A Modern Day Fairy Tale

http://ourmoderndayfairytale.blogspot.com/

My life as a Marine Corps wife, Autism mom, the upcoming arrival of baby #2...and everything in between!

Randi is a winner of Top 25 Military Moms - 2013

What's a tip for celebrating a holiday or milestone with your kids when your partner isn't able to be there?

Unfortunately, missing holidays and milestones is one of the major downfalls of military life...for most of us, it will inevitably happen at least once during your military life. The biggest advice I would share for the kids is to keep the traditions going as much as possible...if you go to a particular restaurant for birthdays, go to the same place, even if the family isn't all together... and of course try not to draw attention to the fact that Daddy isn't there! This is especially important for families like ours who have a child with Autism who thrives on routine!

You can also consider celebrating on a different day...during my husband's last deployment, we got lucky that he returned just a few weeks after my son's fourth birthday. I took him out shopping on his big day and let him buy one toy, eat his favorite foods and of course had cake and ice cream, but we opted to save the big celebration for a few weeks until Daddy could be there too. Of course, this may not always work out, but for us it was a great solution.

A big thing for us during holidays was still keeping Daddy involved...just because he can't be there physically doesn't mean he's not part of the festivities...we shared everything with him via Skype/e-mail/phone...whatever communication was available. We also made a huge deal out of holiday care packages. Make it fun to send Daddy a fun holiday themed package no matter where he is! (To be entirely honest, Daddy gets spoiled more on his birthday, Father's Day, etc when he's NOT home...it's hard for him to be away too, so we go out of our way to make it super special.)

What have you learned about parenting from living in different places?

I have learned that consistency is key. Of course when moving, there are going to be a ton of changes- new schools, new places, new house...these are inevitable and can be really tough for a child to deal with- especially one with Autism. Still, there are many things that CAN stay the same...discipline and parenting styles are among those. As parents, I think the best thing we can do to help our children adjust is to remain as consistent as possible, despite our changing environments. At the same time, it's also important to stay flexible as well...what goes in one place, may not in another...rather due to safety reasons, resources available or whatever the case may be!

What are your best tips for traveling with kids?

BE PREPARED!! We have made many cross country road trips during our time as a military family...nearly all of them with my son in tow...and let me tell you, something ALWAYS seems to go wrong!! Rather it be car trouble, weather issues, illness, or just a downright cranky baby...it can be tough. So be prepared...pack plenty of extra clothes, diapers, etc and make sure to keep these things easily available. If you're traveling in the winter, be sure to pack plenty of blankets and coats. Snacks are a must...of course you can buy these along the way if needed as well, but our experience has been that it is much cheaper to prepare beforehand. Take frequent breaks...even if just to get out for a few minutes to walk around and use the bathroom. We always had a very limited time to split between two families a couple of hours apart, so we tried to get the traveling done quick...even still, those frequent shorter breaks made a huge difference in all of our moods. Portable DVD players/iPads/portable gaming systems, etc are your friends!! If you don't already have one of the above, I highly recommend them if you intend to travel a lot...it will truly save your sanity and keep the little ones occupied. And don't forget the car chargers!! Books, coloring books and crayons, other small activities etc are also good to have on hand if you're little one is interested in them at all...my little guy isn't much for coloring, but we will still sometimes pack them just in case... anything to curb the boredom. But this number one best tip for traveling with little ones: remember the light at the end of the tunnel. The trip may be difficult, but for us, the destination was usually worth it, and though it may seem otherwise at times, you WILL make it there eventually!!