The care-free bliss of holidays is done with and we are down to what seems like crunch time before deployment separates us. Being that this is our first deployment, I’m really not sure how to prep besides the valuable tips and advice from others in the squadron.
Apart from the very logistical prep that needs to happen between you and your spouse (separate soon-to-come blog post altogether), there is the emotional prep that comes with the anticipation of separation. Nikko and I have been married for almost a year and half now. We have gotten used to coming home to one another, running weekend errands, walking the dog, cooking dinner TOGETHER. This deployment will certainly be a test for me to regain that independence that I had for so long before we were married. Here are some of the things that we have been doing to prep emotionally for the impending separation:
- Planning out remaining weekends. We intend to make the very best use of the time we have left so we have been filling our weekends with plans. These includes festivals and events going on in and around STL, weekend trips to see family, and even having friends coming to visit.
- Going out on weeknights. If you’re like us, it’s pretty uncommon to leave the apartment after we get home from work. To make the most of our time left together, we have been trying to get out of the work-workout-dinner-TV-sleep routine that we so easily fall into during the work week. We have make a concerted effort to get out on weeknights for things like hockey games, dinner dates, even just a trip to Sam’s Club. It makes the week fly by and it gives us opportunities for quality time together.
- Going out to eat. As foodies, eating out is something Nikko and I really enjoy so we have made a food-centric deployment bucketlist. In STL in particular, there are so many restaurants and cuisines to try with new ones seemingly popping up weekly. We have been slowly checking places off our list, places we’ve been wanting to try but never have. Not only is it something new to experience together, but it also serves as good research for places to take friends or visiting family while your spouse is deployed.
- Talking about a big trip to take when your spouse returns. Spend the time apart planning and looking forward to the trip. We wanted to take a big trip for our honeymoon but did not have the money or the PTO. With the extra funds and leave from deployment, Nikko’s return seems like an ideal opportunity for a dream trip to Greece or a forever-overdue trip home to the Philippines.
- Giving gifts that will bridge the distance gap. One of the ways that I show love is by giving gifts (Shout out to the 5 Love Languages!). For Christmas, Nikko got some deployment-minded gifts to help keep home a little closer. Here are some gift ideas that myself or other spouses have given to do so:
Amazon prime. I have heard time and time again that Amazon Prime is perfect for deployed service men and women. It may not take 2 days given the long distances packages need to travel but it is still quicker than Amazon’s norm. Also, women know more than anybody that online shopping can be therapeutic. It takes our minds off of things and there’s no better feeling than expecting a package. It’s the gift that keeps on giving!
Furbo. This is a pet camera that has a microphone and can dispense treats on demand. If your spouse is anything like mine, they are obsessed with their pets. Sometimes I think Nikko will miss Walter more than he will miss me! This device operates on Wifi and can allow your deployed family member to see what your pet(s) are up to in real time simply through an app on their phones. They can even toss their pets a treat or talk to them through the microphone!
Stuffed animals. If the Furbo is a little more than you’d like to spend or the time difference won’t allow your spouse to see them do anything but sleep, there’s also the option of getting them a stuffed animal that looks similar to your pet(s).
Good ol’ fashioned photos. Printed photos are always a good idea to deal with distance. If you want to take it one step further, you can always get creative with a Shutterfly book or a digital picture frame!
Rocketbook Smart Notebook. If your spouse is like mine and loves to take notes, this is the perfect gift! They can use it to take notes for work or personal use and have it electronically exported to dropbox or sent to any email address making it easy to organize and send notes.
CloudPetz. This is a stuffed animal that can play voice messages sent via internet. It comes highly recommended from a friend that is a seasoned spouse with kids. It helps them stay in contact with their dad with a new message daily that they can play over and over again!
With deployment around the corner, I’m becoming more and more unsure that anyone can truly be fully ready to part from their spouse for an extended period of time. But we are darn sure going to try make the most of the time that’s left. If you have gone through a deployment before or are experiencing your first like me, let us know what ideas you have for preparing hearts and minds for the separation!