One of the most significant challenges of being in the armed forces is that when duty calls, you have to be ready to pick up and travel to wherever you are needed. It’s the dreaded “d” word for military families, deployment.
Of course, when you have a family, this can be especially difficult both on the kids and the parents. There are some great methods to keep parents on active duty in mind even during deployment. Read on to find out what they are.
Video chat and text
First on the list, is doing all that you can to stay in contact during a deployment. Traditionally this was in the form of physical, written letters, which can still be a fantastic option. Although the ease and convenience, and the ability to talk face to face using smartphones and other tech is usually the most popular approach.
Of course, using your smart phone, tablet, or laptop to video call and see your children’s faces is the ideal. However, your ability to do this will vary from duty station to duty station.
Texting is a possible alternative that will allow you stay in contact with your loved ones at home during deployment. It can sometimes be easier if you are not in a position where you can sit down and make a video phone call.
Don’t rule out written letters either though, as these can be particularly exciting for children to receive in the mail and provide a physical link between you and them. They can be pretty good for your moral as well, so try writing as well, the next time you are deployed.
Another option for keeping in contact with your loved ones, and especially the kids when you are deployed is via email. Again the advantages of this are that you don’t necessarily need to clue them in on where you are, which can be useful if there are security issues, or if you would prefer to protect them from that.
Many people find it a lot easier to say things in email than face to face, especially when it’s on a difficult or emotional topic. Therefore, email contact may be a lot more successful when you need to address things like behavior if the kids aren’t acting right when you’re not there.
The other significant advantage of using email is that you can schedule itto be sent at a particular time. This means that even if you know you will be on maneuvers for a few days, you’ll be able to keep up that regular contact and routine. Perfect for if the kids need to hear from you before going to sleep each night.
Jewelry and mementos
Another great way to stay in contact during deployment is to send jewelry and other souvenirs. The idea with jewelry is that you give a bracelet, chain, or necklace to each child and then you have a similar one to keep on your person. Then they will know that even if they can’t contact you directly, you will always be thinking of them and connected to them in this way.
A similar option to this is to use the idea of a challenge coin, something that you may already have for joining your platoon or running a specific mission. You can even get the kids involved with design the coin.
The idea here is to create some custom challenge coins just for your family, and even for the particular deployment. You can get products like these navy challenge coins made by a private company. Then, you give these out to all family member as well as taking one yourself, and this can not only help them feel connected to you but also in a small way, part of the family group and connected to the mission that you are on as well. It’s sort of signifies that they are doing their part too, which is a pretty cool idea! Of course, just like you are proud of your challenge coins, it gives the kids an opportunity to collect them and be proud of them as well.
The time when a parent is away on deployment can sometimes seem to stretch out forever. It’s important to keep the kids busy and amused as much as possible. There are ways of doing this that can also be used to maintain that emotional connection between parent and child as well.
One thing you can do is to schedule in some craft time regularly that uses the deployed parent as the central theme. A scrapbook of your latest adventures and experience as a family when that parent was last home on leave is a great idea. Then not only will the kids’ activity be remembering the good times, but it will also remind them they have a lot of fun to look forward to when their parent returns this time as well.
It also provides a cool show-and-tell piece for video calls as well.
Who doesn’t love to receive a care package in the mail? No one, that’s who! That is why you should make use of this tactic when a parent is deployed. It can work both ways as well, with the kids creating drawings, crafts, and little luxuries they have thought of, and with the parent sending treats and toys and even birthday gifts from overseas.
The best thing about care packages is that not only do they ensure that the person receiving them feels special and thought of, but they are a fantastic activity for the one that is creating them as well. Something that you can use to help your kids keep their deployed parent in mind, and feel an emotional connection with them while they are away on active service.
I would love to hear how you stay in touch during deployments! Drop your ideas in the comments…