Without a doubt, one of the hardest parts about being a submarine spouse is the extended (and usually irregular) underways. Whether they’re gone for three weeks here, two months there, or a full-blown seven month deployment, it’s all hard. Is it just me or do the chaotic underways sometime feel harder?
We have some great advice about surviving deployments, what about these underways? So we asked our contributors – what do you do immediately when your spouse gets underway? Here’s what they said:
I am a planner and being married to a submariner and NOT being able to plan ahead is the most challenging thing. Because he’s gone, I suddenly have the ability to plan. So I do! Whether he’s gone for three weeks or six months, I map it out. I’m a visual person, so I love marking up my planner or whiteboard calendar. I map out big things (friends and family visits, holidays) and small things (parks, errands, appointments). Weekends can be difficult, so I try to map out my schedule with things to look forward to and keep me busy.
If you haven’t already, make a duty station bucket list. Here’s some inspiration for Pearl Harbor, Groton and more.
Move His Things
Some might not agree with me, but that’s okay. When my husband is gone for an extended period of time, it just makes me sad to watch his body wash collect dust or a lone shirt on the floor stare me down at night. So I move it! I move his tolietries under the sink or toss out nearly empty containers. I spread my stuff out. I do the same with his nightstand, clothes on the floor, shoes thrown about, etc. I always look forward to setting things back up, but in the meantime it’s out of sight, out of mind.
Pick a House Project
I like to pick a house project that I’ve been putting off, like organizing closets, overhauling my office space, etc. I slowly chip away at it and give myself grace if I can’t get it done as quickly as I’d like.
Connect with a Loved One
Following OPSEC of course, make sure someone in your network knows you are alone. During a long deployment my best friend made a point to call me every day and just to check-in with texts. I appreciated it because it almost felt like a daily point of contact, someone is checking in on you and making sure you’re OK. I also tell my manager at work so there is an understanding of my solo-parenting situation.
Treat Ourselves… Regularly
Talk to your sailor in advance and make sure you’re on the same page with expenses. Find something special for you that can fit within your budget. Maybe it’s hiring a sitter once a week or starting a new subscription kit like Stitch Fix, FabFitFun boxes or meal-kit deliveries.
Find a New Show to Watch
I like to find a show to binge watch that I know my sailor would hate. Our contributors recently loved Firefly Lane, Love is Blind, Working Moms, Ginny & Georgia and Vanderpump Rules.
Plan Dinner Dates
I like to plan a few dinner dates with other spouses that are going through the same underway. Especially ones with little ones around the same age, so our kids can socialize as well.
Cook Meals We Like
I plan meals that he wouldn’t have appreciated. Ex: mushroom raviolis and fancy (but delicious) cheeses. I also tend to eat healthier. And I cut back on drinking. It used to be that I drank more but lately I cut back as it’s such a pain to wake up with a hangover while solo parenting.
OK, what would you add to our list? Leave us a comment and tell us!