By Heather Short
During a soldier’s military career, it’s almost inevitable they will deploy overseas. For over a decade, military families have dealt with deployments and, oftentimes, repeated deployments.
In some cases, spouses of deployed soldiers are viewed in unflattering stereotypes of just sitting around doing nothing while their soldiers are gone, but this could not be further from the truth. Most spouses are not twiddling their thumbs. Many are busy working, raising children, volunteering, or a combination of all three.
As a spouse, it’s easy to worry about where your service member is going, what they will be doing and when they will return home, but the best remedy for worry is finding positive activities to keep your mind occupied.
Some spouses of a deployed service members volunteer within the community at local shelters, soup kitchens, libraries and their children’s schools. Many find enjoyment in giving back to the community and filling their free time with purposeful tasks.
Keep a schedule
A lot of spouses continue to work part time or even take on a full-time position while their spouse is deployed. It not only fills their time, but it also keeps with the continuity of their career. Many people find that keeping daily schedules the same helps ease the drastic change of having a spouse gone on deployment.
For spouses who own a local business, the Clarksville Chamber of Commerce provides several networking opportunities. Throughout the year, the Chamber hosts events, like Business After Hours, Women in Business and Power Breakfasts, in order to get local professionals to meet. It’s an opportunity to network while enjoying some social time as well.
Take some you time
For spouses who may be on the brink of joining the workforce or starting a new business, deployment is a great time to get your ducks in a row. As much as some people dislike time away from their spouse, it can be an opportunity to focus on yourself.
Make the grade
Spouses may use a deployment to update their resumes or work on the details of a business plan. It could even be an ideal time to enroll in some classes and brush up on skills. Both Austin Peay State University and Nashville State Community College offer business classes in Clarksville, which eliminates a long-distance commute for school.
Quality kid time
There is a growing number of spouses who are stay-at-home parents, which certainly doesn’t mean they’re just sitting around with their children. Stay-at-home parents are just as busy as working parents and spouses.
Some attend Mommy and Me classes or other child-friendly activities at the YMCA, like gymnastics or swimming. Many stay-at-home parents volunteer to work at their children’s school-related events. It’s the perfect opportunity to stay active with the kids and meet other parents in a social setting.
Try something new
The YMCA offers a multitude of classes, like group fitness and recreational sports, which spouses of deployed soldiers may find interesting. If you have a lot of free time, maybe try a new sport or hobby.
Aside from the YMCA, there are art studios, local dance schools, scrapbooking groups and knitting clubs.
The Fort Campbell MWR website provides a calendar bursting with art-related classes, workshops, outdoor recreation trips and other events for military families, and many are free. There are a tremendous amount of places to see and things to do in the area.
Don’t beat yourself up
Some spouses may feel a bit of guilt about having fun while their loved one is deployed, but families cannot live life on pause. It is completely acceptable to use the time apart to better yourself or build a better financial future by finishing that degree, starting a new job or writing a business plan.
Remember it’s temporary
There is something special about a military family that cannot always be described, but you can see it in how they handle long deployments. Perhaps it’s the renowned resilience of military families that creates an impenetrable strength to take on anything thrown their way, including deployments.