Hello, and happy Friday to you! If you’re new to this series, you might want to check out the previous posts before delving into today’s topic.
Today’s post isn’t geared toward the family enduring the deployment as much as it is to their family and friends (yep, YOU). Deployment is hard enough in itself, but if you also feel abandoned by family and friends, it can be downright awful.
Speaking from experience, I don’t think most people really know what they can do to help out the family enduring a lengthy separation. Here are some practical things you can do to make that family feel loved and to help them out – and they don’t even have to cost any money.
~ Phone calls. Keep in touch. I know your life is busy, but unless you’ve been through a deployment or similar separation, you have no idea how isolating it can feel. Make a point to call your friend or loved one on a regular basis. Even if you only have 5 minutes to chat, you’ll likely make a world of difference to her day. Emails are great, too, but there’s nothing quite so refreshing as a phone call.
~ Babysit. For me, an offer for babysitting is very welcome. Having three young children who still rely on me for the majority of their needs is really tough some days. I love my children to no end, but being the sole parent 24/7 is very draining. Having a babysitter every 2-3 weeks has been such a blessing (even if I do typically use that time to run errands – it’s peaceful).
~ Yard work. Regular yard work doesn’t seem to be as difficult for me to accomplish since the children can all be outside playing with me while I take care of it, but mowing requires the toddler to be napping and sometimes it’s difficult to work out the timing to get it all done before the sun sets.
Another aspect of yard work that is nice to have help with is the sprinkler system. Having someone who knows what they’re doing stop by and quickly take care of ‘winterizing’ or ‘summerizing’ the sprinklers saves a ton of hassle.
~ Handyman. Offer to help in repairing small things (clogged drain, misfiring furnace/water heater, installing a storm door, repairing a screen, replacing a lock, etc.). For me, it’s very unnerving to call a repairman/plumber, etc. and then allow them into my home with only my children and myself home. However, I’m obviously much more comfortable with someone I know, or someone in Michael’s squadron taking care of these matters.
~ Personal support. If you know of a particularly difficult day or season the family at home is facing, surprise them by dropping off a meal or some favorite snacks. What mom do you know that wouldn’t love to receive a box of chocolates from a friend or a meal to alleviate the dinner stress for a day?
~ Anything else. If you think of something your friend would appreciate – offer it. You never know how much of a difference you’ll be making in her day or week or even month, simply because you care enough to offer something personally meaningful to her.
~ Pray. This is the most important thing you can do for your friend or family member enduring a deployment.
A note to the home-spouse (this could also be a note to myself ::ahem::) – ASK for help. You probably have many people in your life who are more than willing to help, but they can’t read your mind. If you need someone to come repair something and don’t know who can help – call the First Sergeant in your husband’s squadron/unit – he/she will most likely be able to get you connected with someone (usually a squadron member) who can help you out.
Thank you so much for joining me through this journey of helping you prepare for and cope with a deployment. I welcome any questions or additional information you think might be useful.