It’s time for deployment. Even though you seem to be running yourself ragged doing the job of both mom and dad, you feel like you need to be busier to keep your sanity while your Army soldier gone. No matter if you work outside the home, you’re a stay at home mom, or you have no kids at all – staying busy is one of the best coping mechanisms for Army wives when your soldier is on the opposite side of the world on a deployment.
Your Army soldier is experiencing something very unique and will change during his time deployed. He may come home with new interests, a new found appreciation of his family or new beliefs. Many Army wives fear doing too much while their soldier is away because they either feel guilty that they are able to do things he can’t or they fear what the reunion will be like if they’ve both changed over the course of a year. These fears are normal. But you must realize that when your husband leaves, your life does not stop. You must continue living and growing. He wouldn’t want it any other way.
So just what can you do while he’s gone? Here’s a list!
1. Take classes at local college, tech school or online. Earn your degree (or add another one!)
2. Enroll in AFTB (Army Family Team Building). These classes can be done online or through your base. It’s a great way to learn about the Army and meet other Army spouses. You can even take classes to prepare yourself to teach AFTB courses.
3. Find a hobby. Scrapbooking is a very popular hobby and it makes a great gift for your soldier when he returns. The list of hobbies is endless from knitting to antiquing. Learn a new hobby with a fellow Army wife.
4. Join a team. On post or in the community, many places offer adult sports teams. Find a sport you enjoy and sign up for the team. This is also a great activity to involve other Army spouses in.
5. Create a reason to get together with friends. During one deployment, other Army wives and I held American Idol nights. It’s a great excuse to get together.
6. Create a game club. From Bunco to Poker, you can set a specific night each week or month to get together. Put an Army wife twist on the game.
7. Join a book club. Many libraries and some bookstores offer these clubs where you all get together to read the same book and discuss it. Or start your own about the latest Army wife book to hit the stores.
8. Find an exercise buddy. Exercise is a great stress reducer. Join a fitness club or just meet your neighbor each night for a walk around your neighborhood.
9. Volunteer. There are many organizations (even on base) that are always looking for volunteers. In fact, they depend on them! Find a cause you believe in and volunteer your time. This can be great for Army kids as well.
10. Make care packages or send cards to the troops who otherwise would not receive anything. Many times, your husband can give you names of ones in his own platoon that don’t receive mail/packages. There are also many military organizations that compile lists.
11. Vow with your kids or another Army spouse to do something new every week. Maybe you’ll visit a new park, try a new ice cream parlor or participate in a new activity. This will also give your kids something to look forward to each week.
12. Plan a night out with the girls. Every month, plan a night out with just the girls. No kids allowed and treat yourselves to a great dinner and a movie or a night out on the town.
13. Or get the girls together for a spa day. If you can’t afford the spa, then set one up in your own home. Have each person be responsible for a different treatment.
14. Take advantage of the activities on post. Each month, many Army posts offer classes and activities for little or no fees.
15. Join the Army spouses club. This is a great way to meet other spouses and to be the first to know about volunteer opportunities or activities on post.
16. Organize potluck dinners for your friends. Everyone brings a dish and you can rotate homes.
17. Explore your city. It always amazes me the number of people who will say they hate where they live yet the only thing they’ve ever done is visit the grocery store and the mall. Get out there!
18. Find support groups online. There are many online communities available to join. I have many that I consider to be good friends who I have never even met in person. And who knows, one day we may be stationed at the same post together and I’ll know someone before I even get there.