Should kids go back to school this fall? Parents are divided. - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Should kids go back to school this fall? Parents are divided.

Should we send our kids back to school this fall? It’s a question that’s on every parent’s mind, regardless of which schools are re-opening. The big issue is one of children’s safety and COVID-19. But this poses many smaller questions to consider. How will the health of students and teachers be monitored? Are schools well ventilated and capable of proper sanitizing? Are school nurses prepared? How will they rearrange classrooms? Will masks be provided for students and teachers? What about some sort three-days-off, three-days-on hybrid of remote and in-person learning? Are buses and drivers ready for social distancing? Will schools help students who don’t have access to strong internet meet the requirements for remote learning?


There are no easy answers to any of these questions. The variables are too numerous; so are the unknowns. Yes, school districts across the country are working hard to create reopening plans and contingency plans should they not be able to. But, as we’ve learned over the past six months, COVID doesn’t really care about plans.

So, considering all this, what are parents thinking? We spoke to a dozen fathers about whether or not they’ll be sending their kids back to school in the fall. Some think that schools will meet standards and plan on sending their kids; others lack the confidence of the school and other families and plan on keeping their kids at home. There is no right or wrong decision here. Instead, there’s merely a long list of pros and cons that are allowing parents to make their best decisions as of right now. And, of course, those decisions could change tomorrow, or in a week, or on the first day of the 2020-2021 school year. The only certainty right now is uncertainty.

Yes. The Schools Been Doing Everything Properly, So Far

“My son’s school — a private Catholic school — ran a summer camp during all of this, and I’ve been very impressed with the precautions they’ve taken to make sure everyone is safe. The kids, teachers and counselors all wash and sanitize every 10 or 15 minutes, and there’s not a surface in sight that isn’t wiped down or disinfected. All of the staff wears masks, and it’s clear that everyone is taking things seriously. If the camp is any indication of how a school day would run, I wouldn’t have any problem trusting them with my kids. They’ve shown me that health and safety are a top priority, which is more than I can say for a lot of other schools in the area.” – Chris, 34, Ohio

No. I Don’t Feel Confident At All. 

“If I could reply to this question with that meme of Randy Jackson saying, ‘That’s gonna be a no from me, dawg’, I would. There are just too many variables in play to make me feel safe or confident. Even if all of the teachers wear masks, and sanitize everything, it literally only takes one negligent or selfish person to spread COVID to someone else, who can then bring it into the school. From there, it’d just be a catastrophe. I think that’s why I’d say no. I know most of the parents of kids in my daughter’s class, and I don’t trust them to take this all seriously.” – Josh, 35, Pennsylvania

I’ll Send My Kids Back If They Staff Up and Shrink Class Sizes

“I’ll send my kids back if the plan to shrink class sizes actually happens. That’s the only way I’ll feel safe. Right now, there are 25 kids in my daughter’s kindergarten class. Even without a pandemic, that’s more than enough sneezes, coughs, and booger wipes to spread germs across the entire room. There have been talks of splitting the class in half, which I’d be okay with. It seems manageable, and I feel like the school would take the sanitization and cleaning seriously. So, if they can staff up and find the space to make that plan happen, I’m good with it.” – Nathan, 29, Connecticut

I Don’t Think We’re There Yet

“I don’t think I can. If the school board is having virtual meetings to decide whether or not school is safe to open, instead of meeting in person, what does that say about the safety of opening a school? It doesn’t instill a lot of confidence knowing that the people in charge won’t risk going to a facility, but expect kids and teachers to do it. At the beginning of summer, I was hopeful that things would get worked out by the time school started, but I don’t think we’re there yet. At least not where I feel safe about sending my kids back.” – Patrick, 30, New Hampshire

We Will Send Him Back. He’s Lost So Much Progress.

“Our son will go back. He has autism, and the daily social interactions and academic instruction are essential to his development. It terrifies me how much progress we may have lost thanks to the schools shutting down last year. The virtual learning was fine, but he thrives when he can see his friends, and be in an actual classroom. I think the schools will take things seriously, and prioritize safety, so I have no problem sending him back if they reopen.” – Will, 29, Florida

It’s Too Hard to Say Right Now.

