Military Family Life

Military Family Life

Here’s our family’s personal experience as a military family. People ask us to share about it often, so I thought I’d share with you, especially in light of 4th of July!

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Photo by Stephanie McCabe on Unsplash

Career Path

My husband, Steven, always knew he wanted to be in the military- a career where he could serve our country and honor his family. He’s been in the Air Force for 12 years and is a (Staff Sargeant) Security Police Officer. In his military career, he’s been on deployments overseas and stateside, training away from home, and drill weekends (which is one weekend a month, despite his normal 40 hour/week job).

In the meantime, we married and had three boys. So, our family life tends to revolve around military orders. It’s a tough gig!

The boys are used to dad being away at work. They don’t question why he has to go. They know their daddy is a “soldier” and that he protects us. The only thing they really question is where he is, and if he has a bed to sleep on, etc… The last time Steven was away for a long time was when our oldest was a newborn. It was harder on me, knowing that we were missing all the firsts together. But some kids are old enough to know when is a long time and that becomes their normalcy.

On the other hand, as a military wife, I have to balance my role and my husband’s role when he goes away. This is why I chose to be a stay-at-home mom, after all. I knew that during my husband’s last deployment, that my duty was at home. If something needed maintained, fixed, or figured out, that all fell on me. On top of my regular duties.

 

Deployments

Then there’s the whole deployment thing, which is a beast of it’s own.

Pre-deployment training, briefings, family readiness, wills, extra phone calls and paperwork, packing, mentally preparing….

Then you actually get settled in and dinners are lonely. The bed is too big at night. The days are more quiet.

Trying to find time to chat with your spouse is nearly impossible! The last time he was away, he got one day off weekly. In that time off, he had to get laundry done, pick up mail, and do any other errands. I would get to talk with him live on a webcam about once or twice a week. And some days, you just need your best friend to talk with at the end of a long day, so that was a bummer.

I’ll still never forget the time we were talking online and I could hear the explosions in the background. That was 6 years ago to the date!

Re-enlistment is coming up and he’s decided on staying in for another 8 more years. This means, these deployments and all of the same challenges are sticking around while we raise our kids.

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This was taken within seconds of us being reunited at the airport! No one tells you how overwhelming that’s going to be!
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For new readers of Momma Bird Blog, here’s the whole family!

The Reward

The reward comes in a variety of ways. One of the best rewards is when our family gets a little extra love and support from friends and family. Especially when Steven’s gone, we tend to visit other people more often.

Another rewarding moment is when people thank Steven for serving. It really makes me proud! Recently we were out shopping (with no sign of my husband being military) when another guy who (also had no sign of being military) stopped us. They thanked each other for their service and shook hands. It was an engaging experience!

Ways To Support The Military

There are plenty of ways to show your support to military; the green porch light, banners, t-shirts, and more.

Also, care packages are highly coveted by deployed members. Some good items to send in care packages are; hygiene items like good toilet paper and baby wipes, snacks, books, and other simple forms of entertainment…

If you’re looking to make donations, here are some good causes:

 

Ways To Support Military Families

You can uplift their families (especially during deployments) by making friends with them, offering to watch the kids, fixing things around the house, or fixing dinner. Literally anything. If you don’t know how to help, ask! I’m sure they will appreciate it like we do!

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Photo by Public Domain Photography from Pexels

We take for granted what we have in this country. Don’t forget about the people fighting for it!

My Realization About Babysitters

My Realization About Babysitters

Why we never hired a babysitter

As a stay-at-home mom of 6 years, I made it my job to find ways to guide our family in the frugal lifestyle. Because you know, if you’re not making an income (alongside your spouse), the best you can do is save it and stretch it.

 

In 6 years time we haven’t gone on any fancy family vacations, we hardly dine out, and we even get picky with our monthly bills and groceries. I don’t get my hair or nails done. Not even a hired babysitter.

It was a challenge living on one income, but we made it work. We had everything we needed.

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

So, what happened when my husband took a job that paid less? Well, I promised I’d do whatever it took to make the difference up, if not more. So, I applied to a weekend job near home. Because of my husband (Steven)’s job and military obligations, I’m not able to work much (when it comes to making sure one of us is home with the kids).

When I took this part-time job, I realized that it was actually freeing as a (mostly) stay-at-home mom. I began to have a purpose outside of home and more importantly, I started getting more adult socialization. And on top of that, it’s comforting to have a little extra income.

Then, this weekend happened. I was scheduled to work when my husband was on orders. And the grandparents were all busy with their weekend plans, living their own lives as they should. And I had never hired a babysitter before. I panicked.

How do you even find a babysitter?

I can’t even afford the babysitters on care.com and I wasn’t about to ask just anyone. So my in-laws suggested a friend to help me search. She asked around at Youth Group at our church and soon enough, someone was interested.

Leading up to work, I had been slightly nervous, wondering:

  • How will our new babysitter and my boys feel about each other?
  • Will it be weird to leave them with someone I don’t know much about?
  • Will the boys behave?
  • Will they be busy and have fun?
  • Will I get an emergency call at work?
  • And will she enjoy it enough to come back?

Then, this nice girl shows up at our house and I introduced myself and the kids to her. I show her around, show her the list of phone numbers, rules, and things to keep busy.

And I was certain there would be one kid clinging to me as I ran out of the door. Our youngest had just woken up and wanted me to hold him. Weirdly enough, without a cue, he ran over to her, hands upward, to be picked up. Such a good feeling!

I called Steven on my quick little drive to tell him that I officially left the house! It was exciting! It was freeing!

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Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

When I came home I discovered that the kids were busy THE ENTIRE TIME! They had so much fun with the new babysitter that they were begging me to have her over again! They also went to bed easy that night and slept in later than usual the next morning.

My husband and I got thinking we should’ve had a babysitter all along, because now we can:

  • Go on dates when grandparents can’t babysit
  • Have someone watch the kids so I can run errands (if Steven’s on orders)
  • Make appointments at the bank, car dealerships, and other financial institutions
  • Go Christmas shopping alone
  • Both potentially work the same day

The biggest realization of hiring a babysitter is WOW! WHAT A DIFFERENCE! For our whole family! I’ve been living under a rock for 6 years!

Babysitters are a blessing to families because while they care for our kids, they have energy to play with our kids that we sometimes don’t, and they make great role-models.

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Photo by Jenn Evelyn-Ann on Unsplash

Regardless of your situation, it’s definitely worth finding someone to hire at least every once in a while! Just think of what you could do with the extra help! Back in my babysitting days, I was hired for regular date nights, a day for mom to tend the garden, and once a week so the parents could take dance lessons.

On our Facebook page, Mommas Group, one topic Moms struggle with is babysitters. After some research, care.com is useful, but not all moms feel comfortable using the site. Not to mention, the cost calculator. Moms in our region don’t typically pay $15 or $20 an hour for care.

To join this conversation, please comment below how you found your babysitter, your region, and what you pay. If you don’t have a babysitter yet, what are your questions and concerns?