Draw Strength From Family Routines During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Family of three doing pushups

Current as of Nov. 12, 2020

Reliable routines can be important tools to help children learn to manage day-to-day life. But in uncertain times such as the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, having reliable routines is even more important to help both children and adults handle daily challenges and continue to thrive. Here are some tips to consider as you navigate your military family’s routine.

Maintain Aspects of Your Normal Routine

With many parents still working from home, some children being taught remotely, others attending school in person, and others participating in hybrid classes (mix of remote and in person), it may be hard to tell what normal life looks like these days. In the midst of all the change and uncertainty, maintaining basic routines can help life feel more normal.

  • Remind yourself that your child probably looks forward to certain routines and relies on them for a feeling of security. That may include evening baths, calling out-of-town loved ones and reading together at bedtime.
  • Let babies and toddlers nap at their normal times. If you are a parent unaccustomed to being home with your young children, try to organize your work around their sleeping schedules.
  • Keep school-age children on a normal weekday schedule as much as possible. Stick to regular times for waking up and going to bed and having meals, snacks and playtime.
  • Have children do any required homework during normal school hours, and save screen and playtime for after they’ve finished assignments.
  • Maintain normal family routines such as eating together and sharing other evening activities.
  • Keep your routines simple. The more complex the routine, the harder it is to maintain.
  • Make time for your relationship. The current situation can be incredibly challenging. Here are ideas for keeping your relationship strong and communicating as a couple.
  • Make time for yourself. Self-care is more important now than ever, especially if you are questioning the safety of your relationship, or currently experiencing domestic abuse. Here are resources for support and next steps.

Create New Routines

Although it is important to keep basic routines in place, this can also be a time to come up with creative ideas to help everyone handle being at home more often. Here are some ideas:

  • Create a daily schedule for each child if they are stuck at home. Plan hourly activities, and post the schedule somewhere visible such as the refrigerator. Make sure to include scheduled family activities.
  • Engage children in household chores. Toddlers can clean up their toys. Older children can set and clear the table for meals. Teens can be responsible for taking care of younger siblings. Everyone can help fold laundry and plan and prepare meals.
  • Encourage tweens and teens to reach out to their friends. Challenge them to learn about the virus, or research positive things that have resulted around the world from people staying inside. They could also suggest creative ideas for socializing from a safe distance.
  • Work together as a team. Include the whole family in brainstorming ideas for managing chores and planning activities, and try to keep things as positive as possible. Make a list of fun things to do, post it where everyone can add to it, and decide what to add to your daily schedules. For more ideas, check out resources from the morale, welfare and recreation Digital Library.
  • Be flexible. It might be helpful to let go of some of your normal expectations for family life. For instance, if you don’t usually allow screen time on school nights, you might allow exceptions as long as everyone understands that the rules return once life returns to normal.

These are challenging times, but having a plan and working together can help you manage. Understanding of COVID-19 is rapidly changing. For updates and information specific to your location, visit your installation’s official website. You can also follow your installation’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram platforms.

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites:

Strengthen Your Coping Skills With Building Healthy Relationships Specialty Consultations

Couple stand in airplane hanger

Current as of Nov. 6, 2020

The coronavirus pandemic has upended lives everywhere. Staying home and away from usual support systems can challenge even the strongest relationships.

If your family is feeling the strain, Military OneSource can help. Our Building Healthy Relationships specialty consultations offer coaching sessions, practical tools, resources and problem-solving techniques.

Individual tracks are available by phone and video to improve connections with your children, your partner and others during these uncertain times.

Cope With Stress as a Couple

The COVID-19 pandemic can strain even the strongest relationship. Review our guide for ways to cope.

Specialty consultations for all of your important relationships

The Building Healthy Relationships specialty consultations offer a variety of tracks that are customized to different relationships. When you call Military OneSource to arrange a specialty consultation, your consultant will help you identify the track — or tracks — that are right for you.

