One of the most anxiety-ridden times for a military family is right before homecoming. There is often a high level of uncertainty about how the service member responded to the difficulties of deployment.
We asked readers about the stress of homecoming and collected some great ideas for how to ease it and make sure things go off without a hitch for you and your family.
Melissa’s comment really hammers home the importance of not setting unrealistic expectations. It’s easy to mull over how you want the day to go for months beforehand, but the truth is you’ll never know exactly what will happen or have the perfect fairytale homecoming. Update yourself on the latest status of your service member’s arrival and live in the moment.
Britt’s comment best summarized the majority of responses we received about making sure homecoming and reintegration go smoothly. As tempting as it is to want a huge party the minute your service member arrives, bigger isn’t always better when it comes to homecoming. Leave the waiting by the plane to the spouses and children and then slowly visit more people as things settle down. Rather than playing the guessing game with reintegration, let service members set their own pace.
Just because you don’t have an extended family reunion the minute your service member returns doesn’t mean you can’t ask for some help in the reintegration process. The first few weeks will be especially tiring between all of the errands, lack of sleep and excitement so there’s no shame in having a friend take the kids for an evening or letting someone run some errands for you.
Remember that things won’t return to normal overnight. No one can expect your service member, your kids and your to readjust immediately. Although every family sets its own pace, don’t be surprised if it takes up to a few months to feel somewhat normal again.
Some of your friends and family members, especially those unfamiliar with the military lifestyle, may want to be there right off the bat, and it’s hard to explain to them why it’s better to wait without hurting their feelings. Rather than let too many people butt into your homecoming, kindly explain that it’ll be easier to get together with them once things settle down. If all else fails, it’s often true and easy to explain that you really have no idea when the return will be exactly and everyone will just have to wait until after.
Breanna’s comment is a great way to sum up that you shouldn’t let all of the little external factors detract from reuniting your family. Flight delays, bad weather, rude reporters and spectators shouldn’t get in the way of your enjoyment — take these annoyances with a grain of sand and enjoy your moment.