When your military service member comes home, it can be a bit of a transition for them. They’ve been in foreign land, dealt with things they may not be able to talk about and, of course, they’ve missed their family. You certainly have plenty of feelings and emotions, too.
Navigating the process of helping your military service member with their homecoming isn’t easy. A little help can go a very long way. Here are seven of the best tips for military homecomings.
Communication is Key
Before your service member gets home, find out if they want a big party or if they prefer something more intimate. Some may want just a night alone with their spouse before they see anybody else, while others may want to come home to a large party with family and friends.
Keep in mind, they may want to just hang around the house for a couple weeks or they may want to get right back to regular work. Everybody is different and you need to communicate with them to find out what will make them feel most comfortable as they come back.
This is a decision to make together, but don’t do something they won’t like. If they specifically tell you they don’t want a big party, don’t plan one. They’ve been away fighting for our country and right now, their needs are rather important as they transition back to regular life.
Expect Plenty of Emotions from Everybody
You’re certainly going to be emotional and so will your service member. However, the kids may be the ones with the ups and downs, which can be hard to understand. Children react differently with some showing fear or anxiety. Others may cry and show what is considered a bit of a normal reaction to seeing mom or dad come home.
Make sure you pack snacks and toys for your children as homecomings can vary in length and may change without much notice. In addition, they will be around plenty of unfamiliar faces and loud noises.
Be Super Flexible
Your plans for the homecoming need to be super flexible as homecomings for the military can change quickly and unexpected. You should go into it expecting change and hope for a pleasant surprise of everything running perfectly. However, the better chance is that things will change, get delayed or you may have to adjust other plans. Just be flexible and you’ll be able to enjoy the homecoming for what it is.
Have Realistic Expectations
When you’re awaiting a service member coming home, you may have a huge list of things you thing need to be done. The homecoming doesn’t need to be perfect and your service member probably doesn’t care about all the things you may get stressed out about. Instead, choose the most meaningful tasks and focus your energy on those. You don’t need to run around stressed out before your service member arrives home.
Recruit Help from Friends and Family
If you’re the spouse, you don’t have to take on the homecoming all on your own. You will likely get pre-homecoming jitters and you may need to plan many things for the homecoming. Ask friends and family for help to take some of the stress off your shoulders.
If you want to capture the moment, have a friend or family member come with you. They can help with pictures and can also help keep the children busy if there’s a delay.
Forget about the Perfect Outfit
You will likely hurry up to arrive and wait at a military homecoming. Don’t spend forever trying to pick the perfect outfit for the occasion. While you probably want to look nice, you also need to be comfortable. Dress for the weather and make sure you’ll be comfortable if you have to wait.
Don’t Worry About Other Families
You’re going to see a number of other spouses and families at the homecoming. They will have their own way of doing things and you don’t need to worry about trying to keep up with them. Instead, trust what you have already done and trust it’s best for your service member. You know better for your family than others do and they know better for their own family. It’s not necessary to worry about what someone else did for their service member or feel guilty you didn’t do something specific. Just trust that you’ve communicated with your service member and know what they want.
Most importantly, when your service member comes home from being deployed, enjoy the time they are here. This is a very special event and it does deserve to be planned properly. However, you should never stress yourself out so much that you don’t enjoy the event and seeing your special someone.