  • Building Healthy Relationships with Your Significant Other. This track includes personalized coaching sessions, educational resources, guidance and tools to support a stronger partnership during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
  • Healthy Parent-Child Connections. You will work with a consultant to identify goals for your relationship with your child. Your consultant will also give you education and resources to enhance your bond. If appropriate, your child may attend sessions with you.
  • Communication Refreshers. Good communication is at the heart of healthy relationships. This track focuses on improving the way you communicate with others and is helpful for couples, as well. It offers educational webinars, inventories and services.
  • Staying Connected While Away. If you’re away from your partner or family during the pandemic, this track might be right for you. A consultant can help you identify goals and resources to help you cope emotionally and stay connected with your loved ones.
  • Blended Family. This track focuses on co-parenting when you and your partner have children from previous relationships. It may be especially helpful for those who are learning new family roles at the same time their children are feeling isolated due to school closures and other precautions.
  • MilSpouse Toolkit. If you are a new military spouse away from your family and support system, this track may help. It can help you adjust to the military lifestyle, develop coping skills and identify resources in your new community.
  • Reconnecting After Deployment. A major shift can occur for the entire family when a service member returns from deployment. Coming home amid the changes due to the COVID-19 pandemic may cause additional strain. This track can help you identify goals for this reintegration period. It also includes materials that can ease stress and boost your family’s resilience.

Healthy Relationships resources

Find information and tools to keep your relationship strong.

Call 800-342-9647 or start a live chat to schedule an appointment with a Building Healthy Relationships consultant. OCONUS/International? Click here for calling options.

Our understanding of COVID-19 is changing rapidly. Stay up to date by checking the Coronavirus Information for Our Military Community page for updates.

It is natural for all relationships to feel tested during an emergency or crisis. If your spouse or partner has made you feel unsafe or afraid, help is available through the Family Advocacy Program. Speak to a victim advocate to explore next steps, or call or chat with the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7, at 800-799-7233 or thehotline.org.

Honoring Gold Star Families

Close-up of a gold star on a blue shirt

Gold star families – spouses, children, parents, siblings or others whose loved one died in service to our nation – are a vital part of our country’s military community and history.

How did the term gold star originate? During World War I, families displayed small banners with a blue star for every immediate family member serving in the armed forces. If their service member died in service, the family replaced the blue star with a gold star. The gold star let the community know that their service member died or was killed while serving their country.

Today, the nation recognizes gold star survivors in several ways to show its deep gratitude, including:

  • Designating the last Sunday of September as Gold Star Mother’s and Family’s Day
  • Recognizing April 5 as Gold Star Spouses Day
  • Authorizing the Gold Star Lapel Button

These buttons are a symbol of the nation’s appreciation of a service member’s sacrifice to country and service, allowing us to honor and recognize the families of these brave men and women. To learn more about the Gold Star Lapel Button and how to honor gold star families:

Even though gold star families have experienced a great loss, their ties to the military community remain strong. Their military networks are dedicated to supporting them. To learn more about the resources and benefits available to gold star survivors, download A Survivor’s Guide to Benefits: Taking Care of Our Families, or see an overview of what’s available at Gold Star & Surviving Family Members – Benefits.

More comprehensive information about various benefits for gold star survivors can be found in the Gold Star & Surviving Family Members section of Military OneSource.

Finding Support After the Death of a Loved One

Father and son embrace

After the death of a loved one, you may experience a wide range of emotions. That is natural. The path to finding a new normal may not be the same for everyone. Knowing where and when to find support along the way may help. Here are some resources that may be of help to you and your family.

Connect with support networks

Each branch of the military service offers programs that provide long-term support to surviving families of deceased service members.

  • Survivor Outreach Services, the Army’s official long-term support program for surviving families of deceased service members, helps continue the survivor’s connection with the Army by providing comprehensive services that include assistance with housing, education and finances.
  • Long Term Assistance Program is the Marine Corps’ resource for survivors that connects family members to grief and peer support experts, provides information on benefits and entitlements and offers any kind of assistance that is needed.
  • Navy Gold Star Program is the Navy’s support network that provides survivors with information on resources available to them.
  • Air Force Families Forever offers support for survivors who are grieving the death of a service member. Among its services is an online community through Family Support Network exclusively dedicated to friends and family of deceased Air Force members.

