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Dealing with Deployment // Kids Activities

Until this deployment, our kids have been relatively unaware of the Chief’s absences at home due to his military commitment. Now, at three and five years old, they are keenly aware of the separation even if they don’t fully grasp the gravity of deployment. They know their dad works aboard a Navy ship and sometimes he is away from home for long periods of time.

For other families dealing with deployment and separation, here are a few activities we used to lessen our kids' separation anxiety and lift their spirits.

I have found the key to coping with deployment for all parties involved is to stay active and engaged. For the kids and I, that meant visiting friends, getting outdoors, and filling our days with fun so time moved along quickly. We also did the following activities together in an effort to lessen separation anxiety and keep our spirits lifted while we waited for our loved one to come home.

(1)  WHERE IN THE WORLD IS DADDY?

We started by creating a deployment wall. I designate a space in our home that served as our little central command. On this wall, I hung a laminated world map and photos of the Chief in uniform, on the ship and with the kids. Since our kids normally see him in civilian clothes, the photos increased their awareness of his military service. They are proud knowing he is out there protecting our country, helping others in need and fighting the “bad guys.”

For other military families dealing with deployment, here are a few interactive activities we used in an effort to lessen our kids' separation anxiety and lift their spirits.

To help them understand why he wasn’t coming home every night for dinner and play time, we pinned flags on the map for where we live versus where he was in the world at a given time. {Hence the name, Where in the World is Daddy?} Visually seeing the distance between our flag and Dad’s seemed to help them better understand the separation. They also started looking forward to planting new flags, so in addition to ports of call, we pinned waters that were traversed like the Red Sea and the Strait of Gibraltar.

For other military families dealing with deployment, here are a few interactive activities we used in an effort to lessen our kids' separation anxiety and lift their spirits.

Often times the Chief sent pictures and postcards from the places he visited, so I printed out a few and taped them to the map to enhance the experience. The map was a great lesson in geography and served as an ongoing reminder that Daddy was alive and well somewhere in the world even though he was not physically at home with us.

For other military families dealing with deployment, here are a few interactive activities we used in an effort to lessen our kids' separation anxiety and lift their spirits.

(2)  COUNTDOWN CHAIN

At the 30-day mark of returning home, the kids and I made a countdown chain. I marked lines along red, white and blue construction paper and the kids cut them out.

Countdown Chain // For other military families dealing with deployment, here are a few interactive activities we used in an effort to lessen our kids' separation anxiety and lift their spirits.

Then they stapled the strips together in an interlocking pattern to form a long chain. Each day they took turns removing one link from the chain with the understanding that when there were no more links, it was time for Daddy to come home!

Countdown Chain // For other military families dealing with deployment, here are a few interactive activities we used in an effort to lessen our kids' separation anxiety and lift their spirits.

As a seasoned Navy wife, I saved a few chain links in the kitchen drawer just in case I had to add any after the kids went to bed. #navylife

(3)  CARE PACKAGE ARTWORK

In a previous post, I shared the various care packages we sent the Chief throughout deployment. The kids were integral parts of that production process and provided the bulk of the artwork that decorated the boxes and were enclosed. Needless to say, they were thrilled to see their artwork on display at the Chief’s desk.

For other military families dealing with deployment, here are a few interactive activities we used in an effort to lessen our kids' separation anxiety and lift their spirits.

The Chief sent packages to us a few times over the course of the deployment, too. These arrivals were met with great enthusiasm as the kids received toys and trinkets and further affirmation that their dad was thinking about them.

All of these activities were focused on keeping their father at the forefront of their minds and making them feel closer to him despite deployment. They still had some sad times when they missed Daddy, but all in all, our kids handled this deployment with courage, resilience and grit.

I hope these activities will prove helpful to other families dealing with deployment and separation as well. Be sure to check out the rest of the series below. Thanks for reading! — v.

Dealing with Deployment // Care Packages
Dealing with Deployment // Homecoming

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2 Responses to Dealing with Deployment // Kids Activities

  1. Natalie September 28, 2017 at 12:06 AM #

    Great blog post V! Glad to hear the kids handled it well. You have some great ideas that I’m going to use now that we will soon confront the inevitable deployments again. Does it make deployments with infants seem like a walk in the park now? Hope it was/will be a fantastic homecoming!

    • v. October 2, 2017 at 12:52 PM #

      I’m happy to hear you found something useful for your next deployments, Natalie! It would have certainly been a lot easier and entertaining if we were all together again! Just posted about homecoming… check it out! Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Natalie!

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