Solo Parenting: How to Cope When you Feel Alone

As a military spouse you may spend a lot of time parenting by yourself. This may not what you have envisioned when you got married and started having kids! When you get overwhelmed here are some ways to keep a level head.

One of the first things I heard after I married my husband was that I might was well get used to being alone, after all I’d spend the majority of our marriage being a single parent. While yes in our two years of marriage we have spent the same if not more time apart then living together, I am not nor will I ever be a single mother, no matter how much SOLO parenting I do.

On many non-military blogs I have seen many articles criticizing married moms who have spouses that are away a lot calling themselves a single mom. I have seen posts in military groups, criticizing spouses for describing themselves as single moms. But I get it. It is hard knowing that daddy or mommy is not coming home at 5:30 to give you a bit of a reprieve. No one else to change diapers, rock the baby to sleep, help fix dinner, or just allow you to escape for a quick shower! So I think we need a term to describe it, and then we need to use it!

Solo-Parenting.

Whether you are solo parenting due to a deployment, TDY, field time, or any other number of reasons for however long it can be exhausting.

So how do you cope with Solo Parenting?

There are some specific strategies that can be used to help those solo-parenting when you start to get overwhelmed.

~ Prior to your Spouse leaving, talk about any potential big decisions that will need to be made.

If you talk about any decisions that need to be made before your spouse leaves, then you won’t be stressed about making any big decisions alone or trying to get in touch with your spouse who made be unreachable. This is one of the differences between solo parenting and single parenting is that you have another person to be a sounding board for potentially difficult decisions. While not all situations can be predicted, there are some that just come in the course of time. Like age limits for things such as vaccinations, how to raise your children, or even less important things like- ear piercings. I know how stressful it can be to try and have to make important decisions alone. My husband would not be present at her birth, so before he left we talked about how he wanted her to be treated. Do we want her fully vaccinated? How did he feel about formula use? What were his opinions on events happening in an emergency?

As for after she was born: how do you want our sleeping arrangements be? He may not be here now but eventually we will all be a family living in one house again and so while it may not affect him in the moment, it will in the future if she is in our bed and he comes home and she struggles to adjust to a crib. How does he want to be involved in her doctors appointments? If your kids are older discussing things like schooling is important. How do you want family to be involved?

Involving your partner will make you feel less alone and more like you are in the partnership you probably envisioned for your parenting.

~ Know when you are at the end of your rope.

Knowing when you are so exhausted, or so stressed is important because we all need to know when to step back and ask for help! Asking for help can be so hard. We want to give the impression that we can do it all, because we don’t want to feel inferior to all those who appear to have it all together. I will tell you a secret that everyone knows but nobody believes. Not a single one of us can do it all 100% of the time! Everyone needs help and rest! If you take care of yourself before you reach the end of your rope, then you can keep going longer! When your spouse is home you may be able to get that break before you realize you are in desperate need of one. But when you are the sole parent in the house and nobody is coming home to relieve you it can sneak up on you. So take note of your mental, emotional, and physical state when that happens so you can begin to notice it the next time. And then when you’re there reach out! And remember it takes a village.

~ Take care of yourself with lots and lots of self-care.

Self-care is so important that I have written about it so many times:

If you practice self care regularly it will take you much much longer to reach the end of your rope. This means asking for help so you can get a break to practice good self-care. It is even more important when you are the sole caregiver for your little ones with out any in home reinforcements.

 

 

As a military spouse you may spend a lot of time parenting by yourself. This may not what you have envisioned when you got married and started having kids! When you get overwhelmed here are some ways to keep a level head.

Valentine’s From a World Away

Valentine's day is a fun one for my hubby and I. We keep it simple full of yummy home cooked food, chocolates and cheesey-ness! And I love it so I had to make sure his care package reflected the same!

Valentine’s Day: The Day of Love! Hearts everywhere, Chocolate, Flowers! Red Pink and Sparkles.

Valentine’s day is tomorrow and the stores have been stocked for weeks (luckily enough for me since it takes a while for boxes to reach our troops over seas).

See I know I am not the only one spending Valentine’s day home alone with my little love bug. Hoping that he gets off in time for a few minutes of FaceTime chatting before baby and I go to bed.

But whether you are with your true love in person, or hoping for a phone call there are still some great ways to spend Valentine’s Day.

