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How Do YOU Parent Without Your Service Member?

It is a shocker. Even if you think you do everything yourself, the minute your service member takes off for boot camp or basic training, goes to the field, gets underway, leaves for TDY, deploys or takes an unaccompanied tour overseas, you suddenly realize exactly how much he or she does at home.

It is a double shocker if you have kids.  It is a triple shocker if this is the first time you are on your own with the kids for an extended period of time, right?

This week, our Military.com advice columnist Ms. Vicki had a letter from a schoolteacher who was undergoing triple shock. Her husband left for basic training leaving her own with a one year old and a three year old for the first time.  After two months, this mom was losing it. Ms. Vicki was concerned about her mental health and had some good advice here.

 I thought the mom could use a little more advice from our readers who have been there and done that.

Unlike the rest of the people in her life who are probably telling her that she is a lot better off than a single parent (which is an argument that never helped anyone EVER), we know that this is one of those A-ha! moments in her life.

This moment of falling apart and reaching out for help past her family and friends and coworkers marks the moment of greatest possible change in the way she thinks, the way she acts, the way she parents.

Remember that moment in your own military life?

It was the moment something pushed you over the edge of your ability to think positively. It is the moment you realized something’s gotta give—and that something is probably going to be you. But what did you change? And when?

This  is where I thought you could help.  How did you learn to parent without your service member? What were those first lessons you had to learn?  What beliefs did you cultivate that changed the way your family worked?  What kind of tricks did you use to make things work better?

I know that for me, the biggest change was realizing that the cavalry was not coming. No one was going to swoop in to help me. My husband was deployed. My family lived far away. My friends had their own kids and jobs to deal with. No one was going to carry me—and that was going to be OK.

That’s when I took a little parenting class from the city of Norfolk. That is when I started reading about parenting. I’m pretty sure that is when I finally got my daughter on a schedule!

What about you? What were your first lessons in how to parent without your service member? What do you think that young mom needs to know?

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