It’s Military Family Appreciation Month: 10 Ways Spouses & Kids Could Use Your Help

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military homecomingIn 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

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Jessica Coppersmith Chavez

As a military wife and mom I don't agree with a majority of these. I am not looking for a handout because this is the life I choose to live. I simple "thank you" or acknowledgment would be plenty and even that isn't required. I do like the last 2 options though. Care baskets are fantastic.

Katie Gill

I agree with Jessica ^, the last two options are the best.  There are also plenty of worthwhile charities that directly help military families and troops.  Soldier's Angels, Veteran Tickets Foundation, Defending the Blue Line, Wounded Warriors Project and don't forget our older Veteran's and their families.  Visit your local Veteran's home and take time to visit with the older Vets, most of them love to talk about their time in the military and they have some wonderful stories to tell.

katin... katinahat

1, 7, and 10 are nice, but several of the other suggestions would make me a bit uncomfortable. Friendship and an occassional break from the kids (babysitting swap would be a great idea) are what most military spouses that I know need. Things get lonely when your significant other is gone-- a hand extended in simple friendship means a lot on its own.

nonmember avatar Samantha

I'm also a military wife, and while these aren't the best possibilities, at least they aren't various renditions of "throw money at them because they are so poor," which is what I normally see. I think depending on your relationship with the spouse, they are pretty good! I'd appreciate most of these!!

Kitty Kuykendall-Melancon

as a military spouse I don't agree with most of these either. I would say just don't pity us, we chose to live this life, we are a family just like everyone else's.

nonmember avatar Marjorie Wilkin

When I was working for British army we had a club 4 wives whose husbands were away on active duty. U have 2 sign up and register then there was a chart and u put ur name down 4 what days u were free 2 babysit 4 someone else in the group, ie if u had Drs appt dentist or couldn't pick kids up from school or even if u just wanted me time, 2 go shshopping without kids, get hair done, go 2 movie or whatever, each wife would get 10 tokens and if they needed to go anywhere they just contacted whoever was available that day paid 2 tokens, which u earn back by taking ur turn. It was great fun we used 2 meet 1 day week 4 coffee 2 make sure everybody was ok, if anyone was struggling a helping hand or a listening ear is sometimes all it takes. After all ur all in the same boat, it makes u realise ur part of a bigger family and it helps the kids 2 cos the other kids are going through the same thing,it seemed to help them knowing they weren't the only ones going through it. We would have parties,boot sales etc. And we had our own little community all helping each other through which can only b described as difficult times. Yes the women know what they've signed up 4 but sometimes it's harder than anticipated and it does help having friends around u who are dealing with same issues. Good luck 2u all, may god keep ur families safe.

nonmember avatar Amanda

As a military wife whose husband is currently deployed, I think a lot of these are helpful. I have four children, three under the age of five, the youngest of whom was 3 weeks old when his dad left. No I'm not looking for a handout and yes I did choose this life, but many days I feel like I am just surviving. So when someone offers to take some of the kids for a while, or give one of them a ride to a practice or activity, I am eternally grateful. Knowing that there are people thinking of and praying for us makes all the difference. It makes me feel like I am not completely alone, but there are people who I can ask for help if I need it.

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