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Inside: Get a straightforward guide for getting a breast pump through Tricare. This post is done in collaboration with our sponsor The Breastfeeding Shop. All opinions are my own.

There was a joke going around that if you called the Tricare referral line, you’d be waiting until the year 2022 for the paperwork to through. While this is a slight embellishment, dealing with your health insurance company, be it Tricare or another one, can feel quite cumbersome.

It’s the main reason I’m always looking for solutions where other people will do the Tricare dirty work for me. Even better if I can obtain the solution without leaving the house.

Enter, The Breastfeeding Shop.

There are all sorts of ways you can get a breast pump through Tricare. However, many of those ways involve you leaving the house, looking for a pump, trying to decide which one is best, worrying if you got the right one, buying it, submitting your paperwork claim to Tricare for reimbursement and waiting for your money back.

On top of that, each time you want to refill your breast pump supplies, like breast milk storage bags, you need to refile your claim with Tricare.

With The Breastfeeding Shop, you can skip all that. You can order online or over the phone, they will help you decide which pump is best for you, and they deal with all the Tricare stuff for you. Best of all, your pump arrives at your doorstep, and they will handle all future supply re-orders as well.

Here’s how it works: A step-by-step guide. 1. Head on over to The Breastfeeding Shop’s website.

Once you arrive at The Breastfeeding Shop, you can click “Order a Breast Pump Now” in the menu bar, if you’re ready to order.

If you’re not ready to order, you can scroll down just a bit, and there is a section to submit a question, to view their breast pump comparison or to download a prescription to your doctor to fill out.

If you need to download a prescription form for your doctor, you can select “click here for order forms” and it will take you to this page:

2. Have your prescription ready.

Once you select “Breast Pump Prescription,” you can print off this download and take it to your doctor’s office:

If you’re not sure about the form, The Breastfeeding Shop will help you get it filled out by your doctor. It can take longer to process your order, but it’s nice to know that they will get the prescription for you, if needed.

3. Enter your order.

Go back to “Order a Breast Pump Now” in the menu bar to get started. Enter your insurance provider and the pump you chose using their comparison chart.

4. Add in your name and address information.

5. Add in additional insurance and doctor info.

This helps things move more quickly with your order in case The Breastfeeding Shop needs to follow up with your insurance or physician.

6. Attach your prescription, confirm and sign.

You can also call The Breastfeeding Shop at 866-255-6779 or email them at CustomerService@TheBreastfeedingShop.com. They are a Tricare Perferred Provider, which is important and helpful.

If you’d like to learn more, you can also check out our live interview on Facebook here:

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The post A Step-By-Step Guide for Getting a Breast Pump Through Tricare appeared first on The Military Wife and Mom.

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Inside: Looking for some military care package ideas that you can use for a birthday care package? Check out this tutorial, plus snag a ton of extra creative ideas at the end.

I love birthdays (they’re like your own personal holiday) and celebrating a birthday with a loved one, even if it’s not yours, is so much fun. But during deployment, it can sometimes feel hard to get the birthday celebration going for your loved one. That’s when some fantastic birthday care package ideas become extra important: it helps bring the birthday party to your loved one no matter where they are stationed.

A birthday care package theme can really be anything your loved one is interested in, but I’m partial to making it fit the decade of your loved one’s birth! With a few simple steps and a little extra creativity, you can send your loved one a blast from the past in honor of their birthday.

Related: Deployment Care Package Ideas: How to Save Money

A Decade-Themed Birthday Care Package Idea 1. Pick colors and patterns that resonate with the decade.

Your biggest visual impact in a birthday care package is the paper you use to cover the flaps of the box. Choosing something that captures the feel of the decade helps you carry out the theme. You may be able to find pre-printed paper in the store, but don’t feel like you’re limited by what stores carry. You can create your own design so you get exactly what you want! Use paint, markers, stamps or stickers to create your own pattern.

Note: Post contains affiliate links from Amazon.com, which means if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I may receive a small commission.

  • 70s: peace signs, tie dye
  • 80s: neon splatter, acid wash
  • 90s: bright colored animal print
  • 2000s: cell phone or other technology pattern

2. Use decade-appropriate slang.

Is there anything more decade-specific than slang? When slang is involved, grandparents have no idea what their grandchildren are saying and vice versa. Each generation has their very own language! Using slang to wish your loved one a happy birthday helps carry your theme over to one more aspect of your care package. You could use these slang expressions on the flaps or on the items you send in the care package. If you’re sending a birthday care package, wrapping certain items (or all of them!) and writing messages on the paper in decade-appropriate slang would be a great touch.

  • 70s: “can you dig it”, “far out” and “groovy”
  • 80s: “like totally”, “rad”, “gnarly”, “tubular” and “righteous”
  • 90s: “as if”, “talk to the hand”, “sweet”, “dawg”, “dope” and “home skillet”
  • 2000s: “fo shizzle”, “crunk”, “drop it like it’s hot”, “phat”, “da bomb” and just about any texting abbreviation (LOL, OMG, etc.)

3. Add images of popular items.

After you’ve covered the care package flaps with themed paper and added some slang expressions, think about popular items of the decade to use as decorations. Whether you print and cut out clipart from the internet, find stickers that mimic the items or use a die-cut machine, a few decade-specific items on the flap will really add a little something extra to your care package.

  • 70s: floppy disks, disco ball (especially if it’s sparkly), disco dancer silhouettes, peace signs and flowers.
  • 80s: boom box, cassette tapes, Rubix cubes, Pac-man, hacky sacks, jelly shoes and anything in neon!
  • 90s: ring pops, CDs, Tamagotchis, Furbys, Gameboy and a desktop computer.
  • 2000s: iPods, giant sunglasses, Razor scooters, trucker hats and camera phones.

4. Send a few items that represent the decade.

If you’re a 90s kid, how fun would it be to play with your very own Tamagotchi again? Or re-watch a classic movie if you were born in the 80s? While not every fad survived the passage of time, some throwback items are still available and would make great care package additions!

No matter when your loved one was born or where they may be during their birthday, a decade-themed birthday care package can be a very fun addition to their day. The more creative and personal you can make the decorations and contents, the more they feel like it really is their special day.

What decade was your loved one born in and what kinds birthday care package ideas would you add?

More birthday care package ideas from Pinterest.

1. Happy Birthday Care Package Idea with Tinsel

2. Happy 23rd Birthday Care Package Idea

3. Make a Wish Happy Birthday Care Package Idea

4. Long Distance Happy Birthday Care Package Idea

5. Happy 33rd Birthday Care Package Idea

6. Happy Birthday Care Package Idea with Bunting

7. Happy Birthday Care Package Idea with Balloons

Cool Care Package Designs You Can Buy

Don’t want to create all the care package box decorations? You can grab them via The Countdowns and Cupcakes Shop and all you need to do is put the box together. Saves the time of buying all the supplies yourself, but you still get to put the thought into creating the box.

