OK, let us start by saying that you don’t need to buy anything. But we asked dozens of spouses what products brought them joy during deployment, some tangible items, some not. So, in no particular order:
1. RED Friday Shirts
Encourage your friends and family to wear RED (Remember Everyone Deployed) on Fridays and share photos with you. This was a weekly thing I looked forward to. And every Friday meant another week down! This is also a great fundraiser for your FRG! I love the products from 16Submarines.
2. Head-On-a-Stick Sign
OK, this brought me so much joy during my husband’s last deployment. I kept the sign in our kitchen and when my toddler would eat I’d hold it up and say “da-da” and it would make him laugh. We used it as a prop for family photos and it just became a fun, silly thing that traveled with us. I even fit it in my suitcase when we visited family in the Midwest. For one final use, I had my son carry it at Homecoming. I got mine from Build A Head, but there’s also great options on Etsy and Amazon.
3. Bark Box
Don’t forget about your furry friends! One spouse shared she loved doing a Bark Box subscription (six months). “It was so great to see the dog and the kids get excited about the delivery!” The subscription offers fun, customized boxes of themed toys and treats for every month.
4. Fun Glassware
Whether coffee or wine is your vice, consider buying a fun deployment wine glass or coffee mug to make you smile. I love this one from Modern Rosie, or any of these from Etsy.
5. Recordable Storybooks
This became our most prized possessions during deployment. Order a recordable storybook in advance and have your submariner record their voice. This was a bedtime ritual for my son and I, and we still listen to it over a year later. We loved hearing my husband’s voice every night. We purchased this one from Hallmark, but there’s some great options on Amazon, too.
6. Subscription Kits
A great way to mark progress during deployment is a monthly subscription kit! Spouses recommended Scout & Cellar “Scout Circle” wine kits, Ipsy make-up boxes, FabFitFun, StitchFix and the military spouse centered MilSo Box and Brave Crates.
7. Streaming Services
One spouse shared a great idea – “I usually get a new streaming service for deployment so that I have new stuff to watch in the evenings.” These days there’s dozens of streaming services to choose from! Maybe it’s time to bite the bullet and try HBO Max, Peacock or Paramount+?
8. Hired Help
Are there any household tasks that cause you extra stress when your sailor is gone? Some spouses recommend prioritizing house cleaning, gardening or lawn services to alleviate some of the stress! If it’s out of budget, maybe you could find another friend or neighbor who could help out? Bottom line: don’t be afraid to ask for help.
9. Meal Service
Similar to the household services, do you need a break with cooking or meal prepping? One spouse recommended trying a meal service. From HelloFresh and Home Chef to Daily Harvest and Sunbasket, there’s so many to choose from. For a full breakdown and comparison of services, check out this article.
10. Daddy/Mommy Doll
This is a deployment favorite for those with kids, but even older kids can enjoy this. One spouse says, “We had a daddy doll that we would take with us and put in holiday photos. My kids were older so it gave us a little joy to have the daddy doll there where dad wasn’t.” Browse products from HugaHero or Etsy creators. One spouse also suggested a Build-a-Bear with a recordable voice.
11. Daddy/Mommy Blankets
Curl up close to your missing sailor with a customized blanket! One spouse dubbed hers a “Hug Daddy Blanket” with an image of her sailor giving a hug. Check these out on Shutterfly!
12. A Halfway Box… For You
I love this idea and am 100% making my sailor do this for me next time. Just like we prepare halfway boxes for them, have your sailor prepare a halway box for you and/or your kids. What a wonderful thing to look forward to!
What brings you joy during deployment? For more deployment resources and articles, click here.