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Many ADF families will experience difficult times while their partner is deployed. As a result, families may feel a range of emotions, such as anxiety, fear of the unknown, anger and loneliness. These are common and normal emotions, and you should never suppress how you are feeling. There are also some ways that may make the time away from your partner more enjoyable and even create a sense of independence and confidence.
It is important to communicate with your partner prior to deployment about both your emotions, expectations and concerns. Agree on a mutual communication schedule, children’s routine and what you expect and need from each other. This will make the deployment less stressful for both parties.
Deployment can be especially hard on young families with the added demands of caring for children. Day to day activities and responsibilities falling on the shoulders of one parent can be difficult to manage. However, maintaining a regular routine for both yourself and your children will help you cope with such demands.
Make some time for planning
Planning is essential for keeping stress levels to a minimum. Plan a to-do list of things that you would like completed prior to your partner’s deployment. Major life changes such as a new job, a house move or a new school can add stress to the situation, so try to avoid these if possible when your partner is away. Try to maintain the same routine whilst your partner isn’t there, such as implementing the same bed time for the kids, school routine, exercise schedule and other activities.
Be kind to yourself
It’s ok to accept that this may be a hard time for yourself and your family. However, it can be a good opportunity to do things you enjoy or form new hobbies. Search at your local community centre for courses or workshops that you may be interested in.
It is important that you take care of your most important asset, which is your health. Getting daily exercise, nourishing your body with good food and having plenty of sleep is essential for good health. If you start to feel stressed, try breathing exercises, yoga or meditation. Also try to avoid excess alcohol, caffeine and processed foods, since that can contribute to inflammation in the body and increased stress levels.
Stay in touch with family and friends while your partner is away, as they can provide support, emotional comfort and assistance with practical tasks. Defence Community Organisation (DCO) can also be a great source of information and support. As part of this support, DCO run SMART programs that are targeted to the challenging aspects of deployment.
For further tips on staying connected during deployment, go to https://www.defence.gov.au/DCO/Military-life/Deployment/During.asp. If you would like to also receive more information on SMART programs, call the Defence Family Hotline on 1800 624 608.
Stay in touch
Speak to your partner prior to deployment about your communication while away. Agree to be positive, honest and open about each other’s emotions. Try not to discuss important things via email or text since this can sometimes be the cause of misunderstanding. Keep things positive and light, since discussing past issues or problems may not be effective when a partner is away. It is also important to be prepared that in some locations of deployment, communication may not go through as planned.
If at any time you’re not coping, it is essential that you reach out to family, friends or your Defence community.
The ADF community has numerous resources that can be found on the DCO website (www.defence.gov.au/dco). The Deployment Support Booklet (available on the DCO website) is also a great resource, as it contains detailed information on what you might expect from each stage of deployment.
If at any time you would like to speak to someone, the DCO helpline is available 24/7 on 1800 624 608.
Blog post written by Complete Corporate Wellness. Visit their website: https://www.completecorporatewellness.com.au/.
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