Consider counseling options

You don’t have to grieve or go through this journey alone. Sharing your feelings can be productive and therapeutic. Here are a couple of free counseling options to consider:

  • Military OneSource provides 24/7 service to all active-duty service members, National Guard and reserves and eligible family members, including surviving spouses who remain unmarried. Counselors offer information and make referrals on a wide range of issues including grief and bereavement. Arrange a face-to-face, phone, online or video counseling session by calling 800-342-9647 or click here for overseas calling options.
  • Veterans Affairs Bereavement Counseling offers bereavement support to parents, spouses and children of active duty and National Guard or reserves who die while on military duty. Call 202-461-6530 or send an email to vetcenter.bereavement@va.gov to use this service.
  • TRICARE may provide medically necessary coverage of mental health services during times of grief.

Check out other support organizations

Many other organizations offer support by people who understand grief and may have been through a similar experience. A full listing of support and service organizations is available in the publication “The Days Ahead.”

Explore Bereavement Camps and other groups for children

The death of a loved one can be especially difficult for children, so finding resources tailored to their needs is essential. Several groups work to provide grieving children with a comfortable place to talk about their feelings and feel understood. A full listing of support and bereavement camps is available in “Bereavement Camps: An Opportunity to Grieve and Heal.” and in the publication “The Days Ahead.”

Knowing where to turn for support may not make the hurt disappear, but it can help you begin to take those first steps toward finding your new normal. You have a place in the military community. Your country will never forget your loved one’s sacrifice and service to our nation. For more resources to assist you, see the resources section. Or call Military OneSource at 800-342-9647. OCONUS/international? Click here for calling options.

Understanding the Probate Process, Survivor Benefits and Resources for Financial Planning

Intern fills out papers in legal office

Current as of May 15, 2020

While no actions can erase the pain you feel after losing a family member or loved one, getting your financial and legal affairs in order can be a small step in the right direction and can provide some peace of mind during this difficult time.

Here are a few essentials to consider as you address financial and legal affairs in the days following the death of a loved one.

Understanding the probate process

When your loved one dies, the probate process will begin in the county of their legal residence at the time of death. If your loved one had a will, the person they named as the executor will take charge of finalizing his or her affairs. If there isn’t a will, the court will appoint an administrator. With or without a will, the probate process can be divided into four steps. Here’s what you can expect to happen.

Step 1: the probate hearing

  • The judge formally appoints the executor or administrator to be the personal representative throughout the probate process.
  • The validity of the will is established and the court issues an order “admitting the will to probate,” which causes the will to become public record.
  • The personal representative is given a document, called the “letters of administration” or “letters testamentary,” that grants him or her the full authority to deal with the decedent’s probate property and accounts.

Step 2: collection and inventory of assets

The designated personal representative takes an inventory of the estate assets and files this inventory with the court. These assets may include money owed to the decedent or the estate, bank and stock brokerage accounts, and evaluations of real estate or property.

  • Money owed to the decedent or the estate includes loans, a final paycheck, life insurance payouts or retirement account(s).
  • Bank and stock brokerage accounts includes account numbers and latest balances.
  • Evaluations of real estate or property will probably require a professional appraisal.

Step 3: bills, taxes, expenses and creditors

  • Any final bills, debts, taxes or claims against the deceased are reviewed for their validity and then paid with funds from the estate. You are not personally responsible for paying these expenses out-of-pocket, even if estate funds are not available.
  • Once all debts and bills are paid, the personal representative files a report with the court to account for all income received and payments made on behalf of the estate.

Step 4: formal transfer of remaining estate property

  • The remainder of the property is distributed as the will directs or according to state law if there isn’t a will.
  • Depending on the state, there may be a state-required waiting period before property can be officially sold or transferred, which is usually six months.
  • Once all remaining estate property is transferred to heirs and beneficiaries, the personal representative completes a final settlement of the estate that details all dealings.
  • The judge then approves the final settlement and the personal representative’s duties are complete.

If you need more information on the probate process, contact your local legal assistance attorney. You can find legal assistance offices through the Armed Forces Legal Assistance website.

