Plugging into a New MilSpouse Community

Finding a community is a crucial part of making a new duty station feel like home. Here are my tips for plugging into a new MilSpouse Community.

A few weeks ago I shared about the loneliness you can feel when you don’t have a military spouse community around you. But since then I have moved to an area that has a strong military presence (on Hawaii all five branches of the military are represented), and I will be here for a while. It is really important for me to find a community here since my husband will be gone and we will be having our first baby while I am there.

But it really takes intentionality to get plugged into a new community. This intentionality happens before you arrive at your new location and then continues when you arrive.

Before you Arrive:

As soon as I knew I was going to be in Hawaii I went looking on Facebook for their spouse pages and groups that I could join. I went and found their PWOC page, MOPS (Moms of Preschoolers), Stroller Warriors. By joining these pages early I can see what activities they engage in and can begin to plan how to engage with them when I arrive. I was part of PWOC at Ft. Benning, so I knew I wanted to be part of it again. It was such a supportive community and I knew I would need that when I arrived.

MOPS is a new group to me. It is important to me to find a group and community for our little one to be socialized in when she arrives. Stroller Warriors is also a new one to me, but I heard such wonderful things about Stroller Strong Moms at Ft. Benning. This can a fantastic way to stay active after baby.

More than just Military groups, I also joined more general Facebook groups like the Baby Wearing group and La Leche League of Hawaii. I thought these would be important for finding mom community as well when my little one arrives.

By doing my research ahead of time and knowing when these groups meet, I can look for events that I can attend once I arrive. For example, I found that the USO is hosting a What to Expect Shower for all expectant moms right after I arrive and I could register. This helps me be accountable to make it out of my parents’ house!

After Arrival:

After I got here I immediately plunged into the community. Like the USO event I mentioned above, registering before I arrived helped me stay accountable to attend. I could meet women who are in the same place in life as me.

It is not enough to just join the Facebook Groups/Pages and hope that community will find you that way. You must get out of your house and go to the events. I am quite an extraverted situation, but I much prefer to go to new places armed with at least one friend already. This is not always a possibility. Even though I have friends in Hawaii, it will be totally different when I am there for an entire year. Yes, my family is there, but they all work full time, and I will have lots of time on my hands during the day.

Because I am an extroverted person, I know I get down when I am lacking friends and support. This will get me out of the house during the week! So I got out of the house and participated!

Why it is Important:

If ya’ll have been following my blog for a while you know my opinions on the importance of community. Without the community I developed at Ft. Benning moving would have been a nightmare. The ladies I knew there really came together to support me and make sure I could get it all done! They let me stay with them, help me clean up, and give me encouragement I needed to succeed. I know I am going to need this community aspect in Hawaii too.

Finding a community is a crucial part of making a new duty station feel like home. Here are my tips for plugging into a new MilSpouse Community.

Baby Proofing Your Marriage

Becoming a parent is a huge shift in your marriage! But it shouldn't detract from the intimacy between you and your spouse!

We’ve all heard it said that your marriage is more important after you have children, not less. Yet, there has been a huge shift in parenting over the last several years in which we are always putting our children first.

The reason our marriages matter more after children is because our marriage is a model of what healthy relationships look like. And parenting children is so much easier when you are a team. And being a co-parenting team is much easier when you have a solid spousal relationship. Always remember that before you were a mom and dad, you were a husband and wife.

While I was working in the Chaplain’s office at Ft. Benning I read And Baby Makes Three: The Six-Step Plan for Preserving Marital Intimacy and Rekindling Romance After Baby Arrives by John Gottman. I liked it so much that it’s a book I highly recommend to all parents and parents to be (I even list it on my resource page!)

