While reuniting with your family after a deployment is an exciting time, there are a few things you may want to remember:
- Allow yourself to have mixed feelings about coming home from a deployment. Many service members do.
- Be patient with your partner, children and yourself. Getting back into the swing of things takes time.
- Lean on your network of support. It is here for you.
With good communication and some patience, you can prepare yourself, your partner, your children, and everyone in your life for your return. Preparing children and other family members ahead of time often helps everyone set reasonable expectations.
Head to Military OneSource for free, confidential non-medical counseling if you need a little extra support during this transition. You can always contact the Military Crisis Line 24 hours a day (800-273-8255 and Press 1). You can also start a conversation via online chat or text (838255).
- Remember that your partner is an amazing person who managed the household almost single-handedly while you were gone.
- Know that while your partner can manage without you, he or she is really excited to have you home.
- Focus on the positive and show appreciation instead of criticizing.
- Take a step back if you feel overwhelmed by requests for help around the house or with the kids.
- Tell your partner if you need some time alone or a nice, long nap. Keep in mind that he or she might need a nap, too.
Your children’s caregivers
- Remember that your children’s caregivers love your children and that they’re going to miss having your kids around.
- Thank them for the service they’ve provided your family.
- Allow them to share their excitement over the changes they’ve seen in your children, and let them maintain the routine while you ease back into it.
- Assure them that they will still be part of your family’s life, and make plans to stay in touch through the next few months.
- Recognize that it’s natural for children to feel both excited and apprehensive about a parent’s return.
- Express how much you missed them, and ask to swap stories about your activities.
- Expect that your children may miss their caregivers, and explain your plans to help them keep connected.
- Observe the ways your children have grown, and point out the positive changes you see in them.
- Anticipate that your children may react to your return by challenging your authority. Work with the existing house rules until you’re comfortable establishing your own.
- Be patient and realize that it takes time to get comfortable with each other again. You may have missed some milestones, but you’re here now, so make the most of it.
Your parents and extended family
- Know that your parents may have been following your deployment very closely. Thank them for supporting you and your family while you were gone.
- Work with your partner ahead of time to include your extended family in reunion activities. If you start to feel overwhelmed, communicate that you need some downtime (and maybe keep a list of movie show times handy to divert your family’s attention elsewhere for a while).
- Realize that your family may never fully understand what you went through on deployment and that’s okay. Understand they love you and want you to be yourself even if it means they have to get to know you all over again.
- Expect that your friends will want to hear about your adventures. Now is your chance to tell your wildest deployment stories.
- Give your friends the benefit of the doubt; you may be feeling as though you’ve lived a whole lifetime since you’ve been gone — and in a way you have. The truth is they’ve gone through some changes too (well, except for that one friend who hasn’t changed since high school).
With some thought, patience, and support, your homecoming transition will be easier and more successful. Be sure to explore all the resources available from Military OneSource to help you during your reunion.