Many in our community are affected by multiple deployments and military separations. This blog post talks about the best processes, at different age groups, to help ease the integration process. Adults have a hard time with separation, and children do too. I myself was an Air Force brat myself and an Army wife. While a child might intellectually know why the parent is gone for long periods of time, the emotional fall out during re-integration can be difficult for a young person to handle. This post has great ways of re-connecting with your children and helping them navigate those feelings. Re-integration can be difficult, but keeping a child connected during deployment is also important.
Some of my ideas for keeping parents connected to the family life and routine while deployed:
- If the deployed parent has a key piece of the bedtime routine, like reading books, gather the favorite books and have the soon-to-be deployed parent record the reading of the story on a digital recorder. Digital recorders do not wear out as easily as the cassette tapes of my youth. Be sure to play the recording before deployment to make sure the rhythm and cadence is just right for the little ones.
- Record small special messages on blank photo cards, put a picture of both the deployed individual in uniform and in civilian clothes. This reinforces the reason for the deployment, but humanizes the parent at the same time. Kids love to get mail and the visuals are a great way to keep them connected.
- Have the family work together to send care packages. Have the kids create a craft, a drawing or even perform a dance/skit on DVD and send it in the care package. They will feel special about supporting their parent and goodness knows those types of things are always appreciated!
- Before my husband was deployed, we went to Build a Bear and daddy put a message on a voicebox. So, when they wanted a hug from their father, they could squeeze the bear. Archie wore out his voicebox right after daddy came home. Thank goodness – he was home to re-record it.
- Send the deployed parent with a box of notecards or postcards. Kids love mail and anything they receive is one more connection.
- Take advantage of Skype, Messenger, Webcams etc. that you can get access to. That real time connection on the video monitor is priceless.
What are some of the ways you stay connected during deployment?