1001 Tips for Military Families – #456

Sanity: Keeping It or Getting It Back!

Losing it!

Losing it!

Keeping your sanity during a deployment is no easy feat (it is actually a challenge for me even when I am not going through a deployment). This week I’ve totally lost mine – I realized this when I was standing in a parking lot yesterday with a cart full of things and crying uncontrollably as I looked through the window to see my car keys locked inside (for those of you old enough to know this reference – I looked like Alice Cooper).  This week I have had to juggle work, kids, no kitchen (reno happening because of a flood), a basement in chaos, water heater not working, Christmas shopping, taxiing my kids to and from things, getting groceries, cleaning the house and so many other things I will not bore you with.  Locking my keys in the car was the final straw.  Many of my readers lately have asked me how I can be so positive and optimistic all the time.  Well… I am not!  I think the only positive thing I can muster up about the last few days is that there was no bloodshed (it is actually miraculous)!   Last night as I crawled into bed after making lunches in the living room, filling out trip forms and trying to find a place to hide Christmas presents, I thought about how I was possibly going to keep remotely sane over this holiday season and throughout the rest of this deployment.  Here is my sanity saving list!

1) Ask for help – I have asked my in-laws to take our dog during our crazy house renovation and I even put a plea out on Facebook for help with painting my basement.  I know that people are often happy to help and it is nice to have others taking some of the pressure off.

2) Say “Yes” – When people offer to do things, say yes.  Try not to worry about the burden you are putting on them (this is hard for me to do).  Two of my favourite people on the planet offered to drive and get my husband’s car (that was 2 hours away) and I didn’t want to let them but I realized it was my sanity or a little guilt – I went with feeling a little guilty!

3) Cry – I found myself crying twice in the last week and I haven’t cried before then in weeks and weeks.  It felt good and now I am able to move forward.  While I don’t think sobbing uncontrollably regularly is a good thing, a good cathartic cry every now and again is healthy.  My son saw we sobbing into a paint tray on the weekend and it was good for him to see that I am human too, that things get to me and I need TLC like everyone else (he was also extremely helpful all day which was an added bonus!).

4) Go to Bed Early – One night last week I went to bed when my kids did (8:30pm).  I realized that I had a huge smile on my face!  I got out my book (that was gathering dust) and actually read for 30mins before going into a virtual coma.  I woke up feeling so much better.  Once a week I am going to forget all the other things I should be doing and just get on my pyjamas and go to bed!

5)  Vent – While I really do believe that I am a very fortunate person and that many, many people have it MUCH harder than I do, I am so lucky to have a friend that I can vent to.  There are times when I just need someone to feel sorry for me, get something off my chest and then laugh about the craziness that is my life!  Find that person you can vent to – search until you do.  My best friend is sometimes the only thing between me and a straight jacket.

6) Do Things That Make You Happy – I spend a lot of time trying to make everyone happy.  I like being a caregiver and wouldn’t trade being a Mom or working in a school for all the money in the world but I also have to get better about doing things for myself too.  The most affordable thing that I could do to make myself happy would be to have a day in pyjamas, eating whatever and reading my book with a cup of tea.  I have marked on the calendar, “Mom Day” and over the holidays I am going to take it… no matter what.  Do the same – take a day that is just for you doing something relaxing, selfish (selfish shouldn’t be a dirty word) and that makes you happy!

The other things I do to create a healthy level of sanity aren’t as proactive or healthy (eating chocolate, having a lovely glass of red wine or watching movies until my eyes hurt).  The bottom line is that everyone feels stressed out, drained, and insane during a deployment.  You are not alone and just because I normally write some lovely proactive, positive tip doesn’t mean I don’t live with a healthy level of insanity myself!

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

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