Yesterday, Lovebug (my 6 year old daughter) and I said “See ya later” (not goodbye) to my husband as he left to join the Army. He just re-enlisted after serving for 7 years and being out for 13. He signed the paper months ago, but today he actually left. The Army calls it “shipped out”, even though he left on a bus. We’ve had plenty of time to prepare, but it’s still tough when the time finally comes. I can handle it pretty well I think, after all, Hubby and I have been married for 8 years. I know logically that this is temporary and I will see him again. I know our marriage is strong and our love does not lessen with distance. I can even look forward to getting some things done with my free time in the evening. It works differently with kids. Telling them “5 months” might as well be “next week” or “next year”. They don’t have the same grasp on time that we as adults do. No matter how excited Lovebug has been that Daddy is joining the Army, seeing him drive away on a bus brought on a little sadness. Not too much though, because she couldn’t wait to get home and get started on Tip #3 below!
Thankfully, I had done a little research in the months leading up to this and found some great ways to make the transition easier on kids and help the time pass. I’ll tell you what we did, and maybe if you have a husband that travels, or who decides to join the military, you could use these tips!
1) Hubby video recorded himself reading many of her favorite books, so that every night we can watch one (or two) and she still gets her bedtime story from Daddy. I think we ended up with almost 30, so we’ll just cycle through them a few times. Last night we watched two of them and I could see in her eyes and huge smile how much it helped. It was as close to having him here as we can get right now.
2) He also video recorded a special message just for her that he surprised us with after he left by leaving me directions to it in an email. It was probably less than a minute long, but was filled with love and blessings for her. It’s something she will watch again and again and keep forever, I’m sure. (He did the same for me, and words cannot express how much that meant to me!)
3) The “Daddy Box”! We picked out a special Rubbermaid container, and labeled it “Daddy’s Box” using my Cricut and some vinyl. Anytime Lovebug colors a picture for him, makes a craft for him, or just finds a rock she thinks he would like, she can put it in the box. Once we get his address, we’ll be able to send some of the things to him, of course, but this box is special. We’ll store up these precious items so that when he gets home they can sit down together and go through the box. They’ll spend precious time together as she tells him about each and every thing she put in there. I have no doubt she’ll have a story for each one. Today’s the first day of him being gone, and there is already a special picture in there for him!