Deployment Tips for Families

There are many simple things the parent at home can do to have fun with their children and make this time memorable.

Here are some examples:

  • Have Family Fun Nights – Have each child take turns selecting an activity.
  • Take turns planning dinners for each other.
  • Keep a family timeline during the deployment on a large piece of paper taped on the wall.
  • Make a video of the family during deployment. Plan, edit and produce it just like a movie.
  • Have board game tournaments.
  • Keep a scrapbook.
  • Buy a mini-tape recorder and record messages to the deployed parent. Make sure they have a recorder too so they can send messages back.
  • Check out a copy of the Guinness Book of World records and try to beat some of the records.
  • Draw a circle on a map with an eighty-kilometre radius from your house. Pick a new place to explore within that circle each weekend.
  • Teach your kids to dance.


Journaling can be one of the most effective ways to help kids handle deployment. It allows them to explore and learn about themselves in a personal way.

According to research done by the American Psychologists Association, journaling increases mental and physical health and is a very effective way to turn angry and confused feelings into clear thoughts. Rachel Robertson an author created a wonderful Deployment Journal for Kids to help guide military kids through the journaling process during a parent’s deployment.

Deployment Journal for Kids is a special place for you to write about how you feel and what happens during the time someone you love is deployed.

It has calendar pages, writing ideas, places to write your thoughts and feelings, pages for drawing pictures, cool information about some common deployment locations, military definitions, and a pocket to keep special things like photos and letters.

Rachel Robertson, wrote this book especially for military kids like you. You can order a copy online or try Amazon booksellers to secure a copy. If not, maybe create your own at home.

Journaling Ideas

Pick some different colours and describe how they make you feel. For example: Blue makes me feel calm; it makes me think of oceans. Yellow wakes me up. Its a simple but effective way to notice how your child may be feeling.

What is your wish list?

Try writing three different lists:

  • What do you wish for yourself?
  • What do you wish for your family?
  • What do you wish for your deployed person?

Don’t know what to write about today? Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Draw a picture of your dream holiday.
  • Write a poem about change.
  • Write about a story you’ve been told about the day you were born.

Clip Sunday Ads

Go through the Sunday paper and cut out ads for different things your family buys, such as popcorn, drinks, chips, cereal, light bulbs, and petrol. Make sure the ads show the prices. Make a list of these items or keep the ads in an envelope in your journal. This is a great thing to keep in your journal so that when you look back at your deployment experience years from now you will be amazed at the difference in how much things cost.

Parents can get more information at See related article - Kids and Journaling and tips for kids about journaling on

Time for a Timeline

Whether someone you love is deployed or not, this is always a fun project.

  1. Take a long piece of butcher paper or small pieces of plain paper (about 12) and put them on a wall, side by side.
  2. Then draw a line horizontally (side to side) across all of the paper.
  3. At the beginning write the month; keep writing the names of all the months across the line left to right making sure there is the same amount of space between each month.
  4. You can make a timeline for a whole year, for the length of a deployment, or you can do it month to month.
  5. Then whenever something interesting happens make a mark by the right month including the date and the interesting information.
  6. You can even tape photos or draw a picture of an event or special time.


It also important for parents to take care of themselves so that they may take better care of their children.

“It’s like the safety instructions you get on an airline,” says Pavlicin. “Secure your own mask before assisting others.” That means getting plenty of exercise, sleep, and healthy food. Your lives are already in such chaos from all the changes in a deployment, so establishing a daily routine to ensure you get the basics can go a long way toward keeping yourself and your kids less stressed.

Sometimes parents require additional support and we want you to understand you are not alone and please seek help by contacting your NCO ph: 0800 Navy Help.

This page was last reviewed on 7 April 2011, and is current.