When my son was small and would come home with lots of worksheets and artwork I never knew quite what to do with these “treasures”. I wanted to share these great “works of art” with my deployed loved one, but the refrigerator only held so many pieces of decorated construction paper and handouts. It was important to me to figure out a way to share these treasures upon his return.
When it comes to staying connected with your loved one while they are far from home, creativity can be the key to your success. This is especially true if you have small children.
Here are some ideas to assist you in creating a Communication Station in your home. This little area can be a hub of communication with your spouse and give your family a daily visual reminder of daddy or mommy. This connection space can grow organically with items you decide to add during the deployment or separation.
Ideas for Creating a Communication Station
Choose a Prime Location - Choose a blank wall in your home that is in a central location, but not necessarily your main living room wall. A hallway works great if you don’t have a dedicated wall available. You can even use one of the walls in your dining room or kitchen. Try to make the location near a hub of activity for maximum exposure.
Decorate – Add items to the wall that will help your family better understand where dad or mom is located. These items can include:
- a map
- one clock set to local time
- one clock set to Afghanistan time (or the location your loved one is located)
- pictures of your loved one on board ship or in their work environment (which does not violate Operational Security), etc.
Add Letters and Photos – When your loved one sends an email, handwritten note or photo display them on the board. Feature your favorite candid family photos depicting special moments or events. Add photos of places you plan to visit upon their return.
Accomplishments and Kid Art – As your children bring home their graded assignments, feature them on the wall. Include selected pieces of “kid art” and any other craft item geared towards letting the deployed parent know what the child has been doing during their time apart. You can take photos or video this wall and share with your loved one. Feel free to rotate out the displayed items as space allows.
Bonus: Include a shopping list for that next themed care package and add items to the list throughout the week as your family thinks of creative items to include.
As you create your Communication Station, you can get as creative as your imagination (or Pinterest) allows. There are no rules. The goal of your Communication Station is to create a place for the family to tell their story of activities, accomplishments and memories of things that have happened and highlight plans for the future to convey and share with your deployed loved one.
What creative way have you used to stay connected with your loved one across the miles? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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