When Your Military Kid Doesn’t Sleep {And How To Support Them}

Every time we go through a long-term separation I feel like I learn something new. There’s a new experience or emotion that is felt that was different than the last one. But this latest one has been a unique experience that has challenged even this eighteen-year military spouse (girlfriend/fiance). My littlest child began to struggle with his sleep. This was something that I had never experienced with the other two. Yes, we’ve experienced anxiety, stress, sadness, separation issues from me, but never sleep issues to this extent. Not only was falling asleep difficult, but his sleep was just not restful. He had giant circles under his eyes all the time and it was starting to affect his school work. He would just sit and stare at his work, the morning being especially difficult.

We tried a lot. We tried melatonin, we tried staying up later and he even slept with me. Thankfully our school is amazing and have worked with me since my oldest was in Kindergarten to support not only my kids but other kids in the school that are military. The school counselor is stellar and has worked with me to create small groups for military kids, as well as set up a mentor program in which older students spent time with younger students with deployed parents. There is a lot of support for military kids on base, in military schools and schools within the military base pyramid. But the further you get away from the bases there is less available institutionally for the students. After much discussion, we launched another small group, and also decided to let him sleep in and have an excused absence for school.

Make sure to establish a good relationship with your school as a military family! Connect with teachers, specialists and your school counselor! These relationships will be vital to your child.

The other thing I looked into was a weighted blanket. I have previously looked at these for my oldest son, who has struggled with anxiety and focus. But I went for it for my boy and headed over to Amazon. First thing when ordering a weighted blanket is you have to make sure you get the right heaviness. Here’s a chart to help you decide on the right weight for your child. There are plenty of places to get your weighted blanket, and if you’re crafty you can find some great tutorials on making your own. But I went straight to Amazon and ordered this blanket right up! It came and it has been such a success! Combined with letting him sleep as needed and the small group sessions with the counselor, he is slowly starting to be himself.

Weighted blankets are an amazing resource for families that have kids, or even adults, that struggle with anxiety and sleep issues.

I’m a believer and I was skeptical at first. It’s been such a hit that the other two have wanted to steal it away, so two more are on the way to my house as we speak! I think its so important to be open when it comes to dealing with deployment or long-term TDYs, or even just lots of travel, and kids. You never know how they are going to process it. Each time can be different, as has been the case in my house. With each phase in a kid’s life comes new experiences, and that is true even without the added stresses of military life. Some things have not changed. Communicating with your kids about your feelings is important. I’ve always been open with my kids about being sad or missing daddy. It has ended up making them feel more open about sharing their own feelings. It is a way to connect on a deeper level to each other. As my kids have gotten older I’ve shared with them how Mommy needs a little more help than normal because we are busier. They have responded so well to that simple honesty. I also do my best to pull them in when I really need them and give them a break on some of the smaller chores that they would normally do, and it has been truly amazing. Don’t be afraid to give them more responsibility. The way that has made my kids feel has been great. They have felt empowered and important like they are really contributing to the family and helping while daddy is gone.

Have you tried a weighted blanket? What did you think?

What are some strategies that you have developed over time to help cope with deployment?

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Rhe’s Bookshelf – February Reads

It’s almost March ya’ll! I can not believe it! Time is continually flying by, and the older my kids get the faster it goes. This is also precisely the exact time that I would prefer it slow down. But until it does I’ll continue to live in my happy book-reading land. Books just make me happy! I packed quite a few in this month, making the most of my brand spanking new Kindle I purchased. Don’t worry, I’m still a card-carrying book nerd, in love with my real-life books. I’m also in love with my free and cheap Kindle books, so there you go. If you’re not following me on my Goodreads account I’d love it if you did! Click the images below to grab your copy of each of the books, or click the Kindle Unlimited image on the side bar if you just can’t get enough of books! Give a try for 30 days and I bet you’ll love it.

