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.

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

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!

Making the Best of Travel During the Holidays

It is wonderful to spend the Holidays in your own home, but sometimes it just isn't always the case. Here is how to Own the Holiday season away from home

As a kid we always stayed home at Christmas time. I can only remember one Christmas when we traveled and I think I was like 4 years old. In college I had to travel from the dorm to my parents house, but it definitely isn’t like traveling away from your own home at Christmas. The last two years though I traveled once to my in-laws’ house for Christmas and once to my parents’ house for Christmas. This year I am staying put (no need to travel with a 3 week old!!), but not in my own home.

Each year away from our home for Christmas has been bittersweet for different reasons. The 1st year we were married we traveled to my in-laws’ house for Christmas. It was bittersweet because it was our first Christmas together and we didn’t get to celebrate together in our own home, making our own Christmas traditions. The 2nd year we went to my parents house. That year it was bittersweet because it was our first Christmas in a house that was just ours, that I had decorated! And this year our baby will be celebrating her First Christmas in a house that isn’t ours. I say bittersweet, because it is always wonderful to spend the holidays with family.

But there are unique challenges to travel during for the holidays.

The First is How to Transport Gifts.

The first year we traveled for Christmas we drove, so it was a bit easier to transport everyone’s gifts. I could wrap them ahead of time and put them in the car. This way they stayed out of preying eyes! It also made traveling with everyone else’s gift easier too. I didn’t have to worry about any space issues. The second year though we flew. This made everything more tricky. We only had finite space in the suitcase, that we shared! For this one we opted to mail presents ahead of time to my parents’ house, and wrap there. Then we brought back an extra suitcase.

Not Being Able to Start our Own Traditions.

Every family has their own unique twist on Christmas traditions. Growing up we always went to Midnight Mass on Christmas eve and when we got home we were allowed to open one present before we went to bed. It was generally one from my grandparents or Christmas jammies to wear to bed that night. Then we woke up in the morning and opened presents from Santa and Mom and Dad before enjoying a Christmas breakfast. It was generally just the 4 of us at Christmas. My husband’s family celebrates differently. They didn’t attend a service on Christmas. They woke up, did presents, and then later that evening had a big family dinner with extended family.

But since we haven’t been able to celebrate Christmas with just us in our own home we haven’t had the opportunity to start making Christmas traditions of our own. I sorta miss that. I want our little ones to be excited about the Holidays and the traditions they bring! Maybe next year we will get lucky enough to spend Christmas as our little family of three!

But there are some great things about traveling for the holidays too!

We have been lucky enough to spend the holidays with our families. I know for military families this is not always possible. But my hubby has been fortunate enough to either get holiday block leave or a 4-day pass for the Christmas weekend.

That means spending time with family that we may live far away from and not get to see regularly. I know this was especially important to my hubby on our first Christmas when we weren’t even living together yet because I was still in school and he was training.

So However you are spending the holidays this year! Make the best of it, someone else is probably desperately wanting to be in your position! 

It is wonderful to spend the Holidays in your own home, but sometimes it just isn't always the case. Here is how to Own the Holiday season away from home

The Best Holiday Gifts for MilSpouses In Your Life

Best Holiday Gifts for MilSpouses in your life that deserve the best Gifts! No better way to celebrate than supporting MilSpouse Businesses in the process.

The Holidays are fast approaching! I can’t believe it is only 6 weeks or so till Christmas! This year really has flown by! And while this Christmas I am so much more less concerned with what I want for Christmas and how I am going to make this Christmas special as it is our baby’s first Christmas (she may only be a few weeks old but still counts) and special because the hubby and I will be separated by duty this holiday season.

But I can’t forget all my fellow military spouses (and I thought I might put together a Christmas list for the hubby to follow as well 😉). I didn’t want to just put together a list of things I wanted for my holiday gift guide, but I really wanted to highlight and feature all the wonderful Military Spouse Businesses that are out there selling great products! So, I went hunting for all the things I would love to receive this holiday season that were made by military spouses for military spouses (we can deal with the kiddos another day because there are so many great options for the kids too, but this is for us!)

For the Organized (Or Not So Organized) MilSpouse

  • Rosie Planner: The Rosie Planner is so cute in its three different covers. With Deployment and PCS check lists it has everything the busy MilSpouse needs to take charge of her family life and Make Things Happen! I love my planners and spend months picking a new one out for the new year and I personally can’t wait to try this planner out in 2018! My favorite planners have separate monthly and weekly planning pages! It will be perfect for keeping my blog organized! And all the activities for me and the Little One. Since this planner comes UN-dated it allows you to start at any point in the year. Whether a year of PCSing, Deployments, or planning coffees is in your future- this gift will have all the MilSpouses in your life covered! To get your Rosie Planner Click here!

For the MilSpouse who loves to Read

    • Sacred Spaces by Corie Weathers: We all have one friend (or maybe we are that friend) that just devours books! Which makes books a perfect gift! As military spouses, we all go through separations- deployments and TDYs. And during those separations we all face challenges that our partner just can’t understand. Both the service member and the spouse left at home. For the service member, it might be a combat mission that changes them; for spouses, maybe we faced childbirth alone. We will never be the same person we were before they left. And those will be our sacred spaces in our marriages. Corie addresses these sacred spaces and how they affect our marriage, and how we can use them to make our marriages stronger rather than pushing us apart.

