Ah, we LOVE homecoming. We have all been there- the fervor of preparation, worry, anticipation and excitement…it can be overwhelming.
But that moment when you FINALLY get to wrap your arms around the person you adore after being apart for months on end? Well, it makes it all worth it, doesn’t it?
A group of our talented military spouse writers put their heads together and came up with 35 things we ALL do before homecoming. We understand that many of these things may only apply to those of us in the military spouse community who are of the “which heels should I wear” variety. We don’t want the men to be left out, we want to hear from you too …come on guys, what things would you add to this list? In fact, we want to hear from all of you! What are the things you do before welcoming your service member home?
1. The laundry!
2. Clean the house from top to bottom, five times. Who can sleep right now anyway?
3. Start (or stop) taking birth control.
4. Landscaping. Enough said.
5. Make a futile attempt to lose 25 pounds, in four days.
6. Try to remember where the recliner was before Pinterest got ahold of you.
7. Mourn the upcoming loss of the DVR.
8. Take a load to the recycling center, destroying the evidence of all those wine bottles and pizza boxes.
9. Break it to the kids that they have to start sleeping in their own bed again.
10. Begin the process of keeping expectations in check. Being realistic about how things will go after homecoming is an important part of the re-integration process.
11. Buy a “Don’t you DARE disturb” sign.
12. Get ready to fall in love all over again.
13. Line up a babysitter for the second night (or afternoon) your service member is home.
14.Buy a new battery for the car you forgot to start for six months.
15. Obsess over an outfit and shoes that really just needs to look good in a pile on the floor
16. Kiss Murphy GOODBYE! (Until next time…)
17. Attempt to get a bright red “Welcome Home” off the floor of the garage in your rental property because you forgot to lay that tarp down under the full-sized sheet.
18. Have extra candy at the ready to throw in that ‘deployment countdown’ jar for the kids in case (let’s be real: WHEN) the date changes.
19. Tell yourself that the homecoming time will change, but still get disappointed when it’s 46 hours after you anticipated AND your photographer has left for vacation.
20. Transition out of the ‘all mine’ phase. “MY car. MY bed. MY house.”
21. Clean out the fast food wrappers from the van. Nope. We all ate organic the whole time you were gone. Promise.
22. Make space for all the “green” stuff again. And ALL. That. Gear.
23. Binge watch Scandal…or any other show your spouse hates.
24. Mentally prepare for the kids to go to your spouse every time you say “No!”…at least for a couple of weeks.
25. Calmly rehearse your story of why there is a dent in the car, a brand new dining room table, new fish for pets and why the picture of your mother-in-law is missing.
26. Start thinking of all the ways you might need to adjust your parenting style or the way the household runs. You might not be the “buck stops here” person when they return, but it can be hard to remember that it’s okay to adjust the routine.
27. Rearrange the shower items to now include new bottles for your spouse. Turn it back into a closet for two again. Stock the fridge with the favorites you know they have missed while gone. Make it look like your spouse lives there once again.
28. Call to have cell service reactivated and the car insurance updated.
29. Wait. Pace. Stare, hoping the clock will speed up. Bite off freshly manicured nails. Cry one last time as the little kids decide to throw another temper tantrum. Consider joining them in said tantrum.
30. Change outfits. Again. Change shoes. Again. Re-style hair. Again.
31. Decide you hate all your clothes and just buy a new outfit. (Like this.)
32. Shave your legs, again. Because the homecoming time changed THAT much.
33. Worry that the house isn’t as clean as they will expect. Hint: The house is fine. It’s called “home”coming for a reason. Not “perfect-house”coming. They just want to be home.
34. Worry that re-connecting in the bedroom won’t be as exciting as the two of you have hoped. Hint: It’s not perfect or mind-blowing for everyone…and that is OK. Give yourselves some time if you need it and re-connect when you are both ready.
35. Worry that your spouse has changed… or that you have changed. Hint: You have both probably been through many changes. It is very possible that one or both of you will be a little (or a lot) different after deployment. This doesn’t always need to equal something negative for your marriage. It can be a chance to grow and learn in a different way as a couple.
If you are having trouble adjusting after homecoming or if you and your spouse are having a hard time with re-integration, please contact Military One Source for many resources, including free mental health services.
Contributors: Lakesha Cole, MJ Boice, Erin Whitehead, Morgan Slade, Rebekah Sanderlin, Ashley Broadway Mack, Develda Edgington, Stacy Huisman, Michelle Aikman
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