Life of an Army Wife – Why We Need a Routine!

If you’ve followed my stories before on this blog, you will know that my husband is a serving member of the Grenadier Guards, and he has recently completed a tour of Afghanistan.

Don’t get too excited, by a ‘tour’, I mean, literally, he went to a 5* resort with a 24/7 restaurant, gym, cinema room… etc. etc. You name it, the American camp he was on had it! Gone are the days where our soldiers were on the front lines out there! It’s still dangerous, of course, however just for context, before he went away, his many, MANY briefings indicated that his biggest threat to life would be a road traffic accident.

Now, that probably sounds like I’m downplaying it a lot, but really, there wasn’t all that much to worry about with him overseas. There were some scary moments where a couple of bombs went off in the city, or his vehicle broke down in the middle of Kabul and they had to wait out in the open for it to be fixed, but on the whole, the 7 month tour was without its dramas. (For him anyway!)

The hardest parts of the tour were the time difference, the radio silence, and me effectively being a single mother, trying to fill up my empty time.

Jamie was 3 and a half hours ahead of us, which doesn’t seem like much of a difference, and at first it didn’t affect us very much at all. He began the tour in early April while I was still on my Easter break from uni, and even when I went back to uni, it was only then for exams. So I would do an exam, come home, maybe do a little part-time shift at next, then go back to being mum for the rest of the day. It was fairly flexible and because I was available pretty much all of the time, the time difference wasn’t all that noticeable…

However, come June, I started working full-time. Olivia had to be at the childminder’s house for 07:30 dead on, otherwise I would miss my train to work at 07:38. From June until August, my train journey to work was pretty much the only uninterrupted period of time that we would be able to talk. Luckily, things have changed a lot since he last went to Afghanistan and he was able to use wifi from his room on camp, so we could send messages or video call as long as he was in his room. But by the time I finished work and got home with Olivia, he would be getting ready for bed. Still, Olivia got to speak to him most nights, though not for very long before I had to crack on with dinner, bath and bed for her too.

And so part 1 of our little routine developed. The strict morning routine of me habitually running to the train station to catch my train within 8 minutes of dropping Olivia off, and the strict evening routine of Olivia’s phone call with daddy, dinner time, bath time, our talcum powder thing (where we pretend to go crazy with the powder and shout “don’t tell dad!” while doing so), and bed time, listening to Daddy reading We’re Going on a Bear Hunt on the CD player.

It got harder to manage that effectively if Olivia missed Daddy’s call because he was out on a patrol, or if he was away from camp for longer than a couple of days. You know what it’s like, toddlers asking for something, you saying no, then they want it more and become even more persistent in their annoying whining about it… it was like that, except she was asking for Daddy, not just another piece of chocolate or something equally unimportant. Those times were stressful for me too, not least because I would be worrying about where he was (as he couldn’t usually tell me if he was leaving camp) and when I would speak to him next, but also I’d have a pretty much inconsolable child and I didn’t know what on earth to do about it.

I suppose that actually fed into the second, and biggest, part of our routine. We started filling our time up full of things to do. I found evenings so difficult, as it had been the first time in 5 years that I didn’t have any studying to do. Netflix played a large part in the evening “me time”, as did blogging until the pressures at work got slightly higher and I had the facility to work from home (big mistake – now I feel like I never log off). Filling up our weekends was slightly more difficult. Before Jamie came home for R&R (Rest & Recuperation) in August, I was still not driving and had to rely on trains or buses to get anywhere.

The first thing I focused on was throwing Olivia’s birthday party in May. People thought I was crazy doing it all at our house – I did the food, hired a bouncy castle, invited about 20 kids, and yes, it was hectic, but the cake, the picky bits and the other things I had to plan and organise made it a big distraction for me!

I tried to always do something at the weekend with her – we went to SeaLife in London, we met up with other Mums whose husbands were deployed and did a morning at Coral Reef in Bracknell, we went on a trip with the Welsh Guards Welfare to Legoland. I think I (very rarely) got the train to Kent to see my mother-in-law, and my dad even came down from Hull to visit me one weekend when the Grenadier Guards had a big fun day on up at camp.

It was difficult not having family nearby, literally managing Olivia on my own, and Olivia only managed to see her sister twice in that time, adding to the feeling of the time just dragging by! I can’t imagine how much she must have missed both her and her dad, and she was still really too young to understand where they’d gone. She knew daddy was at work (on holiday) and Kiera was at her mummy’s, but she went from seeing them both all the time to not at all.

That’s why it was so important to get into a busy routine. The more things we did, the easier it became to just crack on with life and the time passed far more quickly.

After August, it was so much easier to get into an even better routine because I FINALLY started driving! I was able to find little clubs and activities to take Olivia to, like I had wanted to for ages, and it doubled up as something else to keep us busy and keep our minds off the fact that Daddy should have been home for good in August, as his tour was extended until No

vember just a month before his R&R and I received that news on my birthday (how kind of them!)