See what I mean with these care package ideas: 

More care package ideas for inspiration.

The post 10 Totally Awesome Birthday Care Package Ideas appeared first on The Military Wife and Mom.

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Inside: Learn the most important (and overlooked) reason why kids won’t listen, focus or sit still. Plus, get 25+ ways to help your kids build these important life skills.

My son climbed to the top of the monkey bars and snaked across them from above. He’s not strong enough to swing across arm-to-arm, so his solution is to catapult his legs up, pull his entire body on top of the bars, and slither across.

A mom walked up to me. “Your son’s on top of the monkey bars. Just thought I’d let you know so he doesn’t fall and get hurt.”

Shortly after, two kids walked up and said, “He’s on top of the monkey bars! He’s going to get hurt.”

Related: 2 Year Old Not Listening? Try This Remarkable Tip

It happened in other situations, too.

When I took my two kids to a Merry-Go-Round, and let them have it as I sat on a picnic bench watching from afar, parents and kids alike voiced their concerns.

“Someone is going to break their arm over there!” 

“She’s going to fall and get hurt.” 

“He’s spinning, and he’s going to get sick.” 

Same thing when people saw my kids hanging upside down (per their own doing) for several minutes at a time.

“All the blood is rushing to his head. It’s gonna make him sick.” 

“That’s too dangerous!” 

Or when people saw my kids twisting and spinning around on a swing.

“Someone is going to get their fingers pinched!” 

“That’s not safe. Put your bottom on the swing.” 

The bigger issue occurred — for other parents — when my kids did these things and their children wanted to join in the “dangerous” activity. This is a common thread I see at playgrounds and when talking with parents I work with through parent coaching.

Related: How to Build Listening, Improve Cooperation Using a Printable Daily Schedule for Kids

Here’s the problem: Why kids won’t listen.

Children’s ability to move and play are being restricted more than ever. We are trying to protect them by saying “No climbing,” “No running,” “No spinning,” “That’s too dangerous,” and “Get down from there!”

Disclosure: Post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I may earn a small commission.

However, research shows that the drastic decline in “risky” outdoor play in kids is creating behavior problems. By constantly hovering over kids, restricting their movement, and diminishing their time to play, we are causing more harm than good.

“According the to American Academy of Pediatrics (2013), a recent study show that the average child spends eight hours a day in front of screens (television, video games, computers, smart phones, and so on). Older children and adolescents are spending an average of eleven hours a day in front of screens.” (Hanscom 2016).

That’s a huge amount of time spent in front of screens, which provide little to no proprioceptive or vestibular input (which I’ll talk about in a second). In prior generations, this time was spent outdoors or in play.

This is the important part.

In order for kids to listen, focus and learn to sit still for a period of time, they must develop both proprioception and vestibular sense. The most critical time to develop a child’s proprioception and vestibular sense is before age six.

With all the time spent in front of screens and telling kids to sit still, avoid climbing, and stop jumping, it’s not surprising why kids won’t listen.

Proprioception is what tells you where your body parts are without having to look at them. This is the sense that helps you make sense of gravity. It’s the reason you can switch from the gas pedal to the brake without looking at your feet, or bring popcorn to your mouth without taking your eyes off the movie screen.

Without properly developed proprioception, kids can push too hard during tag, fall out their seat at the dinner table, or trip while walking up stairs. (You’ll see this a lot in toddlers as they develop proprioception, but you should see it less and less in kids ages four, five, six and beyond).

Vestibular sense provides information about where the body is in relation to its surroundings. This is the sense that helps you understand balance, and it connects with all the other senses.

When the vestibular system does not develop properly all other senses will struggle to function properly. Without a strong vestibular sense, kids will have no choice but to fidget, get frustrated, experience more falls and aggression, get too close to people when talking, and struggle with focusing and listening. Because they literally cannot help it.

Related: How to Handle Back Talk Like a Parenting Warrior

Helping your kids.

In order for kids to learn to listen, focus and follow directions as they grow, they need to develop proprioception and vestibular sense by experiencing many physical challenges during childhood.

Without it, kids can’t pay attention in school because they are too distracted by their own bodies. Putting clothes on, trying new foods, and finishing homework become insurmountable tasks when kids don’t have a strong vestibular sense or well-developed proprioception.

Study after study shows that kids today desperately need more physical activity. “John Ratey, an associate professor of psychiatry at Harvard, suggests that people think of exercise as medication for ADHD. Even very light physical activity improves mood and cognitive performance by triggering the brain to release dopamine and serotonin, similar to the way that stimulant medications like Adderall do.” (source)

Angela J. Hanscom, author of Balanced and Barefoot and pediatric occupational therapist, recommends getting your kids outside as much as possible. Ideally, kids of all ages should get at least three hours of free outdoor play daily.

While I’m not certain if her age-based recommended times are realistic or not, they are as follows:

  • Toddlers → At least five to eight hours of active play per day, preferably outdoors
  • Preschoolers → At least five to eight hours of active play per day, preferably outdoors.
  • School age → At least four to five hours of physical activity and outdoor play.
  • Adolescents → Physical activity three to four hours a day.
Here are a few ways to support your child’s vestibular sense:
  • Spinning in circles.
  • Using a Merry-Go-Round.
  • Rolling down a hill.
  • Spinning on a swing.
  • Going upside down. 
  • Climbing trees.
  • Rocking.
  • Jumping rope.
  • Summersaults or cartwheels.
  • Using monkey bars. 
  • Skating.
  • Going backwards.
  • Swimming.
  • Dancing.
  • Wheel-barrel walks.
Here are a few ways to support your child’s proprioceptive input:
  • Carrying or lifting boxes.
  • Pushing or pulling a wagon. 
  • Build a fort.
  • Rake leaves.
  • Shovel snow.
  • Pick up and put down heavy sticks.
  • Dig in the dirt.
  • Carry buckets of sand or water.
  • Give hugs.
  • Knead playdoh
  • Jump on a trampoline.
  • Chewing on something
  • Squeezing a stress ball
  • Playing Tug-O-War with a stretchy band

Related Posts: 

Let the kids live “dangerously.”

As a parent, there are many times I’ve cringed and closed my eyes to avoid watching my child spin in circles, slither across the monkey bars or swing high into the air. It’s only natural to worry that something will happen.

But the truth is kids know what they need. Children with healthy neurological systems naturally seek out the sensory input they need on their own. They do this without thinking about it.

When they jump, swing, spin, pick up rocks or dig in the dirt, kids are doing exactly what they need. They aren’t intentionally doing it to get hurt, act rambunctiously, worry you or get messy.

They are doing it to help themselves become safer, calmer and happier kids.

Like Dr. Tina Bryson says, “You can trust development.” Her words have never been more true.