I value Gottman’s insights on marriage and so I really took some of his principles to heart in preparation for when we had our own kids. And it sure is coming in handy now! Gottman has Six Steps for Maintaining Romance After Children. Who doesn’t want to keep that spark alive? Nobody goes into having children intending to neglect their marriage. But during the new born phase so much of a new parents’ life begins to revolve around the new baby. The new baby’s eating schedule, sleeping schedule. And suddenly the intimacy and closeness between husband and wife begins to decrease. It just happens.

Maintaining the same level of romance and intimacy takes a lot of work. Here are just a few of the steps he recommends for maintaining Intimacy and Romance in your marriage:

  • Soften how you bring up a problem
  • The importance of repair
  • Accepting influence
  • Savoring your friendship
  • Giving Grace

Giving Grace

It is not about avoiding problems that may come up as new parents, but finding positive strategies to manage the problems as they occur. Tensions can begin to run high in the first few months home with a new baby. Neither parent is particularly experienced or confident in their parenting abilities. This insecurity can make emotions run high. New moms have a surge of hormones to top it all off making them even more prone to being emotional. Lack of sleep also contributes to the rise in tensions in the home. Nobody can function at their best when they are being awoken every two to four hours.

So small events may turn into larger disruptions than might be normal. When this happens remember to give yourself grace. And to give your partner grace.

Giving your partner grace can be more difficult for new moms. New moms may not see how the transition for their partner is as difficult for dad as it is for mom. New moms, especially those who nurse are now the primary source of survival for a new born and are often still struggling with postpartum symptoms. But both new Mom and Dad need grace during the transition into parenthood. Grace can help promote intimacy in your marriage because it will prevent harboring resentment. Resentment prevents intimacy because it allows there to be separation within the marriage. Resentment can build up walls. Walls up = no intimacy.

Importance of Repair

Because tensions run high during the transition from a two person family to a three person family, repair attempts are so important. Why? Because we may often hurt our spouse’s feelings. Making and accepting repair attempts is more telling of relationship satisfaction than how many arguments a couple has. But it is not enough for one person to constantly be making repair attempts; the other must accept them. By accepting the repair attempt you are coming back together and creating more intimacy. When you reject your partner’s repair attempt you are putting up a wall between you. This prevents intimacy from growing in your marriage.

Savoring Your Friendship

Remember what brought ya’ll together as a couple to begin with. Most likely it has something to do with a friendship that was cultivated. During the postpartum period sexual intimacy is off the table. So finding old ways to create intimacy is important. At the beginning of your relationship, most likely sex was no the element of your relationship that created intimacy. Most often intimacy is created through friendship which leads to a more sexually intimate relationship. Get back to basics and by spending time together you can help maintain levels of intimacy in your relationship. While you may not be able to find time to get away and spend one on one time with your spouse, spending time together as a new family can help you maintain your friendship. It is a way to create new memories and experiences together.

This is just a way to start maintaining intimacy in your relationship after the newest addition has arrived. If you are looking for more information check out Gottman’s book And Baby Makes Three. He has such relevant information for new parents!

Becoming a parent is a huge shift in your marriage! But it shouldn't detract from the intimacy between you and your spouse!

Mindfulness Techniques You can Do to Reduce Anxiety

Life gets crazy, we get anxious; but using mindfulness techniques can help reduce anxiety by centering our mind and regaining focus.

There are a lot of coping mechanisms you can use to combat anxiety and depression. One of the newest areas that is being promoted to reduce anxiety is Mindfulness. Mindfulness is a mental state that is achieved by focusing on the present moment. It is a calming technique that involves acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, or bodily sensations.

How does Mindfulness work?

Mindfulness can be a great relaxation technique, which is one reason why it is used so frequently in reducing anxiety. Anxiety is worrying over things that have already happened or something that may happen. Meaning it is a past or future emotion, and your brain power has been removed from the present.

Mindfulness is a method of bringing your focus back to the present. By doing so you reduce the tension caused by your past or future thinking. The present is a finite period of time. The smaller the period of time, the easier it is to cope with the struggles at hand.

