Monday, January 11, 2016

Kiddo's & Deployments

Tips for Children & Military Deployments:
-Show videos (we watch a random youtube one of his boat) of where Daddy/Mommy is. It really helps them understand where they are and why. We talk all the time about how Daddy is fixing airplanes and jets and helicopters and how Daddy is keeping us safe.
-We have a map up in the kitchen with a point of where we are, and where Daddy is. The map is on a cork board so that we can move Daddy's pin around, while they don’t understand it, it helps for them to visualize that Daddy is far away.
-Talk, talk, talk. Let them know its okay to be sad. Let them know you’re sad too. Talk about adventures you’re going to do while Daddy(or Mommy) is gone, and what you’re going to do when Daddy comes home. They don’t understand 8 months, but what they do understand is that right now they are three, and when Daddy comes home they will be 3.5. Daddy is gone for a while
-A jar of kisses. By far, their favorite. We have a big jar full of kisses that they get one every night from Daddy.  It’s easy enough to refill for an extension, or if you live in Nevereverland, eat a ton before homecoming.  I really hated the idea of a paper chain, or a countdown, because it’s just frustrating, especially when you see so many chain links still to go. That isn’t fair to anybody. But a jar of kisses, is a sweet reminder of their Daddy and is less of a countdown tool.
-Have them color pictures and paint pictures for Daddy. Have them go to the store to help do care packages. It helps them feel included.
My biggest advice is to keep the same routine you had before deployment. Don’t drastically change things, or lighten up on things that were done before Dad left. Trust me, I know first hand it’s hard, especially with a newborn, but the older kids need that security.  They need a lot of talking about what’s going on, I’m finding that even if I think they’re okay, which most of the time they are, they still need to be reminded that Daddy IS coming home and that he does love and miss them terribly. They need a lot of reassurance and it’s much easier to give them that security than to deal with the tantrums.  

I hope this helps someone if they find themselves in a similar path, any questions or advice? Would you of done something different? Leave them in the comments. 

Deployment resources for Children:
Military One Source – They have a great guide of things to talk to your children about prior to the deployment and highly encourage talking to even the youngest about what will be happening.
Daddy’s Deployed – A wonderful, wonderful personalized books about the deployment – from beginning to end. It helps put the cycle of deployment into an understandable cycle for children.
Daddy Dolls – I can not rave enough about the quality of these ‘dolls’. They’re really stuffed, shaped pillows. But my boys adore being able to hug dad when they’re missing him.

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