Mommy Advice — The Bump
Military Families

Mommy Advice

I'm pregnant with our first baby and my husband is currently deployed. He will be back about 6 months after the baby is born. I know many other woman have experienced this and I was wondering if you all had any advice for me? I am not living near family so having someone watch the baby for a few minutes while I shower or nap isn't really an option.

So, what did you guys find the most helpful?

Re: Mommy Advice

  • Find some good babysitters now.  Get recommendations from friends and neighbors, and make sure you have several so there are backups in place if you need them.  I would not have been able to survive for the last six months of DH's deployment (let alone the last 5 weeks with a preschooler and an infant) without my amazing childcare providers.
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  • DH was deployed, I was a full time teacher, and DS was around a year old. No family in the area either. If you live near a base, check out what kinds of options they have for you in terms of childcare. Lots of times they have opportunities for families of the deployed to receive a few hours of free care a week. 

    It's rough, for sure. Find babysitters. Ask your friends. You will want help at some point. I'd start looking right now. Good luck! 

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  • Since this is your first baby, it might not be too bad actually if your husband will be back around 6 months (before the baby is mobile, etc).  Hopefully you'll have a baby who is a good sleeper/napper and you'll get built in breaks throughout the day.  Sleep when the baby sleeps, put the baby in a bouncer and bring him/her into the bathroom with you to shower.  Same thing when you need to cook/eat.  Wearing your baby (carrier, sling, etc) might also help.  Find reasons to get out of the house, even if its just to go walk around the mall, although finding things that let you interact with other people too will be even better - you'll find that by the end of the day at home with a baby you'll probably be craving adult conversation!  And as everyone else has said, find someone (or a few someones) who you trust to watch your child every now and then so that you can have a break. Or offer to switch off with another parent who needs a break and take turns watching kids so that you know you have someone reliable.   
  • Check with the childcare on base (if you're near one) and see if they have free hours for deployed families.  You can usually start using the hourly care programs when your child is 6 weeks old.  Here we get 16 hours a month, per child, during deployments.  It's a lifesaver to have those 4 hours a week to drop them off, go eat lunch in peace and quiet, maybe take in a movie or go shopping. 

    Also just make sure you get out of the house as much as possible.  It's easy with a newborn to fall into a routine of only going out when you need groceries because the fridge is empty, or there is a doctor's appointment you have to go to.  Make it a point to also get out at least once or twice a week for "just because" trips, even if you just go walk around the mall or Target. 

    And as far as housework goes... if it's not absolutely necessary and it doesn't get done DO NOT STRESS about it.  You will have a newborn by yourself.  Who the eff cares if your laundry sits in a basket until it gets worn instead of being folded and put away, or if it takes you 2 days to get to the dishes in the sink.  Baby comes first, you come a very close second, chores that are absolutely necessary to health and welfare come third, and everything else is just a bonus. 

  • Your situation was mine with my first.  DH returned from deployment when DS1 was around 6mos old.  In regards to showering and napping, showering was done during the baby's morning nap (now I shower at night after the kids are in bed) and napping was done when the baby napped IF I needed one.

    Even though you do not have family near, do you have any friends in the vicinity that you can count on?  I also did not have family near me but I was friends with my neighbor who was a SAHM.  If I felt I really needed help, I would ask her.  I also had a very good friend that would stop by one time a week after her work and stay for a couple of hours so I could run errands and have a little time to myself.  That was one of the most wonderful gifts I received...her time. 

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  • My husband deployed 5 weeks after DS was born. It's been hard and difficult and I have my best friend living with me. But I am far away from my family. If someone is willing you can always ask someone have move down to you or go home to family. It will be hard but have some people you can rely on. Whether it's a family advisor from the FRG or it's another new mommy going through the same thing... You will need someone you can rely on.
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  • Start going to FRG meetings.  Meet some new friends.  For the first few weeks, our FRG sent ladies over with meals.  They also sent ladies over to help me clean or to cut the grass.  I've done the same for other ladies.  It is  a huge help.

    Also, I used to put my babies in their carrier or bouncy and take them into the bathroom with me while I showered.  The sound of the water is really soothing for them and they aren't left alone in case they start crying. 

    You'll figure out a routine.  It might take you a month or two, but you can do it.  Don't feel bad if you let the laundry or the dishes go a few days.  It isn't a big deal. 

    If family is planning to come visit you after the baby is born, have them come in shifts instead of all at the same time.  Thay way you'll have help for a while and you won't be overwhelmed with a ton of company at once. 

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  • Thanks everyone, it really is encouraging to hear that other woman have done this and succeeded! I really appreciate all your advice :)
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