One thing you must understand about me above all else is that I am a creature of habit. I like feeling organized, having a plan, and sticking to a routine so I feel I am the most productive I can be on any given day.
I plan laundry day, date night, movie night, grocery shopping, my morning coffee, when I take the dog out, weeknight dinners. You name it, I plan it.
Well, I did, until I realized the Military doesn’t give a sh*t about your schedule.
Before we arrived at this duty station, we were fed a lot of junk from my husband’s recruiter. We were told that he would only be working something similar to a normal 8-hour shift, those would vary but it would be pretty predictable. We heard that my husbands job really doesn’t deploy much, that it’s pretty similar to a civilian job, and a lot of things that didn’t end up being exactly true.
Please learn from our mistake take anything a recruiter says with a grain of salt, a lot of the time things are embellished or covered up to make them seem better than they really are. I am not calling recruiters liars, but their job is to sign people into the Military. They will make it seem like gold on a stick when in reality Military life is in fact not gold on a stick.
Anyway, when we got here it seemed that pretty much everything he said was true. My husband was allowed to come to sign our lease and get a few things squared away before having to return to work, he was home at a reasonable dinner-like hour, we had a nice night together followed by a relaxing weekend, it was pretty great. I could get on board with creating a schedule around that.
That lasted for about a week…
My husband started going to the field a lot. And living in a new place was scary enough for me, let alone being left by myself anywhere from a couple days to a week. I’m not going to lie to you, I cried way more than I should have. But the other issue was: we only had one vehicle for the time being, and it wasn’t a very reliable one at that.
Military members normally aren’t allowed to use their phones while they’re in the field, and plans change constantly. So I could be told that he was coming home on a Saturday morning, but when Thursday night rolled around I could be getting a call to go pick him up somewhere that I had no clue how to get to. Or vice versa, Saturday could come and go and I wouldn’t get a text about what was going on until the following morning.
Yeah, sharing a car was super fun.
Then there’s the late nights, the random call-ins, after work online courses, all kinds of “fun” things that can make your spouse late for the dinner you planned. And for someone that needs a schedule, I was like:
As a last-semester college student taking her last few courses online, the hours of the day started to feel so long. I felt like I had nothing to fill the day, and that I was becoming useless. I had the ability to sleep in and was forced to just hang out around the apartment complex all day because most of the time I didn’t have the car. I got unbelievably bored and had nothing to do. Nothing to even make into a schedule. I needed something to fill those long and open hours.
I’m sure a lot of other MilSpouses feel the same way when they are first starting out. Whether the job hunt is a bust (which happens a lot more than you would think), your without a car like I was, you’re trying to go to school, or just get used to your new area, it can be extremely hard not to just let yourself sit in front of the TV all day when your house is already clean and meals are prepped by 10 am.
I’ve been there, and there are a few tricks I’ve learned to get yourself feeling more productive and have the feeling of having a schedule without actually having one:
First and foremost, we adopted Dexter. Having a dog has been a lifesaver for me. Before I started working, it was so great to have someone to go on a walk with and fuss over throughout the day. Having the simple responsibility of taking care of him helped so much because I had something to focus my attention on. He kept me company during the nights that my husband was gone, and was always up for a good cuddle when I felt lonely. A woman once told me that a dog can save a Military spouse’s life, and I will definitely second that statement.
The second thing I did sounds so simple, but can be very hard to execute when you feel like your days take forever with nothing to do. It’s getting up at a certain time every day. I am most definitely a morning person, I like to get as much done in the mornings as I can so I can enjoy knowing I got all of my tasks finished for the rest of the day. I made myself get up at 7 every morning so I could have a cup of coffee in me before my husband came home from PT to change. That way I was awake and alert for when my husband came home so I could spend some time with him before I started cleaning and doing whatever else I needed to do that day.
Do not let yourself become a person who never leaves the house. This is so important. There was a part of me that never wanted to leave the house. And often times, that part of me won. I started making excuse after excuse to just stay home and avoid leaving as much as possible. I convinced myself that since I wasn’t bringing in any income just yet, that I shouldn’t spend any money without asking my husband first. Even if it was something as simple as paper towels, I would put off buying them until my husband got home and I could ask him to spend the six dollars. I’m not saying to totally go crazy without discussing finances with your S/O first, but buying a coffee to get yourself out of the house once or twice a week or getting a few cleaning supplies from the dollar store shouldn’t be a big deal.
Personally, the less I got out of the house, the less I wanted to get out of the house, and it just became a slippery slope of using Netflix and sleep to pass the days. I wasn’t happy, but I couldn’t overcome whatever excuse I came up with that day to stay home. Don’t fall into this lifestyle. Even planning to go to the store at a certain time might be what makes you feel like you’ve accomplished something on your schedule.
Find a new hobby. I started blogging because I missed writing papers for school. I am a total nerd and missed doing schoolwork so much after I graduated. I missed planning out when to complete assignments and really challenging myself to keep disciplined and get things completed by due dates. Now, I’m hoping to start vlogging as well and work my normal job on top of it. I have found something that really benefits where I am and what I need right now.
If none of this sounds appealing, there are so many other things that you can get started for little to no money if you feel that it’s an issue (I’ve been there, hobbies can get expensive). But just having something to make yourself do a few times a week or work on every day will make you feel like you’re doing something. I have a whole post on this topic, The Importance of Finding Your Hobby, so if you missed that don’t forget to subscribe to our email list and follow us on Twitter to be updated as soon as these blogs are posted! Links are on the Home page! https://faithloveandcamouflage.com/
Lastly, I tried my best to give myself leniency on things I wanted to get done. Instead of saying I was going to get my laundry done on Tuesday, I said I was going to get laundry done over the course of Monday and Tuesday. This way, if something happens with your spouse’s work that creates a blip in your schedule, it doesn’t feel like you’re failing at keeping it together. This was a big one for me because if I didn’t get something done the minute I wanted it finished I would get discouraged and feel even more useless. Doing a little bit over the period of a few days while keeping myself busy with other tasks made me feel more productive than if I got it all done in one day with nothing to do for the rest of the week.
Add more to your schedule if you need something to stick to. I have slowly added more meal prepping, the gym, and blogging more frequently to my plate to keep myself busy when there isn’t something fun to do. The Military keeps my husband pretty tired throughout the week, and living for Saturday and Sunday makes for some pretty boring weekdays. Especially when you haven’t met many people in your area yet or your friends have conflicting work schedules. Do what you need to do to feel good. Don’t let the Military keep you from feeling like the boss you are! Make adjustments and make yourself feel happy and accomplished.
If you have any other hacks for keeping it together while your spouse is in the Military leave a reply down below!