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1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #487


Instruction Manual – Tip #487

When I was teaching I asked students to all write an instruction manual for themselves at the beginning of the school year.  They had to come up with instructions on how others should operate around them, their best features, all the things you get from having them in your life and what others need to do to support them in functioning to the best of their abilities.  Basically, students create a ‘how to’ manual for others to follow, a guide to help you ‘maintain’ their health!

I got to thinking about when we have a family member absent or deployed there are often a lot of new people that come into your family’s lives or family members that aren’t around as much for the day to day operations and they don’t always know things that would be helpful and make life easier for everyone.  I also realized that I probably don’t ask enough what things my kids think I need to do to support them.  Before an absence or deployment I think that this would be an ideal activity to do so that other people looking after your children or working with your children know more and you would have insights directly from the source that could be invaluable.

Instruction manual

Tips for Creating An Instruction Manual:

* Create a fancy cover with a recent photo

* Give basic information on the first page – full name, date of birth, address, phone numbers, siblings

* Things to Keep Me Running Smoothly – list things that they like to do

* Things to feed me – favourites, foods to avoid, etc.

*Things I would fail to function without – essentials that they sleep with, take on trips, etc.

* Favourite People – a list of people they know and trust (this will also remind them of what their support system is and let you know if you need to create a bigger circle)

* My operating routine – daily things that need to be done, should be done and would be a bonus if they were done.

* What to do when there is a system failure – when there are bad days or things go wrong what will help?  What will make it worse?  What do you need?

The more fun you make it, the more likely they are to buy into it.  Keep it out on a coffee table or on the fridge so that people can reference it, your kids can add to it, etc.  Make one for yourself too.  It is not only an important way to reflect on what you need but a great way to tell your family that you need handling with care instructions.

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


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