Download your free printable.

Chances are you won’t remember all the ways to support your child’s vestibular and proprioceptive development. This printable simplifies it!

Here’s a sneak preview…

  1. Download the checklist. Join 37,000+ parents who receive my weekly-ish tips and ideas and get the printable delivered straight to you inbox.
  2. Print. Any paper will do the trick, but cardstock would be ideal.
  3. Place it on your refrigerator. Check off the things as you go and don’t forget a thing!

Click here to subscribe and download

Many of these ideas come from a life-changing parenting book called Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident and Capable Children. For more on helping your child become his or her best self, check out these amazing parenting reads…

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The post The Most Overlooked Reason Why Kids Won’t Listen appeared first on The Military Wife and Mom.

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Inside: This mealtime hack is so simple, but works! If you’re wondering how to get a toddler to eat vegetables, try this first before stressing over family dinners. Perfect for when your kids won’t eat.

You know how the story goes, right?

Toddler whines incessantly before dinner about how hungry and thirsty they are. Dinner comes and toddler screams, “YUCK!” and runs around the table singing like a Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelie. Toddler won’t eat. Five minutes after dinner toddler says, “Can I have a snack?”

This was my house every night.

My son’s most famous lines were, “My tummy is hungry for donuts and ice cream. This food won’t work for me.” He also loved to say, “This broccoli is going to make me sick in the toilet.”

He did have some clever arguments. I’ll give him that. But…

There’s a lot of pressure in parenting to figure out how to get a toddler to eat vegetables. Because if your child doesn’t eat vegetables, then you’re probably totally flunking at this parenting thing (ahem). All you have to do is look at that poor mom who accidentally fed her kids “penis-shaped pasta” (it was supposed to be smiley faces) and all the crazy judge-y comments she got on Facebook for being “a horrible mom because there were no vegetables.”

Despite feeling exhausted from all the dinnertime battles and dealing with my kids refusing to eat, I feared asking for help and being mom-shamed (see above). All I wanted was for my kids to eat some vegetables so we could stop fighting about it.

Here’s the other problem.

A good friend once told me, “A hungry child is a child who eats.” There’s a lot of truth in that statement. Hungry kids do eat. However, if my kids are anything like yours, they would sit down to the table, eat all things carbs, and then politely pass on the rest.

And by the “rest” I mean anything that contained nutrients. Kids are fantastic at discerning nutrients. My son could find the most micro green spec in his food to scrape off a vegetable he didn’t like. The same was true of my daughter; she would eat around anything that appeared to be vegetable-based.

There is an easier way.

The statement, “A hungry child is a child who eats,” kept creeping into my mind. I knew there had to be a simple way to make this work. At first, I thought about just putting the vegetables on the plates when starting dinner and telling the kids they had to eat the vegetables before eating anything else.

But then I thought about how long I’d have to sit there bribing and negotiating, and that seemed equally exhausting. Plus, scientific studies prove that bribing your kids to eat certain foods doesn’t help them make healthy food choices in the long term.

How to get a toddler to eat vegetables.

I decided to try a method from Traci Mann, a psychologist at the University of Minnesota. She’s been studying eating habits for more than 20 years, and she says that in order to get your kids to eat vegetables you have to remove the vegetable’s competition.

The strategy is called “get alone with the vegetable.”

Basically what her research shows is that when vegetables are paired with other enticing foods, the vegetable will always lose to the competition. Kids will eat the enticing foods enough to feel satiated, and just like my own kids did, they will push the vegetables aside. By removing the vegetable’s competition altogether, the kids have only one choice to eat — vegetables.

Here’s the secret.

When your kids are nearly biting your ankles off during the pre-dinner hours (this is what I lovingly refer to as, “The Witching Hour”) put a beautiful rainbow of vegetables on the table.

Then I’d say, “You’re so hungry! You need to eat right now. It’s Vegetable Happy Hour! I put some food on the table for you. You can eat anything from the table or you can wait until dinnertime. You get to decide.”

And to my happiest surprise, my kids would walk up to the table munch on a few carrots, tomatoes, cucumbers, green beans and sometimes even broccoli in between play. One evening my daughter ate half a bag of carrots! Other days, they eat only one thing or nothing at all. Looking at the big picture, they were eating far more vegetables than before.

Here’s more from Traci Mann on why this works:

To [get kids to eat vegetables], you just eat your vegetable first, before any of the other food is there. Eat them before other food is on your plate, or even at your table. And that way, you get them when you’re hungriest and unable to pick something else instead […]

We’ve actually tested this in a lot of ways. And it works unbelievably well. We tested it with kids in school cafeterias, where it more than quadrupled the amount of vegetables eaten.

It’s just about making it a little harder to make the wrong choices, and a little easier to make the right ones.

But the best part?

When dinner rolled around and I put the food on the table, I breathed a sigh of relief. I didn’t feel the pressure to get my kids to eat because they already ate the most nutritious stuff. Heck, I was practically running around the table and singing like a Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelie.

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The post A Simple Mealtime Hack That Will Get Kids to Eat Vegetables appeared first on The Military Wife and Mom.

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Inside: Deployment quotes for military spouses and significant others that will make your heart skip a beat. They’re the perfect set of military wife quotes to inspire you during the ups and downs of deployment.

I remember the first deployment goodbye after I fell in love with a service member. Painful doesn’t even begin to describe how much my heart ached. As I said goodbye to my boyfriend (now husband) at the time, I sobbed in a way that nearly incapacitated me.

Somehow I was able to drive myself from the airport back to my dad’s house. I immediately ran from the car and into a bedroom, quietly shutting the door behind me. My hands covered my face as I laid on the bed continuing to sob.

After a while my dad knocked and then entered. With a smirk on his face he said, “Well…did you go out last night and have too much fun?” He had no idea what just happened, nor that I’d been sobbing for over an hour straight. I removed my hands revealing my face, and I could tell that my dad immediately regretted his comment.

He hugged me and said nothing, which is exactly what I needed. Deep down I knew he wanted to understand, but couldn’t. That’s the thing about being a military spouse going through deployment: No one really understands what it’s like unless you’ve gone through it yourself.

During that first deployment it was a series of deployment quotes that helped carry me through. I kept them in my military spouse journal and then later turned them into memes on my Facebook page, The Military Wife and Mom.

I hope this series of deployment quotes inspires you no matter if you’re preparing for deployment, in the middle of deployment or welcoming your service member home during a military homecoming.

Note: Post contains links that are part of the Amazon.com affiliate program, which means if you make a purchase, at no extra cost to you, I may earn a small commission.

Deployment quotes that will inspire and encourage.

