preparing a toddler for deployment

Jolene - posted on 01/23/2009 ( 21 moms have responded )

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my daughter is 18 months and is now starting to realize that when daddy puts on his uniform he goes bye bye so now she wants nothing to do with him when he has it on. we are getting ready for a 6 month deployment soon, any tips on making the transition easier for her?

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Cynthia - posted on 01/28/2009

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Hello.  In our home we have a 4yr old and an almost 2 yr old =)...My husband I decided to make a video of him singing our night time lullabyes to the kids...its our nightly ritual =) This is what "tucks them in" for the day.  We also had Daddy sleep on 2 different pillows...leaving "daddys smell" on them and the kids sleep with these pillows allowing them to sleep with daddy; it's been so much easier having them sleep in their own rooms because of this =) Also, I keep showing pictures of daddy to my youngest just so she can remember who daddy is. At her age Im not really sure she understands that Daddy is going to be away for a long time; I think just keeping her mind fresh of what daddy looks like and telling her that daddy is at work and will be home later is ok. Since our 4 yr old doesnt really know how long time is, I cut out construction paper and make links for each week that he will be gone. Each week he is gone, we take off a link...leading him to understand that thats "one more day closer to seeing daddy." Gives him something to look forward to...not just the end when daddy is coming home...but the end of the links hanging from the ceiling. =)



Our children are very fogiving. This is only my second deployment, but with many TDYs in between, that I can't say that it gets easier every time (because it isnt--somehow everything just seems to fall apart when he's gone lol) but at least having a support group does wonders and staying active with the kids helps us in getting the time to pass us by faster.



Hang in there. =) and hope this helps some.



 

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Jessica - posted on 01/28/2009

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Thats a great idea about the gym. I will be there a lot because I want to get into pre-baby shape and suprise him when he gets home. But I also like the idea of doing something nice once a month for myself. I will have to do that.

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jessica what i did when my hubby was deployed (which was A LOT) was planned something special every month so that way it's like "oh just 12 more things" to go and so on. i also was a gym "rat". i was at the gym a lot and it was nice getting out frustrations on my triceps or on my quads LOL

Jessica - posted on 01/28/2009

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I am going to try to keep them as busy as possible to help keep their minds off of it. But we will get to talk to him a few times a week. That will make it a little better for the girls.  My oldest will be 3 in march just before daddy leaves. She is very creative and loves doing art work.  So she will send daddy things all the time. But its still going to be really hard.

Jennifer - posted on 01/28/2009

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My husband deployed the last time when my oldest was almost 3 and my youngest was 6 months. I had been through another when my oldest was 6 months also. I feel talking about daddy going "bye byes" to work for a long time was a good thing with my 3 year old. I kept pictures of him and the kids around, made trips every couple months so that the girls could visit family. Join the youth groups for deployed members. which helped. They emailed daddy and made him pictures and presents to mail him. And talked openly as possiable with them. We are coming up on another deployment in the near furture. My oldest will be 4 and youngest 2... its hard, but tried to talk to them and in our family... we never say good bye... we say see you soon.

Jessica - posted on 01/28/2009

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We are sort of in the same boat. Only my daughter is 14months and her daddy is leaving for a year. She is so attached to him. She wakes up every morning and looks for him calls out daddy. I don't know what to do either. It is going to be really hard for our family.

Marie - posted on 01/28/2009

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My daughter is 2 1/2. The first time he left was when she was 6 months old and he didn't return until she was a year old. It was tough because she didn't know him. As for now. Just keep up with telling her about him, maybe record him reading books to her, give her lots of pictures of him to look at. That's really all you can do. My daughter is having a rough time..... She wants to make him a cake for his birthday almost every single day. When someone knocks at the door, she thinks that he came home. She asks where he is and doesn't have a since of time.

Cynthia - posted on 01/28/2009

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Thats always the toughest part...I know my husbands just a sucker haha when he gets back but in all honesty keeping the nightly daily routine is the best. If he gives in it will be the hardest ever to break from. I learned this with our first deployment...my son was only 14months old when he first deployed and by the time daddy came back I had him off the bottle and sleeping in his own room; but it all changed when he got back, we did away with the bottle permanently but the sleeping in his own room didnt and he went back to sleeping in his crib in our room. Belive me it took almost a year to break the habbit. Now since we have TDYs under our belt we've realized that its easier to sticking to the routine we've built while daddy was "at work."