For the Trendy MilSpouse

  • Rocco & Norah Headbands: For the Busy Mom on the Go what better than a soft headband wrap to keep your hair out of your face, worry free, and totally on point! When your hair looks this good so easily, you are ready to rock your day without a care! Soft fabric that stays in place! If you want you can even purchase matching momma and baby sets! Find their products on their website here!

 

  • Riveter Bags: I know I am not the only one who carries a bag that contains everything I may *ever* need. So, I love a big heavy-duty bag that is still cute and stylish. Enter R. Riveter tote! The R. Riveter tote is heavy duty and durable so it can carry the heavy load we MilSpouses carry around with us on a daily basis without compromising style. I love this bag for its durability! I am constantly going through cheap TJ Maxx purses because I try to carry way to much in them on a daily basis. Because Starbucks is my favorite place to work I often find myself carrying my computer, books, and more. This one stands up to it! Also, now with the Little Miss this bag is big enough to throw in some of her stuff if we are out running a quick errand! What better bag to carry your planner around 😉 Check out their site to see all their fabulous bags and accessories!

                      

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

  • Subscription boxes is one of the top new gifts to give to anyone! Here are two awesome subscription boxes that will come once a month full of goodies.
    • MilSO Box: Dedicated to honor and respect the women holding down the home front, MilSO Box sources gifts meant to excite, comfort, assist, and beautify our warriors at home. Each month’s box will feature 4 to 7 thoughtfully curated gifts.  Even though these items will be a surprise, each subscriber can expect a mix of bath & beauty products, home decor, accessories, helpful gadgets, inspirational items, unique gifts, and of course, anything patriotic! They feature products from Veteran and Military Spouse owned business. When you purchase this gift you can choose a single month, or a monthly subscription where the recipient gets a unique curated box each month! Click here for more information and to shop their site

 

  • The Six Box: Everyday we support our service members and we care for the kids at home. We send care packages, but who of us ever wishes we could receive a care package?? Now with The Six Box you can! Again this is a monthly subscription where you receive a box especially designed to help you care for yourself so you can stay happy and healthy caring for everyone else! It is all about self-care! They call it a Reverse Care Package! They’ve got your six. Click here for more information and to shop their site.

I hope you take the chance to explore these MilSpouse businesses this holiday season as you make your holiday wish lists and gift lists. Don’t let the holidays slip by without getting one of these fabulous gifts! Even if you have to buy it for yourself (don’t worry, we all do it)!

Best Holiday Gifts for MilSpouses in your life that deserve the best Gifts! No better way to celebrate than supporting MilSpouse Businesses in the process.

Where to Find Help When You Need It

The military provides mental health services in many different forms. Here are some popular sources to find help when life gets hard and need extra support.

Military Life is hard, and we all need some help from time to time. And as much as we hate to admit it, we can’t always do it on our own. But sometimes we need a little bit more help than even a friend, neighbor, or family member can give us. And that is OK. It doesn’t make us broken, damaged, or any other negative idea we get about people who seek counseling. It can be hard to find help when we need it.

Know It’s Ok to Seek Help

Sometimes we exhaust all our coping strategies, self care just isn’t working and we need a little extra support. It is not a sign of weakness, but knowing when you’ve hit your limit can be a sign of strength.

The military has improved the services to meet the mental health needs of service members and families. However, these services are often not publicized. So few people know where to find help when they want/need it.

Where to Find Help:

1. Military Family Life Consultants (MFLCs)

MFLCs are social workers and licensed counselors contracted by the military to provide free, 100% confidential counseling services. They are equipped to handle individual counseling, counseling for children, family counseling, and marriage counseling. If you are looking for them they are housed by ACS. Military One Click recently published an article about what it is like to talk to a MFLC. Hopefully that will help demystify the process.

2. Family Life Chaplains

Most soldiers know that chaplains have 100% confidentiality as well, but are hesitant to seek out help from their unit chaplains because often their offices are very close to the commander’s office and so they may be seen going to and from appointments. Service Members worry that the chaplains are not equipped to do formal counseling, pushing religion down their throats. Most chaplains only have a course or two in counseling during their seminary. Family life Chaplains have degree in counseling. Their sole responsibility is to provide marriage and family counseling services. While yes, they are chaplains they are not there to necessarily provide Christian counseling. I have worked with the family life chaplain’s office at two different posts and provided services through them.

3. Military One Source

If you are looking for other resources, providers that are outside of the military post you can go to Militaryonesource.mil and click on Confidential Help and they have options for face-to-face counseling, online counseling, phone counseling, or video counseling. While I have no personal experience with using this resource I know many people who have had lots of success using these services.

4. Behavioral Health

This is service members least favorite option. The reason this is that since it provided through Tricare, commanders know when you are receiving services here. Service Members can be mandated such as ASAP (alcohol or substance abuse program) or PTSD treatment.

The next time a friend or fellow MilSpouse is suffering, hopefully you will be able to share resources with them. Nobody should have to go it alone, just because they are unaware of the resources available.

The military provides mental health services in many different forms. Here are some popular sources to find help when life gets hard and need extra support.

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.

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.