Well, I am quickly approaching the one month mark of my husband being away for Navy Boot Camp in Great Lakes, Illinois. Since he’s left, in the past four weeks I have received one four minute phone call, and zero written letters. It’s been a complete blackout.
It appears other divisions with his graduation date are receiving regular letters and calls – and have been from week one! It’s a little hard to not be bitter when I hear, “Got a third phone call today!” Or, “Seven more letters came in the mail today!” I’m not sure what the hold up is with Jonathan’s division – though I’m sure being a performance and push division has something to do with it – but at the moment I’m not feeling like the average wife with a husband in Boot Camp. It’s like the universe is conspiring against me and my sanity. Not hearing from my sailor recruit like other families are hearing from theirs, I KNOW I am having a harder time with the distance and the silence. As a result I’ve found that these following tips have done wonders to keep me healthy, happy and distracted this past month – and will continue to help keep my sanity intact for the remaining five weeks of separation.
Like I said, I’m new to all this. So the following tips are less personal sage advice and more a result of good recommendations from military family and friends, personal observations, plus some plain ol’ common sense.
1. KEEP BUSY
This is the main key here, the North Star if you will, the primary foundation upon which all the other points rest. It’s just a simple fact that sitting around feeling sorry for yourself will not help the time go faster, in fact it will actually make the time go slower. If you’re busy, there will be some days where you’ll be surprised at how fast the time flies! Get yourself a calendar and start writing down things that you can do to keep yourself busy each day, along with a checklist of things you’d like to do to keep busy in the future. The only thing is: Don’t overbook yourself in the name of keeping busy! That’s what I did the first week Jonathan left. My back to back social whirlwind the first week was a little overwhelming and not only did I exhaust and stress myself, but I actually made myself sick. So keep busy, but don’t overdo it.
2. WRITE TO YOUR HUSBAND EVERY DAY
This will not only make the separation easier on both of you, but it’s actually quite therapeutic! Tell him all about your day. The good, the bad, the beautiful and the ugly. Send song lyrics. Send pictures. Nothing is too trivial. Having been text-aholics prior to Jonathan leaving, we were in the habit of sharing little thoughts and jokes and funny tidbits to one another throughout the day. So I’ve found that it’s easier to open a notepad in my phone and keep a running note of things I’d like to share with Jonathan throughout my day. That way, when I sit down to write the actual letter, I have everything from the important, “The dog ate our couch” to the trivial, “Your cat threw up on the comforter again. You owe me Starbucks.”
3. SPEND TIME WITH FRIENDS
DO NOT NEGLECT YOUR FRIENDS WHEN YOU ARE ALONE AND HUBBY IS AWAY. Get out and invest in your friends. No one is or should be an island. You will need a shoulder to cry on from time to time, trust me! Besides, time flies when you are having fun with friends, and you need – now more than ever – the social interaction and emotional support of those who care for you. I, personally, could use another crafting date soon, nothing speeds up time faster than watching your friends scald themselves with hot glue. Oh oh oh! Or High School Musical marathon! Yes! Another High School Musical Marathon!
4. FIND A NEW HOBBY AND LEARN SOMETHING NEW
Go bowling. Start a walking routine. Learn to write in ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics. Whatever you do, do something you’ve never done before. Nothing requires more focus, attention, or energy than trying to master a new skill. Not only will you be widening your range of interests, but it will help the time fly! (And give you plenty of new things to talk about with your sweetie when he gets home!)
5. ACTUALLY MAKE THE PROJECTS ON YOUR PINTEREST
Everyone has one and you’re lying if you say you don’t. You know what I’m talking about. It’s “the board” on Pinterest, the one covered in the do it yourself tutorials for random household goods and crafts that you don’t need but desperately want to try your hand at. Well, now’s the time. Go ahead and bake those Oscar the Grouch cookies. Make that melted crayon canvas art. If it looks like a train wreck, you can always blame it on your husband being gone. “Being sad makes my art look like poop!”
6. GIVE YOURSELF A PILE OF BOOKS TO READ
There is something encouraging about giving yourself pile of books that you desperately long to read, and realizing, “There’s no way I could read all of those before he graduates.” I am a bookworm, and my “must read” list is sinfully huge, so it’s simultaneously encouraging and depressing looking at how many notches I can put in my book list before seeing my honey again. Any nerd can tell you, gauging time by book pages is a rewarding experience. Read whatever helps you pass time time. Read fantasy and non-fiction. Read self-help and informational books. Read manga and history books. Devour it all. ALL DA BOOKS!!!
