I’m so thankful that so many amazing bloggers have been willing to guest post for me this month while I’m on “maternity leave.” Today, we have Lindsay from Uplifting Anchor. She talks about how moving back in with her parents while her husband was deployed taught her many things. Be sure to go check out her website after you read this because I love the theme behind it!
I’m 30 years old and this past year I moved back in with my parents.
That statement used to feel strange, defeated, and wrong on many levels, but not anymore.
I am a military spouse, and I moved back in with my folks whilst my Marine husband was deployed. Not just once either. Over the past two years, our family has faced two back-to-back deployments. Each time, I packed a suitcase, took my bundle of a baby — and a year later my sprouting toddler — onwards to my parents’ house.
The decision to go back was not made spontaneously. Years before we decided to have a child, my husband and I discussed at length what we would do during deployment cycles. We had faced three deployments together already without any children. I survived and thrived when my calendar was full of friendly faces. I focused on finishing school and immersed myself in work. I missed family, but I had my own life humming along. The time passed and I welcomed him back.
Having our daughter changed EVERYTHING about deployments. As we discussed what the healthiest choice would be, the natural option was to move back with family. Every duty station we have been assigned at has been very far from our loved ones. It made sense to give ourselves and others the gift of more time together.
My parents were thrilled! They are also retired, which helped matters greatly. There were four more hands to help with our growing child at the ready. We ate three meals a day with company at our side. Mom and Dad even encouraged me to take some much needed alone time.
I am fortunate that we get along so well as a family. But I would be fibbing if I said it was all roses and no thorns. I learned much from moving back in with my parents during deployments. If you are considering doing the same, please take these 5 lessons to heart.
5 Things I Learned Moving Back in with My Parents
1. Honesty is the Best Policy
This one is for all parties involved. Your deployed spouse needs to be on board and supportive of the move. The family you are moving in with needs to understand your boundaries, and you need to respect their boundaries.
Do you need a separate space that is yours? I requested this one specifically, and my parents agreed with me. My daughter and I took over the basement. We had our own bedrooms, separate bath, porch, and tiny kitchen area. It saved us a lot of grief, and kept our stuff contained to our little downstairs suite.
What do your finances look like upon moving in? What is the divide of household duties? What will it look like if you don’t bring a vehicle with you? My parents and I laid out our budgets together, and everyone chipped in fairly for groceries. We also took turns doing the laundry and cooking meals. I sometimes borrowed the car, or I walked. I always asked first or arranged for Mom and Dad to watch our child. I never assumed they’d just swoop in and do it.
I wanted our time there to benefit everyone, not feel like we were intruding or being a burden on their empty nest. Everyone must be honest with one another on what the terms of living back home are.
2. Open Communication
During your stay, keeping an open line of communication is the key to peace. I knew that my parents should not give up their entire social existence just because we moved in. They continued to go out and have dinners with friends. We also talked about my daughter’s health and well-being. I was open about how great it was to stay with them, but we needed to get out with other kids and moms.
There were days where I needed a kid break: they gave me one. The roles were reversed when they needed one. They were tired in the evenings, so we talked about how after-dinner should be mommy-daughter time. Bath, book reading, and bedtime duties were on me.
Those are just a few of the ways to discuss life with those you’re living with. Chances are you haven’t lived together in some time — be open about hearing and meeting each other’s needs.
3. Watch & Learn How You Were Raised
This just might be my favorite part of moving back in with my mom and dad. Watching them with our daughter was a fascinating, heart-warming, and wonderful glimpse into my own childhood. My mom is endlessly patient and loves morning cuddles with books. My father is a fort-builder; make-fun-from-nothing kind of guy. My mother and I would return from shopping and find baby and grandfather getting into all kinds of awesome trouble together.
Whatever disciplinary acts/food rules/general child rearing tactics I was using my parents tried to respect. But I also worked to respect and learn from their knowledge.
4. Be a Hometown Tourist
Whether you are moving back for a few weeks, a few months, or the entire deployment, get excited about the options of your environment. What parks are nearby? Is there a great fitness center? Can you plan an exciting trip? I did more hikes, biking, kayaking, and camping than I had in YEARS upon moving in with my parents. We visited extended family. Friends came to see us! It was a great experience for my child, and it also gave us a lot to look forward to. It turned the deployment into an adventure for us, instead of just getting through the days.
5. Keep Up with Your “You Things”
I struggled with this one, but self-care is important to your health and well-being on any deployment. Try to find a way to keep up with the things that make you feel good, even when you move back home. I didn’t want to miss a moment with my family — but then I would start feeling resentful of being somewhere that was not my own home. I forced myself to continue doing “me” things (write, read, work out, talking with friends, Netflix marathons). Know yours, and honor them.
Making time for the things that help you feel like you is good for everyone. This includes calling up your battle buddies and complaining about the deployment when you need to. There is something to be said about being surrounded by a base community when your spouse is deployed. There are some aspects of military life your family can’t understand. Instead of feeling frustrated, lean into those that can help and support you.
Moving back in with your parents can be just what your family needs during a deployment. There are surely sacrifices on everyone’s behalf for choosing this plan of action. But there are incredible benefits too.
I would have cringed and laughed if I was told at 18 that I’d be back with my parents at 30. But the chapter I am in now is different. I know that I am independent of my parents. I know I can survive a deployment without running home. But I also know what an amazing opportunity it is to get that much time with two people I love very much. Moving back in with my parents gave them the chance of unlimited access to their granddaughter. It turned the curse of a deployment into the unexpected blessing of more time together for us all.
Have you ever moved back in with your parents during deployment? Was it a good experience?
Lindsay is a military wife, mom, and writer. As a former professional dancer you can find her doing pirouettes in the kitchen whilst also flipping pancakes. She finds solace in hearing the sound of her sewing machine and a hot cup of coffee. A journal with scribbles is never far from her side, and being outdoors lifts her soul. She’s lived and traveled all over the world but believes there is always more to experience. Her blog Uplifting Anchor encourages mothers and military spouses. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.