Tip # 10 – Journal Daily
If you can manage to find 2-10mins a day to write down a few thoughts, draw or doodle something, share an idea, dream, annoyance, event, etc. it will make all the difference when your absent family member comes home. The reason is that before you know it, those thoughts, doodles, ideas and other things that you share become a chronicling of your life while you were apart. It is a great way to fill in the gaps and can be a great way to begin communicating and reconnecting as you can look through it together and talk about the different things that happened, he/she can take it away and look through it quietly and discover all of the moments, thoughts, experiences and events that happened to you and the family in his/her absence.
I based our new family journal on what we had done when my husband was away. Sometimes when my daughter was at a swimming lesson my son would draw a picture and we would glue that in. If there was an incident (like, I don’t know… we all got the stomach flu and it was everywhere) I made up a funny incident report (later on when I could find it funny, of course). On trips or special days we would take a special picture that was just for Dad. There were times when I vented, wrote about my worries, dreams, fears. I included awards they had been given and sometimes I made up my own and doodled them in (Best at Surviving Deployments, Most Annoying Person of the Day, etc.). When we completed each book we sent them off to Daddy in a care package and told him to bring them back when he comes (some people worried about them being lost and saved them up until their family member came home). I thought that it would be a good thing for the kids to do and something for my husband to have a giggle over what it really ended up being was something to keep us connected and a great starting point for important conversations about what was tough, annoying, frustrating, funny, helpful, not helpful, etc. when he got back. It ended up being one of the best things we ever did.
Whether you buy our new Family Deployment Journal or make your own is not nearly as important as making sure that you do it. My husband is now getting ready to leave again and I have pulled them out to look at all the things that stressed me out or upset me to see how we can avoid doing that or make things better the next time around. It has also been a good reminder about all of the things we got right, over came and thrived through. Writing a journal, if only a few lines a day, will help you to gain perspective and eventually look back at where you were and how far you came.
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If you have questions, tips or suggestions please write to us at: Megan@whileyouwereaway.org