“We’re undecided. Everything changes day-to-day. Not just with the school situation, but with the whole pandemic in general. There aren’t any straight, definitive answers. One day it’s calming down, the next day it’s the biggest spike we’ve seen since it started. So, for us, it’s just impossible to make a decision. Obviously, we’d love to plan ahead and say that we definitely will or won’t send our kids back to school. But, how can we realistically do that when there’s just so much uncertainty?” – John, 34, New York

Absolutely Not. I Need A Lot More Reassurance

“No fucking way. That’s how strongly I feel about not sending our kids back to school. There’s absolutely nothing that the local, state, or federal government has done to make me think, ‘Yeah, it seems perfectly safe to send my kids into a building full of a hundred other kids, whose parents I don’t know.’ If I could say, without any shadow of doubt, that I knew every student’s parents were wearing masks, sanitizing, and generally taking this seriously, I’d be first in line when school reopened. But, there’s no way that’s possible. So, I’m going to need a lot more reassurance than some hand sanitizer pumps and bleach wipes in each classroom to take that risk.” – Reed, 34, Ohio

No Way. I Don’t Trust the Other Parents At All.

“Nope. And you know why? I’m Facebook friends with a lot of my son’s classmates’ parents, and I’ve seen plenty of posts that make me realize they’re all idiots. One mom posted a selfie out at a crowded bar. A lot of them are anti-mask. There was one parent who even said something like, ‘I hope my kid gets it, so that he’ll get the antibodies and get it over with!’ And I’m supposed to feel comfortable sending my son to school with these morons’ kids? No way. I’ll be looking for a tutor instead.” – J.C., 33, North Carolina

Yes. But Only Because My Daughter Attends a Small, Private School.

“I think we’ll send our son and daughter back to school if it resumes in the fall. It’s a small, private school – that’s the main reason. Their classes aren’t larger than ten kids, and the teachers have all been very communicative about measures they plan to take should the school year begin on time. I think that’s all a parent can ask in this situation – honesty and the prioritization of safety. If they went to a bigger school, with more students, and more parents we didn’t know, it’d be a different story. But, as far as the school community goes, I think we’re all on the same page regarding what needs to happen when the kids go back.” – Camden, 32, Indiana

I Want to. My Wife Doesn’t. We Still Need to Figure It Out.

“My wife and I disagree about the whole situation. I think it will be fine, honestly. But she’s a catastrophic thinker, and is terrified of one of our daughter’s classmates showing up like the monkey from Outbreak and hacking COVID all over everyone. I know a lot of teachers in our district. I went to high school with a few of them. And they all seem to think that schools will inevitably reopen. If that’s the case, I can’t imagine everyone involved not taking every single precaution to prevent anything from happening. Maybe I’m naive about it. Maybe my wife is overreacting. Hopefully we can figure it out when the time comes.” – Greg, 39, Oregon

If There’s Some Sort of Hybrid School Model, Then Yes.

“If there’s a hybrid virtual/in-person learning model in place, I think we’ll send our daughter back to school. We were very impressed with how the school handled the early closing by transitioning everything to online learning. So, we know it’s a possible, viable option. But, we also know that sitting in front of a computer isn’t the same as being in a classroom with your friends, learning how to play and interact. There’s been talk of three days in class, two days learning from home, which I think would be a good way to go. At least to see what happened. I think a lot of schools and parents are looking at this as an either/or situation. We send them back full time, or we don’t. But, it doesn’t have to be like that, and we think this would be a safe, effective compromise.” – Alan, 38, South Carolina

I Know It’s Risky, But They’ll Be Going Back. 

“Even though I know it’s risky, I think the face-to-face element of school needs to be there, especially at such a young age. My son actually loved the online learning he did at the end of last school year. I think that’s because it was a novelty. It was like FaceTiming your friends all at once, which was fun, and cool, and a great substitute for in-person learning. Mentally, I think the kids need to be around other kids. They truly have no idea what’s going on right now, and these are incredibly formative years for elementary school children. I think that taking the proper precautions, combined with a vigilant attitude, will allow schools to resume effectively. And I trust them to do that.” – Steve, 37, Georgia

This article originally appeared on Fatherly. Follow @FatherlyHQ on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

6 art projects to tackle with kids

Parents, it’s time to get those creative juices flowing! Take advantage of extra time with the kiddos and see what everyone can do with their best art skills at work. Look to local inspiration (and plenty of grace for the non-artists among us), for a fun way to spend some of your quarantine.

Stained “glass” decor

This trend has probably blown up your newsfeed. Get some tape, some paint or chalk, and map out a pattern with triangles and squares. It’s perfect for anyone living on post who wants to share some beauty for all to see. Best of all, it’s colorful!

Inspiration art

Straight out of elementary art class, this project can be adjusted for any age. Provide kids with a subject (vehicle, animal, design), along with a few art supplies. Let each kid create their own masterpiece, then have a discussion about what they liked most. Kids can even comment on which aspects of their siblings’ pieces they like the best. Take it a step further and set up a gallery.

