A deployment homecoming before having kids looked so different. Often I would have an established routine, my husband would come home, we would have an adjustment period, and a new routine would be established. With a little one, all of this changed. These ten tips really helped me with the military homecoming adjustment period.
Continue with the deployment routine
This is so important. Previously, any deployment homecoming before having my son looked so different. My husband would come home, and the well-established routine I had managed, would be changed. We also had time to enjoy that military homecoming honeymoon phase. Now that we are parents, the military homecoming looks a bit different. Priorities changed.
Routines are so important for little ones! They may vary slightly from day to day, but overall I have found that my toddler thrives on consistency.
Having a little son, establishing a new post- deployment routine was not going to be an option. Continuing with our deployment routine was a priority.
This was challenging for a few reasons:
- Initially, my husband had to sit in the background
- He needed to take a step back and learn our routine
- He had to slowly integrate into our routine
Check out my post on our Morning routine
Allow your little one to come to your significant other on their terms
This was one of the best words of advice I was given by my Pediatrician to prepare for this deployment homecoming. My husband deployed when my son was 9 months old and returned almost 6 months later. My son was around 15 months old. This amount of time is so significant for babies. They go through so many milestones! The heartbreaking truth- my son’s daddy was a stranger when he had returned.
What did I find helpful? We allowed my son to make the first moves. My husband remained a warm presence, and welcomed any and all affection, but was never pushy. He never forced any hugs or embraces. Everything was on my son’s terms.
Don’t make a huge fuss over the deployment homecoming
Military homecomings are such an exciting time, after a long time, your significant other is finally home! A time filled with a variety of emotions. With every single military homecoming I always had those first date jitters.
As a mom, I found that it was best to decrease the external excitement. To almost downplay the military homecoming experience. I would discourage a military homecoming surprise for your little ones, wait and postpone it for when they are older. Allow this time to be more about reintegration.
Change is always hard! And if I am being honest, before having my son, we had our own post-deployment challenges. Adding kids just takes it to an entirely different level. Be understanding- preparing for a deployment homecoming with little kids can be challenging for the entire family.
Manage the deployment homecoming expectiations
As I mentioned earlier, there are so many emotions with a military homecoming. Don’t expect your babies and toddlers to fully embrace your significant other the moment they arrive. Instead, manage your expectations. Embrace the fact that you are in a different phase of life with kids. Expectation management is so important for preparing for homecoming with little kids.
Prepare your significant other for the reintegration
As I previously mentioned, there are so many milestones reached with little kids. Unfortunately, it makes it almost impossible to pick up where you left off (especially if the kids are young). Be open with your significant other regarding the deployment homecoming. Emotions can be high. Discuss before the deployment homecoming any concerns you may have. It is hard to predict how your little one will react. Now is the time to discuss any emotions, plans, expectations, and desires the two of you may have.
What can you expect from your toddler
Understand that there may be some regression or behavioral issues with your little one over the deployment homecoming. Have grace and understanding. Remember, you have had an established routine, and now your significant other is home. Having a “new” person in the house can be the cause of behavioral issues. It takes time. Keep in mind, that your little one may see their parent as a stranger.
Some of the behavioral issues you may see in your little one:
- Extra clingy to the most familiar parent
- Regression (sleep or toilet training)
- Separation anxiety
- Acting indifferent or scared of the deployed parent
Be patient and have grace
Those first few days weren’t easy. There were a variety of emotions. It required patience on my end. My husband had missed so many milestones over this deployment. Liams personality had grown so much. They had to get to know each other. My son was such a busy baby, and he never grasped facetime- so unfortunately we weren’t able to take advantage of it as much as I would have liked over the deployment.
My husband did such an incredible job. As much as he wanted to embrace our son, he stepped back and continuously let Liam make the first move. He slowly integrated himself into our daily routine and showed interest in all of Liam’s favorite toys and activities. This allowed Liam to establish trust with his father.
Keep communication open
Start comunicating before the military homecoming, this is a great time to start voicing any expectations and/or fears. Remember, this will be an adjustment for everyone, so open communication is so important.
Here are some things to discuss:
- Your normal day to day routine
- Any challenges you’re currently going through with your little one
- Some of your little ones favorites: toys, books, foods, activities ect
- Any significant milestones
- Any concerns, fears, desires, and/or expectations for each of the parents
Embracing that warm up period
The amount of time can vary per family. I think utilizing these tools will help shorten the time period. Utilizing these tips worked really well for us. It took my son a solid week for me to feel like Liam completely embraced his daddy. I was so proud of my husband, and believe it’s a testament on how great of a father he is.
Here are some factors that may affect this time frame:
- The childs age
- The length of deployment
- The effort put in by both parents
Remember, at the end of the day, there is no right timeline.
All military homecomings have their own challenges
There are a variety of challenges couples may face with military homecomings and the reintegration phase. These tips will hopefully help ease some of the challenges you may have with little kids.
I also found this link, and think it may be very helpful to prepare your little kids for that homecoming. Check this video out: Sesame Street homecoming video
I would love to hear back from you! Are there any additional tips that worked well for your family? Did you notice any differences with the ages (with little kids) and how the impact may have differed?