More Tips for Military Families – #171


Photograph A Day – Tip #171

Military family life can be extremely busy.  While I love to write, there isn’t always time in the day to record the day’s events.  It may also be that your returning family member won’t have time to read it all anyway!  Having said this, it is also important that days events, changes and happenings are recorded so that you can talk about experiences that happened while they were away, reconnect and gain a better understanding of what has happened in their absence.

Taking a photo a day is a quick and easy way to record and share your life experiences.  You don’t always notice the subtle changes that take place each day but when day after day becomes month after month those little changes can become really big and are important to acknowledge and record.

Tips:

* Keep a camera out on the counter and easily accessible so that you won’t forget to take pictures

* Make a separate folder on the computer for the photos so that they are easy to find and look at

* Ask others to send you their photos too so you are in the pictures and not just behind the camera

* If you can afford it, put a cheap ($20-25) camera in your car so that you will have one when you aren’t at home

* Take just a couple of minutes each week to label and date the photos (if you have older children, give them this responsibility or do it together)

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

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

Book Recommendation of the Week


Guess How Much I Love You

By – Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram


All children want reassurance that their parents’ love runs wide and deep and this is often even more so in a military family as there is constant change and they are looking for things that are always the same no matter what.  One thing you can guarantee to your child that will be constant is your love.

In Guess How Much I Love You, a young rabbit named Little Nutbrown Hare thinks he’s found a way to measure the boundaries of love. In a heartwarming twist on the “I-can-do-anything-you-can-do-better” theme, Little Nutbrown Hare goes through a series of declarations regarding the breadth of his love for Big Nutbrown Hare. But even when his feelings stretch as long as his arms, or as high as his hops, Little Nutbrown Hare is fondly one-upped by the elder rabbit’s more expansive love.

Tips:

* You can record yourself reading this book

* Read the book on a regular basis and ask your child to tell you how much you think they love you and reassure them

* Make up a little saying just between your family that follows the “Guess How Much I Love You…” theme (“I love you more than chocolate”.  Then they can say, “I love you more than my X-Box”)

* Each day write a note and put it in their lunch box or bag or under their pillow or say it (I love you more than…)

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

More Tips for Military Families – When They’re Back #109


Date Night – Tip #109


Whether or not your wife, husband, brother, mother, father, sister, son, daughter, cousin, friend, etc. you need to carve out time to re-establish and strengthen your relationship.  When your family member or friend comes home everyone will want a piece of him or her.  There is also the natural tendancy to feel guilty if you ask for time together all to yourselves as there may be a lot of other people who want to spend time with your family member.  Try to let go of the guilt and make time to have one dinner, breakfast, movie night, etc. together to reconnect on a regular basis.  Ultimately, when you spend time reconnecting, reuniting and re-establishing your relationship you are also strengthening your family.

Tips:

* Make a night that is set in stone for you both to spend uninterupted time together having fun and getting to know each other again

* Put it into our schedule on a weekly or bi-weekly (at the least) basis

* Choose an activity that you will both enjoy (go for dinner, attend a conference, bowling, golf, etc.)

* Let others know that this is your time together and part of your committment to build and strengthen your relationship

* Try to have it at a set time so that others do not plan or book things that will interfere with you being able to spend time together

* Choose activities that don’t require a lot of prep work or clean up so that you can spend your time together having fun not doing more work

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

More Tips For Military Families #172


Attend A Conference – Tip #172

This past weekend I attended the Milblogging conference (6th Annual)  in Washington, DC.  It wa fabulous to see and meet civilian and military organizations and have an opportunity to hear about what others are doing to support military members, families and communities.  It made me realize how important it is to step away from the computer and make personal face to face connections with other people.  It was was amazing to see how many people are committed to making military life easier for family members and our soldiers.

My tip is to look on the internet and see what conferences, speaking engagements, presentations or workshops are out there that will be talking about issues or things that interest you and actually go.  Even better, ask a couple of co-workers, friends or family members to also attend with you.  I have researched military family support for years and this weekend I learned about even more resources and organizations that are available to families and made connections with spouses and members that will hopefully go well beyond just this weekend – I would have done none of this from my home!