Our weekend itinerary is;

Saturday:

9am – Dancing
10am – Gravity Force Trampolining
11:20am – French
Afternoon – Housework (aka nap time)

Sunday:

10am – Gravity Force Trampolining (sometimes)
2pm – Swimming

In the middle of those activities we found time to make and send parcels to daddy which Olivia enjoyed doing, and it doubled up as messy play for her as she painted and decorated the shoeboxes and made pictures for him that we sent out to him on blueys or in his parcels.

As you can tell, we liked to be kept busy, and it made the time fly! Although it was still rough not having Jamie around and my evenings were pretty uneventful and long, spending that quality time with Olivia and keeping us both busy really helped to distract us from missing him.

Are you a military spouse? How do you distract yourself when your other half is deployed overseas? Let us know in the comments!

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Do I follow my head or my heart?

Recently I made the decision to leave my partner of 5 years and move back in with my parents. It’s a decision I never thought I would have to make and this made it even harder. My head was saying leave but my heart wanted me to stay so I was very conflicted about what to do. So what do we do when our head and our heart have different opinions? How do we finally reach that all important decision?

1. Ask for advice from friends and family
This was the biggest help for me as my friends are usually the ones to remain unbiased and give me tough love when I need it. They were able to organise my thoughts without hesitation and made things really clear.

2. Don’t rush it.
The last thing you want to do is to get caught up in the moment, make a rash decision and then end up regretting it. Take as much time as you need to decide what is best for you.

3. Think about the outcomes.
Weighing up the outcomes of your decisions can be very helpful in stressful situations. It makes you think about which outcome is best for you and how you can reach the ideal outcome.

4. Remove yourself from the situation.
If you are constantly surrounded by whatever is causing you stress, remove yourself. Take a few days to take care of yourself and try to take your mind off of it. Whether that be a day out with your friends or having a self care day, just make sure you are focusing on yourself and not the stressful situation back home.

However you deal with things, you should always make the decision that is right for you. Just because you love someone, it does not mean you should stick with the stress or upset that comes with that love. You are worth so much more.

What do you do to help make big decisions? We would love to hear from you!

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Things to remember when you fall out of love with someone you thought you’d love forever.

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Things to remember when you fall out of love with someone you thought you’d love forever. 
  1. Your worth hasn’t decreased due to their inability to see how valuable you are. Whether they’ve dropped a diamond whilst flicking through pebbles or they’ve neglected the best thing that’s ever happened to them- it is their problem and not yours! 
  2. Your ability to love so relentlessly, passionately and fearlessly is a strength. Not a weakness. You have SO MUCH to give. Never let anybody tell you any different. 
  3. Try to let go of the hurt. Holding onto it is only hurting you. Easier said than done, but whilst you’re replaying scenarios- they probably can’t even remember the half of the struggles they’ve caused you! 
  4. You will love again. It seems impossible, but you will. You have no idea of who or what could be around the corner for you. You have no idea of the love and adoration you might find it you just let yourself try. 
  5. Celebrate all of the good things you’ve done together. They’re still achievements. At one time, you made the best team- if you’re coparenting the chances are that you’re still a sturdy unit. You’re allowed to be proud of all the wonderful things you’ve done together.  
  6. Even if you’re angry, even if you’re hurting. Don’t throw away a chance of friendship with the one who once meant the world to you. Try not to regret anything, even a bad ending doesn’t have to spoil great times, triumphs and memories. 
  7. Give yourself all the time you think you need to heal. Let yourself hurt, let yourself cry. You are more entitled to everything you are feeling. Don’t give yourself the “so and so had it worse” treatment- stop belittling your pain, it’s not a healthy way of dealing with things! 
  8. If there are children involved, never let either party or their families speak badly of the other. This breeds distrust between both parties, a quick nasty comment can drop out of an angry mouth in a heart beat- but the chances of it being forgotten by an impressionable child? Not likely! I’m not saying to necessarily hide the hurt you’re feeling from your children or the heart break your feeling, as these are great lessons of resilience and overcoming emotional turmoil- just keep hurtful truths and hyperbolic stories away from minds that can buy too much into them.  
  9. Remember that everything you’ve felt with with person, everything you’ve been through- is an example of better things to come. Keep reminding yourself that better things are just around the corner. that relationship and the subsequent breakup could be exactly what you needed to go out and find the better things.
  10. Let the pain remind you that your heart can heal. The likelihood is you’ve hurt like this before and maybe you will again. You’re alive to feel so many different emotions, to experience so many different experiences- life is like a cardiograph, the ups and downs are just a good sign that we’re still alive- kicking and fighting. 
  11. I’ll reiterate- PLEASE never, ever forget your worth. Never, ever, ever, ever, ever. You are so worthy. Scream it from the rooftops until you believe it!