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Any mums who are in the military about?

(48 Posts)
EuroShopperEnergyDrink Wed 23-Jan-13 02:33:55

Hi everyone

I can't find any information besides the maternity package, but I have an opportunity to start the application process to join the army as an officer. I have an interview next week to ask any questions- but I am reluctant to ask this one sadly for obvious reasons.

I am in a long term relationship and we have spoke about children, they're not currently on the menu now- but will be in about 4-5 years. The maternity package sounds great, but in terms of duties and deployments- how much do they take this into consideration? Is there a chance to maybe apply to desk jobs within the army (logistics, HR) or even maybe the MoD whilst LOs are still young?

Would also need to stay based in the greater London area as this is where DP's work is, (obviously overseas deployments for months at a time is a different kettle of fish)- but having to move any family around left-right-and-centre would be a dealbreaker for me. Am adamant that I would like any children to be schooled in an area near to their father's workplace and don't like the idea of boarding school.

Are all these valid concerns? Does this come up a lot when it come to servicemen/women with families? Or is me being so demanding suggesting that the military life is not for me?

mymagaret Mon 22-Apr-13 21:03:38

In my regiment postings last for 3 years at a time with deployments between 6 and 9 months. As for exercises these are all compulsory (for officers aswell) and these can be from several days to several months. It will depend on the Corps you chose. Its sad but promotion will be very stunted if you are picky from the start, the successful women i have met have been childless career orientated women. The army becomes your life and social/family life is an afterthought. Take a long hard think about your future before you commit to anything. I dont mean to sound harsh but just because your the mother does not mean you will get any preferential treatment, good luck in whatever you decide to pursue.

stephrick Wed 23-Jan-13 19:09:47

I was in the Navy when I fell pregnant with DS, husband was also serving, whilst they were very good with maternity leave they did highlight that when I returned to work I would have to be active in sea going drafts. This is understandable as that is what I signed up to do, they didn't change the circumstances I did. As it would become impossible with my husband and me both away for deployment, maybe at different times maybe not, we decided as his career was further on than mine I should leave. For some it can work but I would say more often it does not.

jcscot Wed 23-Jan-13 19:00:57

If you go down the unaccompanied route, you need a strong relationship. It would be incredibly easy to give into jealousy and envy.

There's also the real risk of infidelity and temptation. I find my husband attractive and I trust him implicitly but I know of at least two occasions when he's been propositioned. He said no, but there could come a day when he would say yes.

Conversely, I don't get propositioned - a small boy, a smaller boy and a toddler girl act as a real mood killer for any random man who might find me attractive!

madwomanintheattic Wed 23-Jan-13 18:37:43

Tisme, I lived in the mess during one of my pregnancies until I went on mat leave. It was singly the most depressing time of my life (dh had been posted to Germany and taken over the mq, so I was stuck in the mess. I was as sick as a dog, and couldn't make the mealtimes because of my shift work, so ended up with congealed plated whatever left over for me to cook when I got in.)

Living in the mess as a married woman with a family elsewhere is not my idea of fun. I loved it as a single officer. What's not to like? Food and bar on tap, someone catering to your every whim?

The first argument I ever had with dh centred around the bloke living in the next room to me. Once he met him, he realized he was being ridiculous, but it takes a strong relationship all round to cope with the lifestyle.

madwomanintheattic Wed 23-Jan-13 18:32:10

That all sounds very typical. And I speak as someone with a research interest in military spouses. grin

It isn't the sort of thing that recruiters (and colonels talent spotting) consider. Kudos to the op for doing so, but the realities of her potential service life are going to impact her spouse considerably more than her.

It isn't a reason not to join up. But I would make sure that you are joining up with your eyes wide open, and your potential dh's eyes wide open too.

I consider my dh to be an all round good guy. I bf all three, but when he was there he spent hours with screaming babies in the night, mopping up sick from toddlers and school aged kids, doing laundry, managing the occasional medical appointment with one or other of them. Would he have been prepared to be a single father to them all whilst I jetted round the world at the whim of the service? No. And certainly not whilst holding down a ft job. However liberated you are, sometimes it's better to maintain as joint an attempt at parenthood as possible.

<disclaimer - I do know several single mothers in service. When they are deployed, they choose to move the child/ ren to grandparents, or leave them in boarding school for the duration. They don't have the get out of a second parent. It's why the military like singlies with no kids, or marrieds with a wife. And I use the term wife deliberately, although to be fair, they don't much care as long as someone picks up the slack whilst the serving parent is required elsewhere. Tits optional>

There's some interesting military spouse stuff available through RAND (US bias - they also provide wrap around child care for single mothers to deploy - like an orphanage lol) but there's some stuff out of kings, too. If you still have access to Athens via uni, have a read around.

