With homecoming comes change. Knowing what to expect and how to deal with changes can make homecoming more enjoyable and less stressful. Refer to the following information for tips to help make your homecoming more enjoyable and less stressful.[toggle title=”For The Spouse”]What to Expect
- Soldiers may have changed.
- Soldiers may be overwhelmed by noise and confusion of home life.
- Soldiers may be on different eating and sleeping schedules.
- Soldiers may wonder if they still fit into the family and may feel hurt when young children are slow to respond to them.
- Soldiers may want to take back all of the responsibilities they had before they left.
Things To Do
Do something special to welcome your spouse home–help the children make a welcome banner, make your spouse’s favorite dessert, etc., but be understanding and flexible if your spouse is too tired to notice.
Give your spouse time to adjust to being home. Don’t tightly schedule activities for them. Don’t expect them to take on all their old chores right away. Understand that your spouse may need time to adjust to a different time zone, a change in food, etc.
Plan on some family togetherness time. Suggest a picnic or a special family meal. Time together helps the returning spouse to get back into the rhythm of family life.
Be patient and tolerant with your spouse. He or she may not do things exactly as before. New experiences during deployment may bring changes to attitude and outlook. Your spouse may have some initial discomfort adjusting, but this doesn’t mean your spouse is unhappy with you or the family.
Stick to your household budget. Don’t spend money you don’t have on celebrating your spouse’s return. Show you care through your time and effort, not by how much you spend.
Don’t be surprised if your spouse is a little hurt by how well your were able to run the household and manage the children without them. Let them know that your preference is to share family and household responsibilities with them no matter how well you did on your own.
Stay involved with your children’s school activities and interests. Don’t neglect the children’s need for attention as you are becoming reacquainted with your spouse.
Stay involved in your own activities and interests, but be flexible about making time for your spouse.
Don’t be surprised if children test the limits of the family rules when your spouse returns. It’s normal for children to want to find out how things may have changed by acting up a bit. Consistent enforcement of family rules and even-handed discipline are key to dealing with acting-out.
· Avoid scheduling too many things.
- · Go slowly in making adjustments and realize that you and your soldier need time for yourself.
- · Remind soldiers that he or she is still needed in the family and discuss how to proceed with chores, etc.
- · Along with time for the family, make individual time to talk.
- · Stick to your budget and discuss and make changes together.
- · BE PATIENT with yourself, your children and your partner.
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–Plan on spending some time with the entire family doing family things, but be flexible if teens have other plans.
–Show interest and pleasure in how your family members have grown and mastered new skills in your absence and let them know you are proud of them. Comment on positive changes.
–Expect it will take a little time to become re-acquainted with your spouse. Be sure to tell them just how much you care about them. Make an effort to do the little romantic things–a single rose, a card, etc. shows them they are in your thoughts.
–Resist the temptation to criticize. Remember that your spouse has been doing her or his best to run the household single-handedly and care for the children while you were gone. Give them credit for their efforts, even if their way of doing things is different from yours.
–Take time to understand how your family may have changed during the separation. Go easy on child discipline–get to know what new rules your spouse may have set before you jump into enforcing the household rules.
–Don’t be surprised if some family members are a bit resentful of your deployment. Others often think of the deployment as more fun and exciting than staying at home– even if you know otherwise.
–Infants and small children may be shy or even fearful around you at first. Be patient and give them time to become reacquainted.
–Resist the temptation to go on a spending spree to celebrate your return. The extra money saved during deployment may be needed later for unexpected household expenses.
–Most importantly, make time to talk with your loved ones. Your spouse and each child need individual time and attention from you. Remember, focus on the positives and avoid criticism.
REUNION WITH CHILDREN
- · Go slowly. Adapt to the rules and routines already in place and delay making changes for a few weeks.
- · Let the child set the pace for getting to know you again.
- · Learn from how your spouse managed the children.
- · Be available to your child, both with time and with your emotions.
- · Expect that the family will not be the same as before you left; everyone has changed.
- · Focus on successes with your children; limit your criticisms.
