20 answers

Ideas for Helping a Family While Husband/Daddy Is Deployed

We have friends who will be sending their daddy to Iraq for a year. I am hoping to hear from others who have had a spouse/parent deployed. What help would you have appreciated or what do you wish friends knew would help you out to get through the deployment period?

Thank you!

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My sister in law loved all the help with the kids while my brother was deployed. What she also found helpful was when I set up a babysitter and the two of us hung out for a day. It was a nice break for her, and she was able to get some adult time in as well.

My sisters husband just got back from Iraq a month ago. What helped her and their three kids ages 13, 10, and 3 get along for the year he was gone is making stuff for their dad and picking stuff out from the store to send to him. The best was having a computer with a camera hooked up so they could see him over their and wave to him while they were talking to him. Other than that they kept busy. They loved his phone calls and talking to him on the computer, and the stuff he would send back to them.

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When the husband of one of the moms in our MOMS Club was deployed for almost 2 years, we established a support group we called "team (fill in name)." The team was made up of anyone who wanted to help on a regular basis. Each week, it would be someone else's "turn" to provide support--make a meal or two, babysit the kids, help out with yard care, etc. Most of the time, there were anywhere from 5-8 women on the team, each person had a turn every couple of months or so. All it took was someone to be the coordinator to e-mail every couple of months and set the schedule, and be the phone contact if people needed to switch weeks.

Listen. Offer to watch the kids, help them make cards to send to Daddy. Ask if she needs help with the car, the yard, etc. Help the family make care packages--help buy items, make cookies, and assemble the package, get it in the mail. Once a month is usually about right for care packages. Include a phone card, but ask which kinds (AT&T global, etc) actually work for where Daddy is.

start with call them! ask how you can help. When my dh was deployed it seemed like i had fallen off the face of the planet. Call them, offer to babysit so mom can get a haircut or even just do the grocery shopping with out the kids at least once in a while. Does she need help with the yard? If it snows, can you shovel the walks? Do they have boys that need someone to play catch with? Do the girls need a day away from mom? (my dd is a dadddy's girl-when dad is gone she and i fight more) Dont take daddy's place...just be an extra set of hands that is willing and available to help. B.(one who's been there)

Hi im glad u are doing this for your friend! I am currently going thru this and at the end of the year in about 2 months. I found out i was pregnant 5 days after he left. I would have loved for someone to come and watch my two kids so i could go shopping alone. Take me to a movie, bring dinner over so i could just talk and cry if needed. Go out of town for a girls trip. Take my car to get it serviced or check it out. Have someone check on me for other things like light bulbs that need to be changed, show shoveled, lawn mowed, ect. Think about what your husband does around the house. That is about what we miss and need. I mean even just a dinner invite means the world. It is amazing how empty a house feels when your best friend is gone!! I hope this helps!!! Offer to help pack a box to send to him! Bake with her for the unit!!!

My husband is not deployed, but he is gone a lot w/ work and play. I keep busy during the week, but the weekends get lonely because everyone else is doing the family thing. I think it would be nice to include your friend in some of your family time. This could be anything from a zoo trip, a day at the beach, or maybe even a camping vacation. :) Even if she declines a time or two I'd keep offering invitations until something appeals to her. Babysitting for her to go clothes shopping ocassionally since this is virtually impossible with kids in tow.

I think what you are doing for your friend is a really good thing and you will figure it out as you go. :)

My husband was deployed for 18 months. The best thing that my friends and family did for me was prepare meals for me. With 3 kids, I had more than enough to keep me busy. They arranged it so that every Tuesday someone delivered a hot meal. Plus our parents would make up other meals to put in the freezer that I could pull out when needed. It was such a huge help!

My husband was deployed for 18 months and at that time, I had an 8 year old, a 5 year old and a 3 year old. I was all alone with no family in town. What really helped me was a friend would bring me supper about once a month. She would call me up a few days ahead of time and just tell me she was doing this (she must have known I don't like asking for help). Those were the best tasteing meals I've ever had! Meals was such a huge help to me. Also, if she doesn't like to ask for help, just tell her what you want to do for her. Like a neighbor of mine just showed up one day to mow the lawn, as mowing with 3 kids is very hard to do. Maybe you or your husband can make this a weekly chore for her-She's love it. Also, if your husband goes out of town for a week on business, please don't compare your husband being gone to her husband being gone and say you understand. I had a friend that did that all the time and it made me upset. So I would say to her, well can you call your husband while he's gone on business and she'd say "yes" and then I'd say, well I can't call mine. I think she started understanding a little bit, so be careful and senitive to her feelings. You are such a wonderful friend for asking others for advice on how to help her, you're already a great support system for her! Please also thank her, and her husband for their sacifices they are making for our country.