For me the first thing I thought to do was celebrate with a Care Package for the Mister. For us Valentine’s day is normally full of fun and cheesey dates. We normally do dinner at home. And it always involves chocolates! So that is what his care package is full of- Chocolates & cheesiness.

  • Lots and Lots of his favorite chocolates! He loves the really really dark chocolates so I wrapped them all up into different bags. That way he will have some things to open up!
  • Another thing we always do is watch movies! So I got him a new movie to watch! The perfect combination of Action & Humor- The Kingsman 2
  • A hand rolling massager- He has always wanted one for after ju jitsu.
  • Super soft sweater to keep him warm! I’ve heard its super cold there in Korea right now!
  • Cards from me and the baby (signed with her foot prints)
  • And lots and lots of photos!

Now making care packages cute and cheesey is not easy with a lack of craft stores in Hawaii & lack of time with a newborn. But thanks to Rachel over at Countdown and Cupcakes she has curated decorations for boxes! So I got her Valentine’s day one and I am so excited to be able to send him a decorated box!

But just because he is the one getting the care packaged doesn’t mean the sender shouldn’t have any fun! One of my favorite February traditions that I got to be involved in during my time in Grad school was Galentine’s Day! Celebrating a fun night with your girl friends always makes for a fun night! Chick-flicks, sweet wine, chocolate and an easy dinner- nothing could be better!

So whether you are celebrating together or apart this year make sure you have a little fun along the way!

Valentine's day is a fun one for my hubby and I. We keep it simple full of yummy home cooked food, chocolates and cheesey-ness! And I love it so I had to make sure his care package reflected the same!

If There Was an App to Find Friends at New Duty Stations

Moving duty stations can be hard, especially when it comes to finding friends. What would your profile say if there was a "dating" app for new friends?

If there was a “Dating” app for finding new friends at each new Duty Station my Profile might read something like this:

Hi my name is Grace and I am seeking new friends! I moved here a few weeks ago, and now that I am settled into my house I have to get out or I will go stir crazy!

I have a sweet puppy who loves to play with all dogs! So, I am always down for trips to the dog park or taking a walk. She has never met a dog she doesn’t like.

I love Starbucks, ice cream, or lunch dates!

I am about to be a new mom, so I am looking for little baby friends for our soon to be arriving little girl!

In my free time I love to lounge in my yoga pants and watch Gilmore Girls, Friends, and just about any Romantic Comedy you could name while I browse through Pinterest!

If I sound like someone you would want to hang out with let me know!

                            

Look familiar?

Post like these are plastered all across different MilSpouse Facebook groups at different duty stations! Wouldn’t life be so much easier if there was a built-in way to make new friends at each new duty station? And the thing is, is we can. But it requires us leaving our couches and not hiding behind the phone. And that is vulnerable and scary. Having an App gives us a feeling of safety because we can avoid that initial social contact. It removes the fear of rejection because we won’t be rejected to our faces!

But sometimes we have to get out of our comfort zones and show up somewhere in person.

So here some tips for getting out of your comfort zone and finding some friends in person, until someone really does create that friends dating app!

 

If you wanna see my tips for getting out of your comfort zone and finding friends at your new duty station, check out my full post at Army Wife Network

Coming into military life I have always had built in friends from school such as classmates and roommates. But military life was a whole new ball game. I quickly realized that if I didn’t make the effort to put myself out there I wouldn’t make many friends. And as an extroverted person I need those friendships!

How do you make new friends at each new duty station?

Moving duty stations can be hard, especially when it comes to finding friends. What would your profile say if there was a "dating" app for new friends?

5 Love Languages Military Ideas

The 5 Love Languages is a great tool, but Military couples struggle to find ways to love across the distance in others languages, But it doesn't have to be impossible

When we were going through our Pre-Marital Counseling one of the things we talked about were the Love Languages by Gary Chapman. We identified which one was our primary love language and talked about ways we can love each other in the ways that say the most to the other, not ourselves.

But you know what, those don’t always work for us. See we have been a military couple since before we were married. It was always going to be part of the equation for our marriage. And we started our marriage off loving each other across the distance. We don’t always get to be together; we don’t always get to talk every day. So how can we practically apply the love languages to our marriage when we aren’t always able to do so.

