With so many patriotic holidays during the summertime, members of the military and their families have been at the top of my mind. Their selflessness and service is something that we all acknowledge, but oftentimes it isn’t as loudly lauded as it ought to be — the way they serve, defend, and protect our country, as well as the sacrifice their families at home make during deployment. It’s a true act of service from all sides. So how can we serve military families, specifically when their loved one is deployed for weeks or months at a time? I posed this question on Instagram a couple of weeks ago, and as always our DoSayGive followers gave the most thoughtful, loving insight. So I wanted to share some ideas with you today on how to do just that: Support military families during deployment.
1. Give them a sentimental gift they’ll cherish while their loved one is away.
From journals children and spouses can write in to document their time apart, to special stuffed animals to comfort little ones, or even a voice-record book before deployment so children can hear their parent read to them at bedtime. Sentimental gifts often help fill in gaps and make time apart easier.
2. Set up a meal train for the family at home.
This is one of the simplest ways to love a family well — the gift of dinner they didn’t have to make. A meal train is a great thing for neighbors, church groups, and friends to do together. Don’t forget to supply paper goods so they don’t have to do dishes!
3. Offer to babysit and watch children.
Parenting while worrying about the safety of a spouse is unfathomable to most of us, and the opportunity to have a little “me time” while your children are being cared for would be such a blessing! If you have children who are the same age, offer to carpool, pick up from practices, or take to birthday parties, too.
4. Gift experiences.
Fun adventures at home give the whole family something to look forward to — zoo outings, museums, splash pads, movie dates, or old-fashioned play dates. Sometimes a change of scenery does wonders for weary hearts!
5. Invite the family over for dinner.
There’s nothing like a home-cooked meal! You can even make it a weekly or bi-weekly affair and have a standing day for your families to get together. Serve them from the moment they walk in until they leave (and make sure they know they’re not on dish duty!).
6. Surprise them with the gift of a house cleaning.
Anything that gives the at-home parent a reprieve or the gift of spending more quality time with their children.
7. Help with celebrations like Christmas, Mother’s Day, birthdays, and other holidays.
Help wrap or shop for gifts, buy an extra card for the children to give to the parent at home, offer to decorate or bake a favorite dessert. No one should celebrate alone, so invite families in to celebrate alongside you.
8. Serve them around the house.
Mow their yard, water their plants, bring in their mail/newspaper, walk the dog. Anything to take added stress or pressure off their plates! Friends can do a signup calendar for this!
9. Make a countdown calendar for the children.
Be creative with it! Add the same amount of Hershey’s Kisses to a jar as the number of days their parent will be deployed, or create a large calendar on a poster board with days they can cross off. This will help pass the time and help their hearts!
10. Pray for them.
Not only for them, but with them! Pray for the strength and courage of their loved one, and for a safe return. Little texts reminding them you’re praying for them will mean so much!
More than anything, remember that no act of kindness is too small! For more ways to involve your children and teach them about patriotism as well as our military, be sure to read this post. And if you have any additional ideas to add to this list, please leave them in the comments below!