQuilt for Deployments or Extended Absences – Guest Blog #3

When my husband was deployed the last time he spent a great deal of time before he left recording his voice for the kids.  He read them their favourite books, had funny jokes and sayings and a video that said good night to them each night.  It was one of the best things he ever did before leaving.  His story CDs and videos kept us all going.  I would often lie on the bed with my kids and listen to the sound of his voice too!  Our latest guest blogger has a company that can help you to record your voice for family and friends in a variety of different ways. 

VoiceQuilt is a uniquely personal gift – filled with your vivid, heart-touching greeting, memories and tributes. Record messages of love and thanks to a solider who has serves us proud or have you and the kids records a message to dad who is serving oversees. You can also upload their favorite sentimental music. It will be a gift they cherish for a lifetime.

The sound of someone’s voice – their accent, tone and laughter – conveys much more than a photo, letter or a store-bought gift. VoiceQuilt™ is a wonderfully creative gift solution for an individual, groups or families, a unique way to celebrate any occasion: a special birthday, anniversary, retirement, Mother’s Day, Christmas, graduations, Father’s Day, a wedding or just to reach out to someone special, just because.

In addition, VoiceQuilt is a great way to share messages to troops overseas or have them share some with you!  There is no end to how you can use it! In times of celebration, VoiceQuilt makes memories last forever and when times are tough, VoiceQuilt becomes a personal cheering squad.

For more information about VoiceQuilt go to: http://www.voicequilt.com

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

Book Recommendation of the Week

Five Good Minutes

By: Jeffrey Brantley and Wendy Millstine

I can get really stressed and frantic.  I like to feel in control of situations and fairly well planned and organized.  Keep in mind that I said that is how I like to feel not how I actually end up feeling most of the time.  One of the women that I am lucky enough to work with once told me that I needed to get a copy of “Five Good Minutes” and it would alter my world.  I laughed and said I would love a good five minutes all to myself any day.  I liked the idea that taking five minutes a day could alter the way I feel (mainly because I don’t have any extra time to spare) so I bought the book. It truly has given me some good techniques and moments of calm and relaxation in five minutes!  There are sayings in there that I use on a weekly basis and little things that have really made me reflect on what is important to me and how I put those things first.

I think this is a wonderful book for military families as you truly may only be able to carve out five minutes in a day and it will be a fabulous five minutes that you won’t feel as though you have wasted.  In the introduction to this book the authors state that the book is for you if you would like to do more with your life but don’t think you have time left to do it, just don’t know what to do to feel more satisfied or happier, often feel too tired or do not have the energy or strength to take on something else or, lastly, are curious and willing to experience some different approaches with your life.  I was pretty much all of the above.

Many of the activities and ideas I have also used with groups or classes of students and they actually look forward to that part of the day or session.  There are also other “Five Good Minutes” books like, “Five Good Minutes with The One You Love” which I think is ideal for you to do after an extended absence, deployment or just to try to reconnect with each other.

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

To submit a book recommendation or tip of your own, write to: Megan@whileyouwereaway.org

More Tips for Military Families – #166

Procrastinating – Tip #166

It is tempting during absences or deployments to put things off until another day when they are back, when you feel like it, are better rested, in the mood, etc.  If you are like me, this doesn’t happen and you end up feeling overwhelmed, over-worked and stressed out.  I truly believe that you need to tackle things when you can, as soon as possible, avoid making excuses (there will always be tons of those), and focus on how good it will feel to have things accomplished, taken care of and/or completed.

Some Tips For Ending Procrastination:

* Make a list of things that need to be accomplished (just acknowleding what needs to be done helps)

* Involve your family in planning how things are going to get done and who needs to help (this way everyone is aware of what needs doing)

* Review your ‘to do’s’ regularly (they can change or be completed and shorten your list)

* Divide things into ‘need to’ and ‘want to’ (this will help you prioritize)

* Set timelines and deadlines for each task (don’t get upset with yourself if you miss your own deadline, just re-adjust your timelines and keep going)

* Identify issues with accomplishing things and see what solutions you can come up with

* Post your ‘to do’ list in a high traffic area where people can see it and perhaps will also feel like lending a hand or at the least recognize that you are busy and not ask for more of you!