An Example

a couple of weeks ago my stress levels were going through the roof. We were having issues selling a car we couldn’t afford to fix (it didn’t run), trying to fix a car that did run so it could be shipped, extra blood draws and labs for monitoring my health during pregnancy. I was struggling, no matter how hard I tried, everything seemed overwhelming because there was just too much to do, and not enough time. However, had I used some mindfulness techniques I may have been able to center myself more quickly. Rather than taking a day or two I could have calmed down and relaxed in a few hours.

So the next time you’re getting anxious, overwhelmed, and can begin to fathom solutions to your problems try out some of these mindfulness techniques and see if they help!

Mindfulness Techniques

  • Breathing Exercises:

    • Deep breathing is an excellent way to draw your focus on of worry and into a calming presence. When we begin to get anxious we begin breathing rapidly and shallowly. The logical part of your brain shuts off when overwhelmed, and so we can’t get to a place where we can problem solve. By slowing our breathing intentionally, we create a pattern that automatically pulls our brains out of the anxiety provoking thoughts. When physical symptoms of anxiety dissipate we can begin to problem solve. Deep breathing creates a reduction in the physical sensations that anxiety brings. Centering you into the present, rather than past or future.  It is recommended that you spend at least one minute, but up to five minutes can have an even more lasting effect. If you are having a hard time focusing on breathing, try listening to a YouTube video, or an app that has guided breathing exercises.
  • Grounding exercises:

    • When we are anxious we become overwhelmed and recess into our thoughts, losing track of our surroundings. A simple way ground yourself bringing your back down is to find 5 things you can smell, touch, see, and hear. It is all about using your senses to identify your current surroundings. While yes, taste is one of the senses, unless you’re eating something it isn’t useful as a grounding sense. The way it works is when you become overwhelmed and you begin to recognize those feelings open up your senses. I like to start and encourage others to start with sight. I think it is easiest to start with identifying 5 objects that you see around you. Maybe it’s a stop sign and a tree, maybe it is your dog. Either way it will orient you to the location in which you are in. Then identify 5 sounds you hear- cars going by, the tv, birds singing. Repeat with things you can smell, and things you can touch. This will help bring you back to your present situation.

Why Mindfulness Works

Mindfulness has a way of restructuring the wiring in our brain. This means that the more we practice Mindfulness when we are anxious and stressed, the less stress we will feel overall. We will be more equipped to handle the challenges that come up against us.

You don’t have to be perfect at it; just have to keep trying. As a counselor, I have worked on this in my own practice with myself. As a military wife, there are so many circumstances that come up in my life that I have no control over, it is so easy to become overwhelmed by it. That is why I turn to mindfulness techniques to regain my focus on what I can control.

You don’t have to be a counselor or being seen by a therapist to manage any anxiety in your life using these mindfulness techniques, or many others.

Have you ever tried mindfulness as a way to manage your anxiety? Did it work for you?

Life gets crazy, we get anxious; but using mindfulness techniques can help reduce anxiety by centering our mind and regaining focus.

What to do when you Can’t Nest

One classic phenomenon in pregnancy is the desire to clean and prepare the house for baby, but what if you are pregnant and aren't where baby will make his or her appearance? Here are some ways to fulfill the need to nest when you can't do it physically.

I have always been super excited to decorate my baby’s nursery long before we had our first positive pregnancy test, to be honest, well before we even decided to start trying for a baby! I had a secret Pinterest board full of baby nursery ideas for both boys and girls! Of course soon after I found out I was pregnant I realized I wouldn’t be decorating any nursery! To say I was a little disappointed might be an understatement, but I quickly moved past it, and started dreaming about ways I could make a wonderful shared space for baby and I at my parents’ house! But dream is all I can do until I am more than seven months pregnant and starting my third trimester!

