You just found out your spouse is being deployed, and although you’ve prepared yourself as much as you could for this moment, now that it’s here all you can think about is how your child is going to handle the news.
Help your preschooler adjust to your spouse’s deployment with these tips.
It’s important to be as open and honest with your preschooler as possible. The more they understand the better they can process the situation. Keep communication open with your preschooler by:
- Making sure they know they didn’t do anything wrong, and your spouse isn’t going away because of them
- Explaining to them that your spouse is leaving for work and reminding them that they love them and miss them
- Encouraging them to express their feelings
- Talking about your spouse frequently while they’re gone
It may be hard to enforce the rules right now, but your preschooler needs to stick to their usual routines. Allowing rules to be broken when you’re feeling bad for your upset preschooler will eventually lead to chaos. Your spouse’s deployment is a huge change in your preschooler’s usual routine, so they need to maintain as much stability as possible.
This means they need to be able to rely on what to expect from you, as well as their normal day to day routines.
Making sure your preschooler can rely on you right now may be difficult if you’re struggling with your own emotions. There’s nothing wrong with asking for some help. Here’s some places you can find support:
Other Military Families
Who better to know what you’re going through then other families going through the same thing? Reach out to another military family with children and you can support each other through challenges. Plus, your preschooler can make friends that are going through the same thing.
Find your nearest USO to connect with other military families.
Military Child Care
Find out about your child care options with Military Child Care.
Find resources to help your child handle your spouse’s deployment from Sesame Street for Military Families.
When phone calls and video chats aren’t an option, stay connected in other ways.
The Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program allows your deployed spouse to record themselves reading your child a book and ship it to you.
Your preschooler can draw pictures, or write letters with some help, and send them to your spouse. This is a great way for your preschooler to tell their loved one about what’s going on in their lives, and it will definitely brighten up your spouse’s day.
Send Care Packages
Let your preschooler pick out some items they want to send their loved one, and help you pack them up. Make sure they fill the box with lots of love!
Help your preschooler adjust with a little creativity.
Fill a jar with Hershey Kisses equal to the amount of days your spouse will be deployed. Each day your preschooler receives a kiss, and is another day closer to their loved one returning. When the jar is empty, your spouse comes home!
Of course, if you don’t want to use chocolate, you can make any sort of fun countdown. Another idea would be to make a paper chain and remove a link every day.
Create a bucket list with your preschooler of things you would like to do. Having things to accomplish will keep your preschooler busy and give them something to look forward to.
Hug A Hero
Hug A Hero lets you download a picture of your spouse, and then they create a stuffed doll for your preschooler to hold tight when they are missing their loved one.
Build A Bear
Head to Build A Bear where your preschooler can pick out their favorite stuffed friend and dress them up to match your spouse.
MAKE THE TIME TOGETHER COUNT
Taking a ton of pictures and videos while your spouse is deployed gives your preschooler a chance to look back on memories and talk about them with their loved one when they come home.
Plan Important Activities
When your spouse gets home your preschooler may want to try to make up for everything they’ve missed all at once. Before your spouse’s arrival, sit down with your preschooler and make a list of the things they want to do with their loved one the most so they don’t get overwhelmed and miss out on something that was important to them.
Make homecoming a big deal! Have your preschooler help you make some welcome home signs, and put up some decorations if you want. Go as big or small as you want with the celebration, all that really matters is that your preschooler gets to spend some time being ridiculously filled with excitement about their loved one’s return.
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