The alarm sounds at 0500. You roll over to shake your Sailor or Marine awake, only to find it's your 4-year-old snuggled up on the other side of the bed. Suddenly it all comes back to you. You remember standing at the pier, flight line, airport, driveway (pick one), and saying goodbye with your heart in your throat. All you want to do is cover up your head and sleep until your spouse returns, but the beeping of the alarm reminds you that your family and job still need attention, and life won't give you the luxury of a six-month nap. So you get up, and you go on.
Holding down a job and being a single parent during deployment is not easy, but it is possible to do it, and to do it well. It takes determination, balance, and a flexible attitude.
Balance Home and Work
Take time to re-evaluate your new role and responsibilities now that your Sailor or Marine has deployed. You may think you need to be Superman or Wonder Woman, but you don't. Remember that you are, after all, only human.
If you're finding you have inadvertently put on the superhero cape, don't be afraid to take it off and give yourself a break. Schedule time and budget money for yourself. If you get run down physically or emotionally, you won't do anyone at home or work any good. Being good to yourself means eating healthful food, getting enough rest, and renewing yourself spiritually.
Leave work at the office. Take time to decompress before you transition from work to home and parenthood. This might be a good time to hit the gym or some golf balls, or indulge in a yoga class. Take a few minutes to breathe deep and refocus on your family before you walk through the door or pick the kids up from school. Those few minutes can go a long way toward helping you manage all that is required of you.
Children take their cues from their parents, so if you remain relaxed and flexible, the children will, too. Everyone needs time to adjust to a new routine, and that doesn't happen over night.
There's a reason that the phrase, "Don't sweat the small stuff," is so popular. It's good advice. Take care of the most important things, and the small stuff will get taken care of along the way — or not — the small stuff doesn't matter that much. Remaining flexible keeps stress and tension down at work and at home, as well as helping you keep a healthy perspective.
Organize your week. Each night, prepare for the next day. This will help avoid early morning madness. Plan ahead for meals and learn to use a crock-pot. This allows you more time being a parent and less time being a cook. Learning to organize your time will make life during a deployment go smoother and help your children learn valuable life skills.
Keep things simple and easy. Life has a way of moving you right along and, before you know it, you'll be looking up information on return and reunions.