Guest Author - Sherrie Knoller
When you child get older they may start to ask where is Mom? Or where is Dad? When kids are young it tends to be easier because they have other things on their mind like learning to walk. As they get older they become more aware that Mom or Dad leaves often.
An easy way to keep them involved is have a world map to show them where they’re Mom or Dad is located in the world. Care packages are a great way to keep kids involved. Have a list of what they need and make it an adventure at the store like a scavenger hunt. It will make the child feel they are helping their Mom or Dad.
If your child is having difficulty in coping. There are children's books such as " When Dad's at Sea" and "My First Deployment" that can help them understand. Spending time with your child to help them understand makes all the difference in the world and can help you to.
A neat way to keep Dad or Mom involved while they are overseas is to send them a book that the child loves and have them record their voice while there are reading the book. Hearing their voice helps the child feel more reassured and comforted that Mom or Dad is okay.
Have fun with baking! Kids love to be involved with baking and anything that gets messy. Help them bake not just for military Mom or Dad but for their friends too. Making greeting cards is super fun especially when they are away during the holidays. Emails are great but receiving a hand written letter and or card makes it so much more special because it is a little piece of home that they can display.
Keep kids involved in activities such as camp or sports. Check with your local military base for Family Readiness Group and or Fleet and Family support center to see if they offer programs geared towards kids like reading programs.
A great idea to keep kids involved is to create a book of adventures. So any time you go out to a festival, sight seeing, or amusement park use photos and write down things you did that day. It is a great gift to give when Mom or Dad are away. Start a website post photos or videos. That way Mom or Dad can access it and see how the family is doing. Not only will it help with the morale in Mom or Dad but for the kids as well.
In everything we do we should make this time away as comfortable as possible. For kids it can be hard to deal with emotions. If they get angry or feel sad let them express it and talk about it. Talking with your kids and keeping an open line of communication can help them cope. If the child is going to school or daycare stay in touch with the teacher or provider letting them known that their Mom or Dad is on a deployment that way they can better meet the needs of the child. It can become difficult for kids while their parent is away especially during the holidays. Keeping kids involved and busy will make the time go by fast and before you know Mom or Dad will be home.