Not all pregnant women experience the phenomenon of nesting, but it is the intense feeling of wanting to clean and prepare your home for baby’s arrival. And all women experience at different points in the pregnancy. But I am a prepare-er, so I feel like I have felt this instinct since fairly early in the pregnancy, but without being able to really do much to prepare for her arrival since I had two moves to get through between when I found out I was pregnant and when our little Miss will finally make her arrival! This hit especially hard after the baby showers! I had all this cute baby stuff and all I could do was put it in boxes and suitcases as I prepared to fly to Hawaii.

For Military wives we may not always get the opportunity to nest in the traditional sense, maybe our nesting instincts get sublimated into a pack out and move out cleaning. Maybe we know we will be moving within a couple months of baby’s arrival and so we don’t want to put so much energy into making a Pinterest worthy nursery! Maybe we are living in a hotel waiting for housing at a new duty station when our next bundle of joy arrives. Whatever the case is, we can find ways to direct that energy and make the best out of it!

While I know the urge to nest typically hits the hardest towards the end of the pregnancy, it still has been challenging to be able to do so little to prepare for baby early. So here are some things I am doing to help ease my anxiety before I have a physical place to prepare:

  1. Ordering bigger pieces of gear and having them sent to my parents’ house. By having some of the bigger items already waiting for me it will be easier to set up the room when I get there with minimal rearranging once my bed is purchased (better believe that is the first stop we are making on the way back from the airport!). Since her bassinet and crib (A Graco dream glider bassinet and swing in one; and Graco travel lite crib with stages pack n play) are already at the house I can sleep easier knowing that should she make an early arrival she will have a place to stay.
  2. Lots of online research. I spent so much time researching the best baby items for small spaces. I have known since the beginning of the pregnancy that me and baby would share the one extra bedroom at my parents’ house for just about her whole first year! So, finding products that served multiple purposes, were small/portable and most space effective were so important to me. Thank goodness for Google and Pinterest. It made it so much easier to decide exactly which products I needed. Also, it was helpful to feel like I was picking out strollers and car seats without having to purchase and then transport large items. I now know exactly what I want and can order it as soon as I get there.
  3. Thankfully I am going to be living with my mom and dad, so I can send them hunting for items on island to get for me, so they will be ready for me when I get there. I can go to my local Target here look at it all and then send my mom the link so she can find it at her local Target! She can do that with baby items too! I have sent her to her Target with my baby registry so she can tell me which items are more expensive at her local target so that I can get those before I get there or order online instead of paying for the island mark-up!
  4. And finally, spend countless hours envisioning the space. Since my parents have been there for the last 8 or so years I have spent a great deal of time at their house for vacations even though I have never lived there. So making layouts of the room in my head has been helpful so when I get there, if I am too big to move it all around myself I can direct my dad with how I want everything to be!

So while I may not be able to nest in a traditional sense, I have found ways I can prepare for baby and reduce my anxiety so I don’t feel pressured to have everything done in the first few days upon arrival!

What are some of the non-traditional ways you have nested in preparation for your new addition?

One classic phenomenon in pregnancy is the desire to clean and prepare the house for baby, but what if you are pregnant and aren't where baby will make his or her appearance? Here are some ways to fulfill the need to nest when you can't do it physically.

Pregnancy Update: 2nd Trimester

When I shared our pregnancy announcement I included a pretty inclusive recap of my first trimester including the hardships of morning sickness and emotional sensitivity that I can thank my lovely hormones for. So now that I am through with my 2nd trimester I thought I would share another pregnancy update including our Gender Reveal!

So the start of my 2nd trimester marked our move from Fort Benning. Funnily enough during this pregnancy I will be in a different state for each trimester. So being home in South Carolina has been fun for this trimester because thankfully I am feeling so much better, no more morning sickness and nausea! There was a light at the end of the tunnel!! And pregnancy is really starting to be more like how I imagined it to be, although I didn’t look anything close to pregnant till I really hit 6 months! Now that bump is poppin’! It has been fun to be with family and friends when I am actually feeling good about being pregnant and getting to celebrate this time and prepare for baby with those who will love this baby along side of me. However, everyone told me my energy would be back in the 2nd trimester, and that simply hasn’t happened yet! I still need a nap during the day if I want to be awake past 9pm! But hey, I will take that over nauseated any day!

