Deployment separation is tough, but families on the homefront are resilient. Instead of focussing on the negatives, we support, we beam with pride, and we look for ways to help. We love our spouses and wouldn’t change them for a second. Yet we can’t help but miss them like crazy while they’re gone. While the void is impossible to fill, there is a way to make make the deployed person’s presence felt at home. A creative display called a deployment wall can help. Composed of items meant to educate, communicate, and comfort, it can help a family feel connected to their deployed loved one while they are away.
Why Make a Deployment Wall?
Everyone reacts differently to a season of deployment. Children especially, though they may profess to understand or “be fine,” adjust better to difficult situations when they’re provided with lots of personalized support. A deployment wall can be completely customized to provide whatever you think will help your family best. We love to put them in places that everyone in the home has access to so that they can visit on a regular basis.
Deployment walls also help foster an environment of meaningful conversation. “Do you think that Daddy getting ready for bed or having breakfast right now?” “Let’s go see how many days there are left in the Big Trip.” These are just a few topics that the wall helps to bring up for discussion and chats like these can help families get comfortable with the changes they’re experiencing.
Elements such as a map, a set of clocks, and books about the service member’s job really helps kids to see things from the perspective of their deployed family member. The map can be used to explain exactly where they are in the world, which could lead to a fun study about the new cultures they may be experiencing. A clock displaying the other person’s time will reveal which part of the day they are in, and what they might be doing at that moment. Some age-appropriate books can also inform more about the day-to-day life of the person they’re missing. All of these things will help kids have a deeper understanding of what their family is going through, which helps them adjust emotionally.
What Goes On a Deployment Wall?
The following elements are our suggestions for things to hang up on your wall. They could be illustrative, interactive, and even eatable! The customization is endless. Make your wall unique to the needs and desires of your family.
- World Map
- Two Clocks- one with your time, and one with the deployed service member’s time
- Mailbox- a place for the family to put letters, notes, pictures, and anything else they want to mail to their service member
- Countdown sign/paper chain/another visual countdown
- “Where in the world is Daddy?”, ”Name’s Big Trip” or other decorative signage
- Photos/sentimental items
- Shelf with deployment-related books
A Note of Caution
After you put all the finishing touches on your own beautiful new deployment wall you’ll be tempted to share it with your friends, family, and all 9,000 of your IG followers. Before you do that, take a quick pause. If you’ve given the correct times, marked their map location, and displayed a semi-accurate countdown of days, you may be putting your deployed loved one in danger. Sharing any of this info is probably in violation of OPSEC, friend. Avoid this issue by just making sure that you share sanitized versions of your wall only.
Little Hands and Other Decor Dilemmas
Since we’ve already made all the mistakes, there’s no need for you to as well. (Let’s just say, these are not the first two clocks we bought). Here are a few pieces of decorating caution for those with little ones:
- Make it interactive, but be smart. Put the most breakable items up higher and the books, photo frames (without glass), and map down lower.
- Choose a laminated or plastic-framed map to keep it safe from crayons and Hot Wheels.
- Use a combination of thumbtacks, tape, 3M strips, nails, and screws to affix your display to the wall. The closer to the floor, the more secure to the wall you’ll need them.
- If doing the “Kisses from Daddy” jars, you may want to consider putting them somewhere out of sight during the day; lest there be any unfortunate “incidents.”
What’s on Our wall:
- A vintage school map
- Mailbox from Target’s Dollar Spot
- Countdown sign
- “Where in the World is Daddy?” custom sign from Simply Schultz
- My Daddy is a Hero book from Usborne
- A Salute to Our Heroes: The U.S. Marines
- Photo Frames
- “Kisses from Daddy” custom sticker from SoCal Custom Design
Hopefully, you now feel fully equipped to plan and build a deployment wall display of your own! It’s a fun way to blow off some steam and exercise your creativity, especially during those stress-filled pre-deployment periods. We know your family will display it with pride!
WANT TO READ MORE?
Check out Transitioning your Family Back to Normal After Deployment
Photo Credits: Shayna Mabee