April 27, 2015
By Taylor Basilio
You may have seen the first part of our series where we discussed how to keep your toddler busy during a deployment, but what about your older children? With toddlers, they are often too young to always notice that their second parent has disappeared for a long period of time, but older children understand it throughout the entire deployment and experience a heavy effect from it. While you can’t completely diminish the sadness or longing your child will have from missing their mom or dad, you can provide activities to keep them busy enough that this time will speed by. Without further ado, here are six ways to keep your kids happy and distracted when their second parent is deployed: 1. Reading their way through it.
A wonderful way to help your child stay busy
is to pick a series they love and read it from start to finish over the course of these months. Be sure to have each consecutive book ready when they finish the first. An even better idea? Send their deployed parent the same series. They can read each chapter or book together and have something fun to talk about during phone calls, Skype, or FaceTime. 2. Show them you care.
One of the good parts of deployment is making fun and
useful care packages to send to your loved one overseas. Getting the kids involved is even better! Get them excited by letting them plan and prepare care packages all on their own. They’ll love sharing their favorite things with their deployed mom or dad, and you’ll love seeing their faces light up when the package is received. 3. Go camping.
Summer camps are a perfect way to give your child something
to look forward to—and it gives you a well-earned break, too! Whether a sports, religion, or just-for-fun camp, find one your child will love and enjoy. Another idea? “Grandparent” camp! If your children have grandparents willing to spend a week with their grandson or granddaughter, arrange a time for them to spend a week loving on your kids and catching up on the one-on-one time the military lifestyle often causes them to miss out on. 4. Tackle some projects.
Whether it’s cleaning out their closet that
desperately needs some attention or working together to create a play area in the backyard, a project that lasts a few days, weeks, or months is an awesome way to keep their mind off the deployment. 5. Make a calendar.
We love this idea! For each month, let your kids help find
one super-fun activity or exciting place to visit and take a photo when you’re there. Have your deployed spouse take some neat pictures wherever they are, too. At the end of the deployment, pick your twelve favorite images and use them to create a monthly calendar for the following year. This gives you at least twelve fun moments to look forward to, and you’ll have a nice reminder of the good moments that took place all throughout the next year. 6. Plan the ultimate homecoming.
Have your kids help you think up and
prepare awesome ways to greet their parent when they get home. Whether decorating the house, surprising them with all their favorite foods, or planning a surprising vacation, keep a notebook nearby so you and your kids can write down fun ideas throughout the deployment. Keep an eye out for the final article in our series written specifically for teens and deployment! How did you keep your kids or teens busy and happy during their parent’s deployment? Let us know and your idea could be featured in our next article!