In honor of Military Family Appreciation Month, we thought we'd dole out some tips. Tips for those of you who know -- or would like to get to know -- the spouse and family of a man or woman serving our country. There are some great ways you can lend a hand -- or an ear (or a shoulder!) -- to people who are dealing with life without their significant other, their mom, or their dad. And then there are some things that you just shouldn't do -- even if your heart is in the right place.
I had a nice little chat with Erica Manney, CafeMom's Social Media Manager, who has extensive professional and personal experience with military families -- and here are 10 pieces of great advice from her.
1. Have a potluck dinner at your place. Give moms and dads a break from making dinner every night -- and cleaning up dinner every night -- by hosting an easy dinner at your place. They'll be more grateful than you know.
2. Volunteer for the kids. Find out if your school has a Student2Student group, which helps new military students get comfortable in their new school. You can offer to give a tour of the school, answer any questions they may have, or even invite students into your lunch group.
3. Offer to help tutor the kids. There's a reason being an adult is so awesome -- no homework. Give moms and dads a break by helping their children out with their homework. Hey, think of it as a chance to brush up on Pre-Calc.
4. Help with yard work. Yard work can be pretty taxing -- especially if someone is alone with the kids. Help rake up leaves or mow the lawn for someone who really needs it. They'll really appreciate it.
5. Walk the dog. Walking the dog when you're a single parent -- not easy. No one wants to leave their kids alone while they deal with their pet. Volunteer to take ol' Fido out for a spin once in a while. It'll be a huge chore they can check off their list.
6. Lend your husband for Boy Scout Troop activities. Sometimes, a son really needs his dad. But if dad isn't available, and the activity is predominantly for boys, another male is a good option. Side note: Your husband will probably love it!
7. Offer to babysit. Give Mom or Dad a night off once in a while -- free of charge.
8. Take kids to appointments. As anyone who has children knows, there's no such thing as a "quick trip." Volunteer to take kids to their appointments, practices, or friends' houses. It's a small thing but will go a long way.
9. Offer to create care packages for their troops. Yes, it's a fun thing to do, but it is also work. Lend a hand!
10. Please don't say, "I know how you feel. My husband/wife travels a lot." Clearly your heart is in the right place, but being a businessman or woman is much different than being in the military.
What other ways can people help out military families?
Image via DVIDSHUB/Flickr