I’m sitting in our townhouse today, still surrounded by all of our things (including a healthy dose of kid-induced mess), and I can’t help but think about what we were supposed to be doing right about now. We were supposed to be rolling into Seattle, Washington, on day two of our cross-country PCS. But instead it’s a regular old Saturday for us, thanks to a change in orders that was made after the ink was good and dry on the first set.
The last-minute switcheroo from Quantico to Japan uncovered a whole new layer of crazy that I never knew existed in military life. I find myself — now almost on a daily basis — losing track of everything from my car keys to my middle name and fighting off the urge (sometimes unsuccessfully) to bite my tongue when someone behind a desk tells me they can’t give me what I’m asking for.
Somewhere in the midst of this chaos I thought it would be a stellar idea to write a blog on sanity secrets, only to realize that I don’t have a clue what they are. What’s a frazzled girl with a deadline to do? I took to Facebook to ask my panel of experts (a.k.a. fellow military spouses) and their responses did not disappoint.
Job stuff. One of the biggest challenges of military-spousedom is trying to maintain a career with each move. The Department of Defense’s Spouse Education & Career Opportunities program provides free education and career guidance to military spouses, no matter where they are in their career track. The service branches also offer support – one spouse in my Facebook community mentioned Marine Corps Community Services was a lifesaver. The point being that there is free career help near all of us so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel.
Deployments. Deployments are like the military spouse Olympics, aren’t they? During times of separation, a few spouses admitted their dogs made the months less lonely and others used the alone time for self-improvement. One tip is that any time formerly deemed “couple time,” now becomes alone time to try kicking a bad habit or learning a new skill — hello, silver lining.
Another spouse anticipates the ugly-cry phase of deployment, and beats it to the punch by stocking up on comfort foods, fuzzy socks and good friends — a reminder that sometimes the best way to salvage sanity is just to give yourself a break and let your emotions run the show for a day. And when you’re done with the sad session, it might be a good time to take the advice of another spouse who guarantees a maid service is money well spent.
Universal sanity savers
- Let’s all agree that exercise is a good way to combat stress. I run faster and farther when I’m mad, and I always feel better afterward.
- If you have a friend who could barge in on you at any time and you wouldn’t be embarrassed about your messy house, you’ve got a good friend. Keep that person close when stress is at its worst. And don’t count out the healing power of milspouse events, even on the days when you just want to rock sweatpants.
- My last bit of advice would be to know yourself. I like to socialize, but too much of it makes me want to shut down. I need quiet time, but it drives some people bananas. I’m a list person, and others may see that as just one more thing to do. Whatever it is, if it’s stressing you out and it’s within your control to fix it (unlike orders), do it!