DH going on tour for 6 months, advice on how to handle his 'goodbye' to 5 yo DD(15 Posts)
This is a really helpful thread. My DH is off to the sandy place in Dec and I am dreading it. Its the first time he has ever deployed in 10 years. I know I will be ok (ex forces and we didn't see each other for almost a year when we first went out!) but just worry about the DC - both old enough (and wise enough) to know whats happening (6 and 4 read 8 and 6 understanding). He works away monday-friday atm but their behaviour has already started to deteriorate since he changed jobs.
I think it depends on the child. My youngest is the only one that has ever been really bothered about him going away (he goes several times a year for 2wks to 2 months, so away about 4 months a year). Things that have helped us:
1. Visual countdown calendar, have used a calendar that we tick off days, or more excitingly we use a Dadvent - either a jar for each day he's away with a treat in for each of the 3, or currently we have a jar that has 2 sweets for each in for each year - they love this!
2. DH did a powerpoint of his life in CB, so they can picture where he gets his puddings from, and what his room looks like (this helps me too tbh), and emailed it to us.
3. DH once went into pre-school with her for a day, the week before he went away, and she loved this - he'd seen something in info that suggested it - and I think it helped her to spend that time with him, sharing her life too. (She's 6 now).
4. I always tell her teacher when he's going, as behaviour can be up the spout for a bit. (She used to go backwards on toileting too - pooing in pants in particular)
5. When her behaviour is awful, I email dh and ask him to call asap to speak to her, and op mins allowing he does, and this helps.
6. Skyping as much as possible but it's fairly rare as the quality is so rubbish!
7. DH did those stories on CD, have forgotten their name, but they loved those. Another time, her recorded himself on the computer reading some of their favourite books so that while he was away he could sometimes "read bedtime story" - this was really helpful.
8. He posts sweets to them or other bits of tat from the dx. They luv this. Especially tic tacs!
Mostly dh leaves here after they go to bed so there's no big goodbye, but if they are up, we wave from the front door. I'm always a bit vague about when he's due back because we never quite know (they're always getting delayed), until he lands at Brize.
He's phoned us today for the 1st time since he left a week ago, and all the kids are going around humming and singing and whistling. Contact is what helps most! Helps him too.
My dd has a build a bear with a little voice box in with her dads voice, drives me mental but she loves it dearly she is forever squeezing its arm to hear it when she's missing him !!
Some good advice here which I shall process over the next few weeks - just found out today DH deploys in December ... Does anyone know whether there are any good books on this for little ones? DS will be 4 days after deployment (so we are changing the date of his Birthday this year as he won't know the difference!). Sure I've seen literature before but not sure if it was a recommend, or just something from welfare services...
I agree, some very useful help here and now here I am with 4 hours to go before DH leaves. We are lucky that we have just had half term/Jubilee and have had a great last week. DD knows he is going tomorrow so we are not going to mention it again at bedtime. We are both in bits but have hidden it well from DD - he has just taken our dog for her last walk before he goes which will set him off again. I know we will be fine once he has gone and we all settle into our new routines but lordy it is hard ATM.
Thanks again to all for advice x
This is a very interesting and helpful thread for me. I have a 6 year old dd and 3 year old son and my husband is due for his six months soon. I am also dreading the parting and some of the suggestions you ladies have put on here are very good.
I was thinking a family day the day before and then letting him just disappear as normal for work. from there on in - just taking one day at a time. Oh I am dreading it ...
We have never done the big goodbye thing in our house, it makes my 4DCs upset, so now DH just gets up and goes to work as normal and when they notice he isn't there at supper time I say "oh yeah he's gone to work and won't be home, you'll see him in 6 months". To be honest the 5 year old doesn't really notice the difference between a week and 6 months, she counts in birthdays and DH has only ever been home for 1 of those so she doesn't take too much notice. Think it is harder now the eldest is 11 she gets worried and upset as they start their day at school by reading the newspaper and then she asks me exactly where daddy is. I normally say, well he may be in the hot sandy country but you know daddy all he ever does is sit in his office drinking coffee so that is what he's doing
We always have a daddy day before he goes and one when he comes back, these involve daddy taking each individual child out one on one for a whole day to do something they want (although as they are getting older these are getting more expensive)
Do what you think she needs, expect the first 2 weeks to be hell as she gets used to him not being there, at the 3 month period expect her to not listen to a word you say as she is fed up with only hearing your voice. By the time he comes home she will be wondering who he is and probably ignore him for being away so long
. I can speak English promise!!
Tea - read!
There - their!!
Take your lead from her. Don't make her feel it is wrong to be sad and upset but also don't worry if she just says bye and runs off to play - they have there own coping mechanisms I find at different ages! My 8 year finds it harder now as she really understands what's going on. At 5 she's only going to know daddy is away not in some dark dangerous place. We just said he was in the desert when DD was 5 as then she wouldn't associate overheard news stories as something to worry about daddy IYSWIM?
Good luck with it all. Horrid horrid time these last few weeks. But once he's gone you can count down til you see him again.
Have you heard of the Soldier Oli books? I sent DD into school with her copy for the teacher to tea to her class so they could all understand what she was going through.
Try not to worry, in my experience I've always been worse than either child really because I understood the dangers as well as just plain missing him.
but that's obviously just our family. Only you know yours, so do what feels natural for you all.
Not sure what the protocol is for departure but, upsetting as it might be, can you both wave Daddy off & then go home for a nice cuddle & a treat?
Start making plans for his return, make a big calendar that she can put pictures on & mark off the days.
Make up shoe-box parcels,with bits that "daddy might like", a choccy bar, a picture of the two of you & any school work she might have done........
(I guess there is a list of what you are allowed to send!?)
Is she in a forces school? If not mention it to her form teacher so she can keep an eye on her & help if there are any wobbles.
Good luck to your DH & you & DD too.
Thanks very helpful. I am not concerned as much about our new routines etc. going forward as we are used to him being away a lot and I know we will be fine in the main. My instinct was to keep our upset from her as much as we can and you have confirmed that ... I find it a worry even now as an adult if my mum is upset! It is just getting through that awful final good bye - she is a real daddy's girl and I know he will find it hard too.
We have never done 6m before and he is in a more dangerous role/place this time which doesn't help.
I would let her be sad and cry if that's natural, but dn't force it. And then distract and get on with new routines. Try and keep her busy for the first week or so, with a bit of space on the evenings if she needs some time to cuddle and be reassured. Let her be sad if she needs to be, but do try and move on and not let her dwell on it. Dd2 can get stuck in a bit of a loop and wallow... Do talk about daddy etc as well, and get her to draw pictures and stuff that you can send, so she feels she is communicating with him too.
Good for her to know you are sad too, but a fine line between acknowledgement of feelings and being scared because mummy is upset iykwim.
Hope you are both ok x
DH has gone on tour before but DD was too young to remember. This time she is very much aware and OK about it at the moment but we are both a bit nervous about handling the big 'goodbye' and want to do what is best for her. Do we do the stiff upper lip/be brave approach or is it more healthy if we have a bit of a blub together?
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