Now that you’ve gotten through the tearful goodbyes of sending your child off to basic training, it’s time to start writing some letters.
Make sure you’ve got plenty of paper, envelopes, and stamps. Or, save a stamp and send a letter through the Sandboxx app!
If you’ve never been much of a writer, no worries.
Below, you’ll find a topic a day to write to your child. Once you get writing, you may find you have a lot more to say than you think!
Here’s a month of ideas to inspire you to start letter writing:
1. Describe your typical day – When in doubt, share about what you’ve been up to recently. Let them know about the usual day-to-day stuff.
2. Share a funny story about the family pet – Animals do some quirky things. If your child left behind a beloved pet, share a funny anecdote they’ll appreciate.
3. Update your child on their favorite sports teams – Whether your child loves collegiate or pro sports, there’s usually always something going on in this arena. Be sure to share updates as you can. Even if you don’t understand the lingo, they’ll appreciate the effort. Drop a news story about their favorite team into the letter.
4. Describe a new favorite place to visit – If you’ve recently found a new coffee shop or restaurant, share the details with your child. Paint a picture for them of what it’s like to be in this new favorite place.
5. Share details about a new hobby – Give an update on whatever it is you might be doing these days. Share about your new book club, knitting hobby, kickboxing lessons, photography classes, etc. See if they plan to start a new hobby upon leaving basic training.
6. Talk about the weather – Unless you’re in the same state, chances are the weather is pretty different where your recruit is stationed for basic. Ask them how they train differently for various weather conditions.
7. Send a poem – Write a poem especially for your child. Or, make a copy of their favorite inspirational poem.
8. Share a list of things to do near base – Research activities to do after graduation. This gives your recruit something to look forward to, especially if you will be attending the graduation ceremony. Ask them to share their top three picks and any other activities they may want to do.
9. Ask what’s challenged them the most – Basic training is challenging both mentally and physically. Find out what your child feels has challenged them in new ways.
10. Update on any home renovations or projects you’re taking on – If the kitchen was in mid-remodel when your child last saw it, be sure to update them on the progress. Before and after pictures are always fun to see. Share pics with them of where you’re at with big projects.
11. Give them a hometown snapshot — Update your child on hometown happenings, whether it’s a new restaurant coming to town or new neighbors who have moved in. Include a funny local news story to make them laugh.
12. Send along a list of inspirational verses – These can be favorite quotes or faith-based motivational quotes. Pick verses and sayings to encourage and uplift them.
13. Share a favorite childhood memory – Reflect on your childhood memories and pick one to share with your child. Choose one they may not have heard before.
14. Tell them you’re proud of them – There’s nothing better for a recruit than to have the support of their parents. Share why you’re proud of their decision to join the military. Words of encouragement for someone in basic training is the most important letter you can send.
15. What do you miss most? – Ask your child what they miss most about civilian life so far.
16. Brag sheet – At any point in basic training, your child will have overcome obstacles of all sorts. Ask them to share a few challenges they’ve overcome and what they’re most proud of achieving.
17. The 10 things list – Ask your child what 10 things they hope to bring away from their basic training experience.
18. Ask about the daily grind – What time do they wake up? What’s first on the agenda? What kind of food do they eat? Ask for the nitty-gritty details.
19. Talk about graduation – This is the most anticipated part of basic training for recruits and families. Ask your child what details they have about graduation.
20. Send a list of jokes – Bonus points if you make up your own jokes to send along.
21. Share military family history – Let your child know who else in the family has a military background. If you have a unique story to share about their service, do so.
22. Word association game – Write out a list of 5 to 10 words with a blank space next to each one. Ask your child to write down the first idea that comes to mind and mail it back to you. Have them send you a word association list, too.
23. Happy memories – Share your favorite memory of your child. Ask if they remember those events. Ask them to share their favorite memories, too.
24. Ask about who they’ve met – Basic training brings in recruits from all across the country. Ask your child who they’ve developed friendships with and where they’re from.
25. Dream locations – Your child will move quite a bit as a military member. Ask them what their top three dream locations would be.
26. Surprises – Ask your child what’s surprised them the most about military life.
27. Future plans – Share any plans you have for the upcoming months or years. Then ask your child to share what big goals they want to achieve.
28. Ask about their big decision – If it hasn’t been discussed, ask your child about the moment when they decided to join the military. Ask them why they picked the branch they did.
29. Home-cooked meals – Share with your child what’s been on the menu lately at home. Then share your favorite home-cooked meal memories with them. Ask what they are most looking forward to eating when they get to come back home.
30. What I think of first… – When you hear your child’s name, what is the first thing you think of? Share that with them.
31. List the reasons you love them – Above all, remind your child while you love them. They’ll enjoy reading this letter on days when training is rough.
Writing Letters Shows Support
Even if you dislike writing, these ideas should give you a jumpstart to write at least a few sentences to your recruit. While it may feel like you don’t have a whole lot to say, your recruit will still love getting a letter from you during mail call.
For many recruits, mail call is the highlight of their day. Even if you just send off a postcard or a funny card, it will mean the world to them.
And, always keep your letters positive and uplifting. Bad days will come and go. Sending your recruit cheerful letters is welcomed in a place that’s often stressful and uncomfortable. There are plenty of words of encouragement for someone in basic training that you can offer.
Physical mail may seem outdated in this day and age of technology, but it’s the only way for recruits to connect with you. Whether you send one a week or one a day, they’ll love getting snail mail.
There’s no such thing as too many letters.
What do you like to write your recruit about? Share in the comments below!