- · Encourage children to tell you about what happened during your separation.
- · Some may fear your return (“Wait until mommy/daddy gets home!”).
- · Some may feel torn by loyalties to the spouse who remained.[/toggle]
[toggle title=”Reunion and the Single Soldier”]As a single person, you may have someone living in your home or apartment in your absence. Alternatively, you may have “moth balled” your home, or perhaps you moved out prior to deploying and will need to find a new residence when you return. If you live in the dormitory, you might have gained a new roommate during your absence. Regardless of your living situation, one of your first tasks will be to “put your house in order.” Once you’ve done that, you’ll be ready to focus on reestablishing your family and social ties.
As you anxiously anticipate going home, recognize that you’ve probably changed in subtle ways. You’ve made new friends. You’ve functioned in living and working environments that may be very different than anything you’d previously experienced. Perhaps you’ve taken up diving, weightlifting, or jogging. You’ve rubbed shoulders with a “different world” and stretched your comfort zone. As a result, you’ll go home an enriched, but a somewhat changed person. If you have a “significant other” in your life, this person may have also changed in your absence. And change inevitably creates stress. As you adapt to the changes which may be required in your relationships you may experience over the short-term some worry, frustration, anger, confusion, appetite disturbance, fatigue, mood swings, or sleep difficulties. Usually such difficulties don’t last longer than 2 to 4 weeks. If they continue, consult your physician or mental health professional for assistance.
Regardless of whether or not you have a significant other in your life, there are no doubt people whom you consider to be family. What does family mean to you? Is family restricted to biological relatives or do you also think of close friends as family? Will someone whom you consider family be there to greet you at the airport? Will you be going home to visit your family of origin? If so, how do you feel about seeing them? What will you talk about? How will you respond to changes that may be taking place in your family? Perhaps a sibling is going through a divorce, or a grandparent has become seriously ill. Be prepared for changes.
You may feel that nothing is going the way you planned and hoped. It is still vital that you make plans, especially for the first few days of your return. If you do not have friends or family who live in the local area, make plans with other returning unit members for a homecoming activity that is special for you and remember to call home.
One goal you may have as a single member returning from deployment is to meet someone new. Perhaps some of you are recently single again following a divorce or the end of a long-term relationship.
Some issues to consider are:
- What kind of relationship are you looking for?
- What do you contribute to a relationship?
- What do you want in a relationship?
Are you looking for a one-night stand or a relationship with someone special? There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
Now comes the hard part. How do you actually get yourself to go out and meet new people?
How you feel about yourself affects whether or not you take the risk to go out and meet new people. You have to like yourself enough to take that risk, to go places and meet new people, male and female. Having a good self-image will enable you to take risks, survive the rejections, and, at times, overcome the stereotypes associated with being in the military.
Your return may also be a good time to focus on how you want to live upon return. If you’ve thought about returning to school, now is the ideal time to check out some of the educational programs, both military and civilian. The key is to focus on what makes your life full and to make plans NOW to integrate those activities into your life.
Beyond practical issues, have you considered what impact the deployment will have on your social relationships and living habits? Many people with whom you’ve become friendly on the deployment may now be much less available to you, particularly if they’re married and are busy getting reacquainted with their families. This can promote feelings of loneliness and even mild depression. At the same time, you can keep yourself busy by actively reconnecting with old friends and acquaintances back home. And like everyone else who comes back from deployment, it makes sense to keep expectations reasonable and to be patient. Within a few weeks, your life should be back to a predicable and comfortable pattern again.[/toggle]
Common Homecoming Reactions:
When do normal reactions become problematic?
•Functional impairment: anything that significantly interferes with a soldier’s ability to do the things that he or she needs to do in any important area of life (work, home, family, social, spiritual)
•Functional impairment is the clearest sign that a normal reaction to deployment may be turning into a more serious problem
•Constant oversleeping is a common reaction to deployment that can become a functional impairment
•If normal reactions persist longer than 6 – 8 weeks AND continue to cause the soldier distress, it may be a sign that normal reactions to deployment may be turning into a more serious problem
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