1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #460


Easter Hunt for Tweens and Teens (Updated)

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A couple of puzzle pieces in each egg and sometimes a chocolate egg or two!


With Easter coming, the pressure is on to prepare an Easter Egg hunt and with them being older, they needed a challenge and we have a dog so hiding chocolate eggs isn’t great.  My kids don’t want to give up being kids so I am all for that for as long as I can get it!   This was a big hit last year and I decided that I would do it again.  I bought two 100 piece puzzles, will write on the back of it using markers with the clue to where the baskets were hidden.  Being teenagers, I have written two messages on each of the puzzles.  I will then put the puzzle pieces in plastic eggs and when they finished the puzzle they would be able to discover where their baskets were hidden.

You will need: permanent marker, plastic eggs, two puzzles exactly the same and a few jelly beans, mini chocolate eggs and something you are giving them hidden in a safe location. 

Directions:

1) Buy 2 puzzles (got mine at Walmart this year and chose two 100 piece puzzles to add the to the challenge I bought two different puzzles)

2) Use a permanent marker and write your message across both puzzles. 

Message Is: Hoppy Easter! Your baskets are somewhere in the laundry room!

Message Is: Hoppy Easter! Your baskets are somewhere in the laundry room!

3) Mix both of the puzzles together and then put a couple of puzzle pieces in each egg (sometimes I put some jelly beans or chocolate in the plastic eggs to keep them fueled up)

FullSizeRender (14)

Two puzzles mixed together

 

4) Count how many plastic eggs you hide so you know when they have all their puzzle pieces 

5) Hide eggs and then enjoy an hour or so of watching them work together to figure it out, make a coffee and put your feet up! 

Happy Hunting!

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

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1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #470


“I Love You Because…” Frames

Our lives as a family are busy.  We have chosen to do the things that we love to do and are having fun but most mornings I don’t really don’t see my kids very much.  In fact, most mornings I wake them (after turning on lights, telling them to get up 5 times and then move to panicked pleading) but then I have to leave for work.  Being a teenager is hard, really hard.  I want my kids to know that they are not only loved but why they are loved – at this age they want facts and evidence or they don’t believe it!  I know that they really don’t hear much that I say with their morning and pre breakfast brain.  I decided that I would make something quick and easy that they could read while they were getting ready and try to start their day off right.

Being that we are busy, I can assure you that these were EASY to make, are easy to do and cheap!  All you need is two frames, paper, and a white board marker.  You can change it every day or once a week.  It is up to you.

 
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1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #469


The Kindness Challenge

If you are anything like me, December is spent in a mad dash to buy things for people that I hope they will like and will show them I care.  However, I think that the Grinch had a serious “Ah Ha” moment when he discovered that Christmas isn’t from a store or in a box.  In fact, this was the inspiration for the December challenge.  Rather than the focus just on buying and wrapping, lining up and getting generally frazzled just trying to find a parking space at the mall – I will do that but… I wanted us to focus on being good to ourselves and each other too.  If you are posted somewhere without family and a lot of friends, have someone on a deployment, etc. this is a good way to refocus you too!

Click Here for our December Kindness Challenge Calendar: December Kindness Challenge

Kindness Challenge

 

Alter it to suit your family and feel free to share yours too!  Good luck and I hope your December is filled with a little more kindness and family fun and less having to follow someone with shopping bags leaving the mall to get a parking space.

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

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1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #468


Tell Your Story – Tip #468

Everyone has stories inside of them to share about their experiences during a deployment, re-integration, posting or their lives as part of a military family.  Whether you were the one on a deployment or at home waiting for the deployment to be over, tell your story – a lot happens to you!  You don’t have to write a public blog or have a published book but you do need to put your thoughts out there – write them or record them somehow.  By sharing your experiences you are processing your thoughts and feelings, letting others understand your experiences and taking the first step in letting go and moving forward.  This is also a great way of sharing all the things that happened to you while your family member or friend was away.  They can look through it or read it at their pace when they return and it will help to fill in the gaps while they were away.

