Deployments can be difficult for anyone, especially the kids. They look at time differently than we do which is why it is so important to keep them busy during a deployment. There might be a lot going on in your community so it is a good idea to fill your calendar with fun events as you find out about them. You should also plan some activities you can do with your kids that will help pass the time.
Here are some creative activities you can do with your kids during a deployment.
Plan to send a monthly care package and have your kids participate in it. Let them go with you to the store to pick out what you will send. When it comes time to package it all up, let them help with that too. They can put the items in it or they can draw inside the box. It is a great way to keep them connected to their deployed parent. It would be fun to do a holiday or seasonal themed box every month.
Another great thing you can do is create a countdown chain. Create enough links based on when you think the deployment will be over. Have your kids take turns tearing off a new link each day. If you need to add links later, that’s alright. Just try to explain to your kids why you have to do that. If they are young enough, you might not have to explain at all and can just add links as you need to when they are asleep.
Taking a lot of photos during a deployment is also a great idea. You can print them out and have your kids work on scrapbooks of all the fun activities you have done. The kids can decorate with stickers and markers and make the pages their own. It can be a great thing to show their mom or dad when they get home from deployment.
Weekly get-togethers are another great thing to do. This is especially true for the younger kids who are not in school yet. It is good for the parent at home as they will be able to spend some time with other children going through the same thing that they are. Find a group of other deployed spouses with young children and ask to see if anyone wants to set up a play date. You might be surprised at how many others would love to do something like that to pass the time.
For older children, you can have them make a deployment bucket list. They can add any parent approved activity they would like to do during the deployment. You can have them paint and then write it on a Popsicle stick and put them in a mason jar. As the months go on, you can do each of the activities that they have picked and make a record of it. This would go along well with the scrapbook.
Deployments are stressful but they don’t have to be boring. There is a lot you can do to help your kids have fun, even when a parent is far away.