The holidays are coming and you are supposed to be getting excited about the season, however, this year, your spouse is not going to be there. They are going to be on a deployment or away on training.
Many military families have been through this. For us personally, my husband has missed quite a few holidays because he has been deployed or had to be away from us for different reasons.
As soon as you know that your spouse will be deployed for the holidays, you need to make a plan to tell your kids. If they are very young you might not have to say much if anything at all. Just do what you would normally do.
If they are older and can understand what is going on, let them know that a parent will be gone because of a deployment. Explain to them that the parent who has to be away because of the deployment wants to be there for the holidays but they will not be able to. Share how much they will miss being home during that time.
Help the child understand that the deployment is the reason the parent will be gone and not because they don’t want to be there.
If there is a small chance that your spouse might make it home in time, don’t tell your children about that. Planning to surprise them later with the news that the deployment is over would be better than having to tell them that their mom or dad will not be there after you told them they would be.
After you have told your children you should decide what you will do during the holidays when your spouse is deployed. Some people decide to visit family. I was able to do this one year and being with family made that time during the deployment a lot easier on me and my son.
If you can not visit family, maybe you can have someone come to you. Ask your family to see if anyone is willing to come if they do not offer. They might not realize how much being there would be able to help you during the deployment.
Another option is to find friends to spend the day with who are also in the middle of a deployment. We did this with my husband’s second deployment. He was going to be gone for Christmas so I made a plan with a few of my friends. We had Christmas at our own homes and then met at a friend’s house to make a Christmas meal together. That way, we were not alone, our kids would have other children to play with and being with others helped us not dwell on the fact that our husbands were deployed. The day went well and we all had a great time.
If your spouse is going to be gone for the whole holiday season you should still plan to decorate and celebrate as much as you can.
Some parts of the holiday will be different. You might not make a big meal and you won’t be able to play Santa together but keeping a lot of the same traditions as you normally do each year is important for the kids. You don’t want them to feel like they are missing out on everything just because their mom or dad is deployed.
Try to keep your spirits up during this time. Remember that the deployment will be over eventually and you can always have a belated celebration then. Do the best you can to make the holidays great for you and your children even if your spouse is gone on a deployment.