Make sure your wishes are properly carried out should the unthinkable happen by creating a last will and testament. Plan ahead with everything you need to know about estate planning.

Understanding benefits

The Department of Defense and other agencies are committed to doing everything possible to assist you as you deal with the financial details and decisions that surround the death of an active-duty service member. Every service member’s family may be eligible for certain benefits, such as:

Death gratuity: Death gratuity is a lump-sum payment made by the Department of Defense to the survivors or other individuals identified by the service member prior to his or her death while on active duty, active duty for training, inactive duty for training or within the 120 days of release from active duty if the death is due to a service-related disability. The amount of death gratuity is $100,000 and is tax exempt.

Servicemember’s Group Life Insurance, or SGLI: Upon the death of the service member, SGLI payment is made by the Office of Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance.

Survivor Benefit Plan, or SBP: Surviving spouses or children of service members who die in the line of active duty may be entitled to SBP payments. The automatic monthly SBP death benefit is provided at no cost, as service members do not pay into this benefit when on active duty.

Student eligibility for military SBP: The SBP’s child annuity payments typically end when recipients turn 18. You are eligible to continue receiving payments until the end of the school year during which you turn 22, as long as you remain unmarried and you attend one of the following full time:

  • High school
  • Accredited trade school
  • Accredited technical school
  • Accredited vocational institute
  • Accredited college or university

The certification process has gotten easier for students age 18 and older covered as a child annuitant under the military Survivor Benefit Plan.

The changes went into effect in May 2020, highlighted by the following:

  • A simpler certification form
  • A student’s ability to self-certify
  • An extension of the certification deadline to annually instead of each term/semester

SBP annuity payments for qualifying high school and college students are not affected by school closures in the wake of coronavirus disease 2019.

The DOD simplified the process of students becoming certified in other ways, including:

  • Students will now self-certify. So they will no longer need a school official’s signature or school documentation when they certify full-time attendance. With COVID-19 school closures, this truly simplifies the process.
  • Simpler Child Annuitant’s Certification for Previous Attendance Letter for certifying past attendance.

The Defense Finance and Accounting Service details the new certification process on their website, including all the changes. Make sure to complete the updated Child Annuitant’s School Certification form.

The DOD is taking steps to make it easier to validate each student’s eligibility with an online option for uploading and submitting school certification forms. Use the AskDFAS online upload tool.

Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, or DIC: This compensation will probably be the most important part of an eligible survivor’s long-range financial planning. It is paid to eligible survivors of active-duty service members and survivors of those veterans who deaths are determined by the VA to be service-related.

Assistance from the Social Security Administration: Monthly Social Security payments are paid to a spouse or a divorced spouse with children of the deceased service member under the age of 16, or disabled before the age of 18. The amount paid will be determined by the Social Security Administration.

Using your online survivor benefits report to set financial goals

The online survivor benefits report (PDF), allows you to view current and estimated future benefits, and set up savings and spending plans so you can forecast your financial future. Some useful features include:

  • The “what ifs”: See how different scenarios, such as changes to marital, education and disability status, will impact your current and future benefits. For example, if a spouse remarries before age 55, the Survivor Benefit Plan annuity is suspended, but can be reinstated if the remarriage ends by death or divorce. If the surviving spouse remarries at age 55 or older, the annuity continues uninterrupted for the duration of the spouse’s life. Current and “what if” reports can be saved or printed.
  • Homeownership possibilities: Look at your current finances and your financial future and decide if, or when, you should buy a home. Surviving spouses who have not remarried may be eligible for a Department of Veterans Affairs home loan guaranty, which they can use to buy a home, build a home or refinance an existing loan. Additional information about the VA home loan program is available on the VA website.
  • Education benefits: Whether you’re thinking about your own education or your child’s, the interactive report can help you financially plan for obtaining higher education, certification, technical or vocational school, apprenticeships or other educational programs. As a surviving spouse, you may access education benefits from the VA up to 20 years after the death of your service member. Surviving military children can typically use their benefits between the ages of 18 and 26.
  • Retirement options: Your report will show you how much money you should be receiving now and project your future benefits. That can help you decide how much money to set aside now for your retirement years.

