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The idea of being away from your spouse for extended periods of time is never something anyone looks forward to. Especially when you have kids. Knowing my son will be separated from his father for almost a year simply breaks my heart. People make it seem like the time will just pass by. But, let’s be real. One day is a day too long.
A few days later and you’re probably already counting down the days. I won’t pretend the separation will but easy but it can definitely be productive. The best advice I could give anyone going through a deployment for the first time is to make the most of it.
What will you have to show for 9 months, 1 year, etc. without your partner? Whether you focus on yourself or your family, make the time useful. Here are a few ways you can make the most of your free time while your spouse is deployed.
Ways To Survive Your 1st Deployment As A Military Spouse
Go Back To School
It doesn’t matter where you are in your education journey. Going back to school can be a very fulfilling way to get through the deployment and focus on yourself. It’d be good for your career in the long run plus it’s kind of hard to not be busy while in school. I’m actually debating going back to school for my Masters. It has always been something on my mind but I haven’t been able to fully look into it since my intro into military life.
Get A Job
As all military spouses know, military life is life. Being married to a military man makes it that much harder to fully go after your career goals. If you’re a stay-at-home mom like me, our whole life is centered around our husband and our kids.
When your husband is gone for a long deployment, it can be extremely counterproductive to stay home. Well, I can say for me it is. I’m already one month into my husband’s deployment and I’m absolutely going out of my mind. Let me just tell you guys. Being stir crazy is no joke.
There is just so much free time for me and it makes the deployment drag out. Getting a job is an easy way to get your career back on track and occupy your time to survive your 1st deployment.
Find A Hobby
Join that spin class you always wanted to try. Start doing pottery. Maybe you always wanted to paint but never had the time. Whichever hobby floats your boat. It’s so important to do something productive that can bring some joy into the deployment.
Volunteering is a great way to give back and bring some purpose into your life. During it a deployment, it can be very helpful to help those in need and provide a break from the day-to-day of trying to survive your 1st deployment. Find a charity with a cause you believe in to get started!
Make Friends In The Same Situation
Omg! This is absolutely so important. The downfall of moving home with family is that now I’m no longer surrounded by those dealing with military life. It’s so hard to explain all the emotions and changes I’ve been experiencing to people unfamiliar with surviving a deployment. Make sure your support team includes at least one other military spouse that can actually understand and help you with this new chapter.
Learn A New Language
Personally, I’ve always wanted to become fluent in French. I’ve dabbled in it a few times. I spent a year learning it in high school — which I aced! I’ve tried Rosetta Stone at one point with little success. Somehow life always gets in the way and tables my aspirations on being bilingual. If this sounds familiar, now’s the time to break out your language dictionary or take a language class.
Travel To Exotic Places
Bucket list anyone?! Now, if you’re a mom this may not be the easiest way to survive your deployment. But, where there is a will, there is a way. That’s the saying, right? Haha! You guys get what I’m trying to say. This is the time to accomplish all the things you couldn’t because of PCS, military life, and more.
Visit Your Family And Friends
Your support system is so important during this time. The house can feel a bit lonely once your spouse is gone for an extended deployment. Visit family so you can enjoy some family time and make a few good memories to ensure you are able to survive your 1st deployment.
RELATED READING: Traveling Alone With A Toddler
I remember when my husband went away for a month of training. This was the longest we had been apart at the time.I surely felt like I was losing my mind. Sitting in our house with just my son and I, day after day, made me feel like a basket case. Visiting family lets me keep up with their drama, laugh with my brother and sister, and give Dom other people to have social time with. Setting aside time to visit family can be a welcome escape when you’re going through a deployment with your spouse.
Plan Monthly Events To Attend
Something as simple as a girls’ night every month can make a world of difference. Some moms aren’t really able to break away from their family’s daily routine because of school, activities, etc. A girls night or just a simple night to do something you love with no stress ensures that you are fitting in some me time and new benchmark memories to look forward to.
Work Toward Your Long Term Goals
I decided that before we leave Texas — ideally after this deployment, I want my husband and I to purchase a house. It’s a bit ambitious considering the short amount of time we have left in Texas post-deployment. Whether or not this happens, this is something I’ve always wanted that I can look forward to after this deployment.
The past few years of our lives have been centered around the day to day of military life. Now, I want to begin creating the future I’ve always wanted. You too should aspire to accomplish whatever long-term goals you may have. This will give you a massive project to tackle which is sure to occupy your time and attention.
What You Should Know To Survive Your 1st Deployment
I’m sure if you put your mind to it, you can think of a number of other ways to survive your 1st deployment. Honestly, there is far from an”one fits all” approach that will guarantee you survive your 1st deployment. You have to sit down and think about what works best for you and then make sure you consistently work towards that.
My 1st month has been far from easy for myself but it has taught me a lot about what DOESN’T work for me. That may not feel like I figured out much but at least I’m sure about what not to do moving forward.
Your 1st deployment is definitely a learning curve. Most people have never been away from their spouse and their family for such a long time. You just to be sure to adapt until it’s time for your spouse to come home!
Until next time…..