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Forces Babies

(17 Posts)
whizzyrocket Tue 19-Jul-11 16:29:54

Hi there, I'm currently 24 weeks pregnant with our first baby. A boy. My husband and I have only been married a year so living in MQs still feels quite new and I've yet to move from base to base yet.

I'm worrying though as my OH has been posted to RAF Benson so I know I'll have to leave my friends behind along with the place that now feels like home. So I've been worrying about what it will be like for our little boy, growing up as a nomad in the forces.

So many of the things that I can see were really precious parts of my childhood I can see will be denied him. Things like having a hometown, being part of a local community, having people beyond your family who have known you since year dot, being able to develop places that you love going to at certain times of year, impromptu trips to the beach (I grew up by the sea) and a sense of belonging in that place. Let alone leaving friends behind, not seeing extended family much and not having any continuity of education.

I've heard the argument that kids are adaptable and will be happy because they will see their life as normal, but to me just because they don't realise they are missing out doesn't make it right that they should miss out.

Does anyone agree with me? Or am I just being hormonal and daft?

If you have had similar thoughts, what solutions have you found? What do you do as a compromise?

Would you consider settling down somewhere central, letting your DH live in the mess during the week and just see them at the weekend? That's my chap's solution but neither of us like it much.

penguin73 Tue 19-Jul-11 18:10:48

DS enjoyed the nomadic lifestyle initially but makes friends easily and I always made a point of visiting 'home' ie my parents at least once a month if not more, so he grew up with strong links to my old home town and it wasn't a problem. However it did become apparent that the moving would impact on his secondary education so I left the military and set up a stable home when he was in Y5 so he was settled and had friends in the area before the jump to secondary. DH commutes weekly when he is in the country and, although he hates missing out on the normal day to day stuff it works best for DS. I think you will find that different people advocate different things, it's a case of finding what works best for you and yours. I think the travelling around can be a positive thing for the early years and stability is important later on but there are many who will disagree.

vintageteacups Tue 19-Jul-11 18:49:07

I know that a lot of RAF families do settle in one place as they are less likely to move as much as the army. Somewhere commutable at weekends is a good idea and we've just finished doing the w/e xommute thing for a couple of years. We've done it for almost 2.5 years and it has been hard but if DH works not too far away, then it's a good solution.

If he's going to be deployed a lot, then having a base where you have support is always a good idea. If I hadn't have been living in my home town now, I'd never have survived the last couple of years; having my parents/sister/old school friends etc made it do-able.

Nothing makes up for not having your dh there every night but at least the kids have some stability. For us though, the kids are fed up without him and so for the next 2 years, we're joining him for his next job. Then we're coming back here but by then, the kids will be much more independent so the balance of problems will have changed slightly.

Strumpypumpy Tue 19-Jul-11 21:24:25

Totally agree with the others here, but DH is RAF and we have moved every 2 years for the last 12. Really only aircrews that stay in one place tbh. Everyone else it's one big shuffle! I think you either love it or hate it! Facebook is my friend, I keep in touch with old mates, connect with new ones, find out information and keep in touch with family. Children are all different. Mine are very sociable and adapt well to meeting new friends and moving around. But some children hate it. Until they reach 5ish I don't think you worry about settling too much. But after 9 moves, DS is on his third school and he is 6! then you start to think differently. We plan to move "home" after our next tour and then DH will commute for his last few years. But altogether DH has already done 17 years! So with 8 years left he's ready for a change.
It's a fab life. We love living in quarters, enjoy the social life and the children are great door openers for that! Make the most of it!

Blurry29 Tue 19-Jul-11 21:34:14

I was a forces baby and I have a forces baby who is now 5. I left the RAF in Jan after 10 years and DH is still serving. He was at RAF Benson prior to our current posting. It's a lovely camp in a lovely area, nice community feeling to it. Good military school and nursery and plenty of groups for 'mums and tots' etc.

IMHO kids do adapt, I did and my DS has. He is a social child who welcomes new faces to his class, he has experienced being the new boy and is often the first to volunteer to help the newbies. I can't say how he will react with the next move ( not planned for 2 years) but I believe that if I stay por-active with regards to schooling and being honest with him then it can only be a good thing. Prior to moving here we brought DS over to see the new house, the school and the area so he remained a part of all the plans, we are very active with him acedemically so I am hoping he will never fall behind as a result of moving.

I must admit I am at a quieter camp 9 which I personally am not a fan of) but it isn't the normal ''RAF'' camp but I wouldn't give up being in AMQ's just yet.

Hoping for Brize next....

Good luck to you and your family smile

whizzyrocket Wed 20-Jul-11 11:53:48

Thanks. I am just going to have to see how things go.

Strumpy, having a boy who is 6 and on his third school sounds no fun at all! I wish you luck there.

