Four Deployment Questions You Need To Ask

Deployment is hard! First time deployments can be even more difficult because we don't know what to expect! Rachel from Countdowns and Cupcakes is here to answer our deployment questions!

 

When my husband deployed for the first time, I learned a valuable lesson: I should have asked more questions of him, of myself and of others who’d been there.  But everything was too scary, too unknown for me to even start wrapping my head around. Growing up in a non-military family, I had no frame of reference for what a deployment would be like and I certainly had not prepared myself as well as I would have liked. Looking back, I know that there were certain deployment questions everyone should ask, but are usually too afraid to.

What if the worst happens?

I know. We’re really starting out with a doozy, but this one is beyond important to ask before your first deployment, and I would argue before each one that follows.  You need to update wills, understand final wishes and understand what will happen if the worst comes to your door.  Who gets notified? What are your responsibilities? What are your loved one’s wishes? How will you continue to pay the bills?

As some of these things can change throughout a military career, it’s important to have this discussion before each deployment. Have a good honest conversation before your service member leaves so that you feel a bit more in control.

So um, what about the…you know?

We’ve officially gone from one end of the serious spectrum to the other. Or have we? Intimacy during deployment is a legitimate question and one that you should discuss with your loved one.  Technology has come a long way in offering you options, but just remember that once something is out on the Internet, it never really goes away. Be careful and make decisions together that you’re both comfortable with.

One of the benefits of deployment (or any long term separation) is that you can actually increase aspects of intimacy through more conversation. You may be surprised to find that you finish a deployment feeling closer to your loved one than when it began.

Should family be invited to homecoming?  

There are probably as many different answers to this one as there are different types of families. My personal opinion is this: invite whoever is going to make that moment better for you and your service member. If that’s extended family, friends and their high school biology teacher, go for it. If it’s just you, that’s ok too.

Homecoming and reintegration can be a very emotional time for everyone involved and additional family and friends being in attendance (or even staying with you after) may make things harder. Be honest with yourself, your service member and your family/friends about your preferences. Offering up a good compromise (inviting people out a few weeks later) may help folks accept your decision. Just remember that ultimately, it is your decision and everyone will understand.

How am I going to make it through this?

Oh boy. I ask myself this question every.single.deployment and am not sure I have a perfect answer. Each deployment requires you to adjust to a unique set of circumstances, so one deployment’s answer won’t necessarily hold true for the next. For example, a deployment without children is a very different beast than the next one that features a toddler.

But I have learned one thing: making it through a deployment is largely contingent on me staying busy. No, it does not actually make time go by faster, but it does reduce the amount of time you have to wallow in missing someone. Pick up a new hobby, get back in shape, send outrageous care packages to your service member, throw yourself into your career or start your own business. Find something that excites you and fills your free time with fun.

 

Deployments are scary; there is no way around that. But if you ask the right questions beforehand, you may feel more in control of the situation. Don’t be afraid to ask your service member “what ifs” or reach out to fellow military spouses for advice. You will make it through this deployment!

Rachel is a proud Navy wife, avid reader, dog mom, baker and care package maker. She blogs all about life as a military wife at Countdowns and Cupcakes, a place where military spouses, new and experienced alike, can come for support, encouragement, a little humor and maybe a care package idea or two. She can also be found on InstagramTwitterFacebookPinterestEtsy and Bloglovin.

Deployment is hard! First time deployments can be even more difficult because we don't know what to expect! Rachel from Countdowns and Cupcakes is here to answer our deployment questions!

Military Spouse Appreciation: It takes a Village

There is no way we could do this all on our own, even when we can't find the courage to ask for help, someone will always be there to help. A true testament to it takes a village

“It Takes A Village”

We have all heard this phrase in reference to raising children, but I am here to tell you it has wider application.

As some of my regular readers know I have been going through quite the moving process, and like all good military moves it involved 4 months of hurry up and wait, and then 2 weeks to get it all done (and no I am absolutely not exaggerating!). My husband received orders to Korea for the fall, in February this year. While he is gone for the year we decided the best thing to do was to go live with my family. But of course because my family lives in Hawaii it caused all sorts of issues because that’s OCONUS. So after 8 weeks (that’s right it took eight weeks to get 5(maybe?) signatures) we finally have permission for me to go live with mom and dad!

Only here is the catch the day we got the exemption to come through was less than 10 days out from my husband’s report date!!!!!!!