Messy painting

Let your inner control freak go and let them make a mess! Set up sheets, canvases, paper, or t-shirts in the lawn and let them get wild. Our favorite methods include: paint-filled balloons or squirt guns, and sponges launched from far away.

String art

Grab a piece of wood and strategically place nails. (Older kids can even do the nails themselves.) Next, provide some colored string and let them weave away. Do this in the backyard, or (if open) head to some beautiful open spaces on base for a change of scenery.

Slime drawings

These days slime is a big deal. Grab a slab of it and have kids make their own marker drawing, yes, right on the slime. Once done they can stretch and mold the artwork to change its entire look. Mix it all back together and start all over again!

Melted crayons

This is a fun project that allows kids to create and transform their art project. Help them grind up old crayons and encourage them to spread it out and make a design on some waxed paper. Once finished, add another layer and iron the whole thing for a lasting project you can hang on the fridge or in a window for colorful light.

What are your favorite art projects to do with kids during quarantine?

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

North Korea is secretly asking for coronavirus aid from other countries while publicly denying that it has any cases

North Korea has been quietly soliciting coronavirus aid from other countries even though it has publicly denied the existence of any cases on home soil, according to a new report.

Officials in the isolated country have privately reached out to their counterparts in other countries asking for urgent help in fighting the outbreak, the Financial Times reported, citing several people familiar with the matter and an unidentified document.


The country has also asked hospitals in South Korea and several international aid agencies for masks and test machines, Reuters reported last Friday, citing two sources with knowledge of the matter.

North Korea has officially reported no cases of the coronavirus, and, in late January, shut its border with China after the outbreak started to spill out of the central Hubei province into other regions near the border.

According to the FT, the country has tested at least 590 citizens — all of whom had arrived from outside the country in January — but all of them tested negative.

Foreign media and experts doubt the official infection toll, however.

Some South Korean media outlets have reported that North Korea has recorded deaths from the coronavirus, but that the regime is concealing them from the world.

Daily NK, a news site focusing on North Korea, also reported that 180 North Korean soldiers died of the virus in January and February, and that another 3,700 were sent to quarantine.

South Korean newspaper Chosun Ilbo said that there were at least two suspected cases of the illness in the city of Sinuiju, which borders China. Daily NK also reported that as many as five people had died of the coronavirus in Sinuiju.

North Korea’s lack of medical supplies and weak healthcare system have left it ill-equipped to handle an outbreak like the coronavirus, Business Insider’s Paulina Cachero previously reported.

“There’s not enough medicine for the country. I’m really concerned about them facing an outbreak,” Nagi Shafik, a former World Health Organization and UNICEF official in Pyongyang, told Business Insider.

The country currently fears it doesn’t have enough testing kits for its citizens, the FT reported.

“The government has testing kits for COVID-19 and they know how to use them, but [the number of kits are] not sufficient, hence, [officials are] requesting all organizations … to support them in this regard,” a source told the FT.

Non-governmental aid agencies have also been trying to help North Korea prepare for an outbreak, but are struggling to get supplies across its shuttered border with China, Reuters reported.

Médecins Sans Frontières told the news agency that emergency supplies bound for North Korea were currently in Beijing and Dandong, a Chinese city bordering North Korea, and that officials were working to get the kit across the border despite the closure.

In a rare admission of weakness, Kim acknowledged on March 18 that his country did not have enough modern medical facilities and called for improvements, the Associated Press reported, citing the state-controlled Korea Central News Agency (KCNA).

On the orders of Kim, construction began on the new Pyongyang General Hospital on Wednesday, according to KCNA.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY SURVIVAL

Self-care at home has never been more important

One area of regular life you might be missing is the ability to leave your home for self care. Going for a pedicure, hitting the gym, the PX for a hair spruce — all of these outings we once took for granted. Now, we’re left to deal with our self care at home.

That doesn’t mean it’s impossible, however, just that it’ll take a little more creativity!


Start by assessing your needs. What needs to be done that would make you the most thankful? Toes painted? A quick hair refresh? We’ve all seen the warnings about hitting your locks with box dye, but many hairdressers are selling alternatives, like temporary wash-in color that can help tide you over. As for painted nails, that’s a quick fix at home.

But you don’t have to stop there. Make a day of it! Get out all the lotions and the files and take your time. Play relaxing music and have some fun. The same goes for hair. Spend your time and enjoy this self care, even if it’s in a slightly different setting. Throw your cares to the wind and imagine yourself in an ideal setting.

Ask your kids and your spouse if they want in on the fun too.

Self care as an activity

Once you determine your biggest needs (and wants), you can get started planning.