One of my favorite parts of the 2nd trimester was getting to find out the gender of our little bundle of joy. So Are ya’ll ready to find out???

I am so excited to say we will be having a little baby girl!! Everyone was right except my hubby- he thought it was a boy! I personally had no inkling one way or the other, although in my dreams (when I wasn’t dreaming it was twins) it was always a little girl! Everyone said they saw me with a little princess, and you know what, she isn’t even here yet and she is already a little diva. When I leave for Hawaii next month, she will have her own suit case of clothes she already has so many! (I just can’t help myself at TJ Maxx and the Consignment stores sometimes- they are just so cute! And so affordable!!).

She is a super active little baby! She kicks and flips and elbows me all day long until her daddy comes home from work (he still hasn’t felt her move because of this) and then starts up again once he is asleep! She has kicked me so hard several times I have actually seen my belly jump! I love feeling her move around in there letting me know she is ok! I just wish she would cooperate with me so her daddy could feel before he leaves. But with us as her parents, I am truly not surprised by her intense stubbornness.

She confirmed her stubbornness during the anatomy ultrasound. When the technician was trying to get some of the brain and head measurements, she put her hands over her head to block the camera! She was being too funny!! It took a while but eventually everything turned out looking perfect! We have a precious healthy baby!

Putting together baby registries has been so much fun also! I chose to do Target & Amazon! Both had really fun welcome gifts! It was so much fun to pick out all the things for baby! And imagining how they are going to be used!

I can’t wait to tell her how loved she was before she even made her appearance! Since this was the only trimester I would be near my husband’s family, my mom’s extended family and my friends, there were two showers thrown for her! My mom decided to have a gift card shower during our family reunion with her side of the family! Knowing I still had one move ahead of me before Little Miss arrived she wanted to make my life easier when traveling! She had some of the cutest games: the price is right! & Yummiest cupcakes!

Also while I was with my mom she took me shopping for some maternity clothes. And even though I didn’t have a very visible bump till month 6, the stretchy waist band of the shorts was so much more comfortable than my previous shorts! I found some really cute options!

And then my Sister in Law through another great shower with friends and my husband’s family! We had a great time, and I was so impressed with her gift wrapping skills! She had wrapped a whole clothes line of baby clothes ranging from new born to 24 months for us!! It was so cute! And I told her even the clothes pins would come in handy since my parents don’t have a dryer and they still line dry all their laundry!!

(that is my sister in law wearing the baby!)

So all in all the 2nd trimester has been really great so far! But it has not been without its difficulties either. Now that my appetite is back with a vengeance we don’t have a kitchen to make any food, living in a hotel is kind of the worst sometimes. And so, I can’t just make whatever food I am craving and fresh foods can be hard to come by!

Another drawback of the hotel room is there is really nowhere else to sit in the room other than the bed, which turns out is killer on your back to just sit in bed all day! So I have taken to doing all my work at Starbucks because at least I can sit in a chair for a few hours a day! Driving can also be hard on my back. One way I am alleviating some of this pain is through prenatal massages!

Heartburn is also a killer now. Being in the hotel means limited fridge space, and I get tired of water quickly so I have had the crystal light lemonade packets in our room, which have always gone down well before, but now I am finding that lemonade is giving me heart burn ☹ Tums have come to my rescue many many times!

Finally, not being able to nest has been hard, especially after all the baby showers and all the cute baby things I have! But only a few more weeks till I am in my final location before the birth! (+ more on this later!)