 

When the Heart Calls (Canadian West #1)

5 Stars

Worth the Risk (The McKinney Brothers #2)

4 Stars

A Love Fulfilled

2 Stars

Dangerous Curves Ahead (Perfect Fit #1)

4 Stars

Thrown For a Curve (Perfect Fit #2)

3 stars

Because of You (Coming Home #1)

3 Stars

The Wonder of You

2 Stars

Saved

2 Star

You can find my reviews on Goodreads! If you’ve read any of these I’d love to know what you think; and leave your book recommendations in the comments below. I’m ALWAYS looking for a good recommendation!

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Milspouse Monday: Missing Out

This is both a plea for forgiveness and a giant thank you for all my civilian friends. I’m looking at you, and I am so thankful for you. One of the hardest things for me in this crazy milspouse life might not be the most obvious. I’ve gotten used to the leaving and it doesn’t make me lose my mind like it once did. I think at the stage the kids are in we are busier, they “need” us less, and they are sleeping through the night {can I get an amen?}.

The thing that is the hardest about #militarylife isn't what you think it is - the leaving I'm used to - its the missing out that I'm not Click To Tweet

For me the hardest part is missing out. We’ve really grown a life here, more so than any other place that we’ve been. We are all happy, which is crazy!!! The kids are loving school and adjusted, hubby is loving his job, and I’ve got stuff. It’s amazing!! So when I have to miss out on events, parties, get-togethers it kills me a little bit inside. This isn’t just a byproduct of my military life. My personality is largely to blame. As a self-described sanguin I thrive on being around people. Lock me in the house for a couple days and I’ve become a shadow of the person I once was. I say things like “can we just go to the library as a family?” or “can we all go to Cost-Co together?” constantly to me sweet and adoring husband. I’m comfortable around large groups, comfortable in taking the lead – all good qualities. The downside is that when I don’t get out, don’t see people I fall apart a little inside. I withdraw and feel alone. I worry constantly that these people don’t like me anymore, that somehow in the rat race of life they’ve decided that me missing an event or two means that I obviously hate them and their only recourse is not be my friend anymore. It’s insanity!! If they don’t reach out to me it must be over. Another part of my personality is that of “The Reacher”. A topic I’ve discussed before, and one that is close to my heart.

Life isn’t a one-way road!

I’m constantly feeling like I’m the reacher! I’m the texter, the caller, the get-together put together-er {its a word, I’ve decided}. I know that its mostly in my head, but its a very real feeling. To feel like you’re the one moving the friendship along. That if I suddenly stopped texting and calling said person I’d never hear from them again. And while that may be true in some cases, I know its not for everyone. I tell myself I should just chill. Calm the heck down Rheanna!! But I usually don’t do a very good job. And while I’m able to keep my anxiety at bay most of the time these day, it is during these times when military life has reared its ugly head that my anxiety does also.

 

So to all my civilian, and military friends, THANK YOU, from the bottom of my heart. For being in my life, for dealing with the crazy, and for being understanding. I make a plea for myself and for all the military spouses you might know that many of us feel this way. And we ask, so very selfishly, to not forget about us. When we can’t go somewhere, or do something, don’t forget about us. Keep inviting us, keep showing up in our lives. Because you know what happens if you do? You’ll get on of the most loyal and steadfast friends you could find. We will be there in a moment’s notice. We know how to rally the troops, get a meal chain going, load of the kids at all hours and head over to your house. We welcome you in to crash on the couch, we’ll feed you amazing meals and just be there for you. It might not always be easy being our friend, but I promise that in the end we think its worth it!

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A New Year, A New Me and a New You! {MilSpouse Wellness Summit}

 

I’m about a week late to the party. The obligatory “New Year’s” post that one must publish when you’re a blogger. My new me was postponed when I promptly became sick on January 2nd. It’s now a week later and I’m still sick, having transitioned from some sort of fever virus to a sinus infection. Murphy has moved in forever apparently. But I’ve got big plans for 2018! Along with the obvious resolutions – move more, eat better, be present – I’m excited to kick off the year with goal of self-care. I think most moms can relate to this. Your life is about your family and your children and self-care falls somewhere at the very end of the list when your children are asleep.