Ask a loved one for a massage, or order a foot bath online. It may not get here quickly, but it’s something new to look forward to.

If working out is more your style, go on a hike. Make a gym in the yard or garage with things you have on hand. Luckily Pinterest is available to help out in our time of need, with any form of self care.

Why self care?

Taking time to relax might sound silly when we are all spending so much time at home. But it’s not exactly chill. There’s much uncertainty, causing us all to stress. Meanwhile, we’re stacked with new responsibilities … and missing out on our normal methods of self reward.

Don’t overlook this fact. It’s simply an excuse to find ways to get in your creative relaxing time at home.

Find ways to add in some self care to your quarantined schedule. Use creative methods to take better care of yourself, and your mental health.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

This new app brings eye care to deployed troops

Eye injuries in a deployed setting can be a significant setback for any airman, but new telemedicine capabilities are helping to keep them in the fight.

With funding from the 59th Medical Wing, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas, Air Force and Army medical researchers are developing a HIPAA-compliant smart phone application to connect providers downrange with on-call ophthalmologists either in-theater or at a clinic.

“Ten to 15 percent of combat injuries involve the eye,” said Maj. (Dr.) William G. Gensheimer, ophthalmology element leader, and chief of cornea and refractive surgery at the Warfighter Eye Center, JB Andrews, Maryland. “There may not be many ophthalmologists in a deployed setting.”


The smartphone application, called FOXTROT, which stands for Forward Operating Base Expert Telemedicine Resource Utilizing Mobile Application for Trauma, will bring specialty eye care much closer to the point of injury. Specifically, it will allow providers downrange to conduct eye exams and assist with diagnosis and management of eye injuries.

“If there is Wi-Fi connectivity, the user can video teleconference an ophthalmologist either in theater, in a clinic in Germany or back in the United States and receive real-time consultation for their patient,” Gensheimer said. “When there is no connectivity, the application will function like secure email and the medic can send the necessary information.”

(Photo by Benjamin Sow)

According to Army Lt. Col. (Dr.) Jennifer Stowe, an optometrist and deputy director of administration at the Virtual Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, FOXTROT addresses the need for specialized telemedicine capabilities that specifically focuses on treating eye trauma downrange.

“As it stands, the current technology does not have the technical requirements necessary for deployed eye care,” Stowe said. “As an optometrist, it is without a doubt an expected capability to speed up recovery in a deployed setting.”

As Gensheimer explains, having this type of technology downrange could ensure the readiness of service members, improving the chances they can return to duty much sooner.

“With the application a downrange provider can consult an ophthalmologist and the service member can receive treatment much sooner than before,” Gensheimer said. “This improves the chances of preserving their eyesight and potentially return them to duty much more quickly.”

In addition to improved care downrange, Stowe says that the application could have a positive impact on the readiness of military medical providers. Increased exposure to a wider variety of patients through the application gives them a deeper and broader experience of practice.

Airman 1st Class Jessica Borrowman uses a fundus camera to take a photo of a patient’s retina June 12, 2014, on Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan.

(Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Laura Muehl)

“The more complex patients we see, the more our case mix increases, and the more talented as providers we become,” Stowe said. “This application will increase our medical readiness as providers by increasing our knowledge base in how we care for eye trauma.”

Currently, the application is being developed in collaboration with the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command’s Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center.

The next steps are to test the application to ensure it functions well downrange and develop standardized protocols for the use of the application.

“We want to make sure that the application can transmit the necessary information and assist ophthalmologists in making correct diagnoses and developing treatment plans,” Gensheimer said. “Having access to this type of care can have a significant impact on readiness, reducing eye injury evacuations and improving health outcomes.”

This article originally appeared on United States Air Force. Follow @USAF on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

3 things you should never say to a military spouse

It’s no doubt that those who haven’t lived the military lifestyle have a difficult time with some of the logistics. In everything from decoding thousands of acronyms, to seemingly “hard” dates that change at the drop of a hat, to the mindset of doing without a loved one for months on end, if you haven’t lived it, it’s a foreign reality.


That’s not to say non-military folk aren’t empathetic, simply that they haven’t experienced military happenings firsthand. However, that is to say they should remain impartial at all times. And they definitely shouldn’t tell a milspouse the following three things:

You knew what you were getting into.

Yes. That is an actual thing that people say to military members and their spouses alike. A quite common thing.

Sure. We know the main points. But all the details? Some surprises are sure to come along the way with anything in life. No matter how prepared you are, no one can anticipate the emotions of that first deployment (or the tenth).