As my 2nd trimester comes to a close I am so excited about the final trimester, getting the baby’s room (also known as my room) settled at my parent’s house and getting into a good routine before the baby comes. Hopefully building a community of friends in Hawaii so that when the baby gets here I will be able to get out of the house. What a crazy journey it’s been so far!

Check out my latest BumpDate! The end of my 2nd trimester! It's a ....!

Always on the Move: Lo & Sons Luggage Review

This is a sponsored post that contains affiliate links

Let’s get honest right now, traveling with the military is no joke. And if we had enough suitcases to take all of our belongings with us they would need their own room, and that just is not feasible anywhere! That is why I am here to share my luggage review of Lo & Sons!

Our luggage goes through the ringer- moving trucks, whole families + pets in the car, rough handling by the airlines. This summer alone I have spent my weeks crisscrossing the state of South Carolina just to see everyone before we leave the country for the year! And I want to tell you about my new wonderful travel bag!

Quality luggage is important to me, as someone who travels so frequently I always find it such a waste when I buy a suitcase of a duffel bag and it only lasts a few trips before it falls apart. I have had Vera Bradley duffel bags that have had the handles ripped when handled to roughly when checked on the airplane. I have had suitcases where the lining rips almost immediately; where wheels stop spinning, or handles are broken. And I know I am not alone in this.

I recently discovered Lo & Son’s luggage. I have the Catalina Weekender bag, and let me tell you it has held up to four airplane trips and numerous road trips over the last several months! I received this stylish canvas weekender bag in April. And I have not been disappointed. The first trip I took with it I was packing for nearly two weeks! And it fit everything (plus several unnecessary pairs of shoes)! For a weekender bag, I thought that was pretty good!

Here are some photos from my last 2 week trip I packed into my weekender:

I was able to fit all my toiletries, makeup, three pairs of shoes, 3 dresses, 4 shorts, 1 pair of pants, a skirt, mix and match tops for it all plus 2 pairs of PJs, gym clothes, & my bathing suit!!

It also made a wonderful carry-on bag. Since it is canvas it is soft sides make it easy to squeeze into even full overhead compartments!  The cross body strap made it easy to carry through the airport! Even for this preggo momma.

Why I love this bag?

  • The bottom compartment for shoes and toiletries. I love that I don’t have to keep my shoes or potentially exploding toiletries with my clothes.
  • Outside pocket for easy access. It has a great outside pocket that I can slip my phone charger into as I am walking out the door. Then I can easily slip it out in the airport.
  • Heavy duty canvas makes it super durable. I know I am not the kindest to my luggage between trying to squeeze it into overhead compartments or just throwing it into the car with all the dog supplies the stitching and canvas have proven to be extremely durable.
  • I love the beautiful blue color! It is a is dark so it doesn’t show a lot of dirt! Which is excellent.
  • I love that when I am not using it, it folds flat completely making it extremely easy to store! This is super important for me because I may not always have a lot of room to store extra luggage!

This bag is great for military families because it extremely durable, can fit two weeks’ worth of clothes in it so it’s perfect if having to drive cross country without and laundry facilities or if you’re flying home for the weekend to visit family. If you’re interested in checking out their full line of bags and suitcases check them out here!

When you're always on the move a great suitcase is a Must Have Item! Here is my luggage Review of Lo & Son's duffle bag! A necessity for MilSO's on the Go!

I received the Catalina Weekender bag as compensation in exchange for writing this review. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.

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.
    • Another rebate App or Site, Ebates, is another great money saving tool! If you’re interested in signed up for a free Ebates 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!

How do you Handle Pre-Deployment Emotions

Gearing up for a deployment can be tough emotionally, but this period often gets skipped over. We talk about the actual deployment, we talk about homecoming. But what about the rough days and weeks leading up to the deployment. If you are beginning to feel isolated and alone, you are not alone! Here are some tips on handling those pre-deployment emotions.