1. “Life is tough my darling, but so are you.” – Stephanie Bennet Henry

2. “Anything worth having is worth waiting for.” – Unknown

3. “True love doesn’t mean being inseparable; it means being separated and nothing changes.” – Unknown

4. “Distance means so little when someone means so much.” – Unknown

5. “Life is not about how fast you run or how high you climb but how well you bounce.” -Vivian Komori

6. “Life takes you unexpected places. Love brings you home.” -Unknown

7. “When we can’t be together, keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.” -Winnie the Pooh

8. “You never really know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” -Unknown

9. “You can buy a fancy dress, shave your legs three times and choose the perfect shade of lipstick, but what really matters is showing up and being there each and every step of the way.” -Lauren Tamm

10. “Couples that are meant to be are the ones who go through everything that is meant to tear them apart and come out even stronger than they were before.” -Unknown

11. “They knew it. Time, distance, nothing could separate them. Because they knew. It was always right. It was always worth the wait.” -Unknown

12. “Always remember: You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” -Winnie the Pooh

More deployment quotes that will inspire and encourage.

13. “Be strong. It may be stormy now, but it can’t rain forever.”

14. “Distance is just a test to see how far love can travel.”

15. “A lot of things may come and go, but not our love”

16. “Love doesn’t die easily, it thrives in all of life’s hazard’s. Except one; neglect.”

17. “While I sleep, I dream of you, and when I wake, I long to hold you in my arms. If anything, our time apart has only made me more certain that I want to spend my nights by your side, and my days with your heart.” ―Nicholas SparksNights in Rodanthe

18. “How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.” -Winnie the Pooh

19. “If love cannot stand the test of time, then it has failed the test of love.” -Bernard Byer

20. “The distance is so long, but our love is so strong.” -Unknown

21. “Absence is to love as wind is to fire; it extinguishes the small and kindles the great.” -Roger de Bussy-Rabutin

As it turns out, I did make it through that deployment the same way all military spouses and significant others do — by hanging on for dear life. If you’re looking for more deployment quotes that will inspire, you may enjoy these posts on long-distance love quotes:

Printable Deployment Quotes Want more on military life?

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Inside: Getting stationed in Okinawa? These are three things that transformed our time there for the better. Plus, a life lesson that came full circle at the end of our three years in Japan.

I never expected leaving the US for Okinawa to feel as hard as it did. We did volunteer to go after all, and if I’m being honest, we wanted the adventure of living overseas. But that’s not exactly how the journey went.

I’ll never forget the day I said goodbye to my dad before flying away to Oki for three years. I put my hand on the doorknob and prepared to walk out of his house when the emotional tidal wave slammed straight into my heart. I didn’t realize it until that moment, but that was the last time I would see my dad before we left.

Everything turned to slow motion as I released the knob, turned around and sprinted up the stairs to his office. Panic set in, and there was no stopping the tears from pouring down my cheeks and onto the floor. I looked to my dad, sobbing. “I’m…I’m…I’m leaving.” That was all I could manage to say in that moment, and between a father and daughter, those were the only words needed. He stood up, walked over to me and hugged me like I was a kid again.

Together we stood there sobbing. There’s a different feeling that comes with moving overseas, and in many ways, it feels like you’re leaving everything you’ve ever known behind — forever. You think you’re prepared to leave, your service member may volunteer, you may look forward to your new adventure, but eventually the emotional tidal wave will slam into you.

Transitioning into our new life in Oki was beyond hard, but there are three things that transformed the way we felt about living overseas.

1. You do not need to bloom immediately.

They all say, “Bloom where you are planted.” To an extent, this is a great idea, but there is also something to be said about giving yourself grace. If you’re sad, frustrated or lonely overseas, you can tell yourself to bloom, but without validating that for yourself, it’s hard to move forward. 

Remember, all growth is through acceptance. In order to grow — or bloom — you first need to acknowledge and accept where you are in the moment. Talk to friends or family members who will listen and validate what you’re experiencing without trying to fix it or offer solutions. You need someone who can say to you:

“You’re half a world away from everything you’ve ever known and that’s an awful feeling!”

“You’re sick of the mold and swamp hair and micro cars.”

“You spent three hours driving in circles (and accidentally turning on the wipers) while trying to find the glass factory and that really stinks!”

If you don’t have a friend to validate those feelings for you, validate them for yourself. Once you can validate the challenges of life overseas, you can finally open yourself up to the amazing world of people around you.

2. Sunday dinners can save you.

There’s a peace and comfort that comes from a routine with other friends. We paired up with another family, and together, we met for dinner nearly every Sunday for three years. It became such a rich part of our lives that it was sad to see Sunday dinners stop when we left Oki this past fall. We all stood crying in the entryway of a home on McT while our kids said goodbye to one another.

You could have Sunday dinners or movies on Fridays or Saturday walks. Any routine that you can regularly have with friends in Oki can transform the way you feel about being there. These little rituals help it feel like home and gives you a sense of belonging. Don’t have a friend to ask? Start with a neighbor or one of your service member’s co-workers.

3. Your house must be a home.

If your house is filled with white empty walls and government furniture, it only serves as a reminder that this isn’t your home or your life. It screams that you don’t belong there and that you need to get back “home.”

As soon as you possibly can, make your house a home: An oasis that not only you want to come home to everyday, but also a home that you want to welcome all your neighbors and friends. Take the time to get your family photos taken and put them on the walls throughout your home. You’ll never look back on your time in Oki and say, “I have too many pictures or my house was too much like a home.”

Turns out, leaving was equally painful.

We drove to pick up my best friend, who would take us to the airport. As she hopped in the front seat, darkness blanketed the early morning sky. And immediately a tightness leapt into my throat. Because this was real. Too real.

We were leaving, and it would be a long time before I saw my friend again. In fact, I had no idea when we would see each other. As I took another sip of coffee trying to numb my throat, memories of our three years overseas flooded my brain.

Memories of the birth of our daughter and friends really being there. Memories of Christmas and other holidays spent with friends who became our family.  Memories of nights out with friends and far too much Orion.

The sun peeked over the horizon as we arrived to the terminal for our departure back to the US. I opened the rear doors to get the kids out. I looked to my friend and said, “I’m…I’m…I’m leaving.” She got out of the car, walked over to me and hugged me like I was family. Together we stood there sobbing.

You think you’re prepared to leave. You think you’re ready to return to your life in the US. You may look forward to your new duty station. But eventually the emotional tidal wave builds, crashes into your heart and makes you realize that all of your time spent in Okinawa — good and bad — served a deep and meaningful purpose.

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Inside: Are you struggling answer the question, “How to put a toddler to sleep fast?” After helping frustrated and exhausted parents for years, I’ve put my best kept secrets into one list for helping toddlers fall asleep faster than ever.

Our bedtime battle reached the two hour mark. Round after round, my toddler daughter and I battled about her going to bed. I wanted her to sleep, and for two hours, she tried to prove me wrong.

