As an active duty Army family in the midst of our 5th year long deployment, we have come up with ways to help our children stay connected to their father while he is away. The tips below will help provide peace, comfort, security, and stability for your young children during a time that can be very stressful otherwise.
Make a Video
Have the deploying parent make a video speaking to each child. Prior to his deployments, my husband makes a video where he prays for and talks to each child about (age appropriate) life lessons as well as reading some of their favorite books. This has blessed all three of our children in unique ways. These videos helped both of our young sons remember their father’s voice and helped with facial recognition as he deployed shortly after each of our boys were born.
Order a Deployment Quilt or Pillow
Get a free quilt or pillow from Operation Kid Comfort. This wonderful organization provides a free customized quilt (children 6 and under) or pillow (children 7 and up). All you have to do is supply some photos of the deployed parent. This has brought all of our children great joy as it is a tangible reminder of their father.
Make a Deployment Countdown Chain
For us, we always make a paper chain once we are 90-days out from the end of a deployment. This method really helps our younger children to have a tangible grasp on time. It gives them something to look forward to every morning; knowing that each chain link they rip off is one day closer to their father coming home.
Read Books About Deployment
Young children love to be read to. There are several great books out there you can read to your children about the deployment experience.
Here are three of our favorites:
- Daddy You’re My Hero
- Hero Dad
- H is for Honor: A Military Family Alphabet
Take a Family Photo
This worked wonders for the nights where the children were sad about the deployment. I purchased a small frame for each child and they keep it close to their beds.
Purchase a Build-A-Bear
We have purchased each of our children a Build-A-Bear with their daddy’s voice inside of it. All of our children sleep with these bears every night and squeeze them when they need to hear the comfort of their father’s voice.
While this is not a comprehensive list, it is a great place to start. Thinking ahead and preparing for deployments is one of the greatest things we can do for our families. Even though we are geographically separated from our soldier during a deployment, it does not mean that they cannot still be a part of our every day lives.
Photo Credit: Northwest Military