Routines. Do yourself a favor and start a morning and bedtime routine for you and your littles. If nothing goes right or as planned throughout your day, at least you’ll have some semblance of normalcy bookending each day. Write it out on a piece of paper and tape it to your bathroom mirror; type it up in a note on your smartphone; laminate it and stick it on your refrigerator. Make it visible so you see it and do it, even if you just get one small item checked off. Everyone’s teeth brushed? Awesome! Lunches prepped? Even better! Bedtime story? Great way to end the day.
Baby/toddler music. One word: lifesaver. I started playing music in the car for my son when he was just a few weeks old. It’s even better as he gets older. When he starts to get fussy in the car and I’m driving alone, I cannot stand for him to cry or be upset when I’m in the front seat. I downloaded a variety of fun nursery rhymes, children’s songs, classical music and more to entertain him (or put him to sleep) for the car. I may or may not sing at the top of my lungs and make goofy faces at him from the mirror to make him laugh, but that is, of course, optional. A backseat mirror is also a must for rear-facing little ones!
A trustworthy babysitter. Interview potential sitters, even if they come recommended by a friend! If your spouse is deployed or away, you’ll definitely want a sitter for mommy time. If he’s home, you’ll want to schedule in some date nights!
Baby book. As military families, we’re often separated from loved ones. Whether it be your spouse, your parents or friends and family from home, there are going to be gaps of time between seeing each other. This is why I try my best to keep my son’s baby book updated. This way I can bring it with me when I visit everyone to share his growth and accomplishments, add keepsakes to it to show his daddy and write stories down that I want to remember.
Camera or video camera. Along the same lines as a baby book— capture those precious moments and memories so you can share them with your spouse and distant family and friends!
Trust. “Mommy instinct” is a real thing, and I never knew I had it until I became a mother. When in doubt, trust your gut. If you think you child may be sick, if you think something may be wrong, if you think you need help… Trust yourself. Make the call. Your spouse may not be available and it’s going to come down to you. You got this, mama!
Patience. In military life, we know this is a necessity. There is lots to learn when navigating both this and parenthood. Have patience with yourself, your children and your spouse. “Hurry up and wait,” as my husband’s branch says. Sometimes, just the reminder that you’ll always need to have patience makes it easier to manage when you have to muster it up.
Reliable cellphone service. So important! For many of us, our cellphones are our lifelines. They’re how we communicate with spouses who are working late or deployed, how we take most of our photos, how we keep up-to-date with family, friends and social media. And we’ve all experienced lack of coverage at one time or another. If your service is constantly on the fritz, make a change and save yourself the frustration!
Healthy snacks. Totally a must for every busy mom, not just us #milspouses. Have grab-and-go, easily-accessible snacks at your disposal for when you are super busy or super drained. Bag them ahead of time and stock them in your pantry, in a basket on your counter, in your purse, in your car… Figure out what works best for you and work it!
Grace. Life is going to happen. How we handle it is everything. Even in the craziest of situations, try to collect your cool and find your center. Step back if you need to and re-approach such events with grace and a level head.
Someone to call. We all need that “person,” the one who is not our spouse. The one to call to talk to, to vent to, seek advice from, to be heard by. It’s best to have a local “someone” in the event of an emergency as well as someone just for talking.
Deep freezer. Okay, maybe not a “must have,” but certainly a “nice to have.” It’s great to stock pile perishable foods (meat, produce, etc.), to keep extra freezer meals, to store homemade baby food if you make ahead in bulk. And who doesn’t have those nights when you don’t want to cook? A freezer meal can be a healthier option than fast food, depending on what you have in stock. Bonus points if it’s homemade!
Humility. As much as we all want to be supermom, she doesn’t exist. It’s okay to mess up, it’s okay to accept help and it’s okay to let the house go when life gets too busy. Stay humble, give and take, and be your own brand of supermom!