Speaking as the mother of a young child whose father was deployed for 9 months and a former regular army wife, I would say offer to babysit once in a while, and also be patient. She may not be interested in going out, or even talking, but your presence is appreciated and will help remind her she isn't alone.

Remember when events happen like lunches, parties, etc...that she might want to go, but will need help with the children. The hardest part is always trying to keep up some semblance of normality for the children and herself while husband/daddy is gone. Whatever you can do to help retain that normalcy will be a boon indeed.

Offer, too, if you have the time, to help with some of the daily routine. While getting out once in a while is nice, it's the daily routine and grind that drags down a mom in this situation. Sometimes just some help with cleaning the house or the laundry or chauffeuring kids or running errands is the biggest help you can give to relieve some of the stress and pressure. Especially keep an eye on her in case she gets sick (flu, cold, etc..) while he's gone; during those times she'll need all the extra help she can get and she'll appreciate it a lot to have someone to help her get through those tough periods.

Some wives like to talk about it, some don't. Just play it by ear and give her that ear/shoulder if she needs it but don't push it. I know I preferred not to give voice to my concerns because if I did, I'd end up breaking down and I hate breaking down.

L.

check on yahoo for groups like 4 family
D.

My sister in law loved all the help with the kids while my brother was deployed. What she also found helpful was when I set up a babysitter and the two of us hung out for a day. It was a nice break for her, and she was able to get some adult time in as well.

A.,
My husband was deployed for 22 months and arrived home safely last July. I was a stay at home Mom to 4 children who were 8, 2, 2, and 2 months when he left. I would HIGHLY recommend the books by Karen Pavlicin - "Surviving Deployment" and "Life After Deployment". I had the honor of attending one of her workshops and she had the BEST idea...become a "Mother Hen" for your friend. I really wish I had one while my husband was gone. If people ask her if she needs help with anything, have her say "Contact my Mother Hen at ...." Give out your phone number and have people schedule things with you...such as, lawn mowing, weeding her flowers, raking in the fall, cleaning out gutters, helping winterize their home in the fall, snow removal, etc. Even people want to make the family suppers, have them sign up for a day so you can keep track for her. It can be difficult for people to ask for help (I, for one, have a hard time with it). There were things that I needed done, but didn't know who to ask or how to get the help. Needless to say, my husband is still trying to catch up on the little things I should have done, but either didn't know about or didn't know how to accomplish.

Thank you for doing this for your friend. Your help and support will mean the world to her. A year is a long time to keep things as normal as possible for her children, but with help they would have the time to do the fun things in life!!

Good Luck!
P.

My friends sister was deployed a couple of years ago and the thing she needed help with the most was yard work and that sort of thing. Just having someone mow the lawn every week or two made a huge difference and she didn't feel so overwhelmed. Having the sidewalks and driveway cleaned in snowy weather is another thing that helps.. I am sure there are a million more things, but I know that these two things were a big help for her.

A.
Here are a few things that may help.
We are parents of a National Guard Soldier and we are a volunteer in the Family Readiness program for his unit. he is slated to go to Iraq next year which will be his third trip to the Mid East
Go to this site: http://wingfam.org/index.asp for more info.

Books for families dealing with deployments
Available at www.amazon.com

Adults:
Heroes at Home: Help and Hope for America's Military Families by Ellie Kay
Surviving Deployment: A Guide for Military Families by Karen M. Pavlicin
When Duty Calls: A Guide to Equip Active Duty, Guard and Reserve Personnel and Their Loved Ones for Military Separations by Carol Vandesteeg
Married to the Military : A Survival Guide for Military Wives, Girlfriends, and Women in Uniform by Meredith Leyva
Today's Military Wife: Meeting the Challenges of Service Life by Lydia Sloan Cline
E-Mail to the Front: One Wife's Correspondence with Her Husband Overseas
by Alesia Holliday
Wings of Our Own by Paulette K. Johnson
Solo-Ops: A Survival Guide for Military Wives by Hilary Martin