For example, my husband’s love language is physical touch- but what happens when we are states or countries apart? We can’t hold hands every day, we can’t cuddle on the couch after dinner each night. Mine is acts of service, but he can’t wash my dishes if he is in the field for a week at a time. And I know we are not the only couple that has run into these issues. When I was working at the Chaplain’s center at Fort Benning I talked to so many couples who were struggling to feel loved by one another because it was so difficult to fill love tanks when we can’t spend time together.

Enter my discovery of Gary Chapman’s revision of the Five Love Languages Military Edition!  I was so excited when I found this on Amazon that I bought a copy immediately! And thanks to Amazon Prime I finished it within the week!

Here are some practical ways to love across the distance in each other’s love languages.

Physical Touch

This is another Love Language that is especially difficult to express during a deployment or separation, and so again you should also focus efforts to their secondary love language. But here are some other suggestions.

  • Send photos, these tangible images of you can become very important when its impossible to hold you physically.
  • Spray your perfume or cologne on a card or fabric and send to them.
  • Service members can arrange for their spouse to go and get a massage
  • Hand written letters

Words of Affirmation

This is one of the easiest ones to keep going during a deployment since all we are really able to do is talk to each other. But if they are in the field, or have little communication there are still things you can do.

  • Writing Love Letters
  • Allow each other to vent about stress and frustrations
  • Express appreciations through emails or letters
  • Open when Letters (great for when they may not be able to talk to you immediately)

Receiving Gifts

This is another one that is easier to keep going during a deployment. I mean just look on Pinterest and there are 100s of care package ideas. Rachel Even blogs all about Care Packages during deployment! It just takes a bit more planning and creativity.

  • Send care packages- Get creative! You can do all sorts of themes from favorite sports teams to holidays!!
  • Get friends and family together to send cards, emails and packages to let them know you’re ALL thinking of them.
  • Bring home unique gifts for your spouse from your location.

Acts of Service

During deployments, the deployed spouse should recognize that the homefront spouse is doing daily acts of service for them by managing the home front solo (of course we are happy to do it, but it can be exhausting). The deployed spouse is doing a whole different kind of act of service- one for their Country rather than their spouse specifically.

  • Spend time connecting with the deployed spouse’s family. Letting them know you are reaching out to them (if they are on good terms) will go along way.
  • Service Members can arrange for lawn care or child care to be set up and taken care of prior to leaving.
  • Service Members can record themselves reading books to their kids, this can help out at bed time.
  • Take care of projects around the home best you can rather than saving them all up for your spouse to return. You can even take before and after photos.

Quality Time

This is a difficult one to achieve during deployments and field separations. If you or your spouses Primary love language is quality time then make sure to really invest in their secondary love languages as well while apart. But there are still some ways to spend quality time together; especially if you have access to internet.

  • Read a book together and discuss during phone chats
  • Tell your spouse, “I can’t wait to spend a day _____ with you again” filling in your favorite shared activity.
  • If you can’t share the day to day details of your work, at least share how you are feeling.
  • Become interested in a sport or hobby your spouse enjoys. Then share what you are learning.

If you are interested in finding out what you and your spouses love languages are, then you can take this inventory online for FREE. Just click HERE!

The 5 Love Languages is a great tool, but Military couples struggle to find ways to love across the distance in others languages, But it doesn't have to be impossible

Organizing and Cleaning for Your Newborn

Life with a newborn is hectic and chaotic and often times oh so messy! Starting with a clean and organzied system can help on those days full of spit-up and diaper explosions! Here are some great tips for organizing and cleaning your home for a newborn!

This week on the blog we have a guest post by Sophia Evans. She is sharing her tips and tricks for how to get your house all ready for the arrival of your little bundle of joy!

Having a newborn completely changes your lifestyle. You actually need to free up space for the belongings of another human being. Babies are tiny, but all their clothes and toys take up much space. You need a strategy in order to keep everything organized and cleaned all the time and save as much time and space as possible. You also cannot spend that much time cleaning, since your baby needs you 24/7. This makes the task pretty hard, but not impossible. With a few tricks up your sleeve, you can make it!

From the very start you need to get used to treating the stains as soon as they appear on the baby’s clothes. Do not let them dry, it is harder to remove them after they do. Have a laundry schedule and follow it. Use bibs all the time, in this way you will have to wash the bib only, not an entire outfit. Bibs collect the food that the baby spits. It is amazing what a time saver they are. There are also plastic ones that can be simply rinsed and ready to be used again.

