While Dad's Away: Survivor Tools

Leading up to the days that my husband was going to leave for a short-term deployment, I was having severe anxiety. Not only was I afraid that I couldn’t do it on my own, but I was mostly fearful of how my children would handle it; more specifically my 4-year-old who has a special relationship with Dad.

But over the past couple weeks, it’s been a lot easier than I anticipated and everyone is fairing well. I know that one of the main contributions in this transition has been structure and consistency. I wanted to show the kids that even though Dad is gone, everything still remains; same rules, same schedules, and same routines. But I also wanted to give my son some activities and add some excitement to my husband’s absence.

The first project we created was a paper chain(this even brought me back to my childhood days). Not only has it provided my son with a good visual of exactly how long Dad will be gone, but it also gives him the thrill of tearing a chain off every morning. Every day, we count together the number of days that Dad will arrive home. For me, I would rather not know the number of days and be surprised when all the sudden the day has arrived, but that’s not how my son’s brain works.

The other life-saving project we have consistently been working on is a journal. Every night, we sit down and write the things we did and talk about the things that are on his mind. This too has provided multiple purposes. It allows Dad to see what he did while he was gone, but also allows my son to talk about his feelings and, in a way, have a conversation with Dad. I also let him take control of the pen and draw pictures and write “words”. Every day offers a completely different journal entry and it’s very interesting to see what he says especially since usually at the dinner table when my husband and I ask him what he did today, we get the typical “nothing” response.

Overall, it’s been a great experience for me. My appreciation for my husband has quadrupled! It’s definitely a good lesson for us and puts things into perspective for me.

With lots of love,


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