Get Busy – but not overstretched
Keeping busy doesn’t mean cramming as many activities as possible into your day so you don’t have a free moment to think about your spouse being gone. On the contrary, doing this will probably send you into a stressed-out, frenzied tailspin and you’ll end up missing your spouse even more because he or she isn’t there to give you a pep talk. Thus, hone in on 1-2 activities that can keep you preoccupied, but not overstretched.
You Have to Try, Try, Try
You’ll note that “try” is a central theme here because that is what you need to do – try. Try to stay happy, try to stay positive, try to stay busy. Your circumstances are only as bad as you allow your outlook to make them. I know it’s hard – I get it, I’ve been there – and you do definitely deserve your “moments” to cry and feel sorry for yourself. However, for the most part both you and your spouse’s lives will be better if you try to make the most of the deployment experience… and then before you know it, your hubby or wife will be back on that couch (fighting you for the remote) before you know it!
Prep your Deployment Survival Plan
So if the anticipation of your spouses’ upcoming deployment has got you freaked out and crazy – and Lord knows that the anticipation can feel worse than the actual deployment — sit down and develop your Deployment Survival Plan. Now I know that talking about staying busy and actually finding activities to keep you busy are two different things, so check out this list for some ideas to get your juices flowing. This list is by no means exhaustive, so I encourage you to leave additional bright ideas in the comments section for other spouses to leverage!
- Get your body moving – Always wanted to run or bike a race? Or did you love ballet as a kid? Pursuing fitness goals during deployment can keep you busy, not to mention those extra endorphins can keep you positive during this trying time! Running a marathon had always been on my bucket list but before deployment I’d never had the time or discipline to train. During deployment I had the husband-free time to finally cross this off my list, and I was able to do it with two of my closest military spouse pals!
- Train for and run a 10K, half-marathon, or marathon – whatever you’re up for!
- Get in shape for a Tough Mudder or Spartan run
- Check out the local rock climbing gym, or sign-up for some dance, yoga, or kickboxing classes
- Join the Cross-fit revolution
- Train for a road-bike race
- Set a goal to conquer all the local hiking trails
- Give back – Volunteering is a great activity to keep yourself busy while also bettering your community. Also when you have people relying on you it can keep you motivated and feel part of a group while your spouse is away. There are SO many ways to give back:
- Like animals? Volunteer at the shelter!
- Love kids? Check out the neighborhood Boys & Girls club!
- Passionate about the homeless? Serve at a soup kitchen.
- Want to give back to your military community? Check for on-base volunteer opportunities like the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society.
- Passionate about something else? Check out sites like Volunteer Match and Idealist.org to find local opportunities in just about any area of interest.
- Get certified or Take Courses – Certifications and continuing education courses are a great way to further your career and open the door for future opportunities. Many certifications can be achieved in 3 to 6 months, so deployment presents the perfect time to make it happen. I have one friend that spent her husband’s deployment pursuing her Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA) certificate, and another that became a certified yoga teacher. Deployment gave them more time to dedicate to taking classes and studying guilt-free, and post-deployment they’re now better positioned for the future!
- Research if there are well-respected certifications in your industry. For example, PROSCI Change Management, Project Management Professional (PMP, Professional in Human Resources, and so much more! Check out CareerOneStop for more info
- Become certified to teach an activity you’re passionate about, like a certified yoga teacher, spin instructor, or other group fitness certification
- Take interesting courses at a local or virtual college. Some popular adult learning or continuing education courses include Spanish, Creative Writing, Public Speaking, Photography, and Digital Design.
- Join a Group or take a Class – While you’ll undoubtedly have great friends within your military community, it is always nice to have additional friends outside that network. A great way to make these friends is to join an interest-focused group or take some hobby classes. Some examples include:
- Book clubs
- Bible Study or Life Group at your church
- Cooking Classes at a local store like Williams Sonoma, Whole Foods, Publix, and Sur La Table
- Craft classes at Michael’s like crochet, knitting, quilting, painting, and more
- Music classes so you can pick up that old guitar or sit down at the keyboard again
- Pick up a side-hustle – Deployment downtime can be a good chance to make a little extra cash and stash towards your savings goals. Some side-gigs that can keep you busy while feeding your wallet include:
- Babysitting is always in demand around military bases – there are always LOTS of kids! Post your name up as a babysitter around the community, or create a profile on Sittercity or Care.com
- Dogsitting can be an animal lover’s best way to make some easy cash. Create a profile on Dogvacay or Rover. I used a dog-sitter a lot when I traveled for business during deployment … I found my sitter on Dogvacay, and it turned out she was on base and HER husband was deployed too!!
- Become a consultant or reseller for one of many popular retail brands, like Young Living, Lula Roe, Stella and Dot, Rodan and Fields.
- Do ANYTHING ELSE! – Nothing caught your eye? Check out Meetup.com which matches you with a group of other folks in your city that have the same interests. Awesome, huh? And believe me, they have just about everything in there!
Note: Just because you put something in your Deployment Survival Plan or even start doing it, it doesn’t mean that you’re married to it. So if you start and don’t like it, try something else! No harm, no foul!