Saying that a milspouse can’t talk about a situation being hard just because they knew about it upfront, is wholly unfair. We are communicators. When things bother us, we discuss them. When we are having a rough time, we tell others … that’s part of what helps the situation get better.

But to be shut down by someone who has zero idea of what they’re going through and to have them tell you your feelings don’t matter because you knew a military marriage would be hard? Hold me back.

It’s a harder situation than anyone thinks – and instead of being told their feelings are invalid, military spouses should be celebrated and supported for their help within the armed forces community.

The guided-missle cruiser USS Monterey (CG-61) Homecoming

At least … it could be worse.

Sigh. Another common response to military lifestyle changes is “at least.”

“At least he won’t be gone that long.” “At least he gets to come home for the birth.” “At least he’s not deploying.” It’s a minimizing statement that makes us want to pull our hair out.

Why can’t it just be hard? Why do milspouses have to be told their feelings aren’t as big as they feel them?

Yes, it could be worse. That’s true of anything in life. But we don’t need the Debbie Downers of the world pointing out stats about how much worse off life could be. If you can’t muster up a sincere, “That’s tough! It’s ok to be upset,” then maybe just don’t say anything at all.

But you get great benefits.

And? Anything else you’d like to toss in from left field, Karen? Sure, milspouses are grateful for how wonderful it is to get free flu swabs or take courses via the GI Bill. But we promise, that’s not the first thought that comes up.

There are great benefits of military life. But it’s not exactly an even trade-off for the sacrifices the entire family makes. Really, it’s apples and oranges, and if you talk to milspouses about how they should be grateful for all the benefits during month seven of a deployment, they just might throw said fruit in your direction.

When talking to military family members, be careful what you say. Even when ill intentions aren’t in mind, be careful not to belittle their experience or denounce what’s been gone through. It’s a lifestyle that you can’t understand unless you’ve lived it, and sometimes, when things are hard, we just want to be heard.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

This bearded Marine brings joy to the Corps

He’s making a gear list. He’s checking it twice. Gonna find out who’s boot or grunt. Gunny Clause is coming on base. So stand at ease, kiddos.


Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus. And he’s a Devil Dog. First appearing in WWI Marine encampments throughout the Forests of Argonne in France, Gunny Claus’ new mission is to be there for the kids of Marines in harms way.

Each year, he comes throughout the month of December leading up to his big day. Gunny Claus’ “No Kid Left Behind at Christmas” mission has brought him to nearly every Marine Base, USO, and Veteran Hospital where you’ll find Marines and their children. To date, the 1st Reindeer Division out of Marine Corps Base North Pole have met with well over 100,000 children since 2002.

(We have a soft spot in our hearts for Marine Santas at We Are The Mighty.)

The details of his shall-we-call-them “Dress Reds” are very significant as well. Each stripe on his sleeve represents every four years Marines have been in a major conflict since WWI. On his chest are the victory medals for every conflict Marines have fought on Christmas.

He’s probably the only Gunny in the entire Corps who keeps his knifehand mostly sheathed. (Image via Imgur)

“Being a part of something so small made it worth it to me because the family members and the kids need a little more,” said Gunny to the Camp Legune Globe. “Just being able to be a part of that, making sure that the kids get a present and get a chance to see Gunny Claus, seeing their smiles especially if their family member is deployed, we want to be able to give that to them as well.”

Gunny Claus works very closely with another yule-tide Marine tradition, the Toys for Tots.

For more information on him, the 1st Reindeer Division, or his schedule, please visit www.gunnyclaus.org

MIGHTY CULTURE

93-year-old woman asks for more beer during quarantine and gets a surprise

Desperate times call for desperate measures and 93-year-old Pennsylvania resident Olive Veronesi wasn’t about to let things get too bleak.

CNN Pittsburgh affiliate KDKA shared a photo of Veronesi taken by a family member, with a Coors Light in hand and a plea written on a white board: “I NEED MORE BEER!!” The picture was shared more than 5 million times and Coors Light delivered on the request in a major way.


Local 93-Year-Old Woman Who Went Viral For Requesting More Beer Gets Her Wish

www.youtube.com

Veronesi said she drinks a beer every night and was down to her last few cans.

“When we saw Olive’s message, we knew we had to jump at the chance to not only connect with someone who brought a smile to our faces during this pandemic, but also gave us a special opportunity to say thanks for being a Coors Light fan,” a Coors spokesperson told CNN.

Our favorite part? She cracked one open on the front porch as soon as the cases were delivered. Cheers, Olive! We’ll definitely be raising a Coors to you.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

Suddenly homeschooling? 10 pro tips from military homeschool moms

Maybe somewhere in the back of your mind you’ve considered homeschooling your kids, but have never taken the time to give much effort and research to the idea. Well, many schools in the U.S. have closed their doors to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, and this is the perfect opportunity to try it out!


