A couple weeks ago I went to the library and checked out a handful of books written for and/or by military spouses.  I didn’t get a chance to read all of the books before their due date, but there was one book in my pile that I read in one sitting.   

“I’m Already Home…Again” by Elaine Gray Dumler is a compilation of creative deas for staying close with a spouse who is deployed.  Some I’ve heard of before.  Some I’ll never use.  But some I loved so much that I started employing them as soon as I put the book down.  My favorite ideas revolve around my kids and their ages, but the book is appropriate regardless of whether or not you have children or if your children are older. So thanks to Elaine Dumler, here are my…  Top 10 Ways to Stay Connected With Your Spouse During Deployments  

10)  Select a pre-set time each day for family members to think about each other.

9)  Make a memory box filled with some of your husband’s favorite things so you and the kids can go through it to feel like he’s still there.

8)  Write a Legacy Letter.  Start a letter to your husband with a few sentences in the morning, and then add sentences throughout the day.  (This is perfect for people like me who always forget their mental list of things to write about the second we pick up that pen to write a letter.)

7) Set one of the clocks in your house to the time zone where your husband is. This helps you and the kids think about what he might be doing at that moment.

6)  Make a family newsletter.  Include family events and other interesting family-related tidbits like an interview with a grandparent, movie reviews, question of the week, list of birthdays, jokes, or thoughts of the day.  Put an issue out every couple of weeks or once a month.

5)  Grab your husband’s unwashed t-shirts and slip it over the kids’ pillows as a pillowcase.  (I don’t know that I’d use it as a pillowcase because then at some point I’d have to wash it, but I do put a couple of his unwashed t-shirts into a baggie to take a sniff whenever I need a pick-me-up.)

4)  Count down the deployment with your kids with paper chain links.  Tear off a link every day and write a “love note” on it to give to your husband when he comes home.

3)  Have the kids make a daddy box.  Let them fill it with anything they want to show daddy when he gets home.  When he does come home, each child can share special time with him as they go through the box.

2)  Trace handprints of everyone in the family so your husband can hold your hands whenever he wants to while he’s gone.

1)  Start a journal for the kids to write in every day to tell daddy what they’re doing.  They can draw pictures and/or write about something that made them happy or sad, something that happened at school, things they want to do with daddy when he returns, etc.

What tops your list?

17 Comments on Top 10 Ways to Stay Connected With Your Spouse During Deployments

  1. These ARE great ideas! I wish we'd had some of them this past year. 🙂 Definitely good ones to keep in mind. Thank you for sharing them!

  2. Links – I don't agree with tearing OFF a link. two reasons – the biggest one is experience. If your unit gets extended, kids just don't understand why the end of the chain suddenly grew! I usually recommend Adding a Link. Cut out a whole bunch, different colours etc… then each child gets to build their own chain. Every night they write down one thing that they did that day, or draw a picture on the link, and put it on the chain. You have a chain to decorate the house with for the welcome home, and it builds a memory chain of what happened while the service member was gone. Deployed parent gets to look through the chains and then hear what happened or why that was a special memory.


  3. I set a clock in my house to his time zone a few months ago. Best idea ever! I also have a little widget on my desktop that has his time too.

    We also are really big on snail mail. One of our favorite things to do is when I get a magazine in the mail, I read through it and take notes on the pages, then I send it along to him. It's kind of like when we used to sit and read magazines together at home.

  4. I love it!! I'm going to get the book ASAP if I can download it to my Kindle! I have also started a video diary I guess you could say. . .so that my husband can hear me AND see me! I keep it on a private blog that only he knows about. . .it's so fun though, because I can talk to him just like he's here.

  5. I don't have little kids anymore. My husband and I have adult children, one grandchild and one on the way. Hubs is currently deployed to Kuwait for a year. We have 5 months left on his tour.

    I write to him every day. Whether it's in my journal, a poem, or a quick I love you note. But what we know about each other is this, my husband doesn't write me love letters and I don't scuba dive. He has his own way of staying connected to me – we see the same moon – and he recently photographed the full moon through our 114mm telescope and he sent it to me.

  6. I understand not wanting the chain to grow, but I actually did the chain for this deployment (made it longer than necessary on purpose) and it was the best decision I have ever made. Tearing off a link every day made me feel positively ecstatic. Watching the chain grow smaller and smaller every day (it is now just barely draping on a bookcase whereas it used to wrap around the living room 1.5 times) was the highlight of every day. So yes, think about it and don't have a set ending based on what the military tells you, but I hope other people do this as well!

  7. As the author of "I'm Already Home…Again" I'm thrilled that you found the ideas so useful, and chose to share them with others! I'm grateful that other military families will remain strong and resilient with the help of what's worked for families in the past, and the wonderful resource organizations that are out there. I was delighted to put them all in one place! By the way, in response to one of your readers above, both my books (I'm Already Home…Again and The Road Home) are currently being made into ebooks for the Kindle and all aother readers! I'll post the release date on my website (www.ImAlreadyHome.com). Stay strong and let me know of any other way I can help in the future!! Bless you all.

  8. I like the setting the clocks to your hubs time zone. I'm always having to count ahead to figure out what time it is there, so actually setting the clock is way easier!!!! Great list my friend!

  9. I love the list! I've used the paper links before and enjoyed it. My mother-in-law had 4 clocks going at one point: one for her time zone, one for Italy (where her daughter was living), one for Iraq (where my husband was deployed), and one for Afghanistan (where my brother-in-law was deployed).
    I made my son a pillowcase with iron-on transfer images of him and his dad (you can see it here http://www.rovingrose.com/2011/02/25/where-is-daddy/ ) and it really helped during the deployment & the long TDY he is on now.

  10. I'm so excited to hear that the books are coming to the KINDLE!!! Thanks so much for the response!! And THANK YOU, Wife on the Roller-Coaster for the update 😉

  11. These are great tips! (although, being a submariner's wife, I can't exactly set a clock to his timezone lol).

    We have a small journal that I always write a letter to him in before each deployment. I paste funny pictures, talk about inside jokes, draw (not very good) illustrations, etc. During the deployment, he journals anytime something funny or odd (that he can share) happens. It's made for a cute little mini-book.

    I also burned a cd of songs (shows my age, maybe – but it least it's not a mix tape!) that he now has on his ipod that he takes with him and (according to him) falls asleep to every night.

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