About the Author: Christine “C.C.” Gallagher is project manager, Military Spouse Programs with BAM Technologies and founder of Military Quality of Life Consulting LLC. She is the spouse of an active duty soldier and mother to two military children.
For years, I never admitted I needed assistance managing aspects of our household or lifestyle. I was under the impression I could do it all. I always notice other dual-working parents with young children juggling work, parenting, family, and military demands and looking great doing it. How do they do it so seamlessly? Some are just that good. Others rely on family or friends. But many military families live far from reliable support. When I started to take a closer look at pain points I was feeling, outsourcing became a viable option for our family. Outsourcing alleviates the pressure of being everything to everyone, and it brings me peace of mind as the to-do list gets shorter.
I started reaching out to other working military spouses and asked what their secret was. I understand not every location will provide the same platform of services and every military family is different in terms of level of support they need or can host. With that, here are a few options to consider that were recommended or that I currently use:
Child care. As military families move 10 times more than their civilian counterparts, many have used the Child Care Aware subsidy to enroll their children in a daycare center close to their home if living off the installation. If you are choosing to live on the installation, Child Development Centers and Family Child Care providers offer full-time or hourly care. You will need to sign your children up through Militarychildcare.com as soon as you are notified you are moving and in need of this support.
With my employer’s headquarters on the East Coast, I often am required to attend evening work calls and need an additional adult in the house to watch our children during the bath, dinner, and bedtime routines. The extra set of hands can be a huge help with little ones. If you’re looking for a sitter, try starting on Care.com or Sittercity.com, check with your local morale, welfare and recreation office for babysitter lists, or reach out to other military families in the area.
Self-care. Investing in a healthy mind and body is a must with the community’s operational tempo. Is it possible for you to splurge for a trainer or group workout classes at a local gym or activity center? If you are in need of another opinion outside of your immediate circle on how to tackle your days and manage and mitigate stress, look to outside life coaching and therapy resources available to you at no cost. These tools empower you, set you on the right path, and validate what you are feeling. Also, in the coming weeks, our friends at InDependent are hosting a virtual Military Spouse Wellness summit highlighting some incredible experts who will host an “in-house” retreat experience just for you! The key to making our family function is enabling me to function. The bottom line: You need to be able to take care of yourself before taking care of everyone else.
Home care. Many military spouses stated they outsource cleaning services in their home to keep the laundry, toys, messes, sanitation, and sanity in order. What could you do with a few more hours added to your day? In addition, other ideas include a home organizer (someone who assists with decluttering and room organization), yard-work or snow-shoveling service (some companies offer these services free of charge if the servicemember is deployed!), or a local order-ahead and/or a grocery-delivery service.
Do what is best for you and your family. If there is a service that can assist you and alleviate some stress, don’t feel guilty about creating a budget and discussing these options as a couple to set everyone up for success. If there are additional recommendations you have found to be useful in your household, please do not hesitate to share your secrets!
At this point, I hope you have read a little about my background and the self-care series. I hope this was helpful, and I look forward to sharing some additional tips next month!