One night, I even took pictures of her little fingers sticking out the bottom of the bedroom door pleading with me to stay awake. I knew one day (probably 20 years later) this picture would bring a smile to my face. But that night, nothing was funny to me.

That was months ago. In a few weeks time, we went from knock-down, drag-out battles to peaceful and cooperative bedtimes using a few different techniques.

Here’s even better news.

No matter if your toddler keeps getting out of bed, or your dealing with toddler tantrums at bedtime or something else, there is hope. I’m a firm believer that all kids are capable of going to bed peacefully and on their own. It’s only a matter of helping them see their abilities.

How to put a toddler to sleep fast.

Over the years, I’ve worked with countless parents struggling with toddlers sleep issues. I’ve put together my top ten best secrets for helping your toddler find their Inner Sleep Goddess. The best part? You can do this all without yelling, threatening or bribing your toddler to fall asleep fast.

1. Fill the needs: power, experience, connection.

All kids have three basic needs: power, experience and connection. Everything your child is already doing is meeting those needs (This is part of Language of Listening® – the three-part parenting framework I use).

When kids want to connect, they will fight bedtime and continue to come out of bed in order to connect. If kids feel powerless and desire control, they will fight bedtime in order to fill their need for power. And if kids want the experience of sleeping in your bed, they will continue trying to experience it if they don’t see another alternative.

In order to help your child meet his or her need for connection, use SAY WHAT YOU SEE®.

This is a technique where you describe what the child is doing, saying, feeling or thinking. This is the step of validation and connection for kids. If you don’t know what to say, a wonderful default I love to use is, “You wanted…” and then add in what the child wants, or wishes for in that moment. The more you use SAY WHAT YOU SEE with your kids, the more your child will feel heard and understood. When a child feels heard, he or she feels connected to you.

Related: Two words that will tame temper tantrums – every time. 

If order to help your child meet his or her need for power, look for things your child CAN DO to feel in control.

Meeting a child’s need for power is often overlooked, but it is usually the primary need at the beginning of a bedtime battle because children feel powerless when they can’t get what they want. This might be choosing the pajamas they wear, the order of the bedtime routine, the books you read, or the game you play during teeth brushing. When kids feel in control, they stop trying to control others.  

To help your child meet his or her need for experience, grant your child’s wishes in fantasy.

“You wish statements” help meet your child’s need for experience in fantasy when he or she wants something and can’t have it. The more detail you add, the more real it will feel to the child.

It might sound something like this: “You wish you could stay up with mom. You wish you could stay awake, come down stairs, eat a big bowl of ice cream with sprinkles and watch TV. You’d love to stay awake all night long and never go to sleep for 1,000 nights.”

If your child cracks a smile, starts to calm or joins into the fantasy story like mine do, you’ll know you’re on the right track. Once you’re on the right track, you can go back to SAY WHAT YOU SEE. When you follow along and validate, kids feel heard and understood. The added connection prevents escalation. 

2. Play out struggles using games.

Children don’t say, ‘I had a hard day […] Can we talk?’ They say, ‘Will you play with me?’” – Lawrence Cohen.

Using play is a powerful tool to help your child stop using behaviors you don’t like and start using ones that you do. If your toddler keeps coming out of bed or your toddler keeps waking up at night or if you can’t figure out how to put a toddler to sleep fast, turn it into a game.

Allow your child to play the role of the parent while you play the role of the child. Play your game during the day or long before it’s bedtime.

  • Have your child tell you to stay in bed and stop coming out.
  • Then cry in the room and try to sneak out.
  • Allow your child to find you and put you back to bed.
  • Follow the child’s lead with the game; let the child take you where they need to go.

Kids know exactly what they need and will meet their needs (power, experience, connection) through play. Keep a close eye on how your child acts out the parent role — that’s likely how they perceive you during bedtime. You’ll know kids are on their way to meeting their own needs when they ask to play the child role again. Continue playing the game on a regular basis until the child asks to stop.

3. Use a visual routine – especially with toddlers.

“In a large study across several countries, researchers found that having a consistent bedtime routine is directly related to better sleep: Children who had a regular bedtime routine fell asleep faster, had an earlier bedtime, had fewer night wakings and slept longer than children who did not have a regular bedtime routine! 

The relationship between having a bedtime routine and sleep was dose-dependent, meaning that the younger the child was when the routine was started, and for each additional night that the bedtime routine was used, the better the quality of sleep for the child.” — Ashley Soderland, Nurture and Thrive

You can add another layer to your toddler’s routine using a daily printable schedule for kids. When toddlers see the routine, they are more cooperative and able to follow along. Eventually toddlers begin to follow the routine with less and less prompting, saving time!

4. Diffuse essentials oils for sleep support. 

There are many different essential oils for sleep support, but for kids, my favorites are cedarwood and lavender. Cedarwood essential oil supports healthy function of the pineal gland, which releases melatonin…the body’s natural sleepy hormones.

Lavender is well-known for it’s relaxing and calming effects on the body. The reason I love this oil most is it’s safe to use on all ages–babies through adults. After extensively researching essential oils, our family only uses Young Living because of their purity standards. If you decide to try essential oils, you definitely don’t want to put adulterated oils on your kids (they are stuffed with chemical fillers).

One more that we love is the Tranquil Roll-On because it’s convenient and easy. I’ll frequently roll in onto my daughter’s wrists if she has trouble going to bed or falling asleep after a night-waking.

5. Treat sleep as a gift, not a punishment.

Parents can often fall into the trap of using sleep as a punishment: “That’s it! If you don’t clean up the toys right now, you’re going to bed!”

If our son wouldn’t pick up the toys before bed, the consequence was not sleep. There was no more, “You’re going to bed right now.” Instead, if he didn’t pick up the toys, he lost the toys the next day. That was just the rule.

Look for ways to re-frame your bedtime routine as a very special time with mom or dad.

  • “It’s your special time with mommy (or daddy).”
  • “It’s your snuggle time. We get our bodies clean, comfy and cozy.”
  • “Snuggle time feels so good!”

Then talk to your child about ways sleep benefits the brain and body, using language they can understand.

  • “Did you know the more you sleep, the faster you will be able to run and play?”
  • “When you sleep, your brain moves all the things you learned today into the right spot!”
  • “Did you know that you need more sleep than mommy (or daddy) because your brain and body is growing super fast?”
  • “Sleep helps heal all your boo-boos faster than if you didn’t sleep!”

Read more here: How to handle bedtime tantrums.

6. Use Success Training to help your child stay in bed.

Success Training is another tool from Language of Listening that I love to use. To help a child learn to stay in bed, it might go something like this:

After going through your initial bedtime routine, start by offering to let your child set a time for you to check on him or her (like in 2-5 minutes) so she can experience success in staying alone and in bed, set a timer, and return on time a couple of times.

