Wednesday, January 17, 2018

3 Ways to Help Kids Deal with Extended Separations

Nick left the day after New Years to go back to Quantico after spending 11 WONDERFUL days with us. We got to spend 5 days in Nashville at my sister's house for Christmas, and we spent the remainder of his leave back in our home in Texas. As always, the time seemed entirely too short, and we were all sad to see him leave. My youngest son takes it especially the hardest on the day when Nick leaves. He tends to be a little more defiant, and a little more difficult. He acts out with tantrums over the smallest things. Also, every single time, on the first night, he pees in his my bed the first night (cause my kids sleep with me when Nick is gone). I don't know if his anxiety and frustration of his daddy being gone causes him to pee himself at night, or if it's just a coincidence. I have figured out a few ways to make life "normal" for my kids, and to make these separations just a little bit easier.

Here 3 simple things that I do to help our family deal with extended separations:

  • Routine, routine, routine! I can not stress how much a good routine makes life a little more manageable when Nick is away. I literally plan every minute of our day. It gives my kids familiarity in a season of life that is not familiar (or comfortable) for them. It also gives me some sanity, and it helps the days go by quickly. Each day feels purposeful for me. We eat dinner at the same time every week, I have the exact same gym routine every week. Everything from my laundry routine to my dishes get done at the same time every week. This may sound a little OCD to some people, but ask any military wife, a solid routine is key to making these extended separations a little easier. 
  • "It takes a village." I used to hate asking people for help. "I'm a stubborn and self-proclaimed 'independent woman' who does not need help." I also hate feeling like a burden on people. However, in my age and experience, I have grown to learn that it is ok to ask for help. Not only is it ok to ask for help, but I have truly learned to embrace it. I have learned that I literally would go crazy if I tried to do this all on my own. I have a circle of friends here who have my kids over for play dates and sleepovers to give me a break, they have brought them lunch at school when I forget, and they loved on my kids in their times of need. Yesterday, my neighbor had both of my kids over to play for practically the entire day, and fed them lunch! I was extremely thankful for that. It was nice to see my kids happy on a day they're normally sad for once.
  • Weekly Treat! Every Friday is what we call "breakfast Fridays". We get up a little earlier than usual, and I take the kids out for breakfast before school. It gives them something to look forward to all week, and I love how excited they get for Friday mornings. It's almost like a "good job! we made it another week!" treat for all of us. It also works as a countdown for us. My kids like to countdown weeks until Nick comes home by the "number of breakfast Fridays" we have left. 

There are lots of other little ways to make these separations bearable, but these three things are what I consider the most helpful for my kids and me. 

And of course, when Nick is home, we make sure to soak up as much time with him as possible. Sure routines get disrupted, and the house never stays clean, but I always remind myself of how short our time is together.

I hope everyone's New Year is off to a great start! Peace and hugs!