When you organize clothes, it is best if you have different shelves or drawers for the different types. Underwear, T-shirts, one piece body suits. This will ease you when you are looking for a certain thing, it is best to know exactly where it is, instead of turning everything out from the wardrobe because of that pink dress that your baby looks really cute in. Keep three-piece clothes on a hanger in order not to lose some of them among all the other pieces of clothing.

Even before the baby comes you will have mountains of all kinds of clothes, all in different sizes. Categorize them and separate those that you will need as soon as the baby comes. The others you can put on the upper shelves and when their time comes, you will be well prepared.

When it comes to toys, it is always a good idea to have large bins to contain them. When cleaning time comes, you easily throw everything in the bin. You can have separate ones for stuffed animals and plastic ones and whatever other categories you separate them into. This is also useful for when the baby grows up. He or she will be able to collect the toys quickly and easily if you ask them to.

Now, the kitchen. Your kitchen will be conquered by various baby stuff and no matter the size of it, it will seem smaller to you when the baby makes its debut. Put a separate dish drying rack or simply a towel for baby bottles and cutlery only. Also, a drawer dedicated to anything else and a shelf in the kitchen cupboard for all the food. When they are all gathered in one place, it will be easier for you to keep track of what’s missing and what is about to finish.

It is also important to have your place cleaned before the baby comes home because once it does, your cleaning time will be kinda gone. Wash all the duvets, blankets, carpets in advance. Check as many things as possible off the list. You can even hire a cleaning service to deep clean your house or apartment while you are in the hospital. This will save you a lot of trouble and you will not be bothered by any professional cleaners when you get back home with your new family member. You will be thankful for every little thing you have done before the big day. You will see it will be worth it.

Life with a newborn is hectic and chaotic and often times oh so messy! Starting with a clean and organized system can help on those days full of spit-up and diaper explosions! Here are some great tips for organizing and cleaning your home for a newborn!

What was in my Hopsital Bag & What I Actually Used

I read so many check lists of what I should back in my labor hospital bag! So here is what I took, and what I actually used out of my bag!

So I haven’t written about my birth experience. But I wanted to share what I packed in my Hospital bags and what I actually used.

In preparing for the hospital I spent so much time on Pinterest and Read boards trying to figure out exactly what I needed to pack in my hospital bag. After reading what seemed to be 100s of blogs I came up with my check lists.

I decided the best way to do it was to pack to separate bags- one for the labor and delivery part of my stay, and one for the recovery part of my stay. That way I wasn’t moving too much stuff across the hospital during my stay. I could leave my recovery bag in the car until I was moved.

So here is what was in my Labor and Delivery Bag:

  1. Essential Oils and Diffuser. I brought Peppermint, Lemon, Orange, Lavender, and Young Living’s Gentle Baby Oils. I also brought a blend I made in a roller bottle that is supposed to help support Labor and can be applied to the flex points on your inner ankles. Even though I am very open to and will likely use medications in my labor process, I also wanted to supplement with natural means as well. I did use my diffuser, but I only diffused Gentle Baby during labor. It was honestly too much to think to change scents. So pick a favorite and stick to that
  2. Camera and Charger. I definitely want some pictures of when I first meet her and so I have my camera so my mom can capture some of those moments for me. My camera definitely got used, but not enough to need the charger since it was fully charged. More pictures were taken on my phone and my moms.
  3. Cell phone and charger. If I am given the opportunity hopefully I will be able to talk to my hubby throughout some of the process.
  4. DVDs to distract myself. This was definitely helpful at the beginning, but after a certain point I was in too much pain to pay any attention to it and turned it off.
  5. A robe and slippers. This will allow me to walk around during labor without exposing myself. Didn’t use this in labor but definitely came in handy during recovery.
  6. A sports bra to wear in the shower if I decide to labor in the shower at all.  Couldn’t get out of bed.
  7. Vasaline for my lips. I’ve read labor can really dry your lips out.  A definite YES!
  8. Face wipes. I bought the Neutrogena Grapefruit face wipes. For me they have a ver cooling effect and will be refreshing.  Another Definite YES!