I'm not so worried about his education as I am teacher-trained and come from a family of teachers so the likelihood that he will lack support is extremely slim.

Those of you who have chosen a central spot to settle down in while your husband commutes, can I ask where you chose and whether you're happy there. We've talked about both Lincolnshire as there are a concentration of bases there, it has a good stretch of coastline and it's cheap; and Derbyshire as we have friends there. Otherwise we've only talked about places along the south coast we'd like to live one day (typical "this time next year we'll be millionaires" conversations!) which would be handy for both of our families.

It would be a lot better if I had any faith in DE to give us a habitable house at Benson. I just don't want to bring up my baby somewhere grotty when I feel he's going to miss out on a load of other stuff as well.

Chipotle Wed 20-Jul-11 12:04:54

I'm 34 and from the age of 0-18 along with my brother and Mum followed my Dad to every posting bar one. Moving every couple of years... Mostly Germany but also the UK and Hong Kong. I loved my childhood. I cannot imagine my Dad living in a mess while we settled in 1 house for my entire childhood.

You must do what you feel is right. But my DH grew up in 1 house with the same children all going to the same schools etc...
I am more independent and have so many more memories and experiences than him. He envies my childhood.

vintageteacups Wed 20-Jul-11 16:44:32

I feel the same way chipotle but worry that it'll make the kids never able to settle down and that they'll get my 'itchy feet'.

Chipotle Wed 20-Jul-11 17:32:25

There is a slight element if that... My DH and I bought our first house together 5 years ago, I want to move just because. There's no exact reason, I've never lived in one house this long before.

CocktailMumma Wed 20-Jul-11 19:08:37

Well we did married unaccompanied for the sake of the kids and now 11 years later are now mobile and our DC in boarding school.

It is not the life I imagined for my DC (nor myself to be honest) but actually having done both the MU and mobile its working out ok for us at the moment although I do miss the DC loads and loads (despite seeing them weekly). This solution is our compromise that is working for us right now. I do wake up in a cold sweat some nights thinking" OMG I have kids in BS!!! How the hell did that happen?". Like I said its not the life I imagined for my family, nor does it come anywhere close to either mine or DHs upbringing. If someone had said to me 8 years ago my kids would be at BS I would have laughed in their face at the absurdity of it all.

We did MU, it suited us for a while but things changed and DH was getting home less and less. Then we moved around for a while but it became obvious that 2 of the DC were not coping brilliantly with the moves and school changes etc but 1 DC loved the transient lifestyle and was in her element. All kids are different.

All you can do is the best you can. Try MU and see how it works. You may find you adapt Ok and it works relatively OK. If it does not or your DH is posted again and it changed the dynamics of MU and him getting home and family time etc, then you can always go back to being together again. Nothing has to be set in stone for ever. Its trial and error and about doing the best you can to suit your family at that time.

penguin73 Wed 20-Jul-11 21:07:51

I think the main concern with educational stability is moving during exam years now that school's have so much flexibility in what they offer and when - any move from Y9 onwards can be problematic now that some schools start exam courses then and do the within different time frames. We have a couple of pupils who have come to us part way through Y10 and not been able to complete exam courses started elsewhere, effectively wasting time spent on the course in Y9 and then struggling to start a new course. But moving schools prior to these years is do-able without any adverse effects.
Geographically we chose the area we already had links to through my family, in my experience trying to prejudge where DH will get posted to is pretty impossible within the RAF unless he is very specialised within a particular field. Having extended family near has been invaluable in helping us cope with the separation, both practically and emotionally.

penguin73 Wed 20-Jul-11 21:09:24

school's? oops, it's been a long day (just in case the grammar pedants are out!!)

mlrmummy1 Mon 25-Jul-11 21:32:07

I think its a personal decision and something only you can decide.

DH is an army child, was born in Germany and spent his childhood on the move. His Mum claims they had 10 houses in 15 years which is amazing. DH had a happy childhood and enjoyed moving about, he says it has advantages in that if you hated your current area/school/house then it was great to be leaving....on a negative, if you formed great friends, loved the school and area it wasnt easy leaving.

The sad thing, and something that became quite apparent was when we got married and I was inviting all my childhood and long standing friends, and he had no one to invite. He had lots of friends that he made since joining the army but no one that he'd known since childhood. He said with the amount of places he'd lived it was impossible to keep in touch with everyone, and back then there wasnt email/internet/mobiles.

As a result of his childhood, when we got married, we bought our own home, which we lived in together when he was based in Colchester, and then as and when he gets a posting elsewhere in the country he weekly commutes, either living in the Officers Mess or in a flat paid for by the army. It has meant that our children live about 20 minutes away from my family, so they have Grandparents, Aunties and Uncles, and cousins all living nearby. My longterm friends lives inb various locations but all within 30 mins drive, all of which have small children.

