Photo by April
Anyone who has spent more than a few minutes with a newborn knows that caring for one isn’t a job for the weak. When it comes to strength, you can’t find women stronger than army moms. Women who marry into the military lifestyle are (or become) very independent and self-sufficient. But, of course, being independent when you’re childless and being what is, essentially, a single mom is a whole different ball game.
It’s tricky when you’re trying to figure out how to help most army moms, because these women do tend to be very independent and most likely won’t let you know that they need support. Unlike helping widows, or people who are struck by sudden tragedy, helping army moms requires the helper to remember that this woman’s spouse is deployed in a war zone, and she has no physical or emotional support from during this time. The constant late-night feeding and diaper changes are for her, and her alone.
Here are a few ways you can support an army mom…
Drop Off a Meal at the Door and Blow a Kiss
Making meals is the first thing that most people will think of when they are trying to support a new mom, and that’s because, of course, bringing food is AWESOME. However, if you don’t do it right, your favor will be less of a favor and more of a burden. Think about it.
One army mom friend of mine put it this way – “Is it really helpful to an overwhelmed mom to basically force her to clean house and get dressed and then entertain you for an hour?”
The answer is – no. The exception of course, is if she is insistent that you join her. Chances are, to be polite, she will invite you in, but the polite thing for you to do in turn is to decline her invitation.
Feel the situation out, though. I’ve talked to a lot of moms who said that the “grown up talk time” that came with getting meals was huge for them, so it really just depends on the person. Feel it out. Plan on dropping the food off and leaving, letting her know that’s your plan, and if she insists you stay and you think she means it, then stay.
It’s so easy to coordinate meals now, with the help of the Internet. If you have a circle of friends or a group at church, you can easily create a meal sign-up using a site like TakeThemAMeal.com or Lotsa Helping Hands. Using a free service like this takes the pressure off of the mom you’re trying to help (and the coordinator) by putting all the organizing and reminders into the hands of a trusty system that will alert moms who have signed up to remind them about their meal day. You can also put in any allergies or aversions that the family might have.
Also, make sure to put the food in disposable containers. If there’s a meal sign-up and people are bringing food over multiple times a week, keeping Tupperware straight and having to return it can be a headache.
Watch Her Kids
New moms, especially new army moms who are also breastfeeding, are walking zombies. If she’s got older kids, offer to take them to your house for a few hours for a play date. Or, offer to just sit with her kids while she takes a nap or gets a mani/pedi. Something like making a doctor’s appointment is hard with a newborn, too, so make it known to your army mom friends that you are available to watch her kids when she’s got an appointment coming up.
Be a Listening Ear
Even though they might not let on, think about the stress that an army mom lives with when her husband is deployed. Her husband is not only doing something life threatening, but he’s also far away and out of reach. That’s hard. Just calling to check in goes a long way – especially now that phone calls are dying off, and communicating has become so simple with texting. Make yourself available to listen and let her vent.
When Her Husband is In Town, Give Her Space
After spending so much time without her spouse, chances are the army mom in your life will relish family time when her husband is in town. Continue to be available when her husband is home, but let her call the shots. She may seem to drop off the face of the earth when her husband is back, but that’s normal and totally okay. If she’s not as quick to respond to you, just let her be.
Are you an army mom? What are some of the best ways that people supported you when your husband was deployed? Share with us in the comments section below.
Any army wife’s on here? My husband is seriously considering joining. Wondering if it was a good choice for your family or if it’s something you regret? I have so many questions and I feel like the recruiter sugar coats everything..
Okay SmartMoms, I’m new to this and was wondering if there’s any mom out there that is married or dating anyone who is in or joining the Army Reserves? This may sound pathetic but absolutely NONE of my friends understand what I’m going through and I would GREATLY appreciate some advise and understand from someone who’s going through the same thing.
I have a personal issue a do didn’t know where to take it. I know there are some military mommies on here. I’m married to a U.S. sailor and I couldn’t love anyone more than this man, but I have a slight trust issue every now and then…