The dreaded underway. Whether it’s a full fledged deployment or a season of sporadic underways (to learn the difference, check out our acronym guide), I think we can all agree it’s never easy when your partner goes out to sea. And I’d like to say it gets easier overtime, and perhaps it does. But it can still hurt.
How do you pass the time during an underway? Do you have a fun way of counting it down? Here’s a few fun ideas:
Make a paper chain.
This is a fun craft idea to do with kids! Sit down as a family before your spouse leaves or designate it as an activity to do that very first night. Go for every color of the rainbow or keep it in season. Take turns every morning or night and remove one of the chains. The chain is a fun and decorative visual to celebrate time passing.
Map out a calendar with things to look forward to.
This is my tried and true method for getting through underways. I map out the time, whether it’s three weeks or three months, on a large whiteboard calendar. I mark any and all events, from pediatrician appointments to FRG meetings. Then I fill in other milestones, like friend and family birthdays, holidays and special occasions. From there, I look for holes and fill in fun things to look forward to. I also try to encourage friends and family to visit when my spouse is away, so I have some extra company. During COVID-19 of course, my calendar looks more like phone dates and virtual wine nights. Whatever it is, I write it down. Even the smallest, silliest tasks I want to work on, like deep cleaning the garage or reorganizing a closet. I map it all out. Fill in your weeks so you can stay busy and keep your life moving.
Create a “countdown jar.”
I’ve seen this done in different ways – could be rocks, pebbles, coins, candy, coffee K-cups and more. Place two jars next to each other in a central part of your house – one marked “days down” and the other “days to go.” Another idea would be to fill one jar with Hershey kisses, and label it “one kiss for everyday I’m away.” Make it a routine every morning or night to take out one piece and put it inside the empty jar. Enjoy watching one jar empty and the other fill over time. There’s a lot of fun ideas on Pinterest.
Create a deployment journal or scrapbook.
If countdowns aren’t really your thing, consider a deployment scrapbook or journal. Document every week that your significant other is away, with highlights, notes, collages and photos. If you have kids, let them be creative with it. This could be a weekly project you do as a family, and a hands-on, tangible way to channel any sadness or anxiety. Overtime you’ll look forward to finding moments throughout the week to add to the journal. Then when your significant other comes home, your kids can look forward to sitting down and sharing it together.
As always, remember OPSEC and make sure any countdowns you create are private and not shared on the internet. How do you countdown underways or deployments? We’d love to hear more creative ideas, comment below!