*At the dinner table, light a candle and place it where your loved one normally sits.
*Change a clock to reflect the time where your loved one is deployed so you have an idea of what they may be doing throughout the day.
Going Away Party
*Ask friends and relatives to write down words of encouragement and support on a large piece of paper to take with him. You can also screen print them onto a shirt.
*Allow friends and relatives to fill out post cards that you can send at a later date when you have his address overseas.
*Have a sign-up sheet for everyone to write their email addresses so that you can keep them informed.
*Use a special word or term such as "helping people" or "playing army" when referring to deployment. Stay away from "going to work" so they won't be afraid when deployment is done and daddy/mommy has to "go to work."
*Buy greeting cards ahead of time that daddy can bring overseas and send back to the kids. Think about all holidays, birthdays, special occassions, thinking of/missing you, etc.
*Measure time in terms of holidays and seasons since they don't understand how long a month, year, etc. is.
*Using a calendar, write down one thing you (and eveyone else in the family) did every day. Then you can share these with your soldier next time you talk. This will help make conversations easier if you're not sure what to talk about at times.
*Spend time with men while dad is gone so they can do the same things as the before deployment and still have a male figure in day-to-day/week-to-week life.
Ex: fishing, playing rough and tumble, boy stuff, etc.
*Recordable books for bedtime w/ dad's voice. If dad reads the bedtime stories try to change your routine gradually. Mom should read the story one night per week then build to two nights, etc. until mom is reading all of them.
*Look at ordering a flat daddy/mommy to take with to keep the spirit of deployed parent around.
*Print pictures of dad overseas...where he sleeps, eats, hangs out, with friends, etc.
*Make a memory box to remember what's happened while dad was gone. When he gets back you can go over the things in the box as a family.
*Keep a jar of Hershey kisses around. Every day they can have a kiss from dad until he returns. Be sure to adjust accordingly if his orders are extended.
*Make a paper chain (with dad) before he leaves for the length of time he will be gone. Have dad write something on each link before you put it together. Ex: I love you, Dads favorite color is blue, Butterflies come from caterpillars, etc.
*Have daddy write letters or wrap small gifts that your children can open up at a later date.