It’s OVER… official OVER (well, until the next one)! Now that we can finally move forward and begin to get back to normal (if there is such a thing) I find myself reflecting on the last several months. How did I fair? Did I fall short of my goals? Did I forget to prepare for some things? Were the kids happy? All questions that run through my mind and even as we conclude deployment number 5 I find things I’m still learning about and here they are.
1. If you have an online bank make sure they have a digital POA. Yep! You guessed it this seasoned spouse didn’t even know you needed one of those or that they even existed. Found out three days into the cruise when I locked us out of our online account. Yay me! If you find yourself in my shoes you can fax the bank your paper copy or scan it and email it to them.
2. Babysitters and house cleaners are a must! There are some things just worth spending money on and in my opinion they are it! When my hired babysitter bailed on me the first week and then the second one bailed too I gave up. Don’t do that! It turned into a very long summer. Also, taking care of the house, meals, kids, jobs, volunteering, etc. gets overwhelming. Hire someone to clean your house at least every other month. You’ll thank yourself, because a clean house at the end of a long day is a beautiful thing especially if you didn’t do it.
3. Trust your support network when they say “If you ever need anything.”!!!! These people mean what they say or they wouldn’t have said it. I’m so guilty of trying to remain strong but that only breaks a person down. If you need help ask for it. I’m so very thankful each day for all the help I had and they all came through exactly when I needed them and gave me grief because I didn’t ask sooner (as they should have).
4. Homecoming is chaotic. Even the most welled planned thought out homecoming can turn unexpected. Like all things in the military have your plan A, B and C. In the rush to catch the ship (that came in 45 mins early) I didn’t bring our water and sunscreen onto the pier. Four hours later I was totally regretting that I didn’t take a deep breath and think through what I had planned.
5. Prepare for reintegration. I know, I know… it is common theme and we all know about the adjustment period. But, I really believe refreshing what to expect is always a good idea. Talk to your spouse before they come home about what has been going on at home. New routine, discipline, expectations about….ummm.. you know, etc. The worst thing I did was NOT tell my husband about our daily routine. Poor guy was so excited to be done with training early one night and when he came home the house was dark and quiet. He called and I was like, “Umm, swim and soccer?” I expected him to just know and that’s wasn’t fair. They don’t just know so tell them.
Each and every deployment is different for a variant of reasons; easy or hard they just are what they are. I can say that my biggest take away is that you absolutely need to have a great support network around you, know you limits, communicate before, during and after with your spouse and give yourself credit. As military spouses we are so hard on ourselves. Creating high expectations for ourselves and when we fall short we are our own worst critic; try not to be. Look at the big picture from time to time. I know you’ll be surprised when you see how great you are actually doing and have done!