We’ve just completed a six month deployment and thought we would share some tips that helped our toddler out whilst her dad was away, in the hope it’ll help your little ones if needed.
Get a Huggable Hero – these little stuffed toys in the shape of a loved one are absolutely genius. They are one of those things where you are like ‘I wish I’d come up with that – it’s so clever!’. A Huggable hero is a toy that has your loved one’s full length photo printed onto it, front and back. They are so great as a comfort for your little one and also a good way of keeping your deployed partner integrated into day to day life.
Make a journal or video diary of what you’re all getting up to – we are lucky that, through the power of YouTube and vlogging, we’ve filmed deployment diaries which R has been able to catch up with when alongside but you don’t have to anything as intense as that! Just for a couple clips on your phone. Anything to keep them updated with life at home. It will help your child have something positive to focus on too.
Get them to send little video clips to play when there’s no contact. The husband filmed clips of him saying things such as ‘Morning __, are you having breakfast? Did you have a good sleepy’, ‘Is it bathtime now? Are you going to play with the ducks again?’ etc, for different times of the day. It works well for when they’re young enough to be tricked into thinking it’s FaceTime/Skype!
Have a recording of them reading favourite stories for bed time – this has been a huge one for us. I recorded R reading Little I the story he read her every night before he left and she’s watched the recording every single night since he left. She loves it. I just can’t read it the same way he does! There’s also the Infantino Tell Me a Story Bedtime Lamp that you can send bluetooth recordings to play out loud.
Talk about them every day – I found it helped our toddler to remember and express her feelings about ‘dada’ when we talked about him. It can be as simple as ‘oh remember when you and dada did this?’ or ‘where is dada today?’. Little I likes to tell everyone her ‘dada is on boat doing ‘werk”.
Send out boxes each month and involve the kids – write letters, draw pictures, collect things whilst out and about that remind the kids of their day, buy treats and send it all out through the BFPO system. It’s free for 2kg packages, which is great!
Have a countdown – whether it’s an app, a calendar, a chalkboard, whatever works, it’s a good idea to have a visual countdown in the house somewhere.
Make exciting plans for when they are back – we are planning a couple little trips and some fun family activities/days out to enjoy once R is back. Can’t wait!
Be patient – your little one is bound to play up at some point and it’s important to remember how overwhelming it must feel for them at times. They can’t express their emotions as well as us so will often let it build up, then have a melt down. The joys!
Stick to routines – most kids thrive with routines. Try to stick to the same sort of routine, after your partner has deployed, before changing anything around, so that they still feel comfortable with that aspect of their life.
Hope this helps!
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A twenty-something, full time working, mum of two, with a love for all things cat, cacti and scandi related.