A common problem when a spouse is on TDY or deployed in child rearing. Solo parenting adds stress since you are now responsible for all aspects of day-to-day life without your tag team partner. Doing everything alone can cause additional pressure, stress as well as mental and physical fatigue.
Last year, I faced my very first long-term deployment. I had gone thru many TDY’s before, but a deployment, NONEXISTENT! Sometimes, well, a lot of times, I found myself too tired or distracted that I was just not able to emotionally support or discipline my children, which meant that behavioral problems tended to happen. In the beginning, I had no faith, no energy or structure. But, by the second month, I took charge and stopped letting my house run out of control.
I came up with a few ways to deal with the challenges of solo parenting while my spouse was gone. These worked for me, maybe they will work for you!
LOVE. Tons of LOVE, I can’t say this enough. I offer tons of praise, love and support to my kids. I try to set aside time for each kid, once a week to spend a little bit of extra time with them. Especially in the evening to talk to them about what challenges they are facing or just if they need a little extra attention. And if they feel loved, usually this keeps the misbehavior at a minimum.
Routine. Having a routine creates structure especially since one parent is gone. They will know what to expect from day-to-day. And by routine, I mean structure – everything from meals, activities, and bedtimes. Just try to create a regular schedule and write it down somewhere. I use a chalkboard wall or dry erase board on the fridge. Have them help you with everyday household chores. Everything shouldn’t fall on you. I learned this the hard way, in the beginning I was trying to do everything. I found that the kids love to participate in household chores because it makes them feel like they are contributing to the family.
Self Care. Take care of yourself. Make sure you exercise, eat right, stay on a good healthy path and get enough sleep. Take a moment to seet up time to get way and pamper yourself or hang out with friends.
Make sure the kids get to bed early enough for you to get some decompression time each night.
Child Care. While some spouses get to stay home while the other is gone, there are a lot of spouses who also work outside the home. So finding regular, consistent, safe care is vital. It will allow you to either work without stress or get a break during the day to decompress. For me this worked because I had a baby. I needed the break a few hours a day. I used the CDC and paid $4 hr., which was great. So, make sure to check your base resources.
Limits. Set guidelines and expectations to each child about the house rules. Share examples like speaking back, hitting or not getting chores done. Have consequences and enforce them and come up with a reward system. The kids got a lot done and behaved knowing they could pick something from their goodie box at the end of the week. I found when I let things go the kids would then let a lot of things go, too. Just keep to the limits you set for them and they will eventually know you are not playing around.
Guilt. Don’t feel guilty, blame yourself or spoil your child to try to make up for the parent being gone. Feeling guilty is easy for us to do since we do feel like we are falling short for some reason. Trust me, you are not! Your family is going to get through it! In the end, you will all come out stronger and accomplished.
Be Positive. This is so hard sometimes when you feel like the walls are caving in on you and you can’t catch your breath before the next fire has to be put out. Also, don’t be scared to share your fears with your kids. It helps them to see you struggle just like they do. But, know that there is an end in sight. Your spouse will be home soon and all will be back to normal. Things will get better and easier during your everyday challenges. So, mark the reunion day down on a calendar and look forward to it. There are also some apps for countdowns or great ideas on Pinterest as well.
What it all comes down to is being a healthy and happy family! And, remember YOU ARE NOT PERFECT, CHOOSE YOUR BATTLES & YOU ARE AMAZING!
About the Author:
Moni is a proud Puerto Rican Air Force Spouse and mother of 3 brilliant children, that has found time as a SAHM to finish her Bachelors in Public Relations. She has moved over 13 times as an Army brat and now an Air force MilSpouse. This has allowed her to see things from different views. During her husbands last deployment, she was inspired to write about her military lifestyle from a candid, sassy, bold and witty perspective. She hopes that by sharing her experiences that it will encourage other spouses to find their voice in this journey of constant change and uncertainty……all this has been accomplished with buckets of prayer, glasses of wine and a few colorful words.