The Modern Military Parent

If your spouse is like mine, he or she never takes vacation. In fact, at one point my husband built up more than 100 days of leave. That’s a ton of days where I could have been lying on a beach or hiking or skiing or even sleeping in for a staycation.

But around the holidays, steering clear of base for a few days is actually expected. The problem is that we’ve never been stationed anywhere near either of our families. With deployments, TDY and extended trainings, the holidays were the only chance we had for a vacation – and that meant going to see family.

I’m not complaining. My brothers-in-law, known by my daughters as ‘the uncs,” are thoughtful and attentive and my parents waste no time sneaking candy to my girls. But we only recently realized that, after more than a decade of marriage, we – meaning my husband and my two daughters and I – have taken exactly two family vacations.

Sound familiar? It’s yet another balancing act that military families face but one that can be amended, with a bit of delicacy and tact.
Start by educating family members. Often times, in-laws, siblings, aunts and uncles truly don’t understand how military life operates. Take the time to talk about your spouses’ daily schedule, how often you attend mandatory events and how little time you spend alone, as a family.

Explain how pending deployments or long-term trainings work. Long before the actual farewell, the stress of deployment seeps into your home like mist. And for a few weeks after your Marine or Airman returns, home life can be tricky. Be sure to communicate this situation to family members.

Suggest a time frame for family to visit you. Military bases are full of rich history, so why not share some of it with them. Have your service member tour folks around base and point out historical aircraft or sites. Be specific about dates to visit too, so no one overstays their welcome. This will give you time to spend a portion of holiday leave on your own terms.

If it’s too late to change holiday plans this year, then why not plant the seed for next year? Casually mention that you are looking forward to next year’s holiday at home or that you are saving up for a family vacation.
If it’s not too late for this year, then take advantage of the situation and start planning a family vacation now! Happy Holidays!

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