And here is where it comes to it takes a village! I am now fully responsible for being present during 4 days of movers and packers (because out stuff is going three different places!) because my husband has to leave before they were able to schedule movers because it was such a tight turn around. And then after the four day pack out I get to deep clean our apartment so we can get our security deposit back.

While as you know from a couple weeks ago that I am the one used to being on the move, I have never packed up a fully furnished house on my own in less than a week! But you know what? I have been blessed to be part of an amazing community here. One that always has a hand out offering assistance however they know how. Whether its taking my dog to be out of the way of movers, letting me crash at their house when the movers take my bed. Lending me cleaning supplies to get my apartment inspection ready!

There have been points over the last couple weeks that I have been so stressed that I literally just sit on my couch, watching Gilmore Girls, making endless lists in my notebook, constantly checking and rechecking Facebook and Pinterest but so unable to get up and actually tackle anything off my lengthy to-do list.

Thankfully I have some wonderful ladies in my life who have stepped in and helped me realized how capable I am of taking care of business. By stepping in to take one thing off my plate, like offering to take my puppy for the day so I don’t have to stress about boarding her, or telling me I don’t have to worry about taking apart my bed frame before the movers get here, or just giving me a lovely bouquet of flowers or thank you gift, and encouraging texts to lift my spirits. Even the cyber-space community has been there when I reached out looking for guest posts (Get ready to hear from Rachel next week!) so that I can check one more thing off my list in these crazy weeks.

While I am always the first to offer help in any situation, I am rarely quick to ask for help when I need it. I would rather try to tackle it on my own without burdening anyone else. While Military Spouse Appreciation day was last week, I think the lovely ladies in this community that has rallied around each other deserves much more than just one day of appreciation because we wouldn’t make it through this crazy life without each other.

Encouraging Positive Behaviors in Your Children: Using Behavior Charts Effectively

Behavior charts are one of the most effective methods of encouraging positive behavior in our childrens

Do you struggle to encourage good behaviors in your kid? Do they do what you ask them to do?

It can be difficult to encourage and reinforce good behavior because so often we are employing the wrong strategy! We are more likely to discipline negative behaviors in our children then we are to encourage and reinforce the positive behaviors.

SO how do you encourage those positive behaviors you might ask? By reinforcing them! A great way to do this is with Behavior Charts, you know like the ones they have in the classrooms! Every kid wants to be on “green” or whatever the top category is, and often feels ashamed when they fall below. But time and time again I have clients come back to me telling me the behavior charts just aren’t working for them.

The trick to behavior charts is rewarding good behavior, and rewarding it often! Behavior charts are not used to punish bad behavior. The more we reward positive behaviors, the more they will engage in desired behaviors. As much as we might think otherwise, our kids want to please us! They want out praise! And so, when they get our praise and attention for completing good behaviors they will continue to do so!

This is not to say we shouldn’t punish our children, but that is another post for another time!

Children are extremely visual operators. As much as we can praise them verbally, hug and kiss then when they listen, having a visual, tangible reward can be helpful. We will have an even greater impact when our verbal praise is paired with a concrete tangible reward. That is exactly what a behavior chart does.

But why do so many people come back saying it isn’t effective? Because sometimes we are over ambitious with the number of behaviors we start with. Or we are inconsistent with rewarding the good behaviors. So here it is:

My Simple Instructions to Rewarding Good Behavior Using Behavior Charts
  • Use separate charts for each child
  • Only start out with 3-5 behaviors
  • Consistently give them praise and marks when the complete or preform the behaviors listed
  • Agree when starting: ___ # of checks/stickers = 1 reward (i.e. ice cream, a dollar store toy, a special outing, 15 minutes extended bedtime)
  • When they master those behaviors, add in more behaviors slowly
  • All behaviors stated positively
    • Example: Do ________. Instead of Don’t do ___________.
  • Do not remove checks for bad behavior!

 

I have created a behavior chart that you can download here. Print one for each child. Then sit down with your kids and decide on what 3 to 5 behaviors you want to address first! Remember these are things you want your child TO DO, like pick up their toys, eat dinner, stay in bed at night. Then both you and your child should sign it, it is a contract. They are agreeing to do the behaviors, you are agreeing to reward them for doing so. Each time they do one of the behaviors listed, praise them verbally and give them a check mark!

Depending on the age of your children I recommend between 10-15 check marks equal a physically reward. You want them to be able to earn the tangible reward every week to two weeks. They younger they are the more frequent the tangible rewards should be.

