It’s thought that around 175,000 school-age children have a parent deployed away from home as part of their military career. While a lot of kids don’t have two parents living together, the mums left behind still have a lot of work to do in Daddy’s absence. Even as a single mum, Daddy is a huge part of our child’s life. Knowing they’re away doing a life-threatening job can cause lots of worries, stress, and fear.
If your child’s father is deployed, you may notice that their mood or behaviour has changed. They may develop fears that weren’t there before, or become quiet and withdrawn. Some children find it necessary to lash out because they’re angry that Daddy isn’t home. Managing this behaviour on your own is impossible. You need support from the military and support from your family. Military accommodation like Ultris Island Park brings together other families in the same situation. The community can support each other, so get to know your neighbours.
If you’re married to your child’s father, life for you will be just as tough as it is for the kids. All the little things around the house that he took care of are now left up to you. You’re likely to feel lonely, especially at night. Contact with your husband is limited. You may receive occasional emails and a short phone call once a fortnight. This may be better than what was available years ago, but it still doesn’t compensate for his absence.
When you do hear from your spouse, he may sound down or distracted which could add to your worry. There is nothing you can do to help, but it doesn’t stop you becoming concerned. Missing that all important call because you’re out can have a huge impact, and you may get emotional. While you might want to hide that reaction from your kids, sometimes it’s best to share with them. They need to know they’re not alone in missing him.
Make sure you have plenty of hours with a childminder booked in. When it’s just you for months on end, the pressure of being a single mum can be too much. You need to take time for the things that make you who you are and not just a mummy. Book those Yoga classes and have brunch with the girls. Loneliness is not good for your mental health. Parenting is too stressful without these breaks away from it once or twice a week.
Looking after your kids on your own is tough. Your children may find Daddy’s long term absence particularly upsetting. Find ways to treat them to fun distractions. Little picnics or camping in the garden are good fun and ideal for spending quality time with the children. Ask the grandparents to come to stay as often as you can. They can help with meals, cleaning, and entertaining the kids too. The children will love seeing them so often.
Life for a military family is tough, but you’re a tough mummy for taking it on. Whether you’re usually a single mum or not, having some time to yourself is key to being the best mummy you can be when Daddy is away. Nothing is going to stop you or your children from thinking of him or worrying. You can all get through these difficult times with love for each other.