When your spouse is away, the weeks might be a bit easier for you if you have small children at home. They have school or playdates. You have your routines. You have things to keep you busy.
However, once the weekend comes, it might just be a different story. Having your spouse gone during the weekends whether they are deployed, gone for training, CQ, or have a job that takes them away is very difficult. What works during the week might not work on Saturday and Sunday.
Most of the time, the weekends are family time. From BBQing to going out to eat together to exploring your city, for most people the weekends are time off from work and a time to connect as a family. With social media, you are very much reminded of this, even if you don’t want to think about it.
The key to getting through a deployment is staying busy, but the weekends can be a bit of a struggle with finding the balance between staying busy and not doing too much. You might have kids that need some downtime from a busy week. You might need that downtime to sit and chill.
Finding that balance isn’t always easy and finding at least one or two things to do during the weekend is probably a good idea during any time of separation with little kids. They need to get their energy out in some way.
Here are some great ideas for activities you can do with your kids if your spouse is gone on the weekends:
1) Get together with a friend whose spouse is away too. This can be hard when you don’t live in a Military town but still, ask around. Someone’s spouse could be away for work or for some other reason. Some spouses work weekends and although they are home at night, they can’t make any plans with them either.
Getting together with a friend is also a great way for your kids to stay busy and have fun with other children. Invite them over or get together at a park to keep it simple.
2) Attend a community event. Every community usually has something going on you can go to. Here in the Ft. Campbell area, there are usually at least 2-3 events going on either on post or off that we can choose from. Sometimes they can get canceled for the weather but more often than not there is always somewhere fun to take the kids. Even if you go for just an hour or two, getting out of the house and into the community can be worth it.
3) Go for a long walk or bike ride. This can usually be done as a solo parent depending on the ages of your kids. If they are young enough, put them in a stroller and go. I once went on a 5-hour walk when my boys were very young and just took them out in the double stroller. Five hours was a bit much but that long walk was a great way to pass the time. We saw so many fun things along the way.
4) Dollar Store Shopping. I did this during Spring Break but doing this can work on a boring weekend too. Give each child $1, take them to the dollar store and let them pick out something to play with. Giving them that money gives them a chance to make a decision, it’s a lot of fun and then they will be busy the rest of the afternoon or even into the next day. Usually, the toys they pick won’t last too long but they only cost a dollar.
5) Go to the movies. This one can get a little more expensive than you might want. If you are lucky enough to have a cheap theater in your area, take advantage of it. Find a movie that all of your children will enjoy and go. The kids will love getting out to the movies and you can help keep the “I’m so lonely and sad” feelings away.
6) Call your mom or a friend. Sometimes when the weekend gets too hard, I like to call my mom. She can always make me feel better and catching up with her is always a nice thing to do. If you can’t call your mom, try a friend or another family member. Even if you just talk for a little bit, the conversation can change the tone of your whole day.
7) Go to the park. Parks are really the best when you have little kids. Most parks are free. If you live on post, you already know you have access to many of the. Don’t forget the snacks! Your kids can get out their energy, and maybe even make friends. And you can always stop for ice cream on the way home.
I hope if you are feeling the lonely weekend coming on you can pick something from this list to keep you going. Bring a camera with you and take some pictures to share with your service member. You all will have fun and they will enjoy seeing what you guys have been up to while they are away.