7. WATCH A NEW TV SERIES / VIDEO GAME SERIES / HAVE A MOVIE MARATHON
Now is the time to rewatch your favorite TV / movie / game series. Or better yet, introduce a friend to your favorite series! Know anyone that needs to be hooked (then subsequently emotionally crushed) with some Firefly? (Don’t tell them it was prematurely cancelled and then revel in the sweet tears of their gut-wrenching sorrow.) You could also organize a mini party to watch your favorite movie series… I made my friends watch the High School Musical movies with me. (Not sure how that one devolved into a drinking party.) Or, just make a living room fort and settle in to watch the new series you have been meaning to watch. (FINE Dr. Who bullies, I’ll watch your stupid show now!)
8. KEEP ABREAST OF LOCAL AND NATIONAL NEWS
Here is one point where almost every Navy wife out there has disagreed with me. The primary fear is that “the news is too depressing”. But I am firm believer that ignorance is not bliss, it’s just ignorance. And that “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil, is for good men to do nothing”. It’s so important to be an educated voter and to know why you believe the things you believe. Every social injustice on the planet has been carried out under the noses of a complacent public. Do not become one of the mindless and ignorant sheeples that helps cock up the country that your husband is swearing his life to defend and protect. Know whats going on in the world. Get involved. Do your part to defend and uphold the freedoms your husband is fighting for.
9. GET INVOLVED IN LOCAL GROUPS
Search Facebook, your local newspaper, or just ask around your friends to see what’s going on in your community. Get involved in local parenting groups, special interest meet up groups, cosplay and geek convention groups, and generally keep an eye on local events. Aside from friendship and hobby networking, consider getting involved in political groups and social activism. Take the time to volunteer for causes you care for. Homeless shelters, animal rescues, pregnancy resource centers and community clean up events are always happy to have extra helping hands. It’s personally edifying, and you are making a difference in your community to boot!
10. PUT YOURSELF THROUGH A DOMESTIC BOOT CAMP
Life is a journey to better yourself and your family, and that doesn’t halt when hubby is away. What skills and tasks do you find vital to running a happy home? Look at areas that need improvement or ways that you can improve in the daily chores of your household. Focus on time management. Or cleaning tips. Or give yourself a financial overhaul. I find it’s helped me when I set up a routine and checklist of things I’d like to improve or accomplish before Jonathan comes home. That way while he’s off bettering himself to better our family, I know that I’m doing my part to do the same.
11. PAMPER YOURSELF
Do this. At least once a week. Take a candlelight bubble bath. Indulge in some aromatherapy. Try out a new hair cut or color. Give yourself a manicure. Do something special to spoil yourself and destress. You deserve it!
12. CULTURE YOURSELF
Make a point of expanding your horizons. Go to museums. Attend art walks. Try new foods, exotic cuisines and listen to new or unfamiliar music. Whenever I get restless, I just start planning my next vacation and learn about the local cultures and heritage of the region. There is so much to learn, and experience, and see and do in this great wide world, and once you peek at the myriad things you’d like to do on your bucket list, it’s hard to want to stay sitting on the couch feeling sorry for yourself.
13. FOCUS ON YOUR SPIRITUAL LIFE
Now is the time to start a new Bible study or commit to a new devotional. Those theological aspects of Bible study that you keep brushing off because they are too labor intensive? Now is the time to pursue them! Do a study on the aspects of the Trinity. Spend a day reading about the use of anthropomorphisms in the Bible. Relearn the history and historical implications of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Take a course in apologetics. Invest time in prayer and dive into a deeper relationship with your Savior. Get plugged into a church body. Whatever you do, keep Christ centered in your life! His promises never fail, and with Him, you are never alone.
14. NETWORK WITH FELLOW NAVY FAMILIES
There are so many references and websites out there for family members of Navy sailors. A couple of resources that I definitely recommend is the official U.S. Navy Recruit Training Command Facebook page. In addition to posting photos of sailor recruits in boot camp, and airing live graduation ceremonies on Fridays, they will hook you up with your sailors PIR group Facebook page, where you can connect with all the other families that will be at your sailors graduation. From there you can join your sailor recruits individual ship and division group, so you can connect with the moms and wives of sailors who are working alongside your husband. It’s great for morale, camaraderie, networking, and keeps you abreast of any news regarding your honey.
15. START A PERSONAL OR FAMILY BLOG
Post photos, personal thoughts, chronicle your new journey into being a military wife, etc. etc. This blog has been a life saver for me. I started it one month prior to Jonathan shipping out to Great Lakes, and it gives me something to do, gives me something to focus on, and is already a joy to look back on. It’s also connected me to so many other Navy wives and families, fellow geeks and cosplayers and crafters, and tons of photography buffs. If you don’t already have a blog, start one, even if it’s set to private. It’s been one of the best investments of my time since my hubby left.
Hope these tips help you as they’ve helped me! If I’ve forgotten anything that you’ve found essential during separations, let me know!