According to a census done in 2012, approximately 3 percent of U.S. students were being homeschooled. That is roughly 1.5 million students. This number has increased significantly since homeschooling platforms and options have diversified. There are co-ops and multiple curriculums to fit a variety of lifestyles and beliefs.

A new survey found that 11 percent of military families have chosen to homeschool for different reasons. One of the reasons is to give their child stability because they don’t like having to uproot them from learning facilities with every PCS move. It also allows them to have more control over their kids educational process and learning environment.

If you are a newbie and have been pushed into the role of “teacher” because of this pandemic, don’t fret. Here are some PRO tips from actual homeschooling moms that have been in the game for a while.

  • Keep it simple – Don’t try and print out every curriculum you can find and then stress yourself and your kids out. Let them read to you or practice writing their letters with their finger in a plate of salt (age appropriate of course).
  • Make a schedule but be flexible – Yes, schedules help with focusing and staying on course, but life happens.
  • Use what you have – Don’t make it complex. Go through household items to cover a lesson. For example, if you’re covering shapes, have your kids go through the house and find all the spheres that they can. This could include balls, fruit or even toys.
  • Make it practical – If you’re doing a science lesson, put the book down and go on a nature walk to find things outside that reflect what the lesson is about.
  • Start early – Everyone has a fresh mind in the morning. Afternoons are a hard time for kids to focus.
  • Don’t make lessons long – Learning should only be 1-3 hours max per day.
  • Take multiple breaks – You can stretch out your learning throughout the hours. Don’t try to do it all in one clump of time.
  • Be patient – Remember you are a parent first and you all need grace while you’re figuring it out
  • Make it engaging and FUN – This isn’t a classroom. You are in control of the fun meter. Turn it up!
  • Do what fits your family’s vibe – You have the freedom to tailor your lessons to the way you know your kid learns. Try different approaches until you find one that makes sense for all of you.

media.defense.gov

There are many homeschooling resources available online. There’s always youtube where you can pull up subject and age-specific videos for activities and lessons.

Whether or not you are a fan of the idea of homeschooling your kids, it is upon us! Hopefully, these tips bring clarity and ease to this new journey.

Here is a link to find Military Homeschool Support Groups.
MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

What I wish I knew before marrying my military spouse

Getting married can be one of the most exciting times in one’s life, and marrying someone who serves is no different. That said, marrying into the military lifestyle can often come with an adjustment period. Ten military spouses agreed to speak candidly about aspects of military life – from moving to education – that they wish they would have known before marrying their spouse.


Friendship

“I wish I knew that friendship would be so, so hard. And that the people I truly view as friends are never close because we move away. Yes, I knew we’d move. But after restarting my life four times now, I am really struggling to make friends and have my own tribe because it’s so much effort. And at some duty stations, it’s great. Others are terrible and you just never really connect with anyone the entire time (or you do and they of course move one second later). I feel like a lot of people won’t be my friend, because they know I will leave too. I also wish I knew that most of the country does not understand our lifestyle, like, at all.”
– Melissa Sheridan, Air Force spouse

“Be diligent in finding your people – however many that may be for you – and you’ll thrive. Above all else, you will experience the best and worst in the world, but your mindset is everything.”
– Missy Moore, Army spouse

Lifestyle

“Life can be a real adventure if you stay open minded and flexible to new people, places and cultures! In my wildest dreams I would have never imagined where this path has led my husband and I. From meeting in Honduras while stationed there, getting stationed in an amazing area of Texas to living in a tropical paradise in Hawaii – just bizarre in all the most amazing ways!”
– Katie Whitehurst, Air Force reservist and Army spouse

“I’ve never felt more supported than in this community, but I’ve also never felt so alone. Sometimes you can’t wait for that PCS to roll around and others you absolutely dread leaving a place that feels more like home than anywhere else. I wish I’d known that grief can include the giant loss you feel when you are forced to leave a place and people you love. I wish I’d known the guilt I would feel for not giving my children roots.”
– Chelsea Coulston, Navy spouse

“It’s OK to find a new home and you are going to find friendships that are more meaningful than any in your life prior.”
– Jaci Greggs, Army spouse

“Accept that nearly nothing will go according to plan. Write plans down in pencil and buy the refundable tickets! Dates, missions, locations, etc., change often and with little notice.”
– Alex Fernandez Rubio, Army spouse

