Deployment

Thriving During Deployment: The First 30 Days

December 20, 2016

You’ve done it. You’ve gotten the last hug, given the last kiss and watched your loved one head off for a deployment. As you get back into your car and try to remember how to drive home, all you can think is how the time ahead seems endless and you wonder how you’ll ever survive. I’ve been there and I know how lost you feel. But what I also know is that if you can make it through the first month, if you can survive the first 30 days of a deployment, you will conquer the rest.

Everyone has their own way of making it through the early days of a deployment and I’m no exception. Three deployments later and I’ve gotten my first 30 days down into a pretty standard pattern.

Cry it out.

I’m not sure there’s a more repeatedly gut-wrenching moment than driving away from the airport after I drop A off for a deployment. It hardcore wrecks me for a little bit and I let myself wallow in that during the first month he’s gone. Essentially, I cry it out early so I can heal that little piece of my broken heart and move on and keep my life going.

Do something fun.

While I believe wallowing has its place and benefits, you cannot (and should not) wallow for an entire deployment. So once you finish crying it out, get on to doing something fun. It does not have to be anything huge, but it needs to be something you enjoy doing even without your significant other. Maybe it’s going to dinner with a friend, reading in the park or visiting a museum. As long as it’s YOUR interest, it works.

This fun activity (or activities!) helps momentarily take your mind off the solo months ahead and reminds you that you are your own person.

Plan something fun in the first 30 days of a #deployment. It helps remind you that you are your own person. Click To Tweet

Figure out a routine.

For me, this one is huge. I’m very lucky with how much A does around the house, either by himself or with me. When that extra set of hands is suddenly gone, I have to re-learn how to do things solo. The first month or so is a mixture of trial and error, being a little late to work and forgetting to turn off the lights as I get used to my new routine. Once I get that routine down, the rest of the deployment seems to flow better and is a bit less chaotic.

Figuring out how to fit everything into your day (from work to kids to chores to you time) is so important during the first month of a deployment. It won’t magically make the rest of the deployment easy, but it makes you feel more in control of things, which equals less stress. Plus it gives you a better chance of taking the garbage out regularly and not running out of spoons.

Start by sticking to the routine you have when your significant other is home and add the extras around the pre-existing schedule. For example, Sunday is still my laundry day, but during deployment, I also use Sundays to clean my kitchen counters, something A normally does during the week.

Set some goals. Make some plans.

I’ve written about the importance of setting goals during deployment before, but goals often become just another to-do list. While I firmly believe that setting goals for yourself will help you keep forward momentum during deployment, you don’t have to think of them as goals. Think of them as plans, bonus points if they’re fun plans!

Instead of saying “I want to do X”, say “I’m going to do X with so and so on this date.” That’s a plan, not a goal. You’ve taken the steps to make it happen!

As you drive away, a deployment seems endless. The first 30 days are crucial because they set the tone for the entire deployment. How do you deal with the first 30 days of a deployment?

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