In my Recovery Bag:

  1. I will keep my slippers and Robe with me in my recovery room from my L&D bag
  2. I will also keep my diffuser especially to difuse Gentle Baby in my recovery Room. I will also have another roller ball blend of Fennel and Clary Sage to help my milk come in.
  3. Multiple sleep nursing bras I just wore one nursing night gown the whole time since I was only in recovery room one night.
  4. Nursing night gowns
  5. Granny Panties to wear on the way home So glad I had these to wear home. I wore them over the mesh undies to keep them in place!
  6. Toiletries so I can shower Never showered 
  7. A dark colored towel- I bought the cheapest one I could find a Target so when it gets ruined, I won’t mind
  8. Boppy Pillow So helpful in my sleepless state to start nursing
  9. Pillow from home Loved having my own pillow
  10. Socks
  11. Milk Makers Tea and Granola Bars
  12. Earth Mom New Momma Bottom Spray
  13. Nipple Cream
  14. Nursing tank and leggings or a maxi skirt to wear home. I wore a night gown home!
For Baby:
  1. A few different home coming outfits in different sizes.
  2. Larger Muslin swaddle blankets- I find them so much easier than the small hospital receiving blankets to swaddle.
  3. Water Wipes- my hospital does not provide wipes, but does provide diapers.
  4. Socks and a hat for the ride home.
  5. Car seat (obviously)

I read so many check lists of what I should back in my labor hospital bag! So here is what I took, and what I actually used out of my bag!

My 2018 New Year’s Resolutions

It is important to start the year out right with intentions to make this your best year yet! Here are my New Year's Resolutions for 2018!

It is that time of year again! Time to make New Year’s Resolutions. Last year I talked about how we should make New Years Goals. And so this year I also wanted to challenge you to go back through the Wellness Challenge:

Week 1: Goals for Your Marriage

Week 2: Healthy Coping Skills

Week 3: Making Friends When Military Life Makes it Hard

Week 4: Living the Simple Life- Decluttering your Home & Schedule

Week 5: Healthy Living

And look at what you had done for 2017 and what you want to change and add for the healthiest 2018 you can have. When I was going back and looking at how well I succeeded in making my goals for 2017, I was surprised how well I was able to meet those goals. Of course, I definitely didn’t meet them perfectly. And of course Military Life throws curve balls and prevented some of them from being met- Like clearly if my husband is in a different country than me then weekly date nights are a bit unrealistic.

But I wanted to try and start 2018 off in much the same fashion. I am a big believe in what I put out there I will reap. And so by sharing my goals publicly then I am being held accountable to making them happen.

So here are my top Goals for 2018:

  • Should my breast feeding journey succeed, I would love to breastfeed our new baby for a whole year! It is something I want to do as a bonding time for me and baby. This is especially important to me since it will just be the two of us for most of 2018.
  • I would love to live as a natural life as possible. Recently I have been doing more and more research into Essential Oils. While I don’t use them for everything, I do enjoy using them when I can. Even if it is just to make my room and house smell fresh.
  • When our year apart is over, I would like to reinstate weekly date nights for my hubby and I. Just because now we are a family of 3 doesn’t mean our marriage isn’t important. In fact it is more important than ever! And so even if that means staying up late after baby is in bed a few times a month- cause lets face it date nights with a sitter can get expensive! Still he is my priority and so we will make it a priority when we are back in the same home again. This will be especially important with reintegration.

So these are my top Goals for 2018! What are yours! Share them in the comments so we can support each other as a community as we grow together this year!

It is important to start the year out right with intentions to make this your best year yet! Here are my New Year's Resolutions for 2018!

Celebrating Baby’s First Christmas

This year our family is excited to celebrate Baby's First Christmas! Here are some ways we are going to include her in our new traditions!

What a time of celebration!! Baby’s first Christmas. Such a fun milestone for baby, no matter how little they are when Christmas arrives. This year will be baby’s first christmas at just a few weeks old! And I can’t wait to celebrate in all the glory it will be! I have been shopping for her Christmas presents for a few weeks now. Of course since she is only a few weeks old she will have no clue they are Christmas presents, and they are all toys she would have gotten from us to begin with! But still it’s fun for me to shop for her in that way.

So what are some of the greatest ways to celebrate Baby’s First Christmas?

