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7 Conversations to Help You Prepare For Reintegration

A few weeks ago, my husband called to give me his anticipated homecoming date. I was ecstatic to hear that; while still a ways off. the date was earlier than I expected. Time to prepare for reintegration

I’m not letting myself write it down until he’s on the plane though… I’m too accustomed to plans changing.

Because…military life.

But I’m broaching the topic of expectations and concerns.

The things most people suggest talking about before homecoming include: visitors, meals, and travel. And don’t get me wrong, we’re talking about these things, and I highly recommend doing so.

But as my family is coming up on our first deployment homestretch, I have heavier questions, too.

I’m thinking about the many changes our family has experienced while T has been gone, and conversations my husband and I plan to have before he comes home.

Here are seven of them:

1. Sleeping arrangements. 

He’s spent the past few months sleeping in a twin bed by himself, while I’ve shared our queen with our preschool-aged cuddler. We won’t all fit comfortably anymore.

I have a few ideas for a new sleeping arrangement, but I know it won’t be a quick fix. I want to see if my husband has ideas, too.

If you’re experiencing a similar situation, you may want to discuss what you’ll need to do in order to get a good night’s rest.

2. Self-care for your service member. 

Does your service member anticipate wanting time alone? Lots of family time? Vegging out on the couch? Exploring your area? Ask. Know that what they think they want now could change. It could stay the same. Be patient. This is a what-if conversation that can be helpful for managing expectations.

For example, my husband thinks he’ll want to see everyone he’s missed over the past year, right away. And he might. But, he could decide he needs to spend the first week of leave resting. And either one is normal and okay.

3. Self-care for you

By the time my husband gets home, I’ll have solo parented our son for most of a year. I have had help from friends and family members, but I’m still drained.

As I mentioned, this is our first deployment, and I counted. I spent five days total taking care of myself. (I do recognize that some people don’t have any time away from their children during a deployment. Any time for self-care is a gift. I can only speak to my experience.)

Solo parenting is hard, and I’m drained. I told my husband how I’ve been feeling and that I need a day or two to myself soon after he gets home, so that I can rest. He’s on board.

4. Balancing family time with “us” time. 

I’ve written about my husband and son as two peas in a pod. Cliché, but true. Every time they’ve talked in the past two months, they’ve played games and talked about all the things they want to do when they’re reunited. I love their relationship, and I’m looking forward to seeing them together again. I’m also excited for family movie nights, cuddles, and time at the park.

That said, we’re both looking forward to occasional date nights so we can reconnect, too. I’m lucky enough to have a few friends here who’ve expressed a willingness to babysit R, so that we can have time to ourselves.

We both value quality time, so we’re talking about various date night ideas and time frames. Again, nothing is set in stone, but it’s helpful to know we’re on the same page.

5. New rules. 

Most of our family rules are similar to the way they were when my husband left, but if yours have changed at all, this could be a helpful conversation. For example, when my husband left, my son wasn’t in the kitchen while I cooked. Now that my little guy is wanting to help with #allthethings, I ask him to take things out of the fridge for me or stir ingredients. I made sure to let my husband know this change to avoid miscommunication later.

6. Parenting styles. 

The past year has been full of changes. We PCS’d across the country,  lived in a hotel for more than a month, unpacked, and then my husband deployed. It’s a lot. For all of us.

As a result of all this change, I realized I needed a way to connect with my son better. I’ve been wearing clothes with his favorite characters. I don’t force him to eat when he doesn’t want to. We have tea while we watch a quiet show of his choice before bed.

I share these things to illustrate the ways my son and I have enjoyed our one-on-one time during deployment. If you’ve changed the way you parent because you’re solo parenting, it can be helpful to give your spouse a heads up.

7. Child(ren) updates.

You’ve been with your child for the duration of the deployment. Growth, likes and dislikes, habits, catchphrases, friends, struggles, etc. have changed right under your nose. Your service member may know a lot of these things from past conversations, but if they don’t, consider cluing them in. Armed with this knowledge, your service member has a stronger chance of re-establishing a bond with your child because they have the tools to communicate effectively.

 

This is by no means an exhaustive list, nor does every family need to have all these conversations ahead of time.  What would you add to this list? What would you skip?

 

 

Author

  • Amanda Krieger

    Amanda Krieger is an Army wife and mom. She met her husband while he was enlisting, online to boot, even though at the time they only lived five miles apart. She has BA and MA Theology degrees from Ave Maria University and the Franciscan University of Steubenville, as well as an MA in English and Creative Writing. Her hope is to publish a memoir chronicling her life as a woman with a disability who happens to be married to a military man. A stay-at-home mom and still relatively new to military life, Amanda spends her days taking care of her family and learning as much as she can about military life. She's passionate about body positivity, disability representation, self care, her faith, and good food. She loves to see new places and try local cuisine.

2 Comments

  1. Sharita Knobloch

    This is good stuff, Amanda! And by the time we are now reading this, I hope you are deep in the throws of a successful reintegration (it’s always the toughest part of the a deployment for our family). Cheers to making it through your first deployment, and thanks for sharing these insights!

    Reply
  2. Gloria Ihle

    Thanks Amanda:). I’m so glad we “met” lol. Someday in person I’m sure ❤️ We just had a third of my husband’s unit come home – I will be sharing this. !

    Reply

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