Parenting alone during deployments
The transition to parenting alone when your spouse is deployed can be difficult. But you can dig deep within yourself to find inner strengths that help keep yourself and your kids on track

By: Family - Family - 11/15/2018

The transition to parenting alone when your spouse is deployed can be difficult.  Just when you feel like you're getting back in sync with parenting together, a deployment can arise without notice, often without knowing how long it might last.  Contact with your Operator or Enabler while deployed can be limited, leaving you with a lot to manage by yourself.  While deployments can disrupt the pace of life, unless you're new to the SOF community, you've likely adjusted before and found there's more than one way to get done what you have to get done.  You can dig deep within yourself to find inner strengths that help keep yourself and your kids on track while your spouse is away.  And you might find comfort in the SOF community and support from other SOF spouses.

To improve the transition to parenting alone during a deployment, talk with your spouse in advance about how things will go with the kids when you're at home alone.  Planning ahead is your best bet to help you feel prepared.  Set time aside for a conversation where you both can brainstorm ideas on how the parent left at home can manage the children.  Think about what's worked well in the past and what hasn't gone so well.  Consider where you need to adjust your approach to parenting when it's just you, rather than you and your spouse.

  • Do you need to set up additional childcare?  Brainstorm which family members and/or friends will be able to help.  Make a plan to talk with them.  When possible, provide known dates and times up front when you will need help so your helpers can plan appropriately.  Consider contacting your local DoD Child Development Center or for programs that can subsidize the cost of childcare, if needed.

  • Are there ways to simplify your family's schedule when your Operator/Enabler is deployed?  Perhaps there are a few activities you opt out of or delay when a mission or TDY training rolls around.  It's important to keep routines consistent, but if you feel overwhelmed with all the responsibilities you have to take on by yourself, it's okay to cut back on your obligations.  You want to stay as dependable and organized as possible.

  • How will you handle emergencies if, for example, you or your child gets sick?  Make a list of local contacts you can reach out to at the last minute if you find yourself in a pinch.

  • How can you maintain consistent discipline in your deployed spouse's absence?  If your spouse typically takes on this role, talk about how you can become comfortable with this shift in responsibility.  Outline what you both think are fair punishments and rewards for your children.

  • What will you do to care for yourself while your Operator/Enabler is away?  Think about this together, and work some "me time" into your schedule.  Plan time with friends or pencil in trips to the gym when kids are at their own activities.

Then, before each deployment, plan a brief family meeting to discuss what will happen at home when your Operator or Enabler is away on a mission or training.  Let your children know what will change during these times, such as adjustments to your family's schedule or childcare.  Give your kids time to ask questions, and consider any feedback they have to offer.  Each deployment is an opportunity to become more confident in your abilities to parent alone. 

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