  1. Pictures with Santa! I went and found her a cute Christmas outfit for her to wear for Christmas pictures with Santa. Yes she will only be a few weeks old, but maybe that means we can get at least one Santa picture where she isn’t screaming her head off at a stranger!
  2. Picking out perfect Christmas dress for Christmas Eve Church. The Christmas Eve Carol Candle-Light service is one of my favorite services of the year. I love it. And in the south dressing up in your Christmas best is second only to Easter. So finding a cute Christmas dress is a fun thing to do in preparing for Baby’s First Christmas
  3. Christmas Jammies. Baby’s spend so much time in their jammies in the first couple months so what could be better than adorable Christmas jammies for a baby!
  4. Using baby’s hand and foot prints to make adorable Christmas memory keepsakes!

First Holidays are so much fun to experience. And this one was so much fun to celebrate with friends and family!

This year our family is excited to celebrate Baby's First Christmas! Here are some ways we are going to include her in our new traditions!

How to Make it Cheerful when You’re Spending Christmas Apart

We have been in the swing of the holidays for a few weeks now, and have a few weeks left till New Years and we go back to normal. It seems like the holiday season can last forever. With Christmas decorations hitting the store before Halloween it definitely can last. But sometimes as a MilSO we end up spending the holidays and specifically, Christmas apart from one another. When this happens it is hard to get into the Christmas spirit!

This year I am finding myself in this camp! While last year we were marking off our Holiday to-do list, this year I am contemplating Christmas care packages. And longing to decorate; especially when my Christmas decorations are all packed up in storage with the rest of our HHGs.

So what am I doing this Christmas to make it feel like the holidays?

I am focusing on the good parts of Christmas I do have this year! This year I will get to mark all the great milestones of Baby’s First Christmas! I get to spend Christmas with my parents and brother and be surrounded by all the Christmas traditions I grew up with. I may not get to decorate a tree, but I get to decorate great Christmas care package for my hubby to bring some feelings of home to him.

Doing all this makes it feel more like Christmas, even if we can’t be together.

Baby’s First Christmas:

I love to craft! It makes me feel productive. Throughout my pregnancy every time my nesting instincts kicked in I started crafting- making burp cloths, baby blankets, baby mobile; rather than channeling my energy into extra cleaning! So since this was going to be baby’s first Christmas I started working on Christmas ornaments, Christmas photo set ups, picking out outfits for Santa pictures.

This gave me something to focus on rather than just missing my husband! As much as I wish he would be here for all of this, I know she is only a few weeks old and so I know next Christmas will be like another First Christmas for her to experience again, at just over a year old!

Spending the Holidays with my Parents

We flew to visit my parents last year for Christmas, and with a newborn I definitely would not be making the 15 hour flight to Hawaii to spend Christmas with my parents again if I wasn’t already here. Since moving home after the hubby left it means I get to spend Christmas with my family while I am alone. It means Grandma and Grandpa get to help me celebrate baby’s first Christmas.

For me it brings feelings of comfort because while I don’t get to be in my home for Christmas with my own Christmas decorations; I get to enjoy all the traditions I grew up enjoying. Christmas breakfast after opening presents. Making Christmas cookies by the dozens and dozens. Bubka’s famous nut bread (my favorite treat!!). Christmas even candle-light carol service.

Care Packages for the Hubby

My favorite part of Christmas is picking out gifts for everyone! And I love buying presents for my hubby. He doesn’t always think he needs presents, which makes it all the more fun for me because I get to do it just because! And so I get to know I warmed his soul just a bit when I send him his Christmas care package! In my mind I plan to decorate the box, however I know if I come into a pinch I can order one from my friend over at Countdown and Cupcakes! And my box will look like the holidays for him!

 

So while this is one holiday I will never forget, getting out and enjoying the parts of Christmas I can without my husband will make sure I don’t remember it as an only sad time. It can still be a Merry Christmas.

 

How do you celebrate the holidays when you are missing your loved one?

Christmas is about spending time with family, but sometimes military life can stand in the way of that! Here are some ways to celebrate Christmas apart.

PCSing to Hawaii: Your Guide to Avoid Quarantine

PCSing to Hawaii can be stressful, especially when there are animals involved. Here is my step by step guide that got my dog there safely!

When I decided to go to Hawaii while Brian was in Korea the hardest part of the whole transition was making sure my puppy got there safely. As ya’ll know my puppy is very important to me, and she has proven invaluable in adjusting to new places.

