5 Ways to Make Deployment Fly By for Your Toddler
April 14, 2015
By Taylor Oh, deployment… There’s nothing easy about it. With long days, longer nights, high levels of stress and exhaustion, and of course, the longing for your significant other to be by your side. Deployments create a challenge for any military spouse, but what about the challenge for your children? Each stage of your child’s life—from infancy to the teen years—is greatly affected by the absence of one of their parents. So how can we, as their at-home parent, make this difficult time easier and quicker for our children? Let’s take a look at five different ways to help deployment fly by for your toddler:
- Let them process their feelings. There’s nothing worse than your child realizing Mom or Dad is gone and you trying to change the subject only to confuse and frustrate them. By letting your child process their feelings and occasionally have a bad day from missing their parent, they can have some time to understand the situation. Missing someone is a tough lesson to learn, but with you by his or her side to help navigate their emotions, they’ll have an easier time learning to understand.
- Check out Daddy Dolls or recording books. Daddy Dolls are small pillow-like dolls with an image of your spouse who is deployed on them. You can even insert a voice recorder so their doll sends a special message from Mommy or Daddy to them each time they squeeze their Daddy Doll with a big hug. Another great idea? Record your spouse reading a special voice-recording book so they can be a part of bedtime stories even when they are away.
- Make a countdown. Whether in days, weeks, or months, make some sort of countdown chain or jar. Your child can help put the chain together or fill the jar, and take a ring off or eat a Hershey’s Kiss (a kiss for each day they are gone) for every day that passes.
- Rainy day bucket. Write down activities on notecards—from visiting the zoo to building a pillow fort to baking cookies—and insert them into a bucket. Every time your child is having a tough day, pick something fun from the bucket to do that day. This is a perfect way to help turn those bad days into a good one and help them pass by quickly.
- Write a story. This is a fun care package idea. Have your child write stories of what they did that week (or month, etc.) complete with illustrations. Each time you send Mommy or Daddy a care package, send the story with it! Your spouse will love reading about what your child thought was special or fun since the last care package, and your child will love including them in their days.
Deployments aren’t fun for anyone—especially your children—but there are ways to make them pass by faster and more pleasantly for both you and your kids. You’ll be kept busy, and your kids will be grateful that you took the time to make it easier on them!