Some Conferences Taking Place:

* Blue Star Mothers – August

* Military Child Education Coalition – June

* Yellow Ribbon Conferences – See website for dates in your area

* Operation Hope Front – May

* OSISS – June

I would love you to write and let me know about conferences that are happening in your area.  When searching, most I come across are in US and I know they aren’t the only country having conferences for military families!  Please take this as a challenge to reply to the post or write to me and tell us about a conference or military family event happening that would be a great opportunity for military families or members to be a part of.

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

More Tips for Military Families – #157


Waiting – Not Waiting Around – Tip #157

When you have a family member absent or deployed, there is a temptation to put things on hold until they are back, wait for calls, check your email obsessively, listen for any media or news reports about the deployment and generally forget/ignore that there is a whole world out there.  Your absent family member is such a large part of your world and when they are gone, it can feel like there is a part of you missing too.  We could spend our whole lives waiting – in line for groceries, tickets, bathrooms, gas, to get in or out of something, etc.  When it comes to military life and waiting for a loved one to return, make sure you are just waiting and not waiting around.  There is a difference and you need to grow, learn, change and experience life too – because while they have been away, that is what they have been doing.  Your waiting doesn’t have to involve drastic changes or grand gestures just try to shake it up a little every day and I truly believe that the waiting will be a little easier.

Suggestions:

* Make a list of things you have always wanted to do

* Check your list each week and try to do one or two things

* Try cooking new or different types of food/recipes

* Drive different ways to work

* Go to different exercise, dance or yoga class each week

* Rent movies that you know your absent family member wouldn’t want to see anyway

* Make a list of people that you haven’t connected with in a while and then get in touch

* Read a book or magazine cover to cover that you have never read before but always wanted to

* Make a care package for yourself and then save it for a day when you really need to feel pampered

* Learn about support services in your area BEFORE they get home – you may never need them but it will be comforting to know they are there

* Get a base or community map and mark of the places you haven’t been but thought might be interesting and then go to them

* Visit your local MFRC, Readiness Centre or support centre and find out what other families are doing and what activities they have for you too – you will be amazed

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

Tips For Military Families – When They’re Back #18


Ask Questions – Tip #18

One of the things that we are all worried about doing is overwhelming our returning friend or family member with a lot of questions.  While I don’t think it is a great idea to ask 100’s of quesitons all in a row and insist on immediate responses, it will be important that you ask questions to open up the lines of communication, let the person know what you are thinking and wondering about and to hear a little about what their thoughts and opinions are.

Soldiers returning from deployments, training, courses or exercises are coming back with BATTLEMIND – they have been trained to take action, think little about things other than their safety and those in their unit, squash emotions, live in the moment and do their job everything else comes second or not at all.  Your family member will need time to change his/her mindset to live within a non-combat like home.  Asking questions and encouraging them to express their thoughts, ideas, feelings and emotions will help them to ease back into lives at home and do some re-thinking.

Examples of  Suggested Questions:

* What do you want to do today/tomorrow?

* What do you think about ________________?

* What did you think about the movie/TV show?

* What would you do if you were ____________?

* What things do you find have changed the most?

* What are you finding it hardest to deal with?

* What do you think would be fun to do together?

* What would you like to avoid doing?

* How will I know that you feel like talking?


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

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

Send Us Your Tips


Share Your Own Tips –

You might say to your self, I came here to get tips from someone else!  But this is also a suggestion/tip, tell others about what you did well, what you continue to do that works, something that you struggle with and what you are doing to cope, the best advice that you were ever given, some strategy your parents used that you now do, etc.  By sharing your success you will also be reminding yourself that you have some!  It is easy to look at what isn’t going right and fall into the trap of thinking that everything else is wrong too.  By sharing your successes you are also helping others.

Write to us with the best things you think you did during an absence, a deployment, a daily habit or routine, re-integration/re-union strategy, etc.  Each week we will be choosing a tip from someone else to post.   If we use your tip, we will send you one of our books (of your choice) for free!  We will contact you if your tip is selected.

Remember that many of our successes come from the little things that we do well!  The tip in all of this is to make sure you notice the things that are working in your life and not just the things that aren’t.

Send your email to: megan@whileyouwereaway.org

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


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