“I didn’t expect that we would have a bunch of curtains that will never fit in the next house! I also didn’t expect to love the adventure so much. Military life truly is that. It’s hard, yes, but it’s also allowed me to see the world from a different perspective. Having a baby abroad was an unexpected surprise blessing that we really enjoyed! I also didn’t expect how intense the stress levels would be. Stress that isn’t what the average person experiences—like traffic—stress that not only cripples the military member, but cripples the entire family both physically and emotionally.”
– Caroline Potter, Navy spouse

Education

“I appreciate the college opportunity offered to me as a spouse of an enlisted soldier and I wish more spouses knew about and took advantage of the MyCAA program.”
– Jenn Richardson, Army spouse

Career

“I got married at 25. I had no idea at that point how important having a career would be to me, and that maintaining a career would be nearly impossible as a military spouse. We end up taking a backseat to our spouse’s career. It’s hard personally, professionally, and frankly, financially. The military does not prioritize helping spouses [who have] careers maintain them.”
– Julie Yaste, Navy spouse

Wellness

“I wish I would have known how little the military actually cared about the physical and mental health of my spouse. After 15 years, we have realized that it’s all a numbers game and about how much they can get out of their members without much regard for the life they have to live after service. I don’t think it would have changed my husband’s mind regarding his career but I would have approached a lot of things within his job differently regarding health.”
– Kylie Martin, Navy spouse

“I wish I had known that my husband would be treated like [a] machine whose mental and physical health doesn’t matter. I wish I had known that the military doesn’t care about individuals, just the overall result and the ability to get results as quickly as possible.”
– Hannah O’Melia Sherriff, Navy spouse

Your Advice for New Military Spouses Facing Their First Deployment

We asked our audience what advice they had for new military spouses facing their first deployment. With hundreds of responses from military spouses from all walks of military life, there is no shortage of support out there for you! Here are some of our favorite responses.

  • Power of Attorney and do NOT listen to all of the freaking horror stories some of the other spouses may impart. Your spouse is not their spouse or their friend’s best friend’s spouse. Have faith in your spouse instead of the b.s. stories. Brush off the gossip and its mouthpiece. Most of all, take time out for you… mind body and soul. You’re strong and you’ve got this. – Holly M.
  • An amazing spouse told me, “Count paychecks. Because 2 a month is way better than trying to count down 180+ days.” Definitely helped! – Caitlin M.
  • Have a candid discussion with both sides of the family about what to expect/not to expect as well as what is helpful/hurtful. Examples: best ways to stay in touch, care package ideas, why he/she can’t just come home for special occasions, whether or not RR is allowed and the process, things always change, etc. – Jane T.
  • Make goals, start a hobby, go back to school. Take care of yourself. Make time for self care. Talk about your spouse being gone, especially with your kids. Routine, routine (whether you have kiddos or not). Think out of the box for friends, we are a diverse community. Remember to send boxes and little things (I am horrible at this and after four deployments I slack) but I know how much my spouse appreciates a piece of home. It will feel like autopilot sometimes and that’s okay. Being sad is okay. Check with all your on post services! I was so young the first time I had no idea all the things I could use like MYCAA scholarships, and spouse get togethers (for parents and child free spouses!) just know you’re not alone. It never gets easier and every tour will have its struggles but you have tools at your disposal; learn to use them, and yes have a POA. – Andrea R.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY CULTURE

7 great gifts for your military pet

You’ve covered the kids, your spouse, neighbors, your in-laws, and even snagged a little something for the mailman and school principal. As you’re making your list and checking it twice this holiday, don’t forget a favorite military pet!

The best gifts for pets are useful and practical items that might also benefit the pet owner in some way (think: hours of entertainment for an energetic pup or frisky feline). Here are the best gifts for pets this year:


(PetFusion)

1. Interactive cat toy

This top-rated toy uses a cat’s natural hunting instincts to captivate their attention using a feather. Battery powered, the device mimics prey and mixes it up to keep pets engaged and anti-skid feet help to keep the gadget in place for any cat owners who might be worried about forceful felines.

(Nite Ize)

2. Light up ball

Make fetch more fun with this LED light-up ball that promises hours of fun for your dog, even after the sun goes down. One bounce activates the color-changing toy and an easy-to-replace battery ensures playtime longevity.

(Crown Paw)

3. Custom artwork

As it turns out, your pet can also be a military member….sort of. Crown Paw allows users to submit a headshot of their pet and then customize it into a regal portrait. All pets are welcome and users can choose from canvas themes like “The Admiral” or “The Colonel.” More than one animal in your house? Multi-pet themes like “The Officers” make gifting easy.