Each time point out a STRENGTH — any little thing she did right–you didn’t move (stayed under the covers, on your bed, in your room like you said below) that whole time! After a couple of successes, point out that shows she trusts you to come back noting how long she stayed in his bed and how hard that must be since this is a new routine.

Then see if she is ready to try another minute between visits (or 2 or 5 depending on how quickly she is adapting to this new routine), and try that a couple of times. Keep checking and extending until she is asleep. The first few nights it will take A LOT of your time, but you should see progress every night.

As your child’s confidence grows, she will choose a longer time between visits, and you will know she is on her way to going to sleep on her own without a struggle. If she comes out before the time of the visit, she may not believe you right away or may be worried you is tricking her. If so, you can adjust the time down until you find the success point and restart there. It may go back a forth a while at first before seeing steady progress.

Each time she finds a way to stay in bed or stay calm, name those STRENGTHs. Coaching your child, she can start to help herself through the situation.

  • “You stayed in your room for a while even though you didn’t want to.”
  • “You found a way to stay calm at bedtime. That took a lot of self-control!”

7. Explore fears at bedtime, rather than ignore them.

When kids are afraid of something, and they hear, “There’s nothing to be afraid of. You’re fine!” it creates a disconnect. In an effort to feel heard and understood, the child will intensify his communication to prove to you his fears are very real. 

The only way to help a child truly move past fear is to validate the feeling.

“You saw monsters in your room somewhere. And wow, that just really stuck with you. There’s something about it that you can’t let go. And you want to feel comfortable. Right now, you think the only thing that will help you feel comfortable is me laying down next to you and sleeping. Hmmmm….there must be something we can do to help you feel comfortable AND fall asleep on your own.”

Follow the child’s lead, validate the emotions (no matter how illogical it seems).

Read more here: How to respond when your child’s afraid to sleep alone.

There’s more.

Learning how to put a toddler to sleep fast is a huge challenge. Every child is different, which means that there is no right or wrong answer when finding solutions.

We’ve used a combination of the above on and off with our kids when needed. After only a few weeks time, our daughter was back on track, cheerfully participating in her bedtime routine and peacefully falling asleep on her own.

And remember…it’s only a sleep problem if it’s a sleep problem for you. Try different things and see what feels right to you. Trust your gut.

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The post How to Put a Toddler to Sleep Fast appeared first on The Military Wife and Mom.

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Inside: The ultimate guide of books written by military spouses and includes books about military life, fiction and informative guides. If you are looking for a good book to read, check out these incredible titles written by and for military spouses.

As a military spouse and published author, I am always looking out for fellow military spouses who are also writing books. The more I looked into it, the more I was amazed by the depth of talent in our community!

Military spouses have published books on a variety of topics. Of course there are many about military life. But there are also romances, suspense, practical how-to books, travel guides, and journals. If you are looking for a good book to read, check out these incredible titles written by and for military spouses.

Books written by military spouses about military life.
  1. Modern Military Spouse, by J.D. Collins, Lauren Tamm, and Jo, My Gosh
  2. Confessions of a Military Wife, by Mollie Gross
  3. Stories around the Table, by various authors.
  4. Behind the Scenes, by Cara Loken and others
  5. No Man’s War, the irreverent confessions of an infantry wife, by Angela Rickets:
  6. Sacred Spaces, by Corie Weathers
  7. 15 Years of War, by Kristine Schellhass
  8. You are not Alone, by Jen McDonald
  9. Journey Through Deployment, by Kathryn Sneed
  10. Spouse Calls, by Terri Barnes
  11. Be Safe, Love Mom, by Elaine Brye
  12. Life, Recalculated by Denise Rivera
  13. The War at Home, by Rachel Starnes
  14. Heroes at Home, by Ellie Kay
  15. Dinner with the Smileys, by Sarah Smiley
  16. 1001 Things to love about military life, by Crooks, Henderson, Hightower, and Scherer
  17. Faith Deployed, and Faith Deployed Again, by Jocelyn Green
  18. Finding Joy, by Hope Griffin
  19. Standing By, by Alison Buckholtz
  20. I Love a Man in Uniform, by Lily Burana
  21. Sleeping with the War, by Melissa Comeau
  22. Journey of a Military Wife, by Brenda Pace. This 4-part series is Bible reflections for different moments of military life. Military base chaplains often have free copies.
  23. Surviving Deployment and Life After Deployment, by Karen Pavlicin
  24. Confessions of a Tired Veteran Spouse Caregiver, by Ciera Lin Adams
  25. You know when the Men are Gone, by Siobhan Fallon
  26. Got Your Six: a journal for military spouses, by Megan Casper and Alana Le
  27. Signature Strengths of Military Families, by Jacey Eckhart
  28. Homefront Club: the Hardheaded Woman’s Guide to Raising a Military Family, by Jacey Eckhart
  29. Heart of a Hawk and Surviving the Folded Flag: Deborah Tainsh
  30. Military Spouse Journey: Holly Scherer and Katie Hightower
Fiction books written by military spouses.
  1. Kim Mills: The Way Home series
  2. Kerri-Leigh Grady: The Right Kind of Guy (What Happens in Vegas)
  3. Jamie Farrell: Her Rebel Heart, Misfit Brides, Mr. Good Enough
  4. Chanel Cleeton: The Wild Aces Romance trilogy, Capital Confessions
  5. Andria Williams: The Longest Night
  6. Jamison Stone: Rune of the Apprentice
  7. Krys Adams: Crown of Roses
  8. Stacey Reynolds: The O’Brien Tales series
  9. Katie Foley: Faith in Uniform series
  10. Marla Bautista: My Thoughts Abandoned (Poetry)
  11. Jodie Bailey: Love Inspired Suspense, Quilts of Love series
  12. Geri Krotow: Navy Rules, the Coltons of Shadow Creek,  The Bayou Bachelors. A Navy Academy graduate, Geri donates copies of her books to military spouses.
  13. Rebecca Yarros: Eyes Turned Skyward and countless more.
Informative guide books written by military spouses.

  1. Right Side Up, by Judy Davis
  2. The Military Guide to Financial Independence and Retirement, by Doug Nordman. Free copies may be available at your base library or Family Support Center.
  3. Mommy Retailing, by Lakesha Cole
  4. The Laundry List, by Rachel Brenke
  5. Mission Entrepreneur, by Jen Griswold
  6. S.M.A.R.T. Goals for Christian Entrepreneurs, by Trista Laborn
  7. Talk to the Teacher, by Meg Flanagan
  8. Seasons of My Military Student, by Amanda Trimillos and Stacy Allsbrook-Huisman
  9. Breathing Room: Letting Go so you can Fully Live, by Leeana Tankersley
  10. Loving Your Life: 7 Steps for Military Wives, by Dr. Dorothy Bonvillain
  11. Welcome to Rota, by Lizann Lightfoot
  12. Welcome to Yokosuka, by Ciara Skiles
  13. The Warrior’s Bride: Biblical Strategies to help the military spouse thrive, by Kathy Barnett and Carrie Daws
  14. Post Partum, From Shattered to Sane, by Lauren Cecora
  15. How to be Your Husband’s Other Woman, by J. M. Medellin
  16. Hello Rosie planner for military spouses
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Inside: Whether you’re dealing with a 3 year-old talking back, a 4 year-old talking back or a 12 year-old talking back, these two powerful techniques are simple and can completely change the dynamics with your child.

