When you Can’t Find a MilSpouse Community

Sometimes its as MilSpouses we are in locations where it can be harder to find a community. Here are some ways to engage when you can't find your community

As many of ya’ll saw a few weeks ago, we are currently in a weird in-between stations situation. I was so excited to be coming home for a few months before I left for year. It would be the perfect opportunity to see all my friends and family again before we left for who knows how long! And it truly has been great in that capacity. I have been able to see old friends, college roommates, extended family, and spend a lot of time with my in-laws. But something is definitely missing. The thing that has been missing is my ability to get involved in a military spouse community.

While we have been living on a military post, I was here for such a short period of time, less than 3 months it was hard to get involved. Furthermore, since my husband is here for a TDY, there are no other spouses here in the same unit as my husband. To top it off summer time is generally the time of year that everything slows down because people are traveling, kids are out of school and so programs break for the summer. So I am sitting in this lull and don’t have much of a community around that understands the ins and outs of military life.

I’ve always understood and valued community. I have even written about it quite a bit. But until recently I never understood just how important community in your own walk of life really is.

As you may have read a couple weeks ago, we are going through the pre-deployment process, and it has been a bit stressful. To top it off, as I watch the days and weeks tick by on my pregnancy tracker, its just days closer to D-Day. Something I am definitely not ready for. At my baby shower so many people asked if I was excited. And its then that I realized the answer to that question was so complicated. Of course, I am beyond excited about this baby and becoming a mom. It is something I dreamed about for a long time. But, I am not excited for the hubby to leave, to not be here for the end of the pregnancy, the birth, and much of baby’s first year. I wanted so badly to explain all of that, but I realized as I started into my explanation that none of them would truly understand the duplicity with which my heart split.

I quickly texted one of my closest friends from Ft. Benning, but sympathizing via text can definitely not take the place an in person Starbucks date on a bad day. So what do you do when you find yourself at an assignment that isn’t in a military heavy area? Where do you go to find that support?

Here are my top places to find support from the military spouse community when it isn’t local:

  1. Facebook: There are so many great Facebook Community and Support groups out there right now. Julie from Soldier’s Wife, Crazy life; and Lauren from Military Wife & Mom have formed large networks of support for military spouses of all branches, ranks, genders, locations. These have been super encouraging to many.
  2. Find just one person, a guard or reservist, a retired spouse. Having just one person can make all the difference, someone who has been there. And you are more likely to find them in non-military towns because they don’t necessarily have to be anywhere near a base.
  3. Phones are awesome. Pick up the phone and call a friend from a previous duty station. It isn’t always the same but I know from experience that just talking to a friend can make me feel better. I can get my frustrations out, cry, yell whatever and still be heard by someone who understands.
  4. And when all else fails, don’t discount the importance of friendships with everyone. While yes my friends who aren’t married to the military may not understand the complexities of military life they understand disappointment, sadness, guilt. Those are human emotions, not exclusive to military spouses and so they can empathize with the emotions if they can’t with our situations. They have been my biggest support this summer, during this transition and I couldn’t do it without them.

So no matter where you are and what situation your find yourself, any community is better than no community.

Sometimes its as MilSpouses we are in locations where it can be harder to find a community. Here are some ways to engage when you can't find your community

I am a Selfish Spouse but its Ok

I am a selfish spouse, and that's ok! Having feelings of jealousy before your spouse leaves is normal. Figuring it out is a bit more difficult.

As a military wife, we know our time with our spouses can be precious. Especially as they are gearing up for a really long TDY, Deployment, or Unaccompanied Assignment. The pre-deployment period can be difficult. One emotion I was not prepared for was jealousy, and the desire to be a selfish spouse. Stealing him away for the remaining time we had together.

How am I a selfish spouse

I know I am not the only my husband is saying goodbye to over the next couple weeks. He has to say goodbye to his parents, brothers, and friends. And I don’t want to rob him of that opportunity. Except somewhere in my heart I do. I want to hide him away and keep him all to myself! That is why I am a selfish spouse.

