Military lifestyle is quite the adventure. We move often and visit parts of the country (and world) that we wouldn’t normally experience. We tend to live hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away from our loved ones. We learn to develop strong relationships with people all over the world in a short period of time. It is an exciting lifestyle in the military, but it’s certainly not easy.
Packing up your house again right after you finally make it feel like “home.”
Leaving a place where you’ve finally learned all of the back roads, just to be placed in a town where you can’t even find the nearest grocery store to get your military goods.
Saying goodbye to your closest friends, only to start from scratch again at your new location.
While I have yet to find a magic wand to fix the stressors associated with this military lifestyle, I have found a few military goods that facilitate my life as a military spouse. These goods coupled together, help ease the frequent transition from one place to another for me. While I’m sure your list will look a little bit different, this is what mine looks like. Make your own list of military goods YOU need for your military lifestyle and share it with us here to be featured on militaryspouse.com!
While I was a little late to jump on the Apple bandwagon, I have not looked back since. When we moved overseas, the iPhone was the only smartphone option available and it was a lifesaver. I remember one time, early on, not being able to read the street signs and accidentally ending up on the expressway. The next exit wasn’t until the southern part of the island and by the time I got off, I was incredibly overwhelmed and incredibly lost. My iPhone, however, was a military good that saved the day. It was able to give me turn-by-turn directions home in ENGLISH.
In addition to the convenient navigation ability, the iPhone has also been extremely helpful at making the distance between myself and my loved ones feel a lot less daunting. Between FaceTime and iMessage, I have been able to stay in close contact with my family. While overseas, we missed four Christmases in a row. Being able to open gifts with my family over video chat greatly reduced my homesickness. I also FaceTime with my young niece regularly so that I don’t seem like a stranger when I come home to visit. I even got to wedding dress shop with my sister over FaceTime to help her find the perfect dress for her big day! That is making the best of this military lifestyle.
I have been so fortunate to have a smartphone help close the distance between our current location and my hometown.
Every branch, duty station, and job varies greatly. One thing that they do all have in common, though, is the unexpected. I think it is safe to say that the only thing predictable about the military lifestyle is that it is unpredictable.
With that being said, I like to try my best to prepare for the unexpected. For our last duty station where my husband traveled very frequently, being prepared meant having a tourist passport. There were a number of times where my husband would come home from work and say, “I’m leaving for X location tomorrow morning. Do you want to come with?” What that meant, was that if my passport and supporting documents were good to go, then I could compete for a seat on a Space Available flight the next morning to travel with him. He could be gone anywhere from one day to a couple months. He would be working while he was gone, but even traveling for part of the time with him, I would at least get to explore a new place and see him in the evenings which beat not seeing him at all.
While our current assignment has not presented the opportunity for me to travel with him during his trips, I still like to keep my passport current just in case. It’s a military good I am never without! This way, if you leave your whole wallet at the Stockholm airport because you were distracted by your baby taking his first steps during boarding (oops!), you will still have a government issued ID to help reissue all of your cards and other forms of identification.
I have enjoyed sewing since I was a little girl. I received my sewing machine (that I still use) as a birthday present in the third grade. I never truly mastered the art of sewing, but I can sew a mean straight line.
My sewing machine is one of the first military goods that I take out after a move to help personalize our new home. Instead of trying to find the perfect size curtains for our windows, I know that I can always hem them to be the right length. I’ve used my sewing machine to decorate the nursery, make Christmas gifts and believe it or not, I’ve also used my sewing machine to make new friends.
With a little digging, you can usually find at least one other person that shares a common interest with you at a new location. I can usually count on finding someone to work on a new project with. I’ve even joined a sewing club in the past where we each took home a beautiful memory quilt of Okinawa.
Sewing, to me, is relaxing and a stress reliever. It also helps me get out of my comfort zone and meet new people. I think it’s a win-win.
I decided to save the best for last and get a little sentimental. The first three things in my list are wonderful, physical comforts that I love to have, but they are just that: comforts.
There is one thing that I simply could not live without in this military lifestyle and that you cannot put a price tag on. That is my family. This includes my small family unit consisting of my husband, baby, and dog. They are my rock and make every single day worthwhile.
Then there is my immediate family and my husband’s immediate family. I know that they have our backs no matter what. They provide stability in a military lifestyle flooded with change.
Lastly, there is my military family. These are the friends that we’ve made along the way that have become family: the ones that truly understand what we go through on a regular basis. They are the ones that have held my hand through deployments and have helped me celebrate holidays, birthdays, and life events while away from loved ones. They are the ones that show me strength when everything around me is chaos.
I have so much love and appreciation for my family, both near and far, for helping me navigate my life as a military spouse.
There will undoubtedly be good days and bad in this crazy journey of being a military spouse. Fortunately, there are many programs and resources established to help ease the transition. Many military installations host socials and classes to meet new faces and learn new skills. You can often find support groups or activities to immerse yourself in a new community. Whether you find your own techniques for managing stress or use a pre-existing program, it’s important to find what works best for you.
How do you cope with the rollercoaster of emotions associated with such an exhilarating lifestyle?