How do you practice ‘self-care’ when you are a busy mom, solo-parenting a lot of the time, and with a lot on your plate? First thing you can do is register for the Military Spouse Wellness Summit 2018!  I’m so excited for this virtual summit. This will be my third summit, and it is always an amazing experience. You can join me and fellow military spouses, military girlfriends, wives of firefighters and police officers, as we join together in a united goal of taking care of ourselves. The MSWS will focus on full-body, all inclusive health – mind, body and soul. And as cheesy as that might sound, the organizers behind thing amazing summit know what they are doing.

Host, Corie Weathers, a licensed professional counselor, will take us through our week-long journey of wellness. Joined by guests like Laura Casey, reserve spouse, founder of Southern Weddings and Write the Word Journals; Tiffany Smiley, Caregiver spouse and founder of Hope Unseen and Jess Atkins, founder of the StyleBook app, a virtual closest organizer, I guarantee you will have an amazing experience. Find balance, tools to prevent the burnout – all things that I need to be reminded of my life.

I’ve shared my story many times on this blog, giving snippets of my life a little at a time. Everyone’s military life is unique and mine is no exception. At times it is rough and each year is different. 2018 is going to be one of those rough years I think, but my hope is that this summit sets things up so that I have the tools to cope with things that life throws at me. I know it won’t be perfect, but what I do know is that with my family, friends and faith will help carry me through.

Register for the Summit here! General admission is free, VIP registrations are still available. TODAY is the last day to receive 65% off with code: TRIBE

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Why Is It Important to Share Your National Guard Story

Since 2004, the day I said “I DO” I became a military spouse. Before then I was a military girlfriend, and made the decision with my now husband to enter into this lifestyle. I was excited about it and ready to be all in. However, I didn’t enter into a typical active duty lifestyle. What I entered into was the Active Guard Reserve lifestyle of the Air National Guard. Every morning he put on his uniform and went into work. But the work he went into was on a teeny tiny Guard base in the middle of nowhere. We didn’t have a host of military support non-profits located near us. We had no commissary, exchange or base housing. It’s this feeling of belonging, but being on the very edge of the group you belong to. You feel isolated and alone, especially when it comes to activations and deployments. Many states try very hard to assist those of us that are remotely serving. We had great doctors and hospitals we accessed through Tricare Prime Remote, and the local WalMart had a card we registered for and carried around that gave us tax-free status. But when it came to programs for our children and our families, we were severely lacking.

It was during these early years that I started this blog. I began an endless searching for support organizations that helped families like mine. Gathering resources and housing them here on this blog. I knew that I couldn’t be the only one feeling this way and I wasn’t. It even came to my attention that there were service members in my husband’s unit who didn’t even live in the same state, or had to get on a plane to come to drill. It would be about five years and we would become that family. There are obvious flaws in the system, and families fall through the cracks. And you can’t always rely on the idea that, “Well, they are a National Guard family, they probably live in their ‘hometown’ or with their extended families.” We definitely did not, and after many years I discovered that that was more common than I realized. What are some of the most important take-aways one should understand about the National Guard (and Reserves) life?

  • We are both Military and Civilian, balancing between these two lives. 
  • There’s a significant lack of understanding coming from the civilians AND fellow military  
  • Programing available to National Guard and Reserves can be significantly different
  • Transitions can be quick and drastic! When a active duty service member deploys their transitions are difficult but transitioning quickly from civilian life to military life when there are no standards for support.
  • Fighting an uphill battle because of the change of National Guard life over the years. When talking to leadership, or those involved in the advocacy circle, you may be dealing with folks who served over twenty years ago, when things were very different. I have experienced this before and its a difficult conversation to have.
So what can you do to combat this?!
  1. TELL YOUR STORY!!! Don’t stop telling your story!! If you ever want to write about it let me know. Homefront United Network is always looking for guest bloggers and writers to tell their story. Even if you don’t think you are a writer, try it!!!!!
  2. TAKE THE SURVEY! The Blue Star Families Military Lifestyle Survey is a survey that tells your story. It gets into the hands of non-profits, advocacy groups and those involved in the political world.
Survey Ends Today!!!!!!!!


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