Some of the economic stuff is very depressing in terms of spousal income. Worth considering from dh's pov.

tismetisme Wed 23-Jan-13 18:18:57

Yes you can be in the Forces, be married and have children. Yes your partner can stay in one place and have the children whilst you are here, there and everywhere. I've done it and it puts an awful lot of strain on you & your partner, try as you might there are times you really want to be with your children, missed baby's first steps, first Christmas and others, no end of birthdays, school events and sports.
Weekending from various parts of the country...costs...and the night and early morning drives just because you're trying to eek out every last second at home!
Then as you get a little older, you really don't want to spend it in a single room in the officer's mess, some are full of young officers having fun...other's are dead as everyone lives out..but because you are married & not living in the local Married Quarters you can't afford to run 2 homes so are stuck in that room (If you are lucky you may have a double bed &/or en-suite)
Then your partner resents you because you are full of the adventure's you have had whilst he's been stuck at home with the kids....just hope there are no sympathetic single Mum's at the school gates!
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed my time, but as I got older & had a family, I realised what was more important......the Navy had other ideas!

jcscot Wed 23-Jan-13 18:03:40

I'll also echo the other posters who said the military isn't family friendly. Needs of the service trump everything.

I'm not saying that they can't be compassionate when needed but usually only for the short term. Thereafter, you sort your own stuff out.

jcscot Wed 23-Jan-13 17:56:50

Incidentally, I haven't worked "properly" since I married. Not through lack of qualifications - I'm educated to postgraduate level - but through the sheer difficulty of managing a consistent professional career in the balance with service life. Prior to having children, I did a mix of odd jobs here and there and some charity (unpaid) work. After children, I became a SAHM.

I know lots of well-qualified service spouses married to all ranks and the only ones who have managed a conventional career have had to make sacrifices. Certainly, once children came along, the vast majority stayed at home, at least until school age.

It's a very difficult juggling act if you expect both partners to have successful careers - the military will pull you in very different directions.

fedupwithdeployment Wed 23-Jan-13 16:53:59

No worries!!

I didn't work for 3 years, but then went back to work ft when DSs were 1 and 3. They were full time in nursery and we had APs (check out my posts on APs....) They are now 6 and 8.

DH was away the year I was pg (amazing we managed it!)
Around for birth of DS1
Away from when DS1 was 3 weeks old until about 1 year old. I was on mat leave at this point.
DH came back and had a job in Pompey. I decided we should spend time together and didn't go back to work.
6 months later when I was just pg with DS2 (took some time - he was never around at the right time - although based at home, he did a lot of travel) he was sent away at 2 days notice for a 6 month stint (someone got fired....he took over).
DS2 was born and he was back and around a bit....that was nice. About a year.
We moved to London...and I got a job. We had a MQ.
DH worked at Northwood (nearby) for a while...and then was sent to Bahrain. The plan was 5/6 turned into 9 months.
He then returned to Northwood. Briefly.
He was then offered a job in Pompey. We had bought a house in London and given tenants 6 months notice...we nearly had serious problems with the MQ as we wanted to move when tenants left and when DS2 left nursery. The one at Northwood is fab.
The job then changed to MOD. Fantastic. Stress stopped.
We left MQ, had a nightmare over schools, but all was then ok.
His 2 - 3 year job at MOD lasted 14 months.
He was sent to Scotland. Again. Despite saying he didn't want Scotland or that particular job. And the fact that he was making a difference in the great job in MOD.
He then took voluntary redundancy.
He is now unemployed after 25 years in the RN, but hopefully will have something soon.

I managed working, but I do have a well paid job and can afford childcare. The children are fine, and very well adjusted...but it hasn't been easy.

And if you think you can turn down unsuitable jobs, think again. There are 3 rules:

1. Needs of Service.
2. Requirements of Service Person's career.
3. Desires of the individual.

Although my DH was latterly very senior, his desires were not taken into account at all. Food for thought!!

madwomanintheattic Wed 23-Jan-13 14:56:15

X post

madwomanintheattic Wed 23-Jan-13 14:55:55

Do you work? (That's really nosy, sorry - but I wondered if the op would find it useful to know if you've managed to balance work and looking after the kids, like her dh would be doing, whilst she does what your dh does?)

I'm all for the benefits of service for the serving person. No doubts at all. My concern is that the op's dh doesn't understand what his role will be...

fedupwithdeployment Wed 23-Jan-13 14:55:51

Being ex military (8 year as a logistics officer in RN) and married to a Captain Rtd (only just - took vol redundancy in Dec) also in RN, there are many great things about the forces....its famiily friendly policies aren't up there on the list.

jcscot Wed 23-Jan-13 14:46:00

"Dh did a stint in int. you do know where int officers end up, right?"

Not mine! :D

jcscot Wed 23-Jan-13 14:42:42

I'm not serving but my husband is. His cap badge is the one you're interested in. So, bearing in mind that any info I give will be from an outsider's perspective, here goes.

A career in that field can be interesting and varied - my husband has done all sorts in his time - but it is not a stable form of life for a family, although it is possible to manage it perfectly well. It all comes down to how you and your partner/husband operate as a couple and as parents once the sproglets appear.