My first instinct was to head to Google and Pinterest to see what I could find about getting Lucy to Hawaii with me. Of course, what I found was all convoluted and unclear. So I thought I would help consolidate some of the information I found! All I found was that there was a FOUR month quarantine period if you didn’t get to it in a timely manner! There is a 5-day or less track that you can get your dog on if you start early enough. So I made sure to start as soon as the possibility of going to Hawaii became present!

Here is everything you need to know about getting your pet (cat or dog, I am not 100% sure on procedures for other animals!) to Hawaii on the 5-Day or less Quarantine Track!

  • As soon as you have a hint that you might be going to Hawaii, make an appointment with a vet! I started before we had hard orders because I knew the vet care process would take a while (about 6 months!)
    • At this first vet visit my pup had a check up to make sure she was healthy, and she got her 2nd rabies shot. This is important because dogs need TWO rabies shots (At least 31 days apart) to be able to get into Hawaii. The 2nd must be no less than 90 days before entry)
  • Before you get your animal’s rabies shot, ensure that your animal has a microchip implanted. If the microchip is not implanted prior to the rabies shots and FAVN test, he or she will still spend 120 days in quarantine.
  • Three weeks after that first visit we returned to the vet. At this visit she had her blood drawn and sent to a lab. The test preformed was a FAVN. It is a blood titer test to make sure she had enough of the rabies vaccine in her system. This important because Hawaii is a Rabies free state. The results will be sent from Kansas State University to Hawaii- it is good for 36 months!
  • After the FAVN is done your animal begins 120 day quarantine period. This is why I started the process before we had hard orders. Even if orders get changed having the 2nd rabies shot won’t hurt your pet. If you wait till too close to your departure date, then your pup will have to spend the remainder of those 120 days in a quarantine facility once landed in Hawaii.

I was personally willing to spend a bit extra upfront with the chance our plans would change to avoid my puppy spending up to four months in quarantine and paying for that cost- since it is out of pocket!!! That is a big expense!!! And a lonely time for your animal!

  • After your pet passes the FAVN test then it is mostly just a waiting game until about 2 weeks before you leave for the islands. Within 10 days of arrival on the island your pet must get a health certificate from a vet. I am personally choosing to use an Army vet to do the health certificate since they are very well practiced at sending animals overseas for service members.
    • During this appointment, the vet will administer and sign off that your pet has flea protection. Regardless of what normal flea medicine your animal uses this will be frontline.

 All Documents you will need for your pet to gain entry into the state of Hawaii:

  • Original Ink signatures of Rabies shot certifications- you will have 2!! Must be original, no photocopies accepted
    • Vaccination certificates must have vaccine name, serial number, booster interval, vaccination date, and expiration date
  • Original Health Certificate done within 10 days of arrival in Hawaii
  • Vet must treat pet for fleas and ticks with Frontline within 10 days of arrival- noted on health certificate
  • Send all documents to Animal Quarantine Station:
    • Completed Dog and Cat Import Form
    • Payment and Fees:$165 per pet in advance for direct airport release or $224 for 5 day or less program. Must be a Cashiers Check or Money order (no cash or personal checks)

Other considerations that need to be made when sending your dog to Hawaii:

  • How big is your pet? If it is a cat or small dog you can carry them in a soft carrier under the seat.
  • If your pet is an emotional support animal you need a letter from your health care provider. Let the airline know as soon as possible. Have all the proper documentation. Same for Service Animals.
  • If your pet is large and not a service animal then you will ship your pet as “checked” luggage. However, most airlines will not allow you to check your animal when it is above 85 degrees Farenheit or below 65 degrees F.
  • You can either wait to send your animal for the weather to cooperate. Or you can consider a pet shipping service such as Island Pet Movers.

So, there you have it, a condensed version of the information needed to move your furry loves to Hawaii. Unfortunately, the military will not pay for any of these pet related expenses, which can really start to add up!

If you want a printable checklist to make sure that you have everything done in the proper order, please check out this checklist. This will ensure your dog spends as little time in quarantine as possible!

If you have any other questions you can check out the Hawaii Animal Quarantine Information Page for FAQ that I found helpful!

PCSing to Hawaii can be stressful, especially when there are animals involved. Here is my step by step guide that got my dog there safely!