About a year ago, I was going through my perpetual scroll of Facebook when I came across something that stopped me in my tracks.

A video of a young boy screaming back at his mother. He was enraged. Sobbing. Out of control. He started screaming obscenities, and as his mother recorded the whole thing, and later shared it with the world, my heart sunk to my stomach.

I wanted to tell her something. Well…first I wanted to hug her, and then I wanted to tell her something. Because if she knew about how to handle back talk and disrespect, it could change everything for both her and her son.

When you see a 4 year-old talking back.

There are times when kids feel “trapped in a cage,” and there is seemingly no path out. In their deep desire to feel heard, kids who feel trapped will act out using the only power tools they know – the ones they learn from adults: They scream, yell, argue, boss or punish.

Acting out is the child’s way of communicating. A child who is doing those things is actually trying to get you to understand that he is right to feel the way he does and wishes you could see past his actions to the person he is underneath.

If you only hear, see and react to the disrespectful behavior (symptoms of an underlying problem) instead of the message – “I want you to understand who I really am!” – the child will have no choice but to escalate his message or disconnect from you completely.

I get the parents side too.

As a parent you do so much for your kids. Things they don’t even know about or understand. The laundry you’re folding at midnight. The job you’re working to earn money for the roof over their heads. The nights you can’t sleep because you’re worried about your kids’ breathing. And all you want is a little something in return: Respect.

Whether you have a 4 year-old talking back or a 12 year-old talking back, it’s only natural to feel powerless. You want to help your child, but it seems like nothing works. You don’t know what to do!

And…when you feel powerless, you’re going to want to yell, scream, punish or videotape your child and post it on the internet so you can feel powerful.

It makes so much sense! Of course, you would do anything to feel powerful when you don’t know how to help your child!

Without realizing it, you and your child feel much of the same feeling—powerlessness.

What if you knew an easier way out?

When you have a child talking back, they are desperately asking you for help. Remember that it always starts with us — the parents. Kids cannot even think at the maturity level needed to break a behavior cycle, let alone do anything about it. So, as the parents, it has to start with us.

Related: 13 Brilliantly Simple Habits That Raise Well-Adjusted Kids

If you’re able to get to the bottom of kids’ communications, they will feel very understood and accepted. This allows kids to move out of the “trapped in a cage” feeling, away from the back talk and disrespect, and into a place of cooperation. When kids trust and feel safe, they will start to grow and surprise you in the most amazing ways.

How to stop a child talking back.

It always starts with validation.

This is the step of connection, and the easiest way to validate a child is to use a technique called SAY WHAT YOU SEE®, where you step out of your head and into the moment with your child.

If you are able to sit or squat down next to your child for a moment and objectively observe the situation (what is your child thinking, feeling, doing or saying), you will take a huge first step toward building trust and connection with your child. This only takes a short amount of time.

Validating kids is not a reward, it’s connecting so your child can feel heard and understood. Once a kids’ upsets are heard, they will move out of the “trapped in a cage” feeling and open up to your guidance.

Related: Why Is My Child So Angry and Aggressive? A Solution-Based Approach

But…what if validation doesn’t stop talking back?  

There’s a simple technique you can use to meet your child’s need for power quickly. This works extremely well whether you have a 2, 4 or 12 year-old talking back. If a child shouts at you or looks increasingly upset, take a very deliberate step back. If possible, you can squat down to below eye-level and say, “Looks like I’m too close and you don’t like that! Tell me where to move.”

The child may point and say, “Move there in the corner.”

You’ll move and your child may say, “No, not there. There.”

When a kids correct you, they are starting to meet their need for power, and you’ll know this technique is starting to work.

That simple step puts kids in the lead, helps kids feel a sense of control and begins to meet their need for power in a way that is OK with me (rather than screaming and shouting). When you allow a child to feel a small sense of control, talking back will immediately begin to de-escalate.

Your child will open up to your guidance.

When kids’ needs are met they have an amazing ability to stay calm and cooperate with you. That’s just how kids work. Once you’re on your child’s side, offer guidance. It might sound something like this…

“Let’s start over. When you’re upset about something, you can say, ‘I don’t like that’ or ‘I’m not okay with that’ and then we can talk about it and problem solve together.”

That’s the starting point.

More than anything, your child needs you.

Imagine how awesome it would feel to know that when your child has a conflict with someone in their adult life that they can handle it calmly and problem-solve?

That’s what parenting is all about! To raise our kids so they can become successful, happy, healthy and thriving adults.  

A year ago, I did reach out to the mom who shared a video of her son for the world to see. I wanted to hug her and let her know that I understood. I understood why she did it, but also that I knew her and her son were more alike than she realized.

While I never heard back from her, the video was eventually removed. I can only hope that she was able to see herself and her son for who they really were–two people doing the best they could with the tools they had.

And I can only hope that with more tools—like the ones shared in this post—they can enjoy calmer days and more peaceful interactions. All parents and kids deserve that.

All of these ideas and simple techniques come from Language of Listening®, the 3-part parenting framework that I use. It’s changed our family’s life and I know it can change yours too. For the past two years, I’ve trained as a Language of Listening coach, and in the coming months, I will be exclusively sharing my own Language of Listening course with a select group of readers.

If you’re interested and would like to learn more about the course when it’s available, simply sign up here or click the image below to join our select group of readers who will learn about the course first. 

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The post Kids Talking Back? Stop the Sass, Create Peace with Two Techniques. appeared first on The Military Wife and Mom.

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Deployments are challenging, no matter how many you have been through. But these programs and organizations are here to make life just a little bit easier for military spouses going through deployment. Most are available throughout the country, so get the support you need from these deployment resources for military spouses.

Generally Important Deployment Resources

1. Red Cross Messages: In emergencies, call the Red Cross at 877-272-7337 to get a message to your service member, even if they are out of communication. This can be used to inform them when their wife is delivering a baby, is in a car accident, or if a relative dies.

2. General and Specific Powers of Attorney: Before deploying, the service member should complete at least the general Power of Attorney so their spouse can manage finances in their absence. It is recommended to also complete the Specific Power of Attorney, which is used in situations like buying or selling a vehicle or house, adding a baby to DEERS, and significant financial transactions. The spouse should keep this in a safe place and provide copies whenever a customer service rep tells them the service member needs to appear in person to complete something.

