How my Puppy Eased my Transition to being a Military Spouse

There were so many times I was lonely in a new city, by my sweet puppy helped ease me into the transition!

“A dog is man’s best friends”

Well I don’t know about all dogs, but my Lucy truly has been my biggest comfort. I had just moved to a new city and state. And to top it all off my husband spent more days in the field than he did at home. I have seen a lot of people talk about how having a pet can be a grounding for a military child. But I haven’t seen much about how comforting a pet can be to the spouses who are constantly moving around.

I am sure if you follow me on any social media, have seen pictures of my sweet Lucy. Before we got her I had wanted a puppy for months! But I was still in school so it had to wait! But as soon as I graduated we were going to get that puppy! I was determined! Although there was a lot of disagreement about what kind of puppy to get. My husband wanted one that would grow up to be a monster, a horse our children could ride! I wanted what he called, an ankle biter, or as I called it the most adorable things ever!

Anyway, by chance I found the sweetest little thing, and she needed a home! And we gave her a home! Just look at her, how could you not!

Anyways, Lucy is absolutely my buddy, according to my husband she pouts and mopes when I leave the house. She is my best cuddle buddy! And when my husband had all those long weeks in the field, I had a friend. I was not used to being alone, I had lived with roommates before I came here, and was so busy I was rarely home. Now I am in Columbus, living with my husband, who for a while was barely home, with no where to go! Thank goodness for Lucy!

Not only did she keep me company when I didn’t have anyone else around to listen to me! But also because having a puppy was such a great way to get out of the house and meet new people. Having Lucy made me get out of the house. We don’t have a backyard so the only way for her to get out is to take her for a walk or to the park. She is little bundle of endless energy! Lucy is destructive when she doesn’t get out to play! And she has destroyed every “indestructible” toy in 30 minutes tops!

So here is how my puppy helped me ease into being a Military Wife

She forced me out of my comfort zone.

I had never had a dog before, I grew up with cats and hamsters (which my children will never get!!). So first she forced me to stay at home instead of traveling back to South Carolina. If I didn’t have Lucy it would have been so easy for me to just drive back to Columbia or Charleston each week while my husband was gone. But traveling with a dog is much more work! Being in a position that I was “forced” to stay at Benning gave me the opportunity to meet friends that I will have forever now!

She got me out of the house.

I could have stayed on the couch watching Gossip Girl, Friends, Gilmore Girls, and One Tree Hill forever. I have discovered that having a puppy in a way is like having kids, by making a “date” to go to the dog park with another lady the dogs give us an excuse to get out and get to know each other better! Going hiking together worked the same way. It got me out of the house and interacting with real people. And she is definitely a dog that needs to get out of the house, the only indestructible toy I have bought this year she hasn’t destroyed is the KONG Extreme Dog Toy!

She gave me company.

I am one of those pet parents that talk to my dog. In general I am a chatty person so living “alone” is not my forte. I love being around other people. So while I wasn’t exactly with other people I was at least able to talk to her, cuddle with her and play with her while I was at home instead of just twiddling my thumbs.

She comforted me.

As we all know dogs can be really attuned to people’s emotions. That is why they make such great service and therapy animals. While obviously Lucy is just a puppy, and she is far from trained she is attuned to me and can easily read when I am feeling sad, angry and happy. When I was home by myself and feeling lonely and sad, without any prompting Lucy would run and hop on the couch. She gives such great cuddles.

And finally,

She gave me a purpose.

Once the boxes were unpacked and the house set up and decorated I was feeling a bit lost in my purpose. I was a wife without a husband at home to serve; and I didn’t know what to do with that. But enter Lucy. It was my responsibility to feed her, love her, and train her. I wasn’t the best trainer by any means, but she can do all the basic things!

See so as grounding as a pet can be for military kids, I think they can absolutely ease the transition into being a military spouse just the same. Dogs and puppies make wonderful companions and can teach us so much! So if you are looking for one more reason to get a pet, here are five!!

