A few weeks ago, a friend in Austin asked me for suggestions on how to care for a friend of hers who had just moved to Georgia to be a military wife with a deployed husband. My friend doesn’t know many (or any) military wives besides me, so I was her go-to. No pressure or anything, right? Not knowing her friend meant I was going with what I knew my friends and I would have loved when our husbands were overseas. Now, this list is not what I’d suggest for those who live down the street from a military wife. This list is for those who want to care for their friend or sister or daughter from across the country (or world) but need ideas for how to do so. Military Spouse Appreciation Day is May 12th this year. Choose one of these and “celebrate” with your favorite military spouse by doing one of them (or all of them) for her!
- Gift cards to places with good food to-go— Someplace that isn’t fast food (she’ll get plenty of that on her own), but she won’t have to get the kiddos dressed, either, because she can just pick it up (think Olive Garden, Red Robin, etc.)
- Care packages with things to pamper herself— Us military wives tend to focus so much on taking care of the kids and our husband overseas that we forget to do anything for ourselves, and wind up burnt out a month into it. Sending her things to pamper herself would be a good reminder (chocolate, a pretty wine glass, nail polish, face mask, sugar scrub are a few ideas, but think about what your friend loves!)
- Set up Skype dates with her— Give her someone to talk to, and remind her you love her and you’re there for her. Remember that you called to take care of her. Let her talk and lead the conversation. She may want to talk about you, but she may also just need to talk about missing her husband or the washer that overflowed. Unless you’re another military wife, please don’t use the phrase “I completely understand.” As hard as it is to have your husband gone for a business trip, he probably doesn’t get routinely shot at. The level of stress is greatly heightened when he’s not only gone, but may not come home.
- Send cards— Take turns with her friends or family to send a hand-written card with a sweet note once a week (or however often y’all decide)… Getting mail that isn’t bills and just gives her a reason to smile is a HUGE pick-me-up. Start on Military Spouse Appreciation Day and continue it throughout the year! Many of us have spouses who are gone all year long, not just during a deployment.
Military Spouse Appreciation Day is a great day to use this list and serve your favorite milspouse, but deployments or training is even better. Remember, the biggest thing is to not let any of this taper off two months into a deployment. Everyone remembers us when they first deploy… It’s months into it, when we’re emotionally and physically exhausted, that people forget and we feel most alone. Those are the times that we most need the love from our family and friends, even those (and maybe especially those) who are far away.
Spouses aren’t the only ones who need caring for during a deployment. If you’re looking for ways to make a military kiddo feel special, check out this post and get their whole class or neighborhood involved!