It’s Saturday morning and I feel a mix of emotions as I sit here writing and listening to Spy Kids in the background. My emotions are a mix of calm, anxious, nervous and relieved because my younger son is sick and I’m home with him (calm and relieved) but my older son is at a swim meet that I’m missing (nervous and anxious). It is in these moments I pause and reflect on the first two emotions because I can actually have them.
As a military spouse, I’m always prepped and ready for days like today. When I have one kid who needs to be somewhere and the other needs to be in a different place or worst… sick and can’t be anywhere and I’m ALONE. It is a type of stress that is ever present but not today.
Today I can relish in the fact I’m not alone because my husband is home and we can divide and conquer. But, how do we prepare when we are not in those shoes but in the dreaded alone shoes instead?
1. Have 2-3 families you trust to take your child where they need to be. Having a babysitter to stay with the sick one is an option but really you are who they want. So, have your go to families that can take your child and you stay with your sick kiddo.
2. Plan ahead for kid activities before TDYs or deployments. If you know your spouse will be away and your kids will have conflicting schedules reach out to the coaches, band directors, etc for help with car pools. When you need it an SOS from the coach saying a family will need help gets people to step up quickly.
3. Let go of what you can’t control. Sometimes you can’t control schedule changes of your child’s soccer team or unexpected travel from your spouse. In those moments you will need to sit down with your kids and drop the disappointment bomb they will be missing their event. It happens, but reassuring your child that it is just one game or practice and they will be at the next one is important. I’m always surprised how well my kids handle these. Military children are so understanding in these moments more than you might think.
4. Keep a list of emergency contacts at all times. Use these for when you are in a bind like already out at a committed event and you need to take sick or injured child to the doctor. This can be tough in new towns, I suggest finding a friend of a friend or maybe a co-worker of your spouse. Our military community is full of wonderful people always willing to step up and help someone they don’t know.
5. Don’t over schedule your family. Kids like to try so many things from horseback riding lessons to sports to music to dance and sometimes more than one at a time. You should ask yourself if you can handle it all alone before committing. My boys were very disappointed to learn they couldn’t play summer soccer but one sport and a music lesson was all I could handle alone while my husband was on his travels.
Having a plan and not over booking your day can help ward off the stress of getting kids where they need to be. Kids learn to be flexible and understanding while also gain a sense of respect for you limits as the parent doing it all while the other is off serving the country. And sometimes no matter how much we plan Murphy still pays us a visit. I always say, “The best laid plans of mice and men.” in those moments. Just take those days one hour (or minute) at time because they only make you strong.