Start preparing for your future by accessing your online survivor benefits report, available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. To log in and view personal reports, select your loved one’s branch of service below and follow instructions on the site:

If you don’t already have a Premium DS Logon account you can create one on the DMDC’s website. Meanwhile, Military OneSource also offers financial counseling and can help you with financial- or benefits-related questions. Call 800-342-9647. OCONUS/Overseas? Click here for calling options.

Contact the family assistance support team at 877-827-2471, or by email at osbr@afsc.com, about any questions concerning your report. Recipients of Servicemembers’ Group Life Insurance are entitled to a lifetime of free financial advice from FinancialPoint, an independent company whose team of professionals are experts in handling a wide range of financial matters on behalf of the VA.

Long-term survivor care programs

The services’ long-term survivor care programs also provide free services with financial counselors, as well as Military OneSource:

How to Keep Family Stress Away While Everyone Is Home

Military family sitting and laughing together at home

Current as of March 26, 2020

You’ve got experience adapting to unexpected changes in your life from being a member of the military community. That “roll-with-it” attitude will guide you as you help your family learn ways to reduce stress and build resiliency while spending more time together during the coronavirus quarantine. Here are some ways to deal with the pressures of sheltering in place.

Keep calm with COVID Coach

This app can help you cope with pandemic-related stress. It’s free, secure and recommended by the Department of Defense.

Need More Parenting Resources During COVID-19?

You may be looking for new ideas for managing children at home during the pandemic. Try this updated list of extensive parenting resources.

Stay calm

The uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 can increase the stress on your family. Focus on what you can control by employing some of the following strategies:

  • Lead by example. Your kids are watching how you handle the quarantine and they will pick up on your stress. Do your best to model healthy ways to handle stress by using coping skills when you feel stress building up.
  • Limit exposure to news sources. Reduce your anxiety by setting daily limits on the time you watch or read the news. Start with 10 minutes a day, and adjust depending on what works for you. Follow these stress relief tips throughout the day and share them with your family.
  • Keep your children informed. Ask your children what they know about the coronavirus and what they are concerned about. Talk with your children about coronavirus and provide age-appropriate, reliable information to clear up any misunderstandings they may have. Help them focus on the positive.
  • Engage in relaxation techniques. Find a quiet place at home, get comfortable and try this Chill Drill designed specifically for service members and families.
  • Stick to a schedule. Structure can bring you a sense of calm and certainty during this uncertain time. If you are working from home, here are some Tips for Teleworking During the Outbreak of Coronavirus Disease 2019.

Stay connected

Family, friends and your military community can provide support and strength at times like this. Consider these ideas to stay connected while keeping your distance.

  • Remain in touch with family and friends. Schedule time to connect with family and friends through virtual coffee dates or dinner parties or casual catch-up sessions using video chat apps or phone calls. Bring back the art of handwritten letters and include the kids, perhaps showing off their artwork. You’ll brighten peoples’ day with mail from your family.
  • Flex your muscles together. Exercise is a huge stress reducer. Engage the family in a game of tag or by taking turns creating balance challenges and scoring it like the game of H-O-R-S-E in basketball. Create an obstacle course in the house or yard and time each other as you run, walk, crab walk, walk backward, or skip through the course. Be creative. Go on a “Simon Says” walk around the house or yard and take turns being the leader.
  • Use your military community resources. If finances are causing you stress, review your options on Military OneSource. There are different relief organizations that may be able to address your specific situation.
  • Read together. Couch cuddles while reading to your kids can build great memories. You can also use reading as quiet time. Something you all do from separate rooms to give you space to relax. Use your Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library for video books that read to kids, or eBooks for older kids and adults.
  • Make dinner a group effort. Connect with kids by having them help with planning and cooking dinner as well as setting and clearing the table and doing the dishes. Doing these activities together teaches them life skills and, more importantly, creates a space for them to talk about whatever is on their minds. They tend to talk more when doing tasks beside you versus talking face to face.

Military families tend to be resilient. Keep reaching toward your family and military community for support and know that Military OneSource is always here to serve and support you.

