My husband has been deploying overseas for his job since our first son was born. Former Air National Guard he now works as a civilian defense contractor. While his deployments are a little bit different than a strict military deployment, it’s still hard on our boys and navigating them can be tricky. Over the years we have found a few things that help them understand that no matter how far away Daddy is they are still very loved by him.
Understanding a deployment can be hard on a child. A major issue that children have during a military deployment is the void that opens when they lose their parent’s daily affection and love. Recordable teddy bears, along with other battery-powered devices such as recordable storybooks provide reliable comfort no matter when or where their parent is deployed.
Here are 5 ways to keep kids connected during a deployment.
1. Skype or Facetime.
Our children are fortunate enough to grow up during a time when technology does just about everything. When the internet allows we try very hard to connect via skype or facetime chats. My boys love showing Daddy what they have been up to at home and get the biggest kick out of him interacting with them. After the initial hellos and updates I just follow them around the house with the video and let them just do what they would normally be doing. It’s fun for them, and very heart-healing for Daddy. He loves seeing them play, dance, put on singing shows, or show of their latest stunt moves.
There are a few ways we use books during deployments. We have a few recordable books that the boys have easy access to and they can pull them down and listen to their daddy read to them. We also have some books that we read on nights when they are just really missing Daddy. Here are a few of our favorites:
- I Love You Near or Far – Written from a child’s point of view this sweet rhyming story about how no matter the distance you are always loved.
- Night Catch – A story about a father and son playing catch with the North Star while Dad is deployed.
- The Invisible String – Tells kids that no matter who they are missing whenever they think about them it tugs on an invisible heart string and keeps them connected.
- I Wish Daddy Was Here – A simple book about continuing life while Daddy is away. Teaches children it’s okay to do the things that they usually do with Daddy and it’s okay to miss him anytime.
- For Mom’s Who Deploy – My Mom Is Going Away – It’s not just Dads who deploy. If you know a child with a mom deploying this is a good book to help explain why they are gone and how to keep in touch.
Videos can be helpful for kids, but also for the deployed parent. We’ve done weekly recap videos where I take the time to put short little clips from our week together and upload them to YouTube. We’ve done message videos when my boys just really want to share exciting news and can’t wait for a phone call. I’ve also take video of important events… Baseball games, graduations, swimming lessons etc. If you can’t send them via email or your phone you can upload them to a private YouTube channel and send the links to only the people you want to have them.
Depending on the length of a deployment, countdowns can be super helpful to children. Visually seeing the days tick off on a calendar help them understand that Daddy will be coming home sooner. If you have a longer deployment I suggest celebrating milestones. Maybe each month you have a mini celebration where you show your kids the calendar and celebrate another month closer to coming home.
I know families that have counted exactly the number of days the parent is to be gone and filled a jar with marbles. Each day that passes the child gets to move the marbles over to another jar. It gets real exciting when there are more marbles in the second jar than the first. When you get close to their return date doing a countdown chain also helps to ease anxiety in children. 30 days is usually what we do. My boys love creating the chain, and then tearing it down as the days get closer.
5. Recordable Bears
My husband actually made my boys bear for me when we were dating and he was on a military deployment. It says “Hi Babe, I love you and miss you. Goodnight.” Back then technology wasn’t as great so hearing his voice was few and far between. But even now there are times in a deployment where the internet is down or they simply aren’t allowed to communicate back home. This recordable heart can go into any animal and won’t delete the recording for a battery change.
Recordable deployment teddy bears are great for helping fill this void. Recently I saw a commercial from Duracell that featured a little girl and a recordable teddy bear. When I saw it – I was a mess. My boys have each taken turns sleeping with Air Force Bear and listening to their daddy’s voice as they fall asleep. for me it was so much more than a commercial…
My boys are just two in millions of American children who have had a deployed parent. Like us many of them have seen multiple deployments: 3, 4, or even 5 family separations.
In honor of all of the families who stand beside our troops, Duracell wants to power more comforting moments for loved ones through a donation of $100,000 to USO’s Comfort Crew for Military Kids. Continue the conversation by sharing the film and find out how you can donate to the cause through the USO athttp://www.uso.org/donate.
I hope my tips were helpful for you. If you have more tips – let me know in the comments below.
This post was made possible byiConnectand Duracell. I was provided compensation to facilitate this post, but all opinions are 100% mine.
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