We got married six months after he finished RMAS and in the six years following that, we moved home six times. Postings are, in theory, meant to be for two years (two and a half/three years for Lt Col and above) but the needs of the service mean that you can be short-toured and moved early. In those six years, he did two operational tours (Kosovo and Afghanistan). We then had our first child and we opted to buy our own home and settle somewhere. In the six, almost seven, years since our eldest was born, he's had he's had four postings and two operational tours (Afghanistan - twice). We managed weekly commuting for a while but then we had to settle for our current routine - he comes home for the weekend every two to three weeks, depending on the demands of his current posting.

The Army is trying to move towards a structure that would allow personnel to remain in one location and change jobs within that location - however, that is designed around the infantry and those who are trickle-posted (like the Corps) would still have to move fairly frequently.

I won't pretend that commuting is easy, but it works for us just now. We have three children aged 6, 4 and 2 and we manage a decent quality of family life.

From a career point of view, my husband loves his job and has done very well. He has done all sorts of jobs, not all corps-related, and the one he says was his favourite was not his specialism at all! We've lived all over the place, although never overseas, and we've loved most of it. He still has sixteen years left to serve, so who knows where it will take us next.

Pomotion prospects ca be good - he left RMAS in 1999 and became a Lt Col in 2011, so rapid promotion is possible.

However, it is possible if you are ambitious and prepared to sacrifice other things to make it work. We take the view that I maintain things and work hard on the domestic front to allow my husband to concentrate on his career - between us we provide stability for our children and a secure future.

One thing I have learnt as a Corps wife is that lots of people want to join the corps (approximately half of any intake at RMAS register an interest during the course) but they select relatively few per year (9-12 cadets, roughly).

It sounds as though you're at the beginning of the road - going to the careers office for advice - you need to get selected for AOSB, selected for RMAS and then selected for the Corps - a fair few hurdles yet, but by no means impossible.

I'm sure you know this, but the cut-off age for entrance to RMAS is before your 26th birthday, so if that's looming on the horizon, you need to take action quickly.

madwomanintheattic Wed 23-Jan-13 14:09:12

That makes no sense. Godfather was (is) TA. Dh regular. My aim was to display parity of service.

madwomanintheattic Wed 23-Jan-13 14:07:41

I have some v good friends who are in various TA units in and around London.

That said, having worked with the Reserves, in many cases they were deploying more often than regulars. My children's godfather was blown up in Basra. (Dh was blown up in Canada. Stories of my life, eh?)

Arrse isn't all bad. But parts of it make me weep.

Polyethyl Wed 23-Jan-13 13:25:18

3MI, the London TA unit. I've done a fair amount of training with them, and have always liked their attitude.

Polyethyl Wed 23-Jan-13 06:41:22

I like arrse. In amongst the requests for photos of your tits, some excellent and helpful advise also gets given.

Why don't you look at joining the TA?
Plenty of opportunities to deploy, but don't have to uproot your family.

LtEveDallas Wed 23-Jan-13 06:29:37

...and me. Although I'm certainly feeling 'that old' these days!

I had one of those cupboards Euro, but not until I'd got the "getting green and muddy" out of my system. Hell, it was very hard to go back to work after, but by then I was pension trapped. Took until DD was about 3 to start enjoying it again. Now I'm just biding my time until the end of my contract and thanking God I've got a good wage coming in.

madwomanintheattic Wed 23-Jan-13 06:19:18

No worries. Like I said, I'm normally v encouraging for people interested in joining up. But the whiny knobend stuff flicked my 'not this side of Armageddon' switch.

If it helps to put it into perspective, when I joined, I had to sign a contract to agree that if I got married or got pregnant, I would leave.

And I ain't that old.

Fortunately the European court of human rights put paid to that sort of shit, but the military is still a far cry from a family friendly organization, if you see being static and together as a necessity in the long term.

Hope your chat goes well, anyway.

madwomanintheattic Wed 23-Jan-13 06:14:32

Cheers, eve.
Ugh on redundancies. We have a whole raft of ex-mil that have fetched up here. The job market is mind blowing.

EuroShopperEnergyDrink Wed 23-Jan-13 06:13:48

Brilliant, thank you all of you.

and thank you for shaking into me what a whiny knobend I was being in my OP. I'm not really like that, honest. At least apart from the tiny little cupboard marked 'broody' blush

madwomanintheattic Wed 23-Jan-13 06:09:30

Check out the AFF website, too. Much more genteel, and tend to touch on family issues. Obv you will need to read 'against the grain' as the default is still very much 'men serve, women follow', but you should be able to get the gist of the male responsibility and how the spouses cope - and of course your dh would be in the position of the spouses.

They have links on education, posting, operations, all sorts.

Arrse, is, um, an embarrassment, mostly. But a good example of your future crew rooms. And if that doesn't put you off, nothing will.

LtEveDallas Wed 23-Jan-13 06:08:50

I would hope not Lt., started looking at AOSB criteria and ended up on some pretty dark weird corners of it

Oh yes, been there, done that grin Mind you, MN is like that sometimes too grin

LtEveDallas Wed 23-Jan-13 06:06:58

(I will Mad, but as you can imagine I'm up to my knees in Redundancies at the moment. Mind you, may make a nice change from staring at slow loading JPA screens! I'll PM you later.

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