Am I going to do that? Absolutely not! I want him to experience all of his last few weeks. Not just me! I want him to go to one last Ju Jitsu saturday with his brother. I want him to get another weekend at home with his mom and dad. I want him to get one last Howrah with all his friends! I only want all those good things for him. I don’t want him to regret not getting to say goodbye to everyone!

And while I can certainly encourage him to do all those things, he can sense the hesitancy in my voice. Would I love one more Saturday morning breakfast out, one more Friday night at home, one more weekend away? I absolutely would! But not at the expense of everyone else!

Owning My feelings

Before I was able to put words to identifying this desire for selfishness it was coming through in my interactions with my husband. I could tell he was feeling tense and insecure about his decisions to finish out his ju jitsu lessons, spending time with his brothers, making a trip to see his grandparents. Even though I was telling him it was ok, he could hear it in my voice.

It took me a while to be able to identify that I was jealous of these other things he had going on in his life. But life can’t stop. I didn’t stop my life just because we are preparing to leave. Why would it be fair of me to ask him to stop his life? That’s right, it isn’t. And so I won’t.

But knowing what exactly I am feeling rather than just being emotional has made it easier for us to communicate it. When he can hear the hesitancy in my voice I can look inside myself, and ask where it’s coming from. Is it that jealousy? Most likely yes, and if it is then I can assure him that it is more than ok for him to go do whatever it is. I can encourage him.

It’s Ok

See so its ok to have any emotion, but until I owned it and identified it it was causing conflict in my relationship. It is not wrong of my to be a selfish spouse, wanting to steal away all his remaining time. Taking the time to examine my thoughts and beliefs to identify the emotions I was feeling was important.

It wasn’t exactly a fun process, no one likes admitting to negative feelings. But here are some steps you can take to try and identify the concrete emotions behind your behavior, even when you might be tempted to ignore them.

How to Identify You Emotions

  1. When you begin to feel overwhelmed by an emotion take an account of the situation. What is happening? what happened just before? Taking an inventory of the situation can help you identify the triggers for the emotion. Knowing the trigger can help in identifying your emotions because different events are likely to bring up certain emotions. I read online that watching her husband pack for a short TDY brought up a lot of negative feelings because it reminded her of her husband’s departure from a previous deployment.
  2. Think back to other times you have felt this way. One clue to me that I was feeling jealous is that it was very reminiscent of feelings I had shortly after he left for Ft. Benning while i was still in school. When he would come visit, we would spend so much time with his parents, hardly getting time to ourselves. I was jealous wanting that time for just ourselves.
  3. Don’t be afraid to admit your emotions. I know it can be scary to feel big emotions. Trust me as a counselor I know its not easy owning your feelings, especially when those feelings leave you feeling insecure. But the only way your feelings can be validated is if you admit them, and stop hiding them. When I finally told my hubby why I was hesitant and that I was feeling like a selfish spouse, he could tell me that it was ok. That he wanted as much of that time he had left just for the two of us too. (this is especially important, because it will never be just the two of us again. Next time we are together we will be a family of three!)

Know that if you’re afraid to admit your emotions it is normal. There is nothing wrong with you. And if you’re not very good at identifying your emotions, that is ok too. It isn’t easy and we aren’t born knowing how. It takes practice and we can only get better at it by doing so.

I am a selfish spouse, and that's ok! Having feelings of jealousy before your spouse leaves is normal. Figuring it out is a bit more difficult.

How to Save on Baby Necessities

Babies sure do cost a lot, but don't worry there are plenty of ways to save on necessary baby gear!

If you spend any time with babies you quickly realize that they require a LOT of stuff. And much of it isn’t cheap! And besides the necessities like car seat, stroller, crib, clothes, diapers, blankets and more. There are so many cute and wonderful extras that many new mommies (myself DEFINITELY included) feel like are needs. I have become addicted to looking through all the adorable baby items on Etsy, Target, Babies R Us, and Buy Buy Baby! Its how I pass my time along with browsing through Pinterest while I am stuck in a hotel room day after day.