Stay current

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. Select legitimate sources that provide facts and not escalating drama. For Department of Defense updates for the military community regarding the virus that causes COVID-19, view the following sites:

It is natural for all relationships to feel tested during an emergency or crisis. If your spouse or partner has made you feel unsafe or afraid, help is available through the Family Advocacy Program. Speak to a victim advocate to explore next steps, or call or chat with the National Domestic Violence Hotline 24/7, at 800-799-7233 or thehotline.org.

Top 10 Ways to Practice Resilience Skills During Challenging Times

Husband and wife with their two young children

Current as of May 12, 2020

Uncertain times like these can present incredible challenges. Normal life has turned upside down because of coronavirus disease 2019, and no one knows when things will be settled again. Military families are used to uncertainty and challenges and already have skills needed to remain resilient in challenging times. The current COVID-19 situation can be an opportunity to practice your resilience skills and share them with others.

Keep calm with COVID Coach

This app can help you cope with pandemic-related stress. It’s free, secure and recommended by the Department of Defense.

Need More Parenting Resources During COVID-19?

You may be looking for new ideas for managing children at home during the pandemic. Try this updated list of extensive parenting resources.

Change and uncertainty can increase stress and anxiety. A healthy dose of concern can help solve problems, but paying too much attention to things we can’t change can leave us feeling powerless and more stressed. Here are 10 things you can do to practice staying strong and build resilience skills to help yourself, your partner, your children and other loved ones:

  • Recognize the situation and validate your feelings. It is normal to feel stressed and worried right now. There is a saying in psychology that “what we resist, persists,” so the best way to begin to address an issue is to face it. Acknowledge that things are uncertain now and know that is OK. If you are not worried or anxious, that’s fine too. Everyone deals with stress in different ways, and the most important thing is to validate whatever you are feeling. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers information on managing stress during the outbreak. If you want to talk to a professional, free, confidential non-medical counseling is available through Military OneSource.
  • Talk to your children. It’s especially important to talk to children now, because even if they aren’t saying anything, they may have questions and concerns they don’t know how to voice. Talk to them in an age-appropriate manner about COVID-19 and make sure to acknowledge their feelings.
  • Follow accurate information about the virus. Make sure you are doing the things you can to stay safe and healthy while staying at home and explain those things to your family. Continue to check the Coronavirus Information for Our Military Community page for updates.
  • Try to view the current social situation as a challenge rather than an insurmountable problem. Yes, times are difficult right now, but things will get better again. The situation in China has already improved, and with time, will improve in the rest of the world.
  • Maintain routines as much as possible. Paying attention to things you can control helps to decrease anxiety and increase a sense of personal effectiveness.
  • Limit media exposure. Stay updated on health and safety measures, but try not to tune in 24/7. Constant media viewing can increase stress and anxiety. Choose one or two reliable news sources and schedule regular times to check updates. Make time for positive input as well. Try searching online for good things that have come out of the current social situation. You might be surprised at what you find.
  • Stay connected. Talk to your spouse, your children and extended family. Military spouses usually have a strong, established virtual support network. This could be a time where you help others develop similar connections.
  • Practice positive thinking. When you find yourself dwelling on negative thoughts or worrying excessively, stop and count 10 things that make you feel grateful. Starting a gratitude journal can be a powerful daily practice, and is also something that is easy to do with children to get them to practice positive thinking skills. For more ideas, check out these resilience resources from Military OneSource.
  • Help others. Research shows that helping others decreases anxiety and builds resiliency. Search online for things people are doing during COVID-19 to help others. Have your kids draw pictures and text them to grandparents. Bring groceries to an elderly neighbor who can’t get out. Have your teenager organize a video dance party or put together a playlist for family dance time. You can also search online for organizations that are helping deployed service members and veterans, and find some way to get involved.
  • Take care of yourself and seek help if you need it. Make sure you are practicing good self-care, and addressing all five pillars of wellness. Turn off the TV. Listen to music. Get outside and take a walk. Check out these other tips for managing stress. Everyone needs a hand now and then, and the Department of Defense offers a variety of programs and services to keep service members and their families healthy and strong.