Lucy is my best friend sometimes and as I prepare to spend a year away from my husband there isn’t anything I won’t do to get this dog to Hawaii with me! My in laws graciously offered to host her for the year I was gone, but I just can’t be away from that sweet thing for that long! The month at Christmas was hard enough!!

How has your pet helped you make it through the crazy ride of military life.

Being a military spouse is hard, starting over in every new city. But my sweet puppy helped me ease into this transition!

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Never Stop Dreaming: My New Vision of Future

Never stop Dreaming. Life requires adjustments! Nothing is written in stone and plans change! IF we are flexible we can make the best out of every situation

 

If you read my Vision of Future letter to myself a few weeks ago, one of my final points was that this will be a fluid letter. There will be changes to it as a life is not static. Just after I attended the workshop I received a phone call from my husband. The army has finally given him new orders to his next assignment. Unfortunately, this news causes many changes to my Vision for the Future. So we need to keep on dreaming, finding new ways to accomplish our dreams!

So because well Army… I am going to share my revised Vision of Future with you as well! So of course, as soon as I finished my plan it has been foiled. Such as life, or at least military life! Here it goes:

Dear Me,

Well as with most things, my plans have changed. This Christmas eve is one spent apart from my husband. But at least I am getting another Christmas with my parents. In fact, I am getting much more than just another holiday with them. With my hubby in Korea I get to spend the whole year with my parents. I haven’t spent that much time (or more than two weeks) with them since I was 17 years old!

Clearly if I am in Hawaii there is no fire in the fire place. And while I my hubby and I are not cuddling on the couch to a Christmas movie, there are at least still puppy cuddles. She better know how much I love her for all the trouble it was for me to get her here. Any who I diverge.

But family life isn’t the only thing that has changed due to some of this news. Moving to Hawaii is another obstacle to getting my counseling license. Unfortunately, Hawaii requires a different licensing exam and those tests aren’t exactly affordable if you aren’t going to be able to finish the license. Plus, not too many states use that license either. It is just one more step farther away to become a professional counselor. So, I have been taking a good long hard look at what I want my career to be.

So, I have taken the first steps to turning my blog into a business. I bought and set up my own website. It has been such a fun and stressful process. I have developed components necessary moving forward. Also, because I have never taken a business class in my life I signed up for Kayla Roof’s Work from Anywhere Academy! I am so excited to learn all about this new business venture. I am also trying to figure out how to become a parenting coach. So many exciting things to come.

So, for now I will close this addendum so that I can pack (read contemplating packing). I am sure there will be more updates to come. So, until then.

Love,

Me

Life requires adjustments! Nothing is written in stone and plans change! IF we are flexible we can make the best out of every situation

Parenting Toddlers: More than the Terrible Twos

Parenting toddlers can be wonderful and infuriating all at the same time! Here are some ways to help keep the toddler years more fun than stressful!

I had a client come to me once, and they told me, “Whoever labeled it as the terrible twos, clearly never had a three year old! My toddlers has it out for me!”

The toddler years can be some of the sweetest, most fun, and hilarious times of your child’s life. But they can also be one of the most frustrating and exhausting stages of parenting. After all we have all read those hysterical stories of why toddlers are crying. My niece was because she wasn’t allowed to eat dog food! With their new found vocabulary and growing sense of independence, the most commonly heard word out of their mouths (and their mother’s) is “no!” Sometimes that “no” can be cute ad you can’t help but giggle and grin as he says it. And yet other times it is downright infuriating, using every last ounce of patience to stay calm.

As trying as it is I promise you, your toddler is not out to get you! They are just trying to assert their own space in the family. Up until now the baby was so connected to you, she didn’t need or occupy her own space. As she grows and turns into a toddler she starts to need more and more of her own space. If she does not get it, she will begin to demand it. As parents our goal should be to raise children to be happy and healthy individuals who are productive in society. We want our children to be kind and strong people who can take care of themselves. So if that is our goal we can’t stifle their independence right from the beginning.