3. Free Care Package Materials: To send care packages, use the flat rate FPO/APO boxes, which have lower shipping costs. You can get the boxes, labels, and tape for free from the Post Office! Call 1-800-610-8734 and ask for the Military Care Kit, or order it from their website.

4. Military One Source: Their website offers free confidential counseling and support with options to meet in person, by video, or on the phone. Military spouses can use the counseling sessions 10 times per year, at no cost. You do not need any referral from a medical provider.

5. MFLC: A Military Family Life Counselor (MFLC) is a professional social worker or psychologist attached to a military unit whose focus is on supporting military family members. They can meet on or off base, for free, to discuss issues such as anxiety, depression, PTSD, divorce, children behavioral issues and marital concerns. The MFLC is a great first step to help you decide what resources to use on or around your base.

6. FOCUS classes: Families OverComing Under Stress (FOCUS) is a two-month program designed to help military families handle the stress of deployments and PCS moves. Some sessions are designed especially for children, while others allow the parent to meet one-on-one with a counselor. Activities help family members evaluate their stress levels, communicate their feelings, and learn ways to calm down.

7. Suicide Hotline: Whether you are struggling with depression, or watching a friend go through a rough time, know that there are people willing to talk 24 hours a day. Just call 1-800-273-8255.

8. ASYMCA: The Armed Service YMCA (ASYMCA) offers numerous programs to military families. Various locations across the country have different activities, but their main resources are:

  • Military Outreach Program, which provides discounted YMCA membership at specific locations
  • Operation Hero, which offers after-school homework help to military kids during deployment
  • Operation Kid Comfort, which provides free personalized quilts to kids with a deployed parent
  • Day Camps and Summer Camps for military families
  • Parent & Me preschool programs on base
  • Teddy’s Child Watch, located in some military hospitals, provides short-term childcare while parents go to their own medical appointments

9. Blue Star Families: This organization offers several important deployment resources, including the book “Everyone Serves” plus a deployment worksheet and videos about various deployment challenges.

10. Give an Hour: Give an Hour’s mission is to develop national networks of volunteer professionals capable of responding to both acute and chronic conditions that arise within our society. Since 2005 they have focused on providing free and confidential mental health care to those who serve, our veterans, and their families. Visit their website to get started.

11. Ultimate Deployment Guide: This 28-page download from The Seasoned Spouse blog has checklists, planning pages, and lists of resources to use during deployment. Use it to feel more organized, so you can have your emergency contacts, important paperwork, meal planning, care package ideas, and bucket list all in one place!

12. Free Printable Deployment Binder: You can grab this 19-page printable binder, which includes a 4 week pre-deployment planning checklist, car and home maintenance checklists, legal checklists, care package checklists, account and password documentation sheets, and more.

For Communication

13. Free phone calls: Don’t pay for an international cell phone plan if you don’t need to. Instead, make phone calls through apps like Skype, Facetime, Facebook Messenger, or Google Hangouts. These work best when the service member has internet access. Without it, they may need pre-paid calling cards that can be used aboard ship or at international bases.

14. Open When letters: If you don’t have regular communication during deployment, you can help your spouse feel more connected by sending them off with a big package of “Open When” letters. These should be kept sealed as a surprise until the event listed on the envelope. Anything from “Open When it’s your birthday” to “Open When you’re feeling lonely” can really brighten their day. You can get over 100 ideas for Open When Letters by visiting the Jo My Gosh blog.

15. Note Cards: If you’re not sure what to write in regular emails or letters, then use note cards for a little inspiration. These are especially helpful for children who don’t know how to write well enough to fill up a full page. There are deployment-themed cards on the Nomadic Nation Shop.

16. Care Packages: If you are crafty and like to decorate care packages, you can find hundreds of ideas and themes on Pinterest. If you prefer to let someone else do the crafty work, check out the deployment-themed designs on Countdowns and Cupcakes.

17. Voice Recorders: Hearing your loved one’s voice means so much when you’re apart. Make sure they can get a sweet message any time by recording your voice in a book or teddy bear. The company BeaRegards has military-themed bears with recording chips inside. You can also use any of these Long-Distance Apps to share voice, photos, and messages when you aren’t both awake at the same time.

Companies with Care Packages:

18. Troopsters: When you don’t have the time to run around, assemble, and mail you own care package, Troopster makes sending treats overseas a simple process. This one-stop-shop lets you pick a theme, such as Snacker’s Pack, Health-Nut, or Manly Jerky. Then you fill out a personal card, and they send the gift to your deployed service member, with just a few clicks.

19. Milso Box: Because service members aren’t the only ones who appreciate care packages! This company was started by a female veteran to support her military spouse friends going through a deployment. Each box is “curated for the military significant other (milso).” You can subscribe to receive one unique box each month during a deployment, or you can send a box to a friend as a gift.

20. The Six Box: This gift box is designed “for those who wait.” There is a different box each month with a surprise seasonal theme. Each one includes a gift, snack, and beauty product. You can also opt to include their 12-month journal called “Got Your Six” (which means they have your back during deployment).

21. Spouse Box: This new subscription box program from Hello Rosie come in two sizes: Treat Yourself, and Treat Yourself More. Each month’s box contains sweets and treats that are a great pick-me-up during deployment, or a gift to a friend who is preparing to move. It features products made by and for military spouses.

For Countdowns

22. Phone Apps: Use “Doing Time” or the “Donut of Misery” to track how far you have made it through the deployment. If you don’t have a Homecoming date, just guess a month. You can always adjust it later! Just remember not to share screenshots of your countdown on social media, since it is never a good idea to post a Homecoming date (even when it’s a rough estimate).

23. Customizable Countdowns: You can cross days off a calendar, use Hershey kisses in a jar, find a cute countdown on Etsy, or use a customizable wall countdown. This one is especially helpful for kids to see their deployed parent move through deployment, with mini celebrations each month.

For New Moms:

24. Giving Birth Alone: Having a baby without your spouse is daunting. (I know, I did it and survived!) Having a battle buddy by your side is important. Consider hiring a doula at the reduced rate through Operation Special Delivery. Or you can contact Stars and Stripes Doulas for help with everything from birth, to laundry, to cooking and housekeeping. This is especially helpful for someone on bedrest.

25. Baby Showers: There are numerous organizations that want to help military families and new moms, especially during deployment. These are national programs that host baby shower events around the country. Check them out to see if there is a giveaway near you:

26. Postpartum Support: After giving birth, military spouses can receive home visits from the base New Parent Support team. These are nurses who can help with nursing, baby weight gain, and basic health needs. Postpartum Support International is a nationwide program that supports moms after birth, especially those struggling with depression.

Visit this article to see deployment resources for military kids.

The post 25+ Best Deployment Resources For Military Spouses appeared first on The Military Wife and Mom.

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