By Marybeth Chelanga with Erin Stewart
It’s that time again. With that hard knock on the front door, I was immediately bombarded with all of the emotions. It feels almost like you have stopped in time. Frozen, it is almost impossible to even give a heartfelt goodbye. You feel helpless as you watch your spouse exit your home not knowing exactly when they are even to return. As mission mode is about to kick in, we begin to think of how this time could be different. How can it be just a tad bit easier this time around? How can we handle it just slightly better? How can it hurt just a little less?
We were honored to hear from Erin Stewart, amazing woman, mom & military spouse and hear her top 10 ways to help stop missing your deployed spouse so much! Erin married to her husband Steven in 2012 and together they have been serving in the Air Force ever since. Erin handles her husband’s deployments with such grace and flawlessness that any military spouse would be eager to hear her advice if they knew her! Here are Erin’s thoughts on how to make the next deployment, or maybe the one you are experiencing right now, just a tad bit easier!
1. Set new obtainable goals while they are gone.
I always work on cleaning up my diet. Other goals could be to read a book every month or to learn a new skill such as cooking, baking, sewing, gardening, etc. In our first deployment I picked up playing softball again. The options are endless. For instance, try setting monthly goals such as increasing the number of steps you take or increasing your water intake. Try making a monthly goal of no gossiping, no online shopping, no social media, etc. Look for ways to pay it forward each week. They don’t have to be big goals, just something to focus on.
2. Get into a routine!
I thrive on routine and knowing what to expect each day helps the time move by so much faster.
3. Make Improvements
I always set up a plan to improve something around the house, like painting, yard-work or any house project I’ve been putting off.
4. Explore your city!
Find new restaurants or hiking trails with friends and start a list of all the places you want to take your significant other when they get back.
5. Lean on your friends.
It is okay to ask for help. When things get overwhelming and I just need an hour to breathe, my true friends do not hesitate to take the kids for an hour and let me grocery shop alone or heck even take a nap or shower!
6. Know Your Person.
Find a friend in the same boat that you can find the humor in everyday struggles with. Laughing always makes things easier.
7. Plan small or big trips
To help break up the deployment, I always plan a trip home and to see the in-laws in the middle of deployment. It not only gives me extra hands to help, but gives opportunities to explore another city! When I was newly married and embarking on Steven’s first deployment, I planned a couple girl’s trips to look forward to with another spouse whose husband was deployed. We were stationed in Okinawa so we took a two-week trip and traveled around Australia. Don’t be afraid to do things without him/her.
8. Find a show or book to look forward to watching/reading at night.
Nights have always been the worst for me because I miss that end of the day recap and adult conversation. Having something to look forward to helps ease the sadness.
9. It’s okay to be sad!
Be sad, cry over a glass of wine or even in the shower! It’s perfectly healthy to be sad and vulnerable in your sadness. However, do not dwell on that sadness. Be sad and get back into that routine the next day. Time is going to move along whether you’re sad or you’re doing something productive. Use this time to learn more about yourself and the strength you have to support your significant other and your household while they are away.
10. Care packages
Spend time making thoughtful care packages that you can look forward to them receiving. Pinterest has awesome ideas.