Connected {Military Wives & Deployment Part 2}

I wanted to do a short blogging series reaching out specifically to military moms. We are a small army (ha.) of women that experience a lifestyle that not many can relate to or comprehend. We experience long absences from our men filled with worry and stress. And we also take on a role of solo parenting. We definitely aren’t single moms, but we also have to learn to speak as both parents and guide our children through their emotions and confusion. This series will be focused on letting you know that you are definitely not alone and that there are many skills and resources available that will help you get through.

image

1. COMPASS

Start here. The mission of COMPASS is to educate and train new military spouses on the ways of the land. Aka the roughly 8,392 abbreviations you’ll mostly smile and nod when you hear, why you can’t just roll up on the ship and drop off cookies, education opportunities and benefits, how to get a military ID, what to wear to certain events and how you can and can’t behave on a military base. There are courses you can sign up for regularly to get you jumpstarted on this crazy thing called the military and all its qwerks.

2. FRG

FRG stands for the Family Readiness Group. This is your contact for your spouse’s specific command. If he’s on deployment, these are the people you go to with questions and information on dates, events and how to send packages. FRG’s vary from command to command. Some are extremely helpful, wonderful groups of people that look out for imageall spouses, keeping them updated and hosting activities to mingle and meet people. Some are just there to fulfill a duty (the head of the FRG is usually the responsibility of the command leader’s spouse) and you never see them. But more often that not, this is a wonderful resource to keep updated while your DH is away

image3. MWR

You will find the MWR on basically every military installation. This is the Morale, Welfare and Recreation Center that is there to provide you with things like a rec center, bowling, golf, tickets for local events, travel information, lodging and activities for children. You can find local activities for military families that will cost you next to nothing and also purchase tickets to sporting events, theme parks, etc for a heavily discounted price. Winning.


 

The military does a good job providing several resources for military families to keep you informed as well as providing recreational activities. Don’t hesitate to google your spouse’s specific base or command and get a list of phone numbers and addresses for everything from free legal advice to the nearest commissary for grocery shopping. Use the resources that are there for you!

I personally think that once you’ve connected with the command and familiarized yourself with basic military procedures, it’s so important to connect with your community. Sometimes you’re stuck on a base overseas and it’s not possible for you to venture out into the local civilian world. But if you’ll be in once place for any extended period of time, I strongly recommend investing in the area around you.

1. Know Your Neighbors

Get to know the people across the street. Whether they become lifelong friends or someone you simply chit chat with every now and then, it pays to have people nearby in an emergency when your closest family may be states away. I’ve even had a system before with a fellow military spouse across the street to turn our bedroom lamps on when we got home to let the other know we were safe.

image2. MOPS

MOPS stands for Mothers of Preschoolers but it has grown into far beyond that. This is a nationwide organization for moms of younger children simply looking to just get out of the house and meet other local moms and do fun activities. Great way to meet new friends and provide social interaction for your littles.

image3. Volunteer

I’m that nerd that knows the librarian’s names at the local library. Besides the free books, I love using it as a resource to learn about community events, food drives, school supply donation events, whatever. Getting yourself out of the house and doing something simple to give back will not only set a great example for your children but it will draw you closer to the locals and help you not to feel like a nomad that will only be here for a year and then move along to the next town.

4. Find a Church

Finding a local church is not only a great way to meet like-minded people, but also a way keep yourself healthy spiritually. It’s so easy to drown in feelings of hopelessness and lacking in purpose when you’re trying to get through a deployment. Staying connected at church will help nurture your emotional well being and find that joy in your faith that you may have lost in the middle of the frustrating circumstances surrounding you. If you aren’t interested in the religious aspects of church, this is still a great resource for volunteer opportunities and events for children. Check it out, you may be surprised by how renewed you’ll feel after an uplifting service.

Being a military spouse is not something I’ve conquered. I still have no idea what the majority of those acronyms stand for and I don’t think I’ll ever come to a point in my life where deployments are a breeze. But I’m trying. I’m determined to strengthen my family with each separation. It’s so important to me that you know that military life, though foreign to most outsiders, can be a rewarding, uniting experience. Embracing the community around each new assignment and working with your spouse to create a parenting environment that is positive and united is possible.

This won’t be the last you hear me talking about this crazy military life, but I’d love to know where you struggle the most or traditions your family has to stay connected? Let’s get better and better at this military life together.

