My Hubby wrote recently about his packing list as he prepares for deployment, but I also wanted to share with you how we are preparing as a family. These ideas have come from a variety of sources – some are my own, some I read online, others were from books. I thought I would share them with you so you can use them too! Even if you are not a military family, a lot of these ideas would work for business trips as well.
Recording bedtime stories on video
I don’t remember where I first read about this idea, but it is my favorite by far! Hubby did this before when he left for WTC & AIT last year, and it helped Lovebug so much. He spent a lot of prep time making videos on our camera of him reading some of her favorite bedtime books. I think he ended up with enough for her to have a different one every night for a month. Then, every single night before bed while he was gone, we could sit down at the computer, pick out a story (I named each file the name of the book) and watch Daddy read a bedtime story to her. Now that we are in pre-deployment mode, he’s recording a lot more so she’ll have more choices. He’s also recording himself reading her favorite set of chapter books, Magic Tree House, a chapter at a time. I know we’ll cherish these for years to come, even when he’s not deployed.
He even showed her the pictures!
We ordered this Daddy Doll when Hubby was gone for 5 months of training, and it was a lifesaver for Lovebug! She slept with it at night, and carried it everywhere with us during the day. We even took it with us on some excursions and took Daddy’s picture at some of the fun places we visited around town.
Having “The Talk”
Even though it’s not fun, we made sure we went over the “What-Ifs” and his wishes if something should happen. I’d rather plan for it all and not have to try to figure things out in the moment. We already had our wills drawn up before we came to the Army anyway, as well as a general Power of Attorney. We also added a few “special” POA’s since we were getting mixed reports about whether certain offices on post accepted the general one or if they needed a specific one. Better to have it and not need it, we figured.
Cards, cards, and more cards!
Hubby bought lots of blank greeting cards to take with him, so that when he has time he can jot down a note for me or Bug and drop it in the mail. Then he went ahead and bought a birthday card for Lovebug, filled it out, and left it with me since her birthday is only a month away. That way, just in case he is too busy or can’t get it done in time, I’ll have it ready for her on her special day. He also left me with a couple “generic” cards for her, with notes from him so that just in case he gets busy and she doesn’t get mail from him for a while, I can always sneak one into the mailbox for her.
Hubby also recorded personal messages to us on video, then named the files by when we’re supposed to watch them. Lovebug’s birthday, Christmas, and other times throughout the year. We don’t know how communication will be while he’s gone, so this way I can play a special message for Lovebug from time to time from her Daddy!
Books about Deployment
I also ordered a few books from Amazon to read to Lovebug about children and a deployed parent. She loves to read, and it helps children to read about other kids going through the same things they are. The books I bought are:
* Butterfly in the Sky
* A Paper Hug
* Daddy’s in Iraq, but I Want Him Back
and one for Hubby! This was written by the same author as a “new dad” book he really enjoyed, so he expects to enjoy this one as well.
* A Military Father: A Hands-on Guide for Deployed Dads
Cutting back unnecessary costs
We’ve been married for 9 years, so we already had our finances/bank accounts in order and we stick to a budget Dave Ramsey style, so for the most part we were set. We will have a couple big changes while he’s gone though.
The first major thing we did was to SELL OUR MINIVAN! We have a truck that is paid for, and we had a minivan that wasn’t. Since I can only drive one of them, we decided to get rid of the one that costs us the most money. While Hubby is gone, I’ll take the money that we were spending on a car payment, set it aside in savings each month, and then when he gets home we’ll go pay cash for a little car for getting around. In the meantime, it also cut our auto insurance bill in half, so that will add to our savings during the deployment.
Second, once he’s deployed, I will be putting a “military hold” on his cell phone account. That means that they will keep his account open, keep his phone number, but the phone will not work and we will not be charged each month! That will save us money too! He’ll be picking up a pre-paid phone once he gets overseas to use, so he won’t use this one anyway.
Those are the main things we are doing, other than just spending lots of time with each other!
How do YOU prepare for a deployment or long time apart?