As most of you all have probably seen, Ryan is currently in the midst of his first TDY of 2020. We’re lucky. This is a very short one, and we’ll have our soldier back with us very soon. We’re also lucky that he won’t deploy this year (barring, of course, something beyond our control). TDYs are not our favorites though, as I professed last week. They’re hard, they’re inconsistent, and they tend to wear on all parties – service members and families – simply because there is no real new “normal” per se. There are ways to make them work for you though, and we’ve definitely learned over time to make the best of each one. Today, we’re sharing 5 ways to make the most of a TDY, regardless of the length.
Stay Busy & Do More
Much like a deployment, I think of the of the best ways to make the most of a TDY is to stay busy. The kids and I do things. We plan little excursions. We take a look at our PNW winter bucket list and figure out what we can check off. I have some plans in the works for a little adventure this coming weekend, and it gives all of us something to look forward to. Even better, it’s like a little landmark along the way, helping you check the boxes and tick off the days.
Take the Time to Be More Intentional
Once upon a time when I was a newly-minted Army wife, I was absolutely lost whenever Ryan left for training, TDYs, or deployments. I learned quickly, however, that you can actually make a TDY or deployment work for you. It doesn’t have to be detrimental, but it’s all in how you approach it. For us, that means intentional communication. Quality time. Making family a priority. I mentioned that “intention” is my word of the year, and it works well for us. When we have the chance to talk, we really talk. We discuss. We make each other important and we stay focused on each other. Because we’re apart, it helps us to stay more connected and more invested in the time we do have.
Set Little Goals
I’m a goal-getter and a list-maker, plain and simple. Regardless of how short or long your separation or TDY is, set a goal and crush it. For me, I wanted to make sure I got my first seven mile run under my belt while Ryan was away, and I accomplished that yesterday. For the kids, our goal is to get out and do something fun each week, which we’ve also managed to do. Little goals are like landmarks and, like I mentioned before, they help you stay busy and focused.
Use it as a Chance to Reexamine Your Schedule
Like any military separation, a TDY is a great chance to reexamine both your schedule and your priorities because you’re thrust into an unfamiliar (albeit too familiar) change in your family lie and dynamic. For example, when Ryan’s around, I tend to press snooze a few times on my alarm before I get up at 5:45 AM. When he’s gone, however, I maximize the use of my time, and I get up at 5:20, using those extra 25 minutes to prep bottles for daycare, check work emails, and take care of the pets’ needs. It also gives me the opportunity to trim the proverbial fat and figure out where I can cut corners and make life easier – like planning and prepping crockpot meals so I have time to play with the kids instead of madly prepping dinner at night.
Make Yourself a Priority
It’s easy to lose yourself in the day-to-day chaos, but the vacuum of a TDY doesn’t allow you the opportunity to do that, or everything will fall apart. When Ryan is around, the focus is our family, as a whole. When Ryan’s gone, I have a few extra moments to focus on me. I take a bath instead of cuddling on the couch with him at night. I go to sleep a few minutes earlier. I take a little more time to run during the morning, rather than immediately focusing on something within the home. Ryan is very good about ensuring I’m always a priority in this crazy lifestyle, but a TDY is your chance to go ahead and spoil yourself with something that keeps you extra sane, as well.
Whether for a work trip, deployment, or TDY, we all have our own coping mechanisms that helps us get through, make the best of the time apart, and stay busy. What are some of the ways you maximize the time?