-Chelsea

For part one on dealing with the emotions of deployment and separation, head here:

http://www.burritobuzz.com/2015/11/03/uniforms-in-the-laundry-military-wives-deployment-part-1/

 

Advertisements

ZZZ Bears: Product Review

image

In continuing with my deployment series, I need to tell you about this incredible organization called ZZZ Bears. Whether you have a child that is terrified of the dark, or one that is confused and missing a deployed parent, ZZZ Bears has a unique and incredibly creative solution.

The story behind the adorable Sgt. Sleeptight is simple. The founder’s child was afraid to sleep at night. In order to ease her anxiety, the parents found a teddy bear wearing a Marine uniform and presented it to her as a protector. The story of protection and safety blossomed into a business with the mission of protecting against all monsters, boogey men and thunderstorms, as well as giving back to military children.

imageWhen I received Sgt. Sleeptight to share with my daughter, I basically had to stop myself from bawling all over the box when I saw the passion and attention to detail that clearly went into this package. For about $29.99, you will receive a quality, soft teddy bear dressed in full “Sgt. Sleeptight” uniform complete with instructions on how to put Sgt. Sleeptight on duty, standing guard so your LO can dream peacefully. They go as far to as provide your frightened babe with a door hanger to let outsiders know that Sgt. Sleeptight is on duty as well as include silver and gold “Slumber Stars” to be awarded after successfully making it through the night.

So not only are these the most creative people on earth, they also have huge hearts. They donate a portion of their proceeds to the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation,image assisting those children that have lost a parent in the line of duty.

Not only is this a clever way to bring peace of mind to a child that struggles to sleep through the night, but it also brings a sense of familiarity and comfort to a military child. The language and tone set by the bear and kit that you receive Is sure to comfort a child that is afraid or missing a parent. Knowing Sgt. Sleeptight is watching over them even if mommy or daddy can’t will no doubt be a comfort.

Even though my LO is a mere 15 months, she knows what daddy’s uniform looks like and she surely knows how to snuggle a soft teddy. As we’ve been discussing, deployment isn’t easy for any member of the family. I have no doubt that as she grows, the story of Sgt. Sleeptight will help to ease her little worries as she struggles to adjust to daddy being away.

I am so thankful for companies like this that take the unique needs and fears of military children into consideration when creating comfort items. The story you can create with your little one will let them know that this isn’t just another stuffed animal. If he’s on duty, it’s one more encouragement that everything will be ok and it’s safe to get a good night’s rest.

Thank you ZZZ Bears! I will surely be sharing your product and story with all of my military friends as well as parents of any child struggling to sleep through the night.

-Chelsea

For more encouragement and information on coping with deployments, check out our deployment mini series. Start with Part 1 here:

Uniforms in the Laundry {Military Wives & Deployment Part 1} | A Busy Parent’s Guide to the Latest Buzz
https://burritobuzz.com/2015/11/03/uniforms-in-the-laundry-military-wives-deployment-part-1/

**Burrito Buzz received this product at low or no cost for the purpose of review or testing. No compensation for a postive review was provided. All product reviews are based 100% off of our personal experiences with a product and we never guarantee a positive review.**

Uniforms in the Laundry {Military Wives & Deployment Part 1}

image

I wanted to do a short blog series reaching out specifically to military moms. We are a small army (ha) of women that experience a lifestyle that not many can relate to or comprehend. We experience long absences from our men filled with worry and stress. And we also take on a role of solo parenting. We definitely aren’t single moms, but we also have to learn to speak as both parents and guide our children through their emotions and confusion. This series will be focused on letting you know that you are most definitely not alone and that there are many skills and resources available that will help you get through.

