Remember the day your child told you they were joining the Army? I sure do! It can be a roller coaster of complicated stress and emotions that no one else seems to understand.
Although your Soldier is becoming part of the greatest military in the world, it’s an uncomfortable feeling when you don’t know what the future will bring.
You probably have a million questions about your child, like:
- Will they be safe?
- What if they get deployed?
- What will they be doing day-to-day?
- How often will we be able to communicate?
- And many more!
As you take that first step of many on your Army mom journey, remember it’s a process that takes time and adjustment. Be good to yourself as you let go of your child to military service.
It took me a long time to figure that out! Once I figured out some ways to stay calm and grounded, my Army mom journey became one of the best experiences of my life.
Today I’m sharing some of my best tips to reduce army parent stress.
Letting go is hard to do
I get it. Letting go of my son to military service was a challenge. I resisted, kicking and screaming my way to becoming an emotional wreck! I took a step back and realized that my son’s career is not up to me. He’s in control and knows what he wants in life. He has goals that he chose to fulfill through military service.
Acceptance is hard, but you can do it. Identify your fears and face them head on. I wrote down all the things that scared me and said them out loud.
Realize that worrying about things you cannot change is not effective. Instead of fretting over a future that you can’t control or change, focus on all the great things your child will accomplish while they serve.
When I think back over my son’s accomplishments during his military career, my heart flows over with pride. That pride replaced the worry and stress that once held my heart and soul captive.
Let go with grace and open your heart and mind to great things ahead.
Find strength in numbers
You may have already discovered that family and friends don’t always understand quite how you feel. They’ll tell you “Everything will be okay”, or “It’s just like going off to college”. They are well-intentioned, so don’t get mad.
Instead, find people who understand your heart and grief. These are other military parents that share the same feelings as you do. I’m one of them!
At the start of my son’s military career, I needed to find those military parents that would understand what I was going through. I searched online for local in-person groups and also social media groups. They both exist and were truly a gift.
When finding a group, do your due diligence. Stay away from groups that seem negative. Keep it positive and supportive.
Are you moping around the house on an emotional rollercoaster? Time to step outside and get active. Exercise actually helps to reduce stress. It contributes to your overall health too.
When my Soldier deployed to Afghanistan, I was beside myself with worry and stress. I started running outdoors and committed to a strength-building exercise program. Within a short time, I was in the best shape of my life and feeling better. Running was a lifesaver also because it’s very meditative, which helps calm the mind.
Go for a walk every day, join a gym, or stream workouts online. Whichever you choose, staying active is sure to help bring peace to your heart and mind.
Pack and send a care package
I got into the habit of packing a couple of care packages once a month. I found it to be very cathartic. It felt good to fit all the items in a box, like a puzzle and imagine my son opening it. I would write a small note too.
When he received the package, it brought me so much joy. It helped me feel connected to my Soldier who was halfway around the world.
Spend time with God
There are many ways to spend time with God, including reading the bible or talking to God through prayer. I love to walk in nature and spend time with God and his glorious creation.
Having faith in God, knowing that He will take care of me and my Soldier, made all the difference to reducing stress. Anxiety tears you down and faith builds you up. God’s word is true. He can get you through these times and arm you with strength and courage.
Rejoice in God’s love. A love that is stronger than the worst of days.
Spend time learning
Did you know anything about military life prior to your child joining? I didn’t either! Not knowing made it that much scarier.
I made a goal to learn as much as possible about the Army. You know all those questions you have?
- What do all those acronyms mean?
- What are the officer ranks?
- What are the various Army units and how are they organized?
- What happens at Basic Combat Training?
- What does deployment mean?
- What are my child’s job responsibilities?
There are lots of websites where you can find answers to all your questions. I used to ask my son lots of questions too and he was happy to explain things to me.
Knowing what your child is doing and what life is like, can help ease you into your Army mom journey.
The first step of your journey is the hardest
All I know is that the first step into being a military parent is the hardest. Keep moving forward, it’s a process. Take care of yourself by following some of the aforementioned tips or others that you’ve learned about.
As your journey becomes more familiar, courage and strength will help make it a little easier and less stressful as you begin this new season of life.