With over 1.5 million active duty members in the United States military, the chances are very great that you may be affected by an upcoming deployment, or know someone who is. Below are some ideas for spouses (or close friends, or family) to occupy the time maintaining the home-front, while they are away.
Volunteer your time:
Find an agency that is near and dear to your heart. Do you have a passion for animals? Check your local Humane Society. If you'd like to stay closer to base, check with your local MWR, FRG, or similar, and see if they are hosting any events that you would be interested in helping out with.
Join a gym:
Use deployment as a wonderful excuse to focus on your health and well being. Oftentimes gyms have childcare options as well, so that may be an added bonus if you're looking for a way to have your child socialize with other peers.
Set aside time for yourself:
If you have a family, your role as a parent drastically changes when your spouse deploys. Remember to set aside a night once in a while for you. Hire a babysitter, or swap babysitting with a friend, because it's important for yourself, and your family. Being a single parent for months on end is exhausting; you deserve it!
Take up a hobby you've been dying to try:
Have you always wanted to learn how to use your fancy camera? Take a photography class! If you are not a cook, go buy a cookbook and work your way through it! Now is the time to try out new things; it will keep you busy and you'll have fun while doing something that interests you.
Celebrate the milestones:
Has deployment hit its half-way mark? Cook a meal for some friends, and celebrate with a dinner party.
Establish a routine:
If you have children, you will want to establish a normal routine early-on. Their lives are also disrupted by a parent being deployed, so having a predictable routine to fall back on is key. Keep things as normal as possible, because this will make children feel more secure.
Before your spouse leaves for deployment, make a video of them reading your child's favorite story book. The child will love interacting with Daddy/Mommy by "reading" the book along with them! You can use this as part of their bedtime, or nap time routine, or randomly throughout the day. Also, make videos of daily things for your deployed spouse! You child will have fun making the video, and it's also a good "rainy day" activity. It will also be very special to your spouse to watch while they are far away.
Make a care-package and letter schedule:
It will bring a smile to your loved-ones face to receive a little hand-held token from home. With the advancement of e-mail readily available, sending snail-mail is sometimes overlooked. Send them a card, with a picture inside (or a CD with your latest home videos!) Pack up a box, and send them some fun items they may want. The ideas are endless, though you may want to remember that temperatures will vary drastically, so sending items that may spoil or melt, may not be a good idea.