But with all the cute baby items I am finding myself trying to sort through everything and put them in categories: “the must haves,” and the it “would be nice to haves.” And “just plain old wants that aren’t necessary”. Unfortunately, it seems like all the adorably cute items seem to fall into the “it would be nice to have” category, or just a more basic version that is less expensive would serve the same purpose. So how can you make sure you have everything you need for baby, and stull get to indulge your mommy fantasies of a perfect baby set up?

Since we are preparing for this baby on a single income, budgeting and finding deals have been a priority for my hubby and me. There are several resources I have utilized extensively to help get everything we Need for little Miss without breaking the bank! Here is everything I have done to help prepare for our new little girl on a budget so that I can still indulge in some of the frilly “un-necessary” items!

    • Consignment shops– I know I am not the only one who has a problem not buying baby clothes. Like most moms, aunts, grandmas, and friends of new mommies, baby clothes are just so irresistible! But the can also add up quickly! So hitting the consignment shops can be a great way to get cute baby clothes without breaking the bank! Also shop clearance racks at the end of the seasons. I am lucky enough to only have to buy one season of baby clothes for the first year of her life, so as the fall clothes begin to hit the racks, I am scouring the summer clearance items! Not only can you get clothes at a discount at consignment shops, they also have strollers, high chairs, baby bath tubs, and toys for baby at discounted prices. Just wash and disinfect and you’re ready to go!
    • Cartwheel by Target– Target is one of my happy places! In high school I lived within walking distance of a target and so I spent many Saturdays or Friday evenings walking through Target with my mom. And much to my husband’s dismay, long pointless walks through Target are still a favorite pass time (he often chooses not to accompany me anymore!). But what better way to stock up on diapers, wipes, and other baby essentials than checking out the discounts and coupons that are available through this wonderful app. If you are going to be buying these items anyway, might as well look for all the discounts you can! In the last week I found discounts on- bath items, swaddles, diapers, wipes, bottle accessories, and so much more!
    • While on the subject of Target, take advantage of the gift card deals! I love finding deals at Target when I buy so many of certain item I get a gift card. I have gotten gift cards ranging from $5 to $20. You can get them on items all over the store. Most of mine have come from stocking up on diapers/wipes, or hygiene items like shampoos and such. They will come in handy when completing my registry or last minute run on diapers once the baby gets here.
    • Ibotta App- Ibotta app offers rebates on items you typically purchase anyways. You can find rebates when shopping at stores like Walmart, Publix, CVS, Target, Amazon, Groupon, and many many more. Just by scanning the items and my receipt I can earn money back on purchases. It can come in handy as often there are rebates on baby items. If you are interested in signing up for a free Ibotta Account click here.
    • Register (and Register at multiple places)– Register for baby items you want, even if its your 2nd, 3rd, 4th baby. Many places offer a completion discount for items not purchased off your registry. SO even if you are not planning on having a baby shower, taking the time to register. Also, places like Target  and Amazon offer welcome gifts when you set up a registry. These welcome gifts often include samples, coupons, and full size products- You never know what you might get! Currently Amazon is running a promotion!  If you Register with them you can earn rewards for diapers and wipes (What new parents don’t need those!!)

Click here to learn more ~ Baby Registry – $100 credit towards diapers and wipes

  • Take advantage of sales– Once you register you know what products you will specifically be looking for. Then take advantage when they go on sale, buying them in piecemeal. For example, the car seat we picked out was on sale during Amazon Prime Day recently. Baby Tula had Christmas in July sale, I got my carrier for $75, rather than $150. Or look for manufacturer sales. Recently Graco has had 20% off their products, so I bought the pack n play during that sale. By keeping your eyes peeled you can take advantage of periodic sales. And it certainly is easier on your budget to buy one item at a time.

 

These are my top money saving tips for any mom who is looking to save money on the baby necessities. By shopping sales, using coupons, and being strategic with my purchases I have money left in my budget. I can get  items from the “it would be nice to have” category like cute bibs.

Babies sure do cost a lot, but don't worry there are plenty of ways to save on necessary baby gear!