1. Buy a drill: Learn how to use it.
2. Familiarize yourself with resources: both military and civilian (MyCAA, Pell Grants, WIC, AER, counseling services, Child and Youth Services, etc). P.S. There should be NO SHAME in taking advantage of assistance if you need it—your husband works for the government, so if anyone deserves it—your family does!
3. Meal plan. Endless resources can be found for this on Pinterest. Ramen noodles are NOT a meal plan…like, EVER.
4. Date Night. Prioritize this with your man. Husband gone? Do yourself a favor and date night with some other wives whose husbands are also gone. It does your soul some good to get out of the house and have adult conversation.
5. Budget. Teach yourself how to make one and discipline yourself to stick to it.
6. Contingency plans…because you never know when you may have an emergency, so make some plans in the event that you do. These include (but are not limited to) babysitting, pet sitting, house sitting, what to do if your car breaks down, sink stopped up, etc.
7. Learn to change a tire.
8. Boundaries. Get some if you don’t have them already…and that goes for family too! You don’t need everyone up in ya b’ness.
9. The commissary/PX/where your husband works is never a good place to wear pajama pants. Actually NO WHERE in public is a good place to wear those. Get you some jeans—put them on!
10. GPS—will be your best friend! Familiarize yourself with your surroundings: go explore your town. Learn short-cuts. Recognize that everything looks the same on post, so work that GPS—work it real good;)
11. See someone with nice hair? Ask her who her stylist is. You NEED to know this. Ombre is pretty, black roots are not.
12. Tricare. Did you know you don’t HAVE TO BE SEEN ON POST (even if you live on post)? Did you also know that not all ailments (despite popular military physicians beliefs) can be cured with motrin and hydration and that feelings can be expressed without a diagnosis of depression? Learn it. Make it work for you and yours.
13. Yellow ribbons? Take them down. This isn’t 1940. People don’t need to know half your heart is in Iraq. People are crazy. (This goes for your cute bumper stickers, as well).
14. It probably wouldn’t hurt to learn some basic self-defense—just sayin’.
15. The weed whacker doesn’t work itself…neither does the lawn mower (or, budget pending, you could just pay for that service).
16. Hydrate! I know I just said that that wasn’t a cure for everything, but this military life will lend you a lot of sweat and tears…so, drink up! FYI, the sweat and tears are totally worth it:)
17. Unless otherwise decided upon, major purchases while your husband is deployed are rarely a good thing. Save. Save. Save. Wait. Wait. Wait.
18. Participate in FRG, but if you CHOOSE TO NOT participate, don’t run your mouth about it.
19. “Daddy’s gone” is not an excuse for bad behavior from your child. You’re going to be a single parent—like, a lot—so learn to deal with issues together and separately. Will emotions run high? Yes. Are there going to be times where your child/children is off the chain? Yes. Learn and teach some coping skills and you’ll get through it—or sit in the middle of the floor and cry (whatever works). If your emotions are out of control, chances are your child’s will be too.
20. Basic sewing skills could save you a ton of money. Patches come loose, so does velcro.
21. Your husband’s rank is his—not yours. PERIOD.
22. Patience is a virtue and you might as well accept needing it because “hurry up and wait” will be your life’s motto until your husband retires. So, I will tell you like I tell my kids (and myself, sometimes): Find your patience. Is it in your pocket? Get it back out and put it on.
23. Network. Strike up a conversation. Make some friends. Don’t trudge through this alone.
24. Invest in yourself. Take a class, decorate a cake, run, paint, journal, do something.