3 Changes to Your Day-to-Day & How To Transition Back
My Marine has returned home safely once again!
While his return is always wonderful news, I have found that this also creates an inevitable (and reoccurring) period of re-adjustment. Some of these time periods (after any length of time deployed) are smoother than others.
There are all sorts of “welcome home” banners and celebrations. Some families have big barbecues with all of the nearby friends. Others will have a quiet afternoon to catch up. In our case, he’s been stationed in Hawaii for most of our deployments together. Because of this, we’ve grown accustomed to a lei exchange each time he returns home.
M and I had been long distance through the first two or three deployments he went on since we started dating. While there were changes with this, they were nowhere near what it’s like now that we live in the same place. When he was away, it still (of course) felt like our normal long-distance relationship. Sure, the time zones were even more different now, but other than that, our patterns did not change much. Day-to-day functions remained intact, we were just at a different distance for a while.
Now, though, we are in each others’ space. He has certain routines before and after a deployment, and so do I. I am not in the military so I can only share my thoughts from the role of his significant other, so here goes. (I’m sure when I switch to officially becoming his wife, things will change again, but that’s a little over six months away now.)
Chores and taking care of the home.
Regular chores and routine everyday tasks somehow evolve as the other adult in the home goes missing. You have a day that the recycling bin generally goes out, or the car gets detailed, and this shifts when there’s just one person taking care of the home. When or how the towels will be put back into the closet is probably the last thing on anyone’s checklist when preparing for the first few weeks after a deployment ends, but it’s these little things that can sometimes throw you both off.
Once, I couldn’t find our can opener one morning. I brought a new one home after work, not even thinking to ask my fiancé if it was broken or actually missing. Turns out, he just couldn’t remember where it belonged, so he made up a new place for it. This hardly ruined our future (outside of the wasted $6 on a new can opener) but it is a good example of how much things have changed for your service member while they were away.
Little by little, I had re-organized over half of the kitchen cabinets in the months my soldier was deployed. Not only did he have to come home to a more evolved me, but his home was different, too. They miss seasons at a time while deployed. Leaving the home right after the holidays, it will likely look completely different if they return during the summer months.
Be patient, you have inevitably changed things since they’ve been home. As you get into a bit of a groove you likely don’t even notice…until your soldier returns. When that one random task is done differently it can change your new during deployment schedule, so you’ve got to be cognizant of switching back into pre/post deployment mode, and what that will mean for everyone. It’s fundamental to help make the transition smoother for everyone in the home.
Having the bed to myself is always something I appreciate, but when he’s deployed, it’s somehow tougher to sleep. I think my sleep was something I took for granted before deployments. Not only can I just never get the room temperature right anymore, but also the quality of sleep has declined. I assume the stress is all that causes it but, you wake up or have trouble falling asleep during deployments. Part of it might also be that your brain gets trained to listen for those phone notifications (so that you don’t miss a call/email). I tried not to attribute my sleep changes to deployment but now that he’s returned a third time, it’s safe to say there has been a pattern.
In anticipation of this deployment sleep suck I tried a few different things. I switched to bedtime yoga, which helped to let my body know the day is winding down. I got my mindset right each night this way. I also made sure to cool the bedroom off (I’m a cold sleeper) so that I could fall asleep a little easier. These two combined meant that I also did not have any “screen-time” right before bed. Lastly, I put my phone to sleep.
Depending on what’s going on, sometimes there is more monthly income. In some cases, it’s less about more money coming in and more about less money going out. Regardless, there is less money in general being exchanged. There is one less adult buying lunches or coffees, driving one of the vehicles, etc. so there is slightly less regular spending during deployment. Some families may need child care or something specific when one of the adults is deployed, so for some, there is actually more money being spent.
I won’t lecture on spending or saving habits but money changes relationships, so it’s worth mentioning. Safest bet is to continue typical spending (minus your service member, of course) as usual. Typical meaning: for just you (plus any applicable family) without spending the “extra” cash that might arise. This way no changes need to be made post-deployment. Since we are also planning a wedding, M and I decided to use this time to save some of the money he would have normally spent, had he been here. This was a little bonus, and even helped pay off some debts!
What sorts of little changes have you noticed when your sailor/airman/soldier returns?