Deployment During the Holidays: How to Keep Kids Connected
Written by Susannah Wruk
Deployment during the holidays can be really difficult for any military family, but especially if you have kids. Children often struggle to feel the holiday spirit when a parent or loved one is away. Here are 3 simple ways to help kids feel more connected with your service member and make the holidays during deployment a bit brighter!
1. Keep Old Traditions
It can be really tough to continue some of the old family traditions while missing a family member. Oftentimes, kids just need a sense of normalcy and keeping up with family traditions can help with that. Fun activities, such as picking out a Christmas tree, decorating it, baking holiday cookies together, reading Christmas books or watching classic movies can all help kids get into the holiday spirit and not focus so much on missing their deployed loved one.
2. Make New Memories
Deployment during the holidays can also be a fantastic time to start new traditions! Some kids struggle with certain holiday traditions because “we always go with Dad to pick out the Christmas tree!” or “mom always bakes those special holiday cookies with us!” They just may not want to do the same traditions without their deployed parent and that’s okay!
Starting new traditions can be really fun. Some ideas are making ornaments to commemorate the deployment, making paper snowflakes, trying some new holiday recipes, and more! If you need ideas, Pinterest is always a great resource filled with endless craft ideas and recipes.
3. Share Holiday Joy
Sometimes the best way to get out of the “deployment funk” and into the holiday spirit is by stepping outside of your own situation and taking the time to help others. Here are ideas of how you and your kids can spread holiday cheer together:
- Send Christmas cards to service members. (This can be just to your deployed loved one or to other service members as well! Everyone loves receiving mail from home!)
- Volunteer at a soup kitchen, food pantry, or homeless shelter
- Pack holiday-themed care packages for deployed service members (Again, this can be for just your loved one or for others too!)
- Go Christmas caroling
- Participate in local events such as community parades or other volunteer events
The holiday season can be a challenging time for military families, especially when separated from loved ones. The Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA), a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving junior-enlisted service members and their families, seeks to spread holiday cheer to these families through a variety of resources and events! When you donate to the ASYMCA, you help further its efforts to support military families near and far!