In our family, we’ve had our share of holidays spent apart. It’s certainly not easy, and I’d never suggest it is. However, it’s possible to still enjoy the holidays even though your spouse is deployed. Here’s five tips on getting the most out of the holidays even though you’re apart.
1) Live in the moment
– It’s tough to enjoy each and every moment of the holidays when you’re spending time grieving the fact that your family is not together. Do your best to pull yourself into the joy of the holidays. Spend time with family that is home. Go to whatever Christmas parties, cookie exchanges, arts and crafts extravaganzas, and any other events you can attend. Stay busy. Live for now. Enjoy the next one together, but enjoy this one all you can too!
2) Connect with your deployed spouse as much as you can
– Send Christmas presents and exchange gifts over video calls. Set up Skype-dates to spend quality time together. Make videos of putting kids’ Christmas presents together on Christmas Eve so he/she can share in the experiences even though they’re deployed.
3) Don’t over-schedule
– It’s important to stay busy and connected, but don’t put so much on your plate that it stresses you out and that trickles down to the kids and you end up complaining to your spouse about how miserable you are. One thing I’ve learned is that my spouse deeply cares how I’m doing when he’s gone, and my mental health makes him stronger and more mission-ready. Don’t put so much on your plate that your spouse needs to worry about you. Perhaps this is not the year to invite 40 people over for an open house. Maybe a smaller, intimate dinner party would be better if you want to socialize. Don’t fill up every moment as you’ll probably find you do want some time to spend on the phone with your spouse – leave time for that and for mental breaks for yourself too!
– Live a little. We always spoil our kids and each other WAY more when he’s deployed over the holidays than the ones he’s here. We make sure there’s enough chaos and gifts to distract them (and me) from the fact that Dad isn’t here. Take time for yourself. Go visit a spa or gift yourself with a little retail therapy. (my very favorite for whatever ails you)
5) Look to the future
– Don’t spend your whole holiday being miserable because your spouse is deployed, but you can look ahead a little and know that he or she won’t be gone every holiday. I’ve learned that each deployment seemed terribly difficult in the middle, but looking back, there were several that weren’t so bad. Spending a holiday apart will make the next one that much more pleasurable to be together!