by R.Brian Williams
The rush to get ready for a deployment often leads to putting the family on hold while you sharpen your skills and race to get all your pre-deployment tasks accomplished.
But one way to help your family get prepared for your absence is to take what little time you may have and spend it with them. A family vacation can be just the thing to connect and prepare your family for your time away from them.
Look at your family as one of the most important pieces of predeployment activities that you have. The legal guys will make sure your will is squared away and the family support folks will get your spouse’s contact info to make sure the checklists are completed, but one-on-one time with them and the family is often overlooked.
Spending a weekend or even a week with the family before you deploy is a great way to calibrate yourself to their needs and what all they are thinking before you board that plane. Spending time with them is one of the most precious things that you can do for them to get everyone ready. Just as you invest money in a house or a truck, you can look at this opportunity as an investment in your relationships, spending wisely your time — just being with them.
The all-inclusive route to taking a vacation is a great way to decompress and hang with the family without spending time worrying about meals to prepare and scheduling activities. Having the flexibility to saunter up to a restaurant and ordering whatever is on the menu is a fantastic way to just relax and not worry about the nickel-and-diming that happens during most vacations. Maid service and a crystal blue pool (or ocean) can be just the thing when you want to relax. Some cruise lines offer kid-themed cruises that allow the parents to let the kids have activities all day while the parents can have some much-needed alone time.
Of course, a swanky vacation that may bust the bank isn’t always the preferred choice for pre-deployment activities. You can spend a great deal of time and not much money just staying at home and doing fun things locally with your family. Day trips are a great way to save cash while exploring all those things that you drive by every day on your way to work. Take a minute and actually see what is near your home and plan a few outings that way. Ask your spouse or your children if they’ve heard about something that they’d like to do but never have. The result is the same — fun with the family and spending the maximum amount of time — without having to take out a loan to pay for amusement park tickets, expensive food and airline bills!
The most important thing to remember, whether you are in predeployment or post-deployment mode, is that the goal is to get as much one-on-one time as you can with your family. Connecting or reconnecting does not have to be anything crazy expensive; just spending time with the family is the goal here.
So kick back a little, soak up some good times and do the things that make family vacations memorable. Just be with the ones you love!