Christine - posted on 01/28/2009

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Our son has his favorite pictures of daddy taped to the wall by his bed pillow so he can look at and even talk to daddy each night as he falls asleep. We also made a flip the flap type book, which was about all the things that they were looking forward to when daddy got home. It included actual pictures of daddy and the family. The children got to flip the flaps to see the different parts of the book.

Heidi - posted on 01/27/2009

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I also took pics of my Husband (some by himself and some with the kids) and blew them up to 8x10 size. THen I taped them up all over the house at eye level for the kids. By the crib, on the fridge, on their bedroom door and places like that so they would see him all the time. I many times caught my daughter kissing his picture. It was cute. We too of course have Daddy Dolls (actually just ordered some new ones) and made videos of him reading stories with them. Also for my husband I took at least one picture a day for him. So that way he wouldn't miss a single day while he was gone. I did a few other things, but I am tired right now and can't remember. If I think of more I'll be sure to post, but for now I'm off to bed.

Janette - posted on 01/26/2009

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Wow, these are all great ideas.  My husband is in the Army and has had frequent trips this year.  My son when he sees Daddy in uniform says nooo don't work, Daddy.   My son,2 almost 3, starts acting up, not sleeping, screaming for "Daddy".   It takes about a week, but then things are back to "normal".  I agree you can't stop talking about it.  After a few days he does say, oh Daddy at work.  I will have to try the placemat thing.  The DVD is a great Idea.  We are going to try the webcam and drawing pictures to send to Daddy.



I do have a question.  What happens when Daddy comes back.  My husband just "babies" him and wants to sleep with him and everything gets out of whack.  I understand he misses him and he said after this next trip, he will try harder not to mess up my schedule.  Any ideas??  Thanks 

Kelly - posted on 01/24/2009

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we video'd my husband reading books to my son and we would have daddy read him his stories some night. I would also see if you all could web cam we did and it was great. I also talked to hime everyday about his daddy and his day to day activieties like what do you think daddy ate today ect, and he had pictures of daddy that he could carry around, play with or whatever we had alot.

Brandi - posted on 01/24/2009

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Look for the video with ELMO. It talks about dad deploying. It a great video, my toddler loves it. It simple and right on his level.

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i talked to our navy new parent "teacher" yesterday and she said u can get the elmo deployment dvd at military one source :)

Samantha - posted on 01/23/2009

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www.daddydoll.com



I got my daughter one during my husbands 15 month deployment and she always carried it everywhere.

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also idk if they offer it but in the navy they do a reading program. the spouse who is deployed tapes reading ur child's favorite book and then send the tape or dvd back home so everyone can see him or her and they can read the books together

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my husband is in the navy and we are part of the navy new parent progam. our "teacher" gave us this dvd sponsored by walmart and it has elmo and explains deployment. elmo's dad goes on deployment and it's supposed to be a really great dvd that just helps ease a child's confusion.

Christina - posted on 01/23/2009

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When my husband left for boot camp we made a home video of him playing with our son, reading a story and singing songs together. My son watched it every night before bed time and when he asked to see daddy I said he was at work and let him watch the movie. It worked really well until the video broke...Some places on post offer this service for free if you don't have a video camera. Check the library on post. Hope this helps!

Jolene - posted on 01/23/2009

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thank you so much for the advice i may have to try the placemat thing. my daughter would love it. thanx again and good luck with your deployment as well.

Emily - posted on 01/23/2009

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My husband just left 3 weeks ago and my youngest (of 4 children) is almost 2. We didn't keep talking about it before he left because they don't completely understand what is going on and we tried to go do fun things like the movies or special dinners and I took a lot of pictures of my kids with their Dad then when he left we told Daddy good bye. I just told my almost 2 year old that Daddy is at work and periodically he comes up and says "Daddy at work" so I know that he knows he is gone and I am sure that he misses him just like the rest of us. I also took the pictures and made placemats for each of my kids with pictures of them and daddy so they can eat with him every night. (they love the placemats - poster board with pictures all over and covered in contact paper). I think that it is important to keep their life as consistent as possible with friends, family and activities and lots of pictures of Daddy, and constantly tell them how much Daddy loves and misses them.



Good luck with the deployment and remember that kids are resilient and very forgiving so just do the best you can and that will be enough.

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