Now don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for giving into every tantrum or toddler whim that blows their way. Part of raising strong independent people comes from knowing the boundaries and understanding that every decision has a consequence for good or bad. But we do have to find ways in our daily lives to allow our children to begin making their own decisions and supporting them in that, even our tyrant toddlers. Here are some ways we can help our toddlers gain some control over their surroundings.

The Never Ending Questions

Toddlers will question you about everything and anything they can name – what they wear, eat, do, see, hear, anything. They are trying to control their surroundings by gaining more knowledge. While the endless questions get old fast, by answering them we are giving them more and more pieces to the puzzle they are constructing in their heads. When they don’t know something and you won’t answer they get incredibly frustrated and begin to tantrum. This is not manipulation so much as lacking the ability to articulate clearly what they want or need. So answer their questions the best you can, they don’t know any better.

Channel their desires to make Decisions

            One way to help them gain more control is to allow them to make their own decisions. This can be from what they play with to what they eat. I am going to talk mostly about dressing themselves and meal times because those are the biggest struggle for parents to relinquish the control while still remaining in authority. I say this because, unless they are playing with something harmful we don’t particularly care, and it is easy to allow them to make that decision.

            Dressing themselves.

Being allowed to dress yourself is a lot of freedom. As parents we can control what they are allowed to choose from by only putting out things you want them to wear. This means putting up or away all seasonal wear so that everything is weather appropriate. As much as we might hate it, if they choose to wear three different patterns, it isn’t going to hurt them. They can be proud that they made a decision about something that you can support.

         Meal times.

Meal times are another area of struggle for many families. One way to let your toddler have control over meal times is by giving them several options and allowing them to eat freely from their plate however they choose to do so. Now please hear what I am saying, do not make your child 3 different meals, just present them with a few options you already have prepared. If they choose not to eat, that is their choice. But the consequence of that choice is not eating, so they don’t get to go directly to the pantry and demand fruit chews.

Work with your Child

            Working with your children instead of against them will make everyone’s life easier. Giving your child your attention prevents them from having to demand it from you in negative ways (i.e. tantrums). While they are growing in their independence, parents are their safe harbor. They want you to be right there with them every step of the way. This means answering their questions, playing with them, instead of watching them play. Remember in just a few short years they will want nothing to do with you. So soak it up now!

Set them up for Success

As you work with your children give them every opportunity to success and make you proud. That means catering your schedule to theirs. Don’t go out during nap times or right before nap time. And be prepared for the expected and unexpected when you leave. If you set them up for success from the beginning there will be fewer tantrums along the way. Because as much as they want control, they still rely on you to help them.

So see, toddlers don’t set out to make our lives more chaotic. They just want your love and attention as they begin fully exploring their world and claiming their independence and place in the family. As parents we begin to learn the art of slowly giving more and more freedom along with more responsibility as we pull back control a little at a time. Parents are resistant to this process because somewhere deep inside they know it means they are losing their baby. So they hold on tighter. If we learn to allow our toddlers to make their own decisions, we will be surprised by how much happier they can be. Find the areas you can give them some freedom and praise them when they succeed. And then you will be well on your way to raising those happy, healthy, independent adults you dream of.

Military parents, I know how hard it is to keep good behavior patterns going through times transitions. Between deployments, PCSs and mom/dad coming and going, friends PCSing can all disrupt our children’s behavior patterns! Age affects how children react to all of these events, as development plays a huge role in behavior and ability to process change.

If you looking for great ways to help lead your children through these transitions and maintain good behavior hop over to my Military Parenting Page and check out my program coming soon: Parenting Coaching Designed specifically for Military Parents to address the unique concerns that we face with our children. Take a moment and sign up for updates and receive a FREE GIFT: An Easy How to Guide for Promoting Positive Behavior in our children to help go with your Behavior Chart.



What areas do you let your toddler have more control?