The key to behavior charts are: consistency, reinforcement not punishment, and follow through. When we get lazy and stop praising our children and giving them check marks, we will most likely see a decline in the good behaviors we desire. Eventually these behaviors will become habits, but we should always keep a sharp eye out to praise our kids. Have you ever heard of the movement catch them doing good? This was developed to encourage parents to keep an eye out for the good behaviors kids do.

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! 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.



Have you tried behavior charts to encourage positive behavior in your kids? Did it work? Let me know in the comments below!

Behavior Charts are an effective method for reinforcing and rewarding the positive behaviors we want to see more of in our children. Having trouble using them? Here is my simple explanation for behavior charts used effectively!

Growing Closer to your Spouse: Learning from Each Other

When we come into a marriage we have our set of unique experiences we bring. We can either let these differences get between us or we can learn from each other and grow closer together

We all know military life comes with lots of moving. But in some ways I feel like an old pro at that! No I am not a military brat, but I did move around quite a bit as a kid. I can’t count on two hands the number of houses I lived in before I went off to college, and in the three years since I have graduated college I have lived in as many houses! I know crazy! So I totally get the feeling of never having deep roots or feeling like you can settle all the way into a home because you know you are going to be packing up and moving soon. My hubby grew up in the same house his whole life. His parents have been in that house for 30+ years! Talk about different childhood experiences!

Where his roots went deep, mine went wide! Home became much more generalized in my mind. It was the people I was with and the experiences I was having. During my senior year of high school after my parents had already moved, rather than the house I was staying in, my church became home to me. Later it was another’s house and their family completely took me in! So, you see I made a home out of the community I was surrounded with! It was the same when we were overseas, but I was really young then and much more outgoing!

His roots run deep. He had grown up in a two-stop light town (he says he remembers when they put the second one in!) He still hangs out with the two guys he has been friends with since he was a toddler! When we moved him here to GA, he didn’t know how to pack boxes or a car efficiently. He never had to! I am a master of it! I fit an entire kitchen’s worth of items, plus bedding and bathroom necessities into the trunk of my mini SUV! He struggles more to be away from home, because he hasn’t had as many experiences outside the state of SC. It is all he has ever known.

Neither one of us are right or wrong to have a different root system. It’s a by-product of how we are raised! Many couples face these kinds of differences. We have had vastly different childhoods. So, we can empathize with how the other is feeling, but we can never truly understand what the other went through and learned because of those experiences. This is part of the reason that nearly 60% of a couple’s problems are unsolvable (other contributors are differences in belief systems and gender differences).

This is where we get to learn from our spouses! Learning something from our spouses is one of the greatest ways to connect even deeper. Not only do we get to learn more about their interest or skills, we get to spend time together. And even more it gives us greater appreciation for their perspective on life. Although my husband says he prefers to stay out of the way while I am packing, when he helps me, we learn together the best way to make all our stuff fit then he can gain a deeper understanding of my experiences. Also, now when he moves by himself he will have some tips for how to do it himself. And we get to spend time together, which in military life we all know is to be cherished! Especially with a separation looming on the horizon.

In marriage, we are called to separate from our families and cleave to each other, becoming one. This is hard to do when we don’t understand each other. I mean typically before we get married we date, talk about common interests and get to know each other. But marriage means doing so on an even deeper level, something we could never accomplish while we are dating. As we learn from one another we grow even closer together, losing ourselves in each other (not to mean we cease being our own person). This also means that we can’t hang onto ideas just because they are something our parents did. We have to find ways to be together, be our own family. We do this by seeking understanding, and appreciate their view, and then possibly find a new way of doing things together.

If we appreciate our spouses more, than we will have less time to criticize our spouses. Criticism is one of the roots of issues that can lead to divorce. It can lead to contempt for our spouses, which is the leading cause of divorce. Learning from your spouse can be a way to divorce proof your marriage! And who doesn’t want that! Nobody’s goal in marriage is to set out to fail. But we do have to work to succeed. We can’t expect our marriages to work if we are not working on our marriages. There is always room for improvement, even in the best of marriages.

You can teach and learn anything from your spouse from a hobby, a religion, a culture, an area of interest like history, or a skill! I have learned a lot about football, especially Carolina Gamecock football! I have also learned a lot about history and (unfortunately) some grammar!

What Have you learned from your spouse?

When we come into a marriage we have our set of unique experiences we bring. We can either let these differences get between us or we can learn from each other and grow closer together