The importance of routine after deployment
After deployment, it's important for military families to get back into their regular routine as soon as possible. The structure and predictability can provide kids with the emotional stability they need.
I'm a stickler on having a fairly solid routine in life. This is almost an oxymoron considering you have to quickly learn to 'roll with it' in military life — but there is always a basic routine to life you can set up for yourself and follow.
When a big family and life changing event happens — like deployment — I think it's especially important to have a solid routine that you can get back to quickly.
Ours is pretty simple. My son is in kindergarten and my twin girls are still at home with me — so the biggest things I have to worry about are school and nap times. These are things that happen every day that are dependable and never missed or skipped. When you have something huge that changes in your life, I think you need as much dependability as possible.
Structure and stability
I was grateful that my husband's deployment started on a Sunday. Monday we were able to slip back into our routine. My son and I are always the first ones up together in the morning, which means we get some extra quality time together.
He gets ready for school while I get his snack and lunch ready. Next I get the girls up, and soon we're out the door enjoying our morning walk to school. When we get back, the girls and I have breakfast together and go about our day with activities like puzzles, nature hunts, reading books and of course a good round of tag or hide-and-go-seek. Soon it's time for lunch and nap, followed by a snack and picking up their big brother from school.
After school we work on homework, then move on to dinner, bath and bed. All of these things are very basic parts of our day — and pretty much the norm in the homes of most families.
We look forward to park visits on Wednesdays, and Friday evenings are always family movie night — complete with a pizza party, carpet picnic dinner and popcorn during the movie.
These are the ongoing parts of our days and weeks that my kids can look forward to and depend on. It's not much, but it's what helps to create that sense of security and stability in their world.
Of course I understand that life happens. Not everything can be kept within perfectly straight lines, and we do love to be sporadic. But when there are curve-balls thrown into the game I try to provide as much of a routine as I can to allow them to have some predictability.
A little control for the kids
At an age and stage when there's very little of it, I also like to provide them with a sense of control over some of the things going on around them. Each night all three of my children pick their own story to be read to them. My son helps decide what goes in his lunch, and together we discuss what we're having for dinner during the week. These are all very basic routines that make up our everyday routine — however, I feel strongly that these securities are what have helped my kids not go completely over the emotional edge when dealing with the absence of their daddy.
Sure, we've had plenty of moments where we've talked about how much we miss him — and shed a lot of tears — but the next day is new again and life resumes as it always does. Routine. Secure. Cozy.