My grandfather has been a counselor for a program called Grief Share for many years. I’ll never forget the summer that my family and I lived with him while our new home was being built. I was in high school and my boyfriend (now DH) had just left for bootcamp to begin his career in the Navy. One day shortly after we dropped him off, my grandpa caught me sitting on the floor in his hallway, crying. He immediately came over, embraced me and simply said “I’ve been expecting this.” He explained to me that military life with the constant separation, is not unlike the grieving process. That really resonated with me and helped me accept the range of emotions I was experiencing as normal.

imageLater, as I began to study in the field of psychology, I discovered how true his words really were. There is a model you may have heard of called the 5 Stages of Grief. It is based on the premise that everyone experiences the stages of mourning and loss in the same way. I think every military spouse and family can relate to this broad spectrum of emotions and thoughts we go through when facing a long separation. For me, seeing my experience of what feels like absolute chaos explained in a way that is logical, to be expected and with hope found at the end is incredibly comforting. I give you…

The 5 Stages of Separation:

1. Denial

Whenever I learn of an upcoming deployment, my brain immediately goes into this protective mode. I’ll tell myself, “Nope. I didn’t just hear that. Not the “D” word. We’re just going to pretend that conversation never happened. Carry on then..

This is the time when I am the best “military wife.” I say phrases like “Well it’s the imagemilitary, deployment is a part of it” and “It’s a hard life but you learn to adjust.”

I’m really, really good at the Denial stage. I can cruise in denial until about 2 weeks before he leaves. Yes, I’m making preparations like purchasing items he’ll need and stocking up on the abundance of lean cuisines that I’ll be living off of for the next x amount of months. But I may as well be planning a backyard BBQ.

2. Anger

The Anger Stage irritates me in so many ways but for some reason, I only notice it in other people. Funny how that works. Something about the plank in my own eye. In the anger stage, it’s all about you. When someone is in the Anger Stage, you’ll hear a lot of how “no one understands” and “how dare that girl complain that she misses her husband when he’s just leaving for two weeks!” No. No, that woman is allowed to be upset. Yes, your husband may have been to Afghanistan and you had a baby while he was gone and it was absolutely horrendous. But that should never diminish someone else’s pain. Anyone can experience that debilitating loneliness, no matter how long the separation. This isn’t a game of “whose husband has been gone the longest.”

The Anger Stage is ugly. While you’re in it or around someone else that’s in it. It blows.

3. Bargaining

In this stage, I’m like a child that knows she can’t get her way but is making up crazy alternatives just to try. I say things like “well maybe the deployment will be canceled” or “what if you broke your arm or needed a surgery or something? Could you get out of it then?” It’s a pathetic, pointless segway into….
4. Sadness

This stage always hits me unannounced. For some reason it’s usually the laundry that does it. I’ll be folding a basket and putting away something of his and think to myself “Only a few more baskets and I won’t see his uniforms in the laundry anymore” Yea. Highway to depression.

And then he’ll be gone. In some ways the sadness never completely leaves. In the happy moments, the sadness is “wow, he would have really loved to have been there for this.” In the broken moments it’s “I really, really need him right now. Right this second. And he’s not here.” Even in the everyday moments like “if I seriously have to touch that nasty garbage can and bring it to the curb one more week I’m going to scream!”

This is when deployment is truly like grief. When you aren’t sure what to say to your toddler that hears the garage door open and says “Dada? Dada?” over and over. When people ask you how you’re doing and you robotically reply “Oh we’re getting by!” Because your spouse, your partner, your co-parent isn’t there and the worry that you constantly push out of your brain of where he is or what he’s doing weighs on you daily.

Sadness is the worst.

5. Acceptance

I guess you can say this is what separates the ones that can from the ones that can’t. Because some truly can’t make it in a life that is constant coming and going, unpredictable schedules, worry, trust issues, solo parenting. It’s hard. It’s really, really hard. But this is where the opportunity lies for truly thriving in such a chaotic lifestyle.

In Part 2, I’ll talk about the several phenomenal organizations available for military families to reach out to for support, education, and friendship. There is a unique community that actually, truly does know what you are going through. Please don’t miss the followup blog on several resources to take advantage of!

 

The bottom line is, it’s ok. It’s ok to feel sad, angry, lonely and even depressed at times. The important thing is that we are constantly growing stronger and closer. If we, as military spouses allow these emotions and struggles to overwhelm us, it can result in tragedy for our personal lives, our marriages and our examples as parents. You are not alone. Making it through a deployment and coming out as a stronger, better person and family is possible. Even I need to hear that reminder, especially during those Anger and Sad days where I just feel like falling to pieces. Let’s move forward and embrace this life that is so important and is not for the faint of heart.

-Chelsea

Read more about staying connected during a deployment in Part 2 here: http://www.burritobuzz.com/2015/11/04/connected-military-wives-deployment-part-2/