No one told me that when you become a part of a military family that constant change becomes the only thing that you can rely on. I was a person that grew up not actively seeking change, and then I married into the military and life has been throwing me curveballs ever since.
My choices were to accept the changes or ﬁght them kicking and screaming. I have tried the kicking and screaming, and it really didn’t bring me much joy. Nothing stays the same and life would be boring if it did. Most of the changes that have been imposed on me have led me to the best experiences, friendships and happiness that I wouldn’t have ever known otherwise.
Along the way, I have learned a few things about moving with the change and making it work for our family.
BE THE CHANGE
Jump on board with change so that it is happening with you as a part of it and not to you. Accepting your partner is going to be away, you are all posted, or he/she is deploying means that you are then able to have some say about the changes. You can’t change where you are posted to but you can look into all the reasons why it is a good thing and begin to prepare for the change. You can’t change a deployment, training, or course, but you can deﬁnitely look at it as an opportunity rather than a catastrophe.
SEE THE POSITIVE
It can often be easier to be negative and begin to list off the reasons why things will go wrong or how this is going to be hard for you. Before talking about it with family or friends make a list of all the positive things that will come out of the experience. Changing the way you think about it and present it to others will go a long way in helping you to manage and make the most of the change.
Change often brings chaos. It really helps to reduce the feelings of helplessness when you can feel on top of things and have plans in place. Being organized ahead of time will signiﬁcantly impact the way you can manage the changes that military life throws your way. Having first aid kits, house or rental manuals, contact lists, a few meals ready to go in the freezer, and some activities in your back pocket that will keep family members happy and busy are always a good start.
Be honest and tell people how you are feeling but also make sure that you aren’t limited to just venting. Ask people about their experiences, visit your local Military Family Resource Centre and get accurate information about bases, deployments, supports available, etc.
Avoid the internet as a primary source of information as it is important to remember that the happiest people are not the ones on Facebook or Twitter, they are out enjoying life and engaging with people in person. The internet and social media groups also have a lot of misinformation that can cause unnecessary stress or upset. Those groups have a time and a place but should not be your first “go-to.”
MAKE IT FUN
Try to look at every challenge or change as a chance for a new adventure rather than something you have to just do to survive. Plan to do something new and different that you wouldn’t get to do under “normal” circumstances. If you are posted, google fun things to do in your new place first, so the first things you are learning about your new home are positive. If your family member is deployed, set aside a little money to see or do something you have always wanted to.
I am not suggesting that I have jumped for joy, never whined or complained about the change, or that I am always seeing the world through rose-coloured glasses. I cry, I get mad and frustrated, and I definitely do my share of complaining to anyone that will listen some days but then I decide to roll with it and make the most of the situation. There are still days where I don’t see the upside to change, but those days aren’t often and my attitude means that my kids adapt to change with relative ease, too, and we all end up getting to enjoy more days than we don’t.