Clickin' Moms

Having Children When Your Husband Is In The Military

As April is the month of the Military child, I figured I would blog about having children while being a Military spouse.

When my husband joined the Army, we had one 13 month old boy. I got pregnant with boy #2 about 5.5 months in. We had our #3 about 4.5 years in. So I had one child before the Army and two after. I know had we stopped with one child we would have had it a lot easier. Deciding not to have a child while in the Military is a choice some people make. It just wasn’t the right one for us.

487247_4872976988480_1591817069_nThe hard part about that is that we did have to deal with certain situations that we never had to even think about with my first. When I was pregnant with Daniel, my husband was always around. He didn’t leave to go to the field, he never had to work a 24 hour shift. If I needed him, he could be there.

When Daniel was born there was no question that Ben would be at the birth. All he would have had to do is call into work and tell them that I was in labor. There wasn’t anything he couldn’t have gotten out of. With Drew, he was deployed, coming home on R&R when I gave birth. Luckily my Mom was with me but as every Military spouse who has given birth without her husband knows, it really sucks when your husband has to miss a birth.

And the birth wasn’t all he missed. He went back to Iraq when he was 2.5 weeks old, kissed his newborn son goodbye in his crib and didn’t see him again until he was 11 months old. That is exactly what can happen when your husband is in the Military. There were families where the husband missed the entire pregnancy and then the birth. Sometimes you do get lucky and the husband can make it home in time but you can’t depend on that.

Those in the Military miss so many events in their children’s lives. That is just the way it is. They might have to be away at a school or in training. They might be deployed. You just have to assume it is possible that they could miss these things and you will just need to solo parent through it.

It is a difficult choice having children when one parent is in the Military. For some it is better to wait. To enjoy the Military life kid-free, get out, find new jobs and then start a family. For others, that just isn’t an option. For some the Military career can last 20-30 years. Raising children in the Military is just apart of the deal.

If you are someone who knows you will be having children while your husband is in the Military, although it might be rough, you can do it. The thing is, so many of us going through it. So many of us have had to deal with solo parenting, dealing with deployments and all of that. You will not be alone. There is a lot of support.

What about you? Did you have children while your spouse was in the Military? Are you waiting until they get out?

Where To Meet Army Wife Friends

I have been an Army wife for 8.5 years now. I have made many many friends over those years. Some of my Army wife friends and I will be friends forever. Even though we no longer live close. Facebook has helped me keep in contact with more people than I would have been able to do years ago. I get to keep up with their lives, see photos of their children growing older and be able to still know what is going on with them.

The hardest part of being at a new duty station is finding those friends. Where do you look? How do you do it?

I thought I would write about all the places I have made friends over the years.

  • FRG- It can be nice to bond with other women whose husbands work with yours. They will be going through the same trainings and deployments. FRG has a stereotype of being filled with drama but I think it just depends. I have experienced great FRGs and not as great ones. It doesn’t hurt to go to a few meetings, especially when you first get to your duty station. The FRG was a huge part of my life when we were stationed in Germany. We met for coffee every Monday during the deployment. It was so nice to have that to start off a new week.
  • PWOC- This stands for Protestant Women of the Chapel. A lot of places also have a similar group for Catholic women. They meet weekly at a chapel on post. There is usually time for fellowship, singing, food and then you break up into Bible studies. When we were in Germany, PWOC was such a huge part of my life. I was on the board several years in a row. I found the Bible studies to be exactly what I needed to get through my deployments. I also met some great woman who I still are connected with today.
  • The Park- This is a simple way to meet people if you have kids. Just take them to the park and see who else is there. You might go to the park and be the only mom, you might not talk with anyone or you might find someone else you want to hang out with later. If nothing else, taking your kids to the park is good for your kids so you really haven’t lost anything even if you don’t meet anyone there.
  • Playgroups- Playgroups can be another way to make friends. We had an amazing playgroup on post when my older two were younger. My kids enjoyed the playtime and I loved talking with the other Moms. A group of us even went on a trip with the USO together. And just like the park, even if you don’t meet anyone you click with, your kids will still have fun.
  • Kid Activities-I met one of my best friends at my son’s swim lessons. We jut clicked. If your kids are involved in activities, you will probably be able to meet other moms that way. And usually your kids have something in common too.Army Wife Friends
  • MOPS- If your duty station or city has a MOPS group, it can be a great way to meet new people. MOPS is great because your kids are able to go play with other kids and you get some Mommy time. You eat, listen to a speaker, make a craft and have time to get to know other moms going through what you might be going through.
  • Book Club- Not all of the places I have met people involve my kids. There are other parts of me besides being a Mom and my kids are a little older now so I can spend more time without them. I do remember how hard it is when they are babies. A friend of mine started a book club two years ago. We are small but we really enjoy getting together and talking about books, tv shows or whatever. Some of us have kids and some of us don’t. It is a great mix.
  • Bunco, scrapbooking, other types of activities-What do you enjoy doing? Look and see if there is a group for that. I have been able to go to Bunco and scrapbooking groups over the years. I enjoy those types of activities and it is great getting to know others that do too.

Where have you met some of your Military spouse friends?

Childcare During Deployments When You Are On A Budget

So your husband is gone. You no longer have him to help with your kids. No more easy trips to the store to pick up a few things, no more ladies nights, you pretty much have to bring your kids everywhere you need to go.

