We’ve all been there. It is two months into the most recent deployment, and you realize that you haven’t sent one care package to your spouse who is deployed. Whoops!
The fact that you are raising tiny humans who need to be fed, bathed, and cared for all by yourself is exhausting, so it is not surprising that there is little to no time left in the day to think about the perfect care package or ways to involve your children in making the perfect care package. While the basic necessities are always nice to throw in the mail, sometimes personal touches are the most important. After all, even though life might feel absolutely chaotic, it is still important to let your spouse know you are thinking of him or her.
As the kids get older, care packages and acts of kindness change slightly. The last deployment we experienced was the first where our 4-year-old was really involved in what we sent Daddy, and I felt like that helped the time pass more quickly.
Below, find five of my favorite ideas for care packages that are not only fun to mail but fun to create with the little ones.
- Letters are becoming a thing of the past, unfortunately. But, when you have a 4-year-old who is learning sight words and is so excited to copy them onto his own paper, letter writing can become so fun. Before my husband leaves, he usually buys my son a special pen and special paper. He lets our son know that he will write him and that he would love to receive letters back. FaceTiming is not always super meaningful between chasing the kids around to make sure they don’t drop the phone and then them hanging up on their daddy because they just like the color red. Let’s teach the next generation the art of writing a good letter. Not only will your child get some satisfaction from the letter writing, he or she also will love to receive the return mail. Are your children not old enough to write? Have them color pictures from a coloring book that the military member sent to them.
- Daddy Dolls popped into my Facebook Newsfeed before my husband’s last deployment, and I am not going to lie, this concept was somewhat weird to me. My son still has the Build-A-Bear, named Ty, he made with my husband before his first deployment four years ago, so he clearly LOVES stuffed animals. I wasn’t sure if the Daddy Doll would have the same appeal as Ty, but he loved it, and it became such a helpful item on days and nights where he was really missing his daddy. After sending a basic picture to the company, it is able to create a stuffed doll that comes in a few different sizes. You also can have a recording done which fits in a little pocket on the back of the doll. We take the Daddy Doll everywhere, and we love staging fun pictures to send to Daddy so he feels included. I highly recommend this product! We also love the idea of making a small doll to send to daddy. Just because the name of the company is Daddy Doll does not mean it is limited to just dads!
- Did you know you can get pillow cases and mugs made with personal pictures? Websites like Shutterfly offer these services, and it is so easy to upload pictures and make the product. Not to mention they are always running some pretty amazing deals. I love the pillow case idea, and we also decided to have a travel coffee mug made with a picture that my son drew of our family. I thought it was a fun spin on just putting a photograph on the mug. I took a picture of the drawing, uploaded it and there it was.
- When my husband is home, he loves to go golfing with our son on the weekends. One of their traditions is to get mini doughnuts and red Gatorade before they hit the links, so that is what we put in one of our care packages. I know care packages take a lot of time and effort, and if you live overseas, you know the chaos that surrounds the post office, but throwing a few meaningful items in the package takes no time.
- One last idea is to make a photo book of drawings that you and the kids create while dad is gone. One of our favorite activities is coloring, so by compiling all of the artwork into a photo book, then we can send it to Daddy, as well as have the artwork for years down the road. Even though we see the kids’ masterpieces daily, our spouses who are deployed do not get to see the hanging artwork, so it is nice for them to have it to flip through.
The best thing we can do for our children during deployments is to talk about the parent who is gone. We want our children to remember those fun Saturdays spent at the golf course; we want them to be able to hold a stuffed animal and know that their mom or dad is thinking of them, too.
What are some ways you make care packages fun?