Children:
Mommy, You're My Hero! by Michelle Ferguson-Cohen
Daddy, You're My Hero! By Michelle Ferguson-Cohen
My Daddy Is a Guardsman by Kirk Hilbrecht, Sharron Hilbrecht
My Mommy Is a Guardsman by Kirk Hilbtecht
Uncle Sam's Kids in When Duty Calls by Angela Sportelli-Rehak
Daddy, Will You Miss Me? by Wendy McCormick (Author), Jennifer Eachus (Ill)
My Daddy Is a Soldier by Kirk Hilbrecht, Sharron Hilbrecht
The Magic Box: When Parents Can’t Be There to Tuck you In by Marty Sederman
My Father Is Far Away by Robin Ballard
War? I'm Scared by WeWrite Kids
15 Reasons I Love My Dad: A Fill-in-the-Blank Book by Samantha Kappler
A is for America by Devin Scillian
All Those Secrets of the World by Jane Yolen, Leslie Baker
One Nation: America by the Numbers by Devin Scillian, Pam Carroll

My daycare provider's husband was deployed for a year. She really appreciated me doing her grocery shopping & other simple errands for her, so that she didn't have to drag her kids with to do those things. Also, offering to keep the kids at my house or take them out for something fun for a few hours so she could do things on her own or just have a break. Going WITH her to events/on outings (to the park or zoo or other events) so that she had help handling/watching the kids. All those things that are easier with 2 that daddy isn't there to help with, you know?

My ex-husband was deployed three years ago. I would say that if you live close by it would help to get your friend and her kids out of the house and be a good listener. He/She may feel lonely or depressed at times, so don't take offense. Also, please realize that he/she doesn't always get to talk to their deployed spouse, so don't be offended and be considerate when the deployed soldier calls. Your friend may cut a conversation short with you because the deployed soldier may only have five minutes to talk. It is hard to be away from your spouse and in my situation 14 months, so back to my first comment, be a good listener and get your friend out of the house. It might be working out, going to the park with the kids, or even just adult time since the spouse will essentially be the only parent during this time period. He/She will probably need a break from the kids while being the sole parent during this deployment time period. I hope this advice is helpful.

My sisters husband just got back from Iraq a month ago. What helped her and their three kids ages 13, 10, and 3 get along for the year he was gone is making stuff for their dad and picking stuff out from the store to send to him. The best was having a computer with a camera hooked up so they could see him over their and wave to him while they were talking to him. Other than that they kept busy. They loved his phone calls and talking to him on the computer, and the stuff he would send back to them.

Give the mom a day off...Trust me! Having the daddy gone is such a hard time, she'll need a few hours to herself. If she's planning on sending him a care package, help out. Take tons of pictures of her kids to send him. And a big one for me was when I had my instant messangers sent to away with "Message me ONLY if you are my husband" people would message me, it's set to away for a reason. But just be there for her mostly, she'll need someone to vent to and just to help out!

When my ex husband was deployed the one thing that I found is that you find out in a hurry who your real friends are. I really liked it when they would come over and help me clean, or just kept the kids busy so that I could get some of the cleaning done. It really helps if you can go and help with the small stuff.
Let her know that you are there for her, and that you'll willing to help out.

My husband was deployed when my children were 6 months, 3 and 5 and I had no family in town. I worked full time so coworkers helped me out immensely by babysitting, cleaning my house, and helping with yard work (it was spring at that time). They also brought over meals which helped. The one thing that would have been nice is if someone could have gone with me to certain things just to have that extra set of hands. If the children are in kindergarten or first grade and have to do so many minutes per night of reading, I would think that you could help with this and even help with bath time. I remember staying up very late getting things organized for the next day and if someone was there to help get the kids ready for bed, I don't think I would have lost so much sleep. Also offer to come over and allow her to catch up on her sleep. You could also take pictures of her and the family and offer to send them to daddy for her. Then there are the certain tasks that men can only do (filling the water softener with salt is one thing that comes to mind). I had to make a list and have my father come and help me on a weekend. If you know of someone who can offer that service that would be helpful. Remember to thank her for sharing her husband with this country. We often forget that the spouse plays a part in this as well. Hope that helps.

You are such a great friend!!! I can't give advice based on personal experience but my first thought would be to offer free babysitting. Also, offer to be her "venting ear". There are things I can tell my husband that I wouldn't tell anyone else. It's nice to have someone to listen when we just need to vent.

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