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

To submit a tip of your own, write to: Megan@whileyouwereaway.org

Reader’s Tip #11

Strong Support System – Reader’s Tip #11

You have to have a strong support system! I really knew nothing of the Army life before my son deployed before his 1st deployment, which is currently now being served in Afghanistan, but thankfully I was able to drive with my sister from Te…xas to Ft Campbell, KY, to see him off & while there, I met not only some of his Battle Buddies, who friended this Army Mom, but also their wives & their Moms, who also FB friended me! These connections turned out to be one of my life lines this past 8-months! They in turned me onto daily devotional for deployed loved ones & such other support systems! I also have a strong support system in my friends & church & neighbors! You can’t go through a deployment alone, you have to talk it through with people who understand what you are feeling & going through, you are the one at home waiting for a call or anything to tell your son is ok & alive! You have to have a strong support system to get through a deployment!
Jannett (Military Mom) – Texas

Think you don’t have a support system?

* Try making a list of friends, co-workers, family members, etc. that you would be comfortable asking for the big and small favours
* Do what Jannett did, go on Facebook or the internet and join support networks
* Check out your local military readiness or resource centre and ask to be connected with people, groups or agencies that can provide you with answers to questions, support and encouragement
* Create your own support system and make a weekly or monthly meeting date and choose a spot to get together and share your thoughts, feelings, worries or just have a laugh

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

To submit a tip of your own and have a chance to win a free book, write to: Megan@whileyouwereaway.org

More Tips for Military Families #147

Saturday or Sunday Morning  – Tip #147

It used to be that when I was alone (due to yet another deployment or exercise) I would have to really have to make the most of the quiet moments in the morning before my kids came in and jumped on the bed to tell me that they are hungry, bored, or both.  I would sigh and complain about having to get up and organize breakfast, etc. all on my own.  I would drag myself out of bed and think, resentfully, about how nice it would be to get some extra sleep for just one morning out of the entire week.

One Friday night I decided to try something different.  I had stayed up late and was dreading having to get up with the kids in the morning, so I put out cereal, muffins, layed the breakfast table and left two activity books with new packs of fancy markers beside the table.  I then took Cheerios and make a trail to the kitchen table from their room.  When I rolled over at 9am (that’s right, 9am is a big sleep in with us) I awoke to the sound of… nothing!  I walked out, initially worried something awful had happened (usually the case when they are unusually quiet) and there they both were – colouring and chomping on Cheerios.  It is now a part of our routine (minus the Cheerio trail as they stepped all over them and I had to clean that up!).  I don’t buy something new each week but I have started cycling different toys and activities so that they haven’t seen them in a while and it gives them more of a new toy feel.  This worked for the entire time my husband was deployed on Saturday mornings and when he came back we enjoyed a Saturday morning sleep in and then Sunday mornings being jumped on!

One Friday night my husband and I had a really good laugh together as we created a treasure map and hid clues around the house to keep the kids busy in the morning while we had a blissful 30min sleep in.   We hid things with a clue and they loved it.  The next Saturday the kids made one for us and we had to follow their clues.  I know this isn’t possible for kids of all ages but if your kids are young then hold onto this tip as this will happen for you one day!  I also put a lot of ground rules in before attempting it – don’t answer the door, don’t use appliances, wake me up if you have any questions (even if you think they are silly), etc.

For more information about our books, blog, and/or resources, go to: http://www.whileyouwereaway.org

To submit a reader’s tip of your own, write to: Megan@whileyouwereaway.org

More tips for Military Families #144

Where are they? – Tip #144

Don’t assume that your children understand where in the world your family member actually is and when they don’t, kids often have their imaginations running wild.  Give them as much information as possible about the country (if you can) and where they are in relation to you, it will give them some sense of understanding and perspective.

Knowing when the sun will rise and set can give them something to think about at a certain time each day – at 8pm each night you can have them think about how their family member might just be getting up to start their day and send them an email saying good morning before they go to bed.  Even though the service member may not get the emails for awhile it will be nice for them to see they were thought of so often.

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

To submit suggestions or a tip of your own, write to: Megan@whileyouwereaway.org


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