Despite the children not always seeing Dad in the week, the girls have stability of home, family and friends, and now our daughter is at school locally she has the reassurance of being there till she turns 11. All of this outweighs the fact poor Daddy lives away from time to time.

Its never been an easy thing to do, I miss hubby dreadfully in the week. I know other army wives who couldnt do what we do, but it works for has pros and negatives. I think with the new army overhaul, there is a lot going on in terms of super garrisons, meaning less frequest postings, which Im sure a lot of wives and families will prefer and benefit from!

scaryteacher Tue 26-Jul-11 08:19:16

I'm a Forces brat and so is dh. I moved every two years from 4/5 until age 9 (4 different primaries) and then did all my secondary schooling in one place. I boarded at 6th form. Dh was sent to board at 9, but his Mum stayed in one place whilst his Dad was away or at sea.

We have always had out own house and did weekending/sea time for 20 years (ds around for 11 years of that) so that I could have a job, and ds some stability. I moved with dh after 2 years of 6 weeking from abroad, and am glad I did as it helped us and ds. Another 3 years 6 weeking would not have worked. We have weekended for 4 years at a stretch and that is tough.

I would argue that for Forces kids (apart from Dad/Mum being away) moving is no different than it is for the ex pat kids, except for the most part ours move within UK. The ex pat kids all cope very well and seem well adjusted and it must be more difficult to move countries and have to deal with new cultures and languages each time. I would also add that mobility for work is now the norm - I don't know many people who have a 'home town' and stay there, or even if many would now want to.

As for beach trips ...... I live 20 minutes from the beach in the UK and never go as I hate beaches after a childhood of being dragged to them every holiday and sitting wet and shivering on stony beaches as my Dad didn't like sandy ones.

I was very attached and still am to my own bricks and mortar; and was reluctant to kick in the teaching job, let my house and move ds away from his prep school, but what I have realised over the last 5 years is that home is where you make it. Having moved ds once, he is less scared of having to move again and is even looking forward to going back to UK for 6th form whilst we are still here.

I don't think the continuity of education really matters until they hit Year 9 and the GCSEs either start, or prep starts for them, especially if you have the skills to help. I've taught kids who have lived in one place all their lives and who were no great shakes academically, or couldn't read, so I think it's down to the child and their family in many ways as opposed to how many schools they attend.

Gonzo33 Tue 26-Jul-11 14:25:08

I was a pad brat (Dad was Army) we moved every couple of years until Junior school (Dad was due out when I started senior and Mum wanted me to be settled by then. I loved the lifestyle, and found it incredibly hard to settle into one home and one school. We only travelled to see Dad when I had school holidays because he was based in Germany and we were in UK.

Now I am married to a soldier, we move every couple of years on a stric rotation which takes us out of the UK for 4 years out of 6. This has suited me. However we are now due to go to UK and that will be our final posting together because our DS starts senior school next year and will need stability.

HomeintheSun Sat 13-Aug-11 01:19:27

DH and I have been married for 9 years, neither of us were forces kids but with DH in the Raf our kids (4.7 years and 21 months) have traveled, our youngest is in her 3rd house and our eldest is in his 5th.
We lived for 3 years in Cyprus moving there when DS was just 9 weeks, he loved it, DD was born out there and was into her 2nd home by the time she was 3 months old.
The moving on is hard at time havng to say goodbye to friends but because of the Cyprus posting I now have friends all over England, Scotland, Cyprus and Germany.
We live about 4 and a half hours away from family which make me go out and find friends, it also makes the trip to visit family all the better.
Being a parent you will feel guilty about everything, I remember calling my mum when we were in Cyprus saying I felt guilty that DS would not be able to go looking for conkers (English childrens tv sparked that) and she pointed out that life is what you make of it, no we could not go looking for conkers, but we went to the beach nearly everyday and we helped release baby turtles back into the sea, its the different experiences that make us who we are. I would not rule out moving with your husband but if it does not work out you can always go down the other route. Good luck with everything. Oh and I have a couple of friends that live in Benson and I think they really like it there.

MissingMySleep Sun 14-Aug-11 23:10:59

DH has just left the army.For the last 13 years we have been in our own home (have never had MQ) and he has gone off to work - sometimes that was only 3 miles away, sometimes that meant we saw him once or twice a month.

Downsides are plenty, as in he is like a lodger that turns up with laundry, but on the other hand, now he gets out, the only difference is his job. The kids school, friends, my friends, my work - all remain untouched by our move from army to civvie life. The kids and I are civvies already, and not part of army life.

You need to look at what your DH does and where his likely postings are, and see if its workable for you.

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