This is an incredibly challenging time, but you have tools and resources to help you stay strong. Understanding of COVID-19 is rapidly changing. For updates and information specific to your location, visit your installation’s official website. You can also follow your installation’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram platforms. For Department of Defense updates for the military community, visit Defense.gov, follow Military OneSource’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram platforms, and continue to check the Coronavirus Information for Our Military Community page for updates.

More Parenting Resources for Managing at Home During COVID-19

A woman sits with her children on a sofa.

Current as of May 19, 2020

Coronavirus disease 2019 restrictions are beginning to relax. However, many parents are still working and teaching their children at home. And that can be exhausting. The Department of Defense is committed to helping you manage. Add some new activities to your toolkit. Try some apps for self-care. And reach out for support if you need it. Here are resources to help you stay the course.

Activities resources

For preschool age children:

For youth and teens:

You may be schooling at home. Your children may be finishing the year online. But free online learning resources can help. The Morale, Welfare and Recreation Digital Library, for example, has resources for all ages.

Another resource for military youth and teens is Military Kids Connect. It lets children connect to an online community of other military kids. It has teen-led tours, a message board and more. Try this link they suggest for some fun NASA activities to do at home.

Resilience resources

Military families know that life challenges can inspire us to be our best selves. This time at home lets us practice stress-management skills and try new tools. These resources can build resilience:

  • These recommended wellness apps are free. You can use them on your mobile device. So they can go with you anywhere. Some are designed for service members and parents. Others are designed for children, like Parenting2Go, and Sesame Street’s Breathe, Think, Do.
  • The Department of Defense provides free, confidential, non-medical counseling to service members and their families. Licensed counselors are available 24/7. Learn more or call 800-342-9647. Online chat and OCONUS call options are also available.

Stay up to date on all the latest information on COVID-19. For updates and information specific to your location, visit your installation’s official website. You can also follow your installation’s Facebook, Twitter or Instagram platforms. For Department of Defense updates for the military community, visit Defense.gov, follow Military OneSource’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram platforms, and continue to check the Coronavirus Updates for Our Military Community page for updates.

Need more ideas for managing children at home during COVID-19? Try this updated list of parenting resources.

Together While Apart, Military Families Connect for the Holidays

Keeping Your Family Strong

You can make this holiday meaningful even if you are thousands of miles apart. Get creative by connecting with your family and creating new traditions. Think outside the box to create special moments that can be just as nice as if your service member was home decorating the tree with you. Holidays are not about how much you give, but about celebrating each other.

Don’t miss out on holiday family fun!

COVID-19-Safe Travel Tips

If you decide to travel, stay safe by following the latest CDC guidance and travel recommendations.

Being apart doesn’t have to mean missing out on family bonding. With the help of technology, here are simple ways you can help bridge the gap until deployment is over:

  • Use video chat to bring the family together.
  • Connect through social media. 
  • Send pictures, letters and kids’ artwork.
  • Do something together (while apart) like watch a movie or read a book and discuss it.
  • Send a meaningful gift like a recipe or homemade (non-perishable) treat, a book read in your voice or a personalized do-it-yourself craft.

Keep things simple and don’t forget to take care of yourself. Being away from your family can add to holiday stress. Reach out for help if you need it.

Military OneSource offers a wide range of resources to you. Call and connect with a Military OneSource triage consultant on one or a number of the following resources:

  • Health and Wellness Coaching can help if you’re looking for a no-cost way to shed some of those extra holiday pounds, deal with stress or just get healthier.
  • Confidential non-medical counseling can help if you’re dealing with short-term issues like adjustment, marital problems, parenting, stress management or grief and loss.
  • Financial counseling can help get your budget back in shape after the holidays.

Stay Deployment Strong

If you are stationed overseas and your spouse is deployed, check out the Plan My Deployment tool on Military OneSource for resources to help you stay connected. This tool acts as a how-to guide for valuable tips, resources and articles that will help you and your family prepare for all phases of the deployment cycle. Sort by Pre-Deployment, Deployment, and Reunion and Reintegration to find the information most relevant to your situation.