Toddler years can be wonderful and infuriating all at the same time! But here are some simple ways to help make them more wonderful than stressful

My Self Care “Tool Box”

Self-care is so beneficial and necessary to our well being. But it only works if we actually do it. Here is what is in my self care tool bx to help make self-care convenient

I have read 100’s of blog posts about self care – ways to care, checklists, why it’s important; and so many other great benefits about having self-care built into your schedule. But I know I am not the only one who finds it difficult to fit it into my day! As a counselor I was told constantly in my classes to practice good self-care.

I am constantly on the go, running from one place to another and so often caring for other people. This makes making self-care a priority hard for me. That is until I really saw how run down I had become; I was exhausted, irritable (just ask my husband), and ineffective at helping other people. But life is so busy, it doesn’t slow down just because you are exhausted. The key to making self-care a part of my routine was to make it convenient, take all my excuses away! So I created a self-care “tool box” Today I thought I would share what is in my tool box and why!

Nail polish & accessories –

Who doesn’t feel better after a mani/pedi. But being a student and a babysitter doesn’t pay enough to routinely get them done. So I decided to keep them neatly done myself, Essie nail polish is my favorite, and lasts the longest. Doing my nails myself is calming and relaxing for me. Plus, I feel so much more confident and pretty when my nails are done.

Coloring book & pencils –

Adult coloring books, like this one Adult Coloring Book: Stress Relieving Animal Designs, are everywhere right now. Focusing on the colors and shapes can calm down emotions and physiological reactions to stress and anxiety. Coloring can help regain mental clarity when you are upset or overwhelmed.


Journal & pens –

Being able to get your feelings and emotions down on paper can relieve tension in the body. The physical release is beneficial because there are no more pent up feelings waiting to burst out.

My favorite music –

You know that feeling on a beautiful day driving around with the windows down, blaring your favorite song, singing at the top of your lungs? Its great isn’t it! Well not every day can be beautiful, but put on your favorite song and just belt our frustrations away!

Tissues –

It is ok to cry, healthy even. So if you’re mad, sad, exhausted, hurt or just need a good cry, just let it out! That is what tissues are for!

Some chocolate –

Chocolate after a good cry can feel so rejuvenating and help bring you back together. Now I am not advocating eating your feelings away, but chocolate has endorphins in it, and endorphins are a natural chemical in your body that helps create feelings of happiness. It can be a way to boost your spirits.

My phone –

Talking to my mom, dad, husband, or best friends can help me when I am feeling rundown. It helps remember I am not alone. Just because it is self-care doesn’t mean it can’t involve others. As long as it is boosting yourself!

Some bubble bath (or other spa like things) –

Again like getting your nails done, we can’t always make it (or afford) to go to the spa. But a home spa night can be relaxing too. Set up some candles, fill the tub, some quiet music, maybe a glass or wine or some chocolate, and a good book can relax the mind and the body. So get that lavender vanilla bubble bath and feel the stress melt away.

A good book –

Maybe it’s one you’ve read before, or a brand new book, but loosing yourself in a good book can do wonders. Reading lets you move out of yourself and open your imagination. Freeing your imagination can help you find new solutions to your every day stresses.

Doing something just for me –

Now this one might not fit in a box, but I love to craft, scrapbook or work on a DI project I have had pinned for ages. I love getting out my pictures and crafting supplies and just working. It makes me feel productive and satisfied with my results.

So these are my top 10 items in my self-care tool box. The idea is to keep everything together in one little box or bin so that it can be handy. Maybe you have a few minutes and so you pull out the journal or coloring book for a 15-minute mental break. However, you do it is up to you, because remember it is your self-care. Now take a lesson from me, and don’t wait till you are run down and exhausted to start taking part in self-care, do it now and do it often to help stay on top of your game! I promise it can make a huge difference in your outlook on life!

If you want to read more about self care see my guest post on reducing anxiety. Have a child that suffers from anxiety check out my post for reducing anxiety in children here.

What are some of your self-care go to’s?

Self-care is important, but often overlooked due to our demanding schedules at work and at home. Here are the contents of my self-care tool box that I use to make self-care convenient so I am more likely to use them.

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