Here’s how military spouses can work towards a better 2018
(Photo: Unsplash, Jerry Kiesewetter)

Focus words. Vision boards. Mindset shifts. Resolutions.

December is a time to reflect on the past year and make plans for the next. It’s time to consider what went well and what could have gone better. December is a time to hit the refresh button and start new in the next year.

Military life can be hard, stressful, challenging, and overwhelming. As you consider your other resolutions, add in a few that can make your military life a little easier and empower you to succeed.

Embrace the wait

“Hurry up and wait.” It’s funny because it’s true. So much of our life is spent waiting: For orders, for the next promotion board, for our PCS claim to hit, for deployment to start or end, for base housing to open up.

Military spouses, we are always waiting.

Often in my own journey, I’ve struggled against the waiting. I’m guilty of wishing time away during deployments or watching the calendar, willing the board results to come out sooner. What I’m doing is losing time, precious time. I won’t get back that year he was deployed. Why did I wish it away? Watching the clock won’t make the board decide any faster.

Instead of grouching about the wait or willing time to pass faster, won’t you join me in the waiting? Find things to occupy your time so that every moment is well spent. Pick up a hobby, take the trip, read all the books on your list. . .  and just live.

Take a leap

What’s on your bucket list? I want to run the Boston Marathon, enjoy the rest of my time at this duty station, and build my small business even more. Along the way, I’d like to climb Mount Fuji, go snorkeling, and get as many stamps in my passport as possible.

Make this new year the one that you stop writing new things on your to-do list and actually start checking things off. Yes, this one might be scary. It takes guts to put yourself out there, to take a risk. And it might not always be easy, but I can guarantee you that it will be worth it.

Make a new friend

It’s nice to have a secure friend group. While your larger group might change due to PCS or life changes, the core remains the same. This year resolve to try something different. Try to connect with someone different from you or that you might not normally reach out to.

Make eye contact with your new neighbor or that parent in the school drop-off line or that person you see walking the dogs on your run. Start a conversation. Talk about the weather, sports, or your favorite coffee spot nearby. Suggest you grab a quick bite or a cup of coffee soon, then follow up on your offer.

You might be pleasantly surprised with a new friend.

Prep now

If orders are coming down the line, it’s better to prep now than later.

This is a great chance to redefine your personal style and destash your child’s toys. Go through your closet and weed out clothes that no longer fit well or that you haven’t worn since your last move. It’s hard to trash everything that’s been out of rotation, and I get that. You never know where the military might send you next, so hold on to a few classic or treasured items.

Next, go room to room and consider your decorative items and furniture. Is anything broken or has outlived its usefulness? Trash it or donate it, based on its condition. With the rest, if you don’t love it or use it often, it might be time to find a new home for the piece.

Finally, sort through the your children’s (or spouse’s) clothes and toys. Follow the same route: Broken or not used means it goes away one way or another. With a much reduced load, you’ll be ready when those orders hit to move fast and light.

Redefine yourself

“I’m just a (fill in the blank).” Do you find yourself doing this? If you’re undervaluing yourself or downplaying all that you you, it’s definitely time for a change.

Right now, make a list of everything you do professionally, personally, parentally, and within your military-connected role. Write down all of your skills, your passions, your successes, and your goals. What is it that people ask you to help them with? What are you really really good at?

Now, write a few sentences about you, a mission or vision statement. Here’s mine: “I’m a teacher, mother, runner, writer, advocate, chef, and military wife. I run my own blog and freelance while being the best parent I know how to be.” I refuse to dwell in the “just” anymore. And neither should you.

By Meg Flanagan