When I was in graduate school working on my counseling degree, I was pretty sure I was going to marry my current boyfriend (And I did a semester before I finished school). And so knowing that I was going to be a military spouse I took the opportunity to do as many as my research projects on different aspects of military family life as my professors would let me do. One project was on the effects of the deployment cycle on military families. One area that was woefully low on research was the pre-deployment part of the cycle. Well now that I am no longer in school and in the midst of military life I wanted to share what I found, and how it has helped me during this period of pre-deployment for me and my husband.

We all know that deployments are emotionally intense for military SOs! But what is talked about less is the emotional strain that comes with the pre-deployment period.

There are several things that make the pre-deployment period emotionally difficult for a couple. The first is that before our spouse even deploys they begin to build up emotional walls that are necessary during deployments, and in all honestly, we do too. The second is when we play games thinking that it will make it easier to say goodbye. We want to spend as much time together as we can, but maybe family wants to come visit before he leaves. Or, the Military is claiming much of their time with TDYs and other trainings that are required before they ship out.

If you have children this time can be even more confusing and difficult to navigate. Younger children may sense the tension in the home, but may not understand the impending separation. When children are older they may have a similar reaction by withdrawing from the soon to be gone parent. They may act out in protest of their parent’s leaning.

Why Pre-Deployment Phase is Hard

The pre-deployment period is difficult because we are preparing to be by ourselves. Our spouse is preparing to leave and be placed in potentially hazardous situations. Because of this, we begin to shut ourselves down emotionally before we even get to the deployment.

We might also begin to pick fights with one another the closer we get to the deployment, believing it will be easier to say goodbye to one another if we are mad at each other. So, we pick fights over silly little nothings, or maybe over important things that come with a separation.

What can I do?

So with all these emotions running high, how can we make the most of our last few days or weeks with our soon to be deploying spouse?

First, don’t ignore your emotions! Sometimes as military spouses we get caught in the trap believing that we aren’t supposed to be upset or sad when they leave because this is their job and we know that. We are supposed to put on our big girl panties and figure it out, no sadness in our hearts. That just is not true. Anybody would be sad that their spouse is leaving for an unknown amount of time.  So, acknowledge your sad feelings, tell your spouse, find a good friend to vent to. If we stop pretending not to be sad, we will be less likely to play games. We won’t pick fights with our spouse just to make it easier to say goodbye.

Understand that them becoming more and more closed off as the departure date approaches is normal, and a survival tool for them down range. When deployed it is hard for soldiers to keep family in the forefront of their minds because emotions can compromise the mission. As “good” military spouses we know that its mission first. But also shutting down emotionally doesn’t happen overnight. It is a process that takes weeks, and so it happens before they even leave home. More than allowing them to put the mission first, shutting down emotionally is a survival mode instinct for them.

As much as we hate leaving, and as much as they say they want to deploy, rarely do they want to leave us behind. The emotional disconnection helps make that process easier for them. And in reality, we do it too. We begin doing more and more around the house ourselves. Asking for less help with the kids. So it just looks a little but different.

When we know it happens we are less likely to take their emotional shut down personally. It creates fewer fights and less tension in the home. After going through many deployments we might begin to pick up this pattern, but what if we didn’t have to struggle so much to figure it out? That is why we share our experiences with other spouses and friends. Trust me I know it is hard when it feels like right before they are leaving they want so little to do with us and we want nothing more than to be even closer to them as the date gets closer and closer.

So if your spouse is gearing up for a deployment like mine is then hopefully my insights might provide just a little bit of clarity into why things aren’t what you expected. Why he is withdrawing more and more, and why there seem to be more tension. By using this information to your advantage maybe you can just savor those last few sweet minutes before D-Day approaches.

 

Gearing up for a deployment can be tough emotionally, but this period often gets skipped over. We talk about the actual deployment, we talk about homecoming. But what about the rough days and weeks leading up to the deployment. If you are beginning to feel isolated and alone, you are not alone! Here are some tips on handling those pre-deployment emotions.