April is Month of the Military Child and celebrates all the kids growing up in military families. Many military installations will have events and parties all month long. For those of us living away from a base, things tend to be a little quieter this month, so Hike it Baby is our personal go-to for mini celebrations.
We all know that military children deal with deploying parents … it’s the first thing people think of when military kids are discussed. But today I hope to widen your understanding a bit. Here are a few more things that military children deal with that you may not recognize right away.
Changing schedules … like sometimes? Daily. Each night, my kids ask ‘will dad be home for dinner?’ Because each day was different from the last, and just because the ship was home didn’t guarantee dad was.
Missed birthdays and holidays. Sadness … heaping amounts of sadness.
Deployments. Fear of the deployed parent not returning at all. Elation and uncontrolled excitement when the parent comes home, or even better have leave (vacation). Finding a normal after a homecoming or being apart for months or years. Working through injury or PTSD, as a family. Because the servicemember is not the only one affected.
Leaving friends behind every few years. For some? Every year. Moving to a place that doesn’t have the activities you like to do. Having to start over and learn new favorite things.Being without all their possessions for possibly months while they wait for a move to be completed. Only to learn that the one box of most precious treasures has been ‘lost’ in the move.
Finding family when family isn’t around
I say these things not to scare you or make you fearful for military children, but to help you see how much they handle.
They are some of the strongest individuals I’ve ever met. And with three military children myself, I’ve witnessed that strength every day.
Dealing with this crazy life alongside my children, as a military spouse who is often parenting alone, who frequently has to leave friends behind for a move, and who is constantly trying to rebuild our tribe, Hike it Baby has made our life better by making our tribe easier to find. You know the saying: Happy Mom —> Happy Home. Once I begin to find my tribe – which I’ll be honest is frequently hiking-related – my kids tend to find theirs as well by connecting with other kids on the trail.
And we’re not the only ones who feel this way. Here’s what our very own HiB military members are saying:
“I found Hike it Baby when I needed it most at our previous duty station. My husband was working super long hours, we had no family nearby, and I was desperately trying to get my son (who was 8 months old at the time) and myself out of the house. I struggled to find a community that felt like the right “fit” until I stumbled upon Hike it Baby. Everyone was so welcoming and non-judgmental! When we PCS’ed a few years later, I was happy to find a nearby Hike it Baby Branch at our new duty station, and it has provided an instant community full of wonderful people with similar interests for both my son and me. I’m not sure what we would have done without it!” ~Becca, Kitsap Peninsula, Washington Branch (Navy)
“Hike it Baby was my lifeline at our last duty station! My husband was barely home, I had just had another baby, and there were no friends or family nearby. Hike it Baby not only gave me some place safe to go, but it gave me lifelong friends.” ~Ashley, Litchfield County, Connecticut Branch (Navy)
“Hike it baby has let me and my littles explore our new surroundings with friendly people that know the area well. I don’t have to worry about getting lost on a trail!” ~Loren, Kitsap Peninsula, Washington Branch (Navy)
“It made it so easy to find friends with similar interests and lifestyles. My entire community here is built from hike it baby!” ~Heather, Colorado Springs, Colorado Branch (Air Force)
“HiB gave me something to do, somewhere to go and adults to talk to after PCSing right after having baby #2!” ~Shelly, Snohomish, Washington Branch (Navy)
“In a duty station that wasn’t connected to a base… HiB gave me my first few friends and thus insight into a new location. It also got us out and about… no wallowing in despair here!” ~Jenyfer, Eugene, Oregon Branch (Navy)
If you’re looking for another unique resource for military families, check out a brand new chapter book series. Base Brats follows the Evans siblings as they navigate daily life in a military family. Freshly published to coincide with Month of the Military Child, you can order a copy right to your door at Base Brats, or you can order a signed copy (only available during April for Month of the Military Child) here Base Brats.
- How my military family found our “village” through Hike it Baby
- Military families find support with HiB
- Hike it Baby and the military
Photos by Kayla Klein and Krystal Weir.