Tips:

* If you don’t enjoy writing, tell your story through a video journal

* Take a photo of something or someone every day

* Decide in advance whether or not others are going to be allowed to read it/see it

* Remember to record dates and times (you think you will remember but time really does fly)

* Make time to do this every day – it will be time just for you (which we all don’t do enough of)

* Another option is to consider using StoryWorth.  For Veterans/Remembrance Day,  StoryWorth are launching the Military Stories Project to help veterans across the country share their stories with their families. From November 1st until November 11th, they are offering free accounts to active service members, and 50% off subscriptions to all veterans and their families. Additionally, for anyone else who purchases a subscription during that time, we’re donating $10 to an organization working with veterans (Wounded Warriors).

However you decide to share your stories, make sure you do.  You may feel as though what you have to say is important, not necessary, not worth talking about or too difficult but those that love you will definitely disagree and the benefits of letting it will flow over into every part of your life.  Writing this blog has been one way that I have been able to share my experiences and it has strengthen me in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

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

To use Storyworth and make a donation to the Wounded Warriors Project click:

https://www.storyworth.com/veterans?utm_medium=blog&utm_source=whileyouwereaway.org&utm_campaign=Veterans+Day+2015&utm_term=Wounded+Warriors

1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #467


Thankfulness – Not Just A Temporary Thing!

Each year at Thanksgiving, we go around the table, talking about the things we are grateful for – as I know many do.  This feeling of fortune and happiness often extends beyond the meal times because we leave the table not only full but also focussed on what we are happy about rather than all the things that aren’t working in our lives and I like it.

Being a part of a military family means you often have to go without – family, friends, homemade treats only certain people can make, etc.  It got me to thinking that perhaps we should  list things that we are grateful for each day until Christmas (or American Thanksgiving or New Years) and keep that feeling of gratitude for a little longer than at just one dinner or day.

This year I bought a second hand tablecloth from a thrift store.  Each day we are going to write something on it that we are grateful for having had happened this year or something/someone in our lives that we are grateful for.  Then we are going to use it as our Christmas or New Years table cloth – it will not only remind us of how lucky we are but there will be some great conversation starters in there too.

How To:

  • Buy a material tablecloth (wash before using)
  • Buy Sharpie Markers (all colours)
  • Have a flat piece of cardboard under the cloth to ensure that if the marker goes through it isn’t on your countertop or table
  • Commit to adding to it on a regular basis (have it on the table before meals or fold it into squares and place the cardboard underneath there is an exposed square for people to write on easily without taking the whole thing out
  • After completed, throw into the dryer on high heat for 10-20mins, leave for 24 hours and then wash only in cold water (some people also recommend throwing a cup of salt into the cold water too)
  • Use at your next big event/dinner!

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

1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #465


Focusing In – Tip # 465

When my husband was away I focused on spending time with my kids.  I became my son’s soccer team manager (had no idea what I was getting myself into but best thing I have done with him), went to my daughter’s practices and swim meets, drove them to school once a week, had sleepovers, took them out on the weekends and just made sure I was present and available.  This seemed to have worked for them (although this did not stop them from missing their Dad and nor was it intended to) but I am writing more about what it did for me.

While I was truly exhausted by this latest deployment, I think it was by far the easiest.  Initially, I had put this down to my kids being older and able to help a little more.   I have since realized there was more to it mainly because having to ask for something to be done 10 times does not make it easier.  Often it was easier to just do it myself and they had more complex thinking, knew more about what was going on in the world and had real life problems with friends, school, etc.

The bottom line is that I learned to focus in on what was important – the kids and making sure I was okay too.  I did this by setting new limits at work, I was honest with friends and family when I couldn’t do things and took care of myself in a way that I hadn’t before.

