MilSpouses know that there's nothing quite like the long-awaited homecoming that occurs after a loved one returns from deployment. Reuniting after having been a part for so long can mean that you're flooded with feelings of excitement, anxiety, impatience, joy, and everything in between.
Whether you've been through four deployments or are experiencing your first, long distance love isn't easy. As much as you want your spouse back home with you, returning to normal life takes time, patience, and understanding from both parties.
Although there's no right way to plan a homecoming, you can make this special time easier on both you and your spouse by practicing a few simple steps.
1. Prepare the Kids
If you're a military wife and mama, you're well aware that military life can take a toll on the kiddos. Deployment can mean missed milestones, feelings of abandonment, and frankly, a lot of confusion.
According to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, there are three major stages that military families experience as a result of a homecoming: anticipation, readjustment, and stabilization.
The amount of time it takes families to stabilize during homecoming and reunion varies. Many of them encounter only minor difficulties in adjusting to new routines. For others, however, readjustment may be a longer process that requires additional support.
Every military mom explains deployment a little differently, and that's completely okay. When it comes to the homecoming, make sure that your explanation lines up with the discussions you've had with your child previously. Some say that dad is on a work trip, while others have children who are old enough to know how military life works. However you choose to explain it, make sure that the child understands that it might take a while for dad to adjust to being home again.
On top of preparing the kids, you'll have to prepare yourself to deal with their rollercoaster ride of emotions and changing behavior. A new dynamic in the home may tempt kids to test their limits. Make sure you and your spouse are on the same page when it comes to any rules that have been set while he's been away, and try not to stray away from your normal schedule when it comes to things like bedtime, homework, and chores.
2. Formulate a Plan
One of the most important steps you can take to prepare for the homecoming is to communicate with your spouse about the details as much as possible. Ensure that you're kept abreast of flight times, pickup locations, and any other important details. Having a plan for what happens after the arrival will give you a little peace of mind, too.
Some MilSpouses who have been through multiple deployments have a special tradition, like making a cake or visiting a favorite restaurant. Talk to your spouse prior to his arrival to ask if he has any preferences.
Once you've prepared a plan, prepare for it not to go as planned. Yes, you read that correctly. The worst thing you can do is pressure your spouse into following a tight agenda without leaving a little wiggle room or opportunity for spontaneity. There's always a chance something could go wrong. Planes get delayed, bad weather happens, people get sick. Don't fret.
MilSpouse blogger Lauren of Military Wife & Mom reiterates the importance of having a Plan B. We all know plans change, but it's how we prepare ourselves to respond when plans REALLY do change. As every deployment winds down, ask yourself, When the plan changes (and it will) what will I do?
Most importantly, remember that all that matters is that your spouse is back home safe.
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