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How to Stay Connected Despite the Distance

Little hands find deployments and the strain of distance as difficult to grasp as adult hands. Many times, children don’t always comprehend the why or reasoning behind a loved one being away.

My duty and privileges as a step-mother are to provide assurance, protection, support, and love for little hands. My husband had two children prior to our marriage; a step-daughter who is 9 and step-son who is 4.

While not always smooth, my relationship with my step-children’s mother is a blessing. They reside in here in Colorado, only one hour from me while their father is in Washington State. I have opportunities to visit them even when my husband isn’t present.

My husband frequently takes leave to Colorado during which we have his children for the entirety of his visit. Amid the laughter, tears inevitably come toward the end. They want Daddy to stay.

My heart ached for them.

Then, I got an idea.

Could I possibly create a less harsh goodbye? Could I shed some understanding on why Daddy had to leave and give them ways to stay in touch easier?

Night Catch helped my kids stay connected despite the distance from their dad.

Night Catch by Brenda Ehrmantraut is a simple children’s book that connects military families across miles. I bought two copies on Amazon. I sent one to my husband and placed one in a Valentine’s bag for the kids. They read together over the phone. In the bag I also placed two small notebooks to hold drawings and notes to be mailed to their dad. He can respond and mail back. Easy pen pal tool!

Military Kids Connect is a free, user-friendly website with loads of ideas and resources. Adults can cruise around the website, but it also provides child-directed resources as well. To filter age-appropriate material, categories are offered: kids, tweens, and teens. The teacher in me absolutely appreciated the parent/caregiver/educator tab. (It takes a village, people.)

This website is research based and substantial in resources. Providing subject experts on PTSD, depression, and other difficult topics, I would recommend this site to any parent who is struggling with explaining the military to children.

As I’m the step-mom, all suggestions must go through their biological mom. This is where the blessing of our positive communication comes in handy. We’re able to collaborate on how to keep the kids connected. We’ve recently discussed a wonderful Easter surprise.

The CloudPet is an interactive way for parents and kids to send messages back and forth through a snuggly stuffed animal. The CloudPet uses an app, a phone, and technology to record and playback messages. They can be purchased online at and range in selection from CloudKitty, puppy, bear, or rabbit. The price is reasonable at $29.99, although I’ve heard that setting up the app and connecting the pet to the phone can be troublesome. I cannot wait to see this cuddly guy put to use!

At first glance, this staying connected business might seem like a lot of work… But you know what? I know it’s worth every mile!

How has your family embraced deployments? What ideas do you have to help little ones? Are there any struggles that you’ve overcome? Please share in the comments below!




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