Lessons Learned:

  • I stopped emailing people after hours and on the weekends whenever possible.  This practice alone reduced my workload by at least 20%
  • I got into a good sleep routine.  There were nights I even went to bed when the kids did!
  • I made family holidays different and relaxing events and reduced our commitments.  We also tried to have different experiences over significant holidays or events to distract a little from the fact that their Dad wasn’t there to enjoy it with us
  • I put away my cell phone, computer and didn’t answer the phone during meal times and after dinner when we were talking and hanging out.  I made us the focus of this time.
  • I never let a day go by without finding something to appreciate or laugh about.  While deployments are hard there are many other things that are much harder.  Overall, we lead a privileged life with a home to come to, food on the table and people that love us.  We looked at the world feeling fortunate and grateful rather than spending a moment of it complaining about what we don’t have.
  • I remained organized throughout the deployment and this really saved my sanity and numerous times it also allowed me to take a nap or have time for myself.  I had a paper copy of a calendar for the family to reference, one on my computer and phone, when I cooked meals I usually made double and froze them for an easy meal the next time, etc.
  • We created fun To Do Lists of 100 things to do by a certain time (see blog about those here: http://wp.me/p10tfJ-Fq  ).  These kept us doing fun things and challenging ourselves but also ensured we had a pyjama day or lazy day thrown in too
  • I missed my not being able to go out as much with friends and having a husband who would take over so that I could go and do my thing but I also discovered that true friends understand. They will also be right there waiting for you when you are done with the crazy deployment!

Doing some or all of these things can really alter the way you approach and how you cope through a deployment.  I am not suggesting that everyone has to give up going out as much (perhaps that is how you unwind) or that you need to always go to bed when your kids do either.  Deployments aren’t fun or relaxing but they can be made a lot easier when you focus on the ‘Big Rocks’.  Stephen Covey has a great video that I often use with teenagers about focusing on what is important but it applies to us all and this deployment I really looked at what my big rocks were.  Here is the link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_N_uvq41Pg

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

1001 Tips for Military Families – Tip #460


Easter Hunt for Tweens and Teens 

FullSizeRender (15)

A couple of puzzle pieces in each egg and sometimes a chocolate egg or two!


With Easter coming, the pressure is on me to prepare an Easter Egg hunt solo and with them being older, they needed a challenge.  My kids don’t want to give up being kids so I am all for that for as long as I can get it!   I have always done the prep work and my husband was always the one hiding the eggs in ridiculous places and the kids loved it. The other challenge is that we have a dog so we can’t put chocolate within his reach either.  Last year I decided that I would buy a cheap puzzle, write on the front of it, with permanent marker, the clue to where the baskets were hidden.  I put the puzzle pieces in plastic eggs and when they finished the puzzle they would be able to discover where their baskets were hidden. They loved it but it was a little too easy. This year I believe I have found the key to a Sunday morning that will keep them busy for at least an hour and challenge them to work together – this will also give you time to caffeinate!

You will need: permanent marker, plastic eggs, two puzzles exactly the same and a few jelly beans, mini chocolate eggs and something you are giving them hidden in a safe location. 

Directions:

1) Buy 2 exactly the same 30-36 piece puzzles (got mine at the dollar store)

2) Use a permanent marker and write your message across both puzzles. 

Message Is: Hoppy Easter! Your baskets are somewhere in the laundry room!

Message Is: Hoppy Easter! Your baskets are somewhere in the laundry room!

3) Mix both of the puzzles together and then put a couple of puzzle pieces in each egg (sometimes I put some jelly beans or chocolate in the plastic eggs to keep them fueled up)

FullSizeRender (14)

Two puzzles mixed together

 

4) Count how many plastic eggs you hide so you know when they have all their puzzle pieces 

5) Hide eggs and then enjoy an hour or so of watching them work together to figure it out 

Happy Hunting!

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

Join us on Facebook at: While You Were Away