You can get a babysitter which is nice but using one often can add up. I know here you will end up paying close to $10/hour for a good sitter. So what do you do when you just can’t afford that but need to have some time for yourself? This is how I have done it without having to spend a lot of money.

  • Trade with a friend. Find someone you trust with your kids and trade off on babysitting. Neither one of you has to pay a dime. You can do it weekly or monthly or as often as you would like. During one of our deployments my friend and I took turns watching each other kids while we went grocery shopping. It was so nice to be able to do it alone.
  • Take advantage of hourly care. Most duty stations will have a CDC hourly care for you to use. You will just need to sign your kids up at your local CYSS. You will renew yearly from then on. When we were in Germany we were given 16 hours of free care during the deployment. Here at Ft. Campbell we were able to get half-price hourly care which is $2.00 an hour. Not a bad deal at all and they feed them breakfast and lunch if they are there at meal times. I started using hourly care when my oldest was about 20 months old and I was pregnant and knew I would need something as my husband was getting ready to deploy.
  • Take advantage of Parent’s Night Out and Super Saturdays. At each post we have been stationed at they have had Super Saturdays for us to use during the deployment and a few months after he got home. We drop the kids off at 9am and pick them up by 5pm. This was so nice when Ben was gone. I was able to meet friends and shop or just take some time to myself. It definitely made the weekend go by a lot faster. Now that he is home and we can still use it for a bit we are having a great time with spending the day together. Other places in town such as a local church or the YMCA might have Parent’s Night out for you to use. See what is a available in your area. You might be surprised at what you can find.

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Have you been able to find some time to yourself during a deployment?

Guest Post: Motherhood and Social Media

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Motherhood and Social Media

Before the advent of Facebook, Pinterest, Skype and various other social media tools, motherhood was, in some ways, a much more isolating experience. Of course, before social media, mothers may have had email, phone calls and in-person visits. But social media and tools like smart phones and web cams bring your friends and family right into your living room, regardless of location, and allow them experience the growth of your child up close and personal. These days, moms can keep in touch with friends and family like never before.

Social media serves another important purpose: it brings moms together and makes geography nearly irrelevant. You adopted your child from China? There is a Facebook page or blog dedicated to that where you can connect with other moms with children adopted from China and share your experiences, ask questions, and make friends. Ditto for many other motherhood experiences. The internet and social media help us stay connected and meet others of like minds or experiences. This can be immensely reassuring when you are faced with a motherhood dilemma outside your previous experience.

Here are some of the most common social media tools I have found useful and some that many of my friends who are moms love to use:

Facebook

Although there are concerns that Facebook popularity is declining among teens, every mom I know uses it regularly. We post pictures of our kids, updates on our lives, questions about events at school and where to find a good pediatric dentist. It is a great tool for keeping up with both local friends and family and those that live far away.

You should be aware that Facebook is notorious for changing their privacy settings constantly and not informing users.  Therefore, I never post anything on Facebook that is sensitive or private. You really can’t be absolutely sure who might see your post. Also, Facebook has had the tendency in the past to ban breast-feeding photos and sometimes delete those users’ accounts, so while it is your right to post these types of family photos, the network has shown a strange intolerance to them, so beware.

That said, I love keeping up with what my friend in Spain is doing and her daughter’s activities, as well as making plans with my neighborhood friends for a barbeque.  I also belong to a Facebook group of moms with multiples and we talk about parenting issues specific to having twins or triplets.

Pinterest

Need an idea for a snack to serve for a toddler birthday party? Looking for an age-appropriate educational activity? How about nursery decorating ideas? That and more can be found on Pinterest by pinning photos and ideas of people you know and people you don’t. Along the way you can learn lots of interesting things about your friends. One of my friends has a prolific collection of dessert recipes – all involving chocolate. Another is obsessed with bookshelves of every shape and dimension. Another I can always count on for great ideas for appetizers.

Instagram

Love photos? Instagram allows you to tap your inner photographer and view others photos. You can also share them on Facebook and other social media sites. It is an opportunity to showcase your life in photos for friends and family to see, but the profiles are public, so everyone else can see, too.

Skype

There is nothing better than Skype for keeping in touch with family and friends far away – it’s almost as good as being there. It’s free to talk computer-to-computer and while you have to remember to talk straight into the webcam (or else all people will see is your forehead), it is a live way to talk so your mother that lives five states (or a continent) away can see and hear your infant daughter cooing. My niece put on a trombone concert for my parents a few weeks ago and sometimes my best friend and I get on and chat after the kids have gone to bed in place of going out like we used to. You can even BYOB.

Email and Texting

Don’t care to share your whole life with the masses, or even just your online friends? It’s a valid concern – many sites have little to no security settings, so there is really no way to ensure that what you post stays within your circle of family and friends. Emailing and texting, now considered old-school, aren’t completely foolproof, but you have a reasonable expectation that your rant to your best friend about not getting any sleep and the lack of privacy while pumping at work will be seen only by her.

What was parenthood before social media? It was a lot more private, and really, there is no substitute for in-person visits, but when that isn’t possible, social media can be the next best thing. It also opens up so many parenting resources and avenues for creativity, information and validation. It’s a way for friends and family outside your local circle to see your kids grow up, and to me, that is pretty amazing.

This guest post is by a SmartMom Contributor. SmartMom is an easy way to receive fast answers to all of your parenting questions from the convenience of your mobile device.  We’re launching in the app store soon – Visit our website http://smartmom.co for early access! 

 

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