Surviving Basic Combat Training can be hard enough as a spouse, or even a significant other, but when you add small children to the mix it definitely gets an added pressure that sometimes, others just don’t quite understand.
Here is our guide from the homestead on surviving Basic Combat Training with children!
We started by preparing our children ages 4, and 2 at the time that Daddy would be going away for a while. This meant that we made the most of all the time we had together before he left for Ft. Sill. To do this we made everyday an adventure with the camera. We made every minute one worth remembering, even if it just meant we were eating dinner outside on the lawn.
During this time we also added a new member to our family when I gave birth to our third son. We did day trips to the zoo, local parks and beaches, and took advantage of any free events that we found online, for us this included local summer league baseball games as well. Everywhere we went though, and everything we did we made sure that we either had our camera or a telephone with a camera handy so that we could take pictures of everything we did.
Schedule clearing, just before the week arrived we made sure that we cleared our schedules of anything non-essential so that we could have completely uninterrupted family time for 7 straight days before he left. During this time we relaxed, we also completed a memory book craft with the boys using all of the great pictures that we had taken from our summer family activities prior. It was a great way for the boys to have something to fall back on once he left to remember all the fun times they had.
If you haven’t made friends with Amazon or Amazon Prime yet, now would be a great time to do so. If you sign up for an Amazon Prime membership you have the ability to get free shipping on most orders, I highly recommend this. We ordered several books authored for military children dealing with a parent being in the military and having to cope with a parent leaving home for an undisclosed period of time. We took time to read all of these books to the boys, and on an educational stand point also allowed them the opportunity to ask questions and gain better comprehension skills necessary for children entering kindergarten.
Once the day finally arrives it is important to instill security and love into your children. For us this meant that we went every weekend to see our Grandparents so that they were sure this meant that they weren’t going any where and that we could remind them this was a temporary situation.
It also meant more crafting both for me independently and with a little help from them. Our first project was a ten link paper chain! Each link was a representation of the amount of weeks that Daddy would be gone. A way for young children who have little understanding of time to visualize. Another visualization we gave to them was a giant container filled with Hershey’s Hugs and Kisses. Each night at bedtime the two oldest boys were allowed to take one hug and kiss before they went to bed, and when the jar was empty we would be able to see our daddy again.
The first few weeks there is no contact either by telephone or mail are the hardest, it can be hard to reassure children when they have no visualization and no contact with the parent away to think about and remember that parent will come back. But once the first phone call came through it was easier because the rip down day for links and telephone calls were on the same day ((theoretically because as any military spouse can tell you anything can and will happen with the military)).
Similarly to how we made every day an adventure prior to him leaving, take a second everyday to take a snap shot of the family. This will be a great thing for your Soldier-in-Training, or SIT as you will soon see they are most often referred to, you can put them together in a book, slide show, or just mail them periodically to them so that they can keep in touch with what it is that is going on at home without them. This is a big key to remember, while you are home holding down the family fort they are located at an actual fort wondering what it is that you are all doing and missing you equally.
When it comes time for the count down moment to end and to pack your family up and travel to whatever base they maybe located at for BCT it will feel like the world is about to explode with excitement. If you are not used to traveling with small children, PINTREST is your friend! As well as your local dollar store and Walmart! I found that the local Walmart sold To-Go fun packs for children, each pack contained a cartoon/movie themed coloring book, stickers, and a small pack of crayons for 98Cents!! These are great, small, and easily can be thrown into a carryon bag. If you are traveling with an infant be sure to check with the TFA about formula regulations.
I let the boys pick out their own suitcases, help me go to the store and pick out special outfits to wear for graduation, and even brand new special watches! Having three kids to keep track of I also find it to be so much easier (( even though I am constantly made fun of for this)) to put them in the same outfit. This is two fold…
- I only have to keep track of one color shirt I can look up see two in that color and know I have mine!
- In case something were to happen I can show police, security, whomever and exact replica of what my child is wearing right down to the shoes if someone did get lost or taken! SAFETY FIRST STYLE SECOND!
For us the biggest part of surviving was just relying on everyone in our family no matter how big or small they were for comfort, support and happiness!
If you are beginning this journey I encourage you to check out social media, many bases have family support groups for family members, Fort Sill and For Sam Houston for sure do as I belong to both. Talk to the people that share a platoon with your SIT, I still have what I will forever call my Platoon 4 Family, even though they have now been apart, graduated, and stationed throughout the country for almost six months. Be active, be alert, be ready for anything!
Here is to hoping that you all have a wonderful day and until next time!
Have a blessed one!
Peace, Happiness, and Salvation!