Thursday, September 20, 2012

How-To Count Down

A count down how-to.  Not something you'd think there'd be tips on, but as a spouse dealing with infrequent but overly long separations from the husband, there is definitely a technique.  So, if you are preparing to deal with a long term count-down, medium term count-down, or just have to be apart more often than you're together, here are some tips to help husbands/wives not go crazy for the duration.  And if you're looking for examples of my experience doing the day by day tick off, here's this: Husband [then boyfriend] deployed for six months in 2009.  I deployed for six months in 2010.  Husband deployed for six months this year, 2012.  No, it's not nine months or 12 months or however many years apart, but IMO, anything more than a week is hard to deal with.

Tip #1: No counting down day by day
Source: via Sara on Pinterest

I promise, it will just make it go by slower.  The daily trudge to the calendar to mark off yet another uneventful and unremarkable day.  Seeing the numbers tick down one by one, in absolutely no hurry.  It's depressing.  Don't make yourself go crazy by utilizing this method.

Tip #2: Count down using weekly or bi-weekly events

By counting down weeks, you're using a smaller number and therefore tricking yourself into believing it's a shorter time period.  For example: during this past deployment, Vampire Diaries was released on iTunes every Saturday.  I dutifully ignored the calendar all week until Saturday came around, watched my show, and then gleefully marked off yet another week.  Done and done.
Other weekly or bi-weekly ideas?  Trash days.  Your weekly coffee dates with the girls.  Church events.  Karate practice for your kids.  Etc.

Tip #3: Count down using major holidays or events

Looking forward to holidays or events sprinkled throughout the separation can definitely help speed up the time.  Instead of using weekly or daily activities to mark off the calendar, I would sometimes use specific days in the future to look forward to; then, voila, a whole month has passed!  Throw yourself into planning outings for these big days, or decorating for them, or throwing parties.  Even the tiniest holidays can be celebrated; so what if Labor Day isn't that big of a deal?  Who cares if my birthday was spent decorating the pups in hats and hanging streamer?  It made the time fly by that much quicker.

Tip #4: Get out of the house
Source: via Erin on Pinterest

As tempting as it may be to hide in your home alone with your depression [or alone with your kids, which could possibly make you even more depressed], you definitely need to get out of the house.  Go on a walk, take a road trip, have a picnic, head to a friend's house.  Anything to make it feel less like your life is on pause waiting for your other half to return home, and more like you're continuing with your daily life, just temporarily on your own.  This may be one of those points where you're thinking, "but children make it so difficult to leave the house ever."  You may be right...I don't have kids, so I don't know.  But is it that difficult to let them put on rain boots and hop in puddles?  Grab some colored chalk and draw sidewalk pictures for dad?  Head to a local park for a day at the playground, or to play fetch with the dog?  No need to make it some gigantic outing.  Just simply getting out the door for a bit will make it easier.  As a side note, see people.  Your friends should be there for you at this point in time, if only to keep you company for a few hours each week.  

Tip #5: Go somewhere or have visitors
Source: via Ivy on Pinterest

Being on your own can be daunting, even if you don't have children.  Instead of constant noise, imagine constant silence [although I'm sure that sounds nice to you moms]; there would be days on end where I possibly didn't say a word out loud.  Or I'd talk to the dogs, but maybe wouldn't talk to a human for more than a week.  How pitiful is that?  Instead of slowly going insane from either loneliness or from being forced to take care of everything on your own, invite someone to come visit for a bit.  Head over to the in-laws for a few days.  Go camping with some friends.  I managed to make a few different trips during this last deployment, and I really do think they helped speed up the time; madre flew out and we went to Venice.  A girls weekend to Garmisch.  A trip home to see family.  A best friend to road trip through Europe with.  Anything to keep you occupied.

Tip #6: Don't Skype daily

I know, I know.  How can you not talk to your husband/wife every day?  What about the children who want to see their parent?  I'm no expert on kids, so I honestly can't answer that one.  But do you honestly have important things to say to your hubster every day?  How about you just shoot an email with a quick daily update?  Talking to my hubby every day resulted in us staring at each other through the computer because we had absolutely nothing to say.  I already told him about that mouse Sass caught in the field; told him about my trip to the grocery store; my life isn't exciting enough to update him every single evening on what I did.  And I know he feels the same way about his own activities.  We made sure to Skype once or twice a week, but never more than that; we would just use email or some kind of online chat to talk throughout the day, joking around or making plans for when he got home.  We actually found that if we did video chat daily, we tend to get in more arguments.  So, if you can manage, try to cut it back to every other day or less so you at least have something to talk about when you get on.

There you have it.  Just a few tips to help a deployment, business trip, TDY, mission trip, etc. fly by a little quicker.  It's not as easy as it sounds, and I'm sure there are things I'm forgetting, but this could definitely help you out.  Do you have tips of your own to add?  What helps you deal with separation from your SO?


  1. I have crazy projects like the craft fair, charity run etc to help in the long stretches. You have to keep life going helps give you things to talk about. We do talk everyday though only if for 5 minutes, but not if we have plans like a weekend away. I also like to plot little surprises for him for when we see each other.

    Rosie xx

  2. Great great tips! I did the countdown by events and it was so helpful. I tried to have one big thing every month and then it was easy to see progress. Day to day is the WORST.

    I also made a list of 100 things I wanted to do while he was gone. The point wasn't to accomplish everything, but instead if I was having a boring/depressed day I could pick something on the list and do it to get out of the funk. Some of it was practical (like oil changes and other lame things haha) and some of it was fun (like drive to the beach, watch a sunrise, go to a movie alone, take a knitting class, etc). That kept me from getting bored, and then when he came home I showed him the list of everything I did and it gave us something fun to talk about. That is something I will definitely do again!


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