(SmartBones)

4. Rawhide-free chews

Skip the rawhide for your pup this year and pick up some SmartBones, which are made from whole ingredients like vegetables and chicken. Enriched with vitamins and minerals, these treats not only taste delicious to a dog, but the natural motion of chewing helps to maintain healthy teeth and gums.

(Design Dua)

5. Stylish beds

Help your pet get the best sleep of their lives without sacrificing your interior design style. These woven beds (and specialty pods for feline friends) are made from natural Elephant Grass and are handcrafted using traditional Ghanian craft techniques. Each basket comes with a fitted cushion and are available in a range of sizes.

(Furbo)

6. Pet camera

The whole family will enjoy this wifi-enabled camera that allows you to drop in your pet when you aren’t home. Using an HD, wide-angle lens, the device allows users to see, talk to, and even dole out treats, to pets using an app on their phone. The bonus? A built-in sensor alerts pet parents to animal and human movement, so you’ll never wonder what your pet is up to all day again.

(Rocco Roxie Supply Co)

7. Pet odor + stain eliminator

Alright, this one might be a gift for the pet parents and not the pet, but 10,000+ reviews speak to the power of this enzyme-powered stain and odor remover. Created to work for both cats and dogs, this formula is chlorine-free, color safe and promises to work or you’ll get a full refund. You will never stress about pets and rental carpets again!

Still at a loss on what to gift your favorite military pet? Quality time still ranks pretty high on their list — and maybe a few extra treats, too.

This article originally appeared on Military Spouse. Follow @MilSpouseMag on Twitter.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

7 ways to mentor a military girlfriend and renew confidence in yourself at the same time

There are so many resources for military spouses and service members, but the military girlfriends and boyfriends are often forgotten. In military dating life, the best resources possible are the men and women who have been there, done that.


After mentoring a young military girlfriend, I realized after the fact that the experience may have done me just as much good as it did her. It gave me the opportunity to reflect on my own journey as a milspouse/girlfriend and see the many obstacles I’ve overcome in the process.

My husband and I dated for nearly five years before we got married, which included living together for three and a half years. To be honest, this felt like forever, especially since we moved from the East Coast to Alaska during that time. We never experienced the carefree dating experience that some do, as I was a single mom already when we met. I moved to be closer to him within months of the start of our relationship and knew no one in town. I had a minor emergency one day and called him in a panic. He couldn’t physically help me at the moment, but he remembered that one of his coworkers happened to live in my neighborhood, so he connected me with the spouse of said service member. Long story short, she saved my day!

I will never forget my first encounter (as a military girlfriend) with a military spouse. She dropped what she was doing to help out a stranger in need. She told me afterward if I ever needed anything to never hesitate to reach out, and she meant it. She sprinkled snippets of wisdom over me during the next two years whenever our paths crossed. She was brutally honest about the things that frustrated her about military life, but she always did it with a laugh and a follow-up of something she loved about that same life. Fifteen years and many cross-country duty stations later, she is still there on the other end of the line (or Facebook messenger) whenever I need her. Both of us are more “seasoned” now than we were all those years ago, but the truth is we still have value to bring to each other’s lives and military journey. I will be forever grateful for her influence in my life, and I truly feel it set the pace for how I’ve approached every military spouse or girlfriend ever since.

Here are seven ways to mentor a military girlfriend:

media.defense.gov

Remember that girlfriends matter too.

We’ve all been there; just some spent much longer unwed than others. Give them hope. Share your pride in your journey. All these new trials are temporary. Some will resurface again from time to time in your military journey (hello PCS), but let her know that with each experience, she will grow and be better prepared to handle it next time. Whatever she’s stressing about, it’s likely you’ve been there. You’ll find yourself after this counseling session with a renewed appreciation for your own experiences.

Pay it forward. 

Someone at some point in your journey held your hand and gave you strength or advice when you needed it most. There’s no one better than a seasoned military spouse to do this as long as you’re mindful and empathetic, not condescending. Sometimes a military girlfriend needs to be reminded that ALL military spouses have been the outsider at some point…no one gets married before spending some amount of time first dating that lucky hero. A good deed like mentoring will always leave you feeling full of gratitude for all who mentored you along the way.

Know that you’re both worth it. 

Simply by giving your time, you are rescuing another from loneliness in some form or another. YOUR soul will benefit from that quality time with her as well. Valuable life lessons you’ve experienced are worth talking about. You never know when your story may help someone down the road. We often have no clue what battles others are facing or when they will arise, so when you take the time to share your personal challenges and victories, you are offering value whether you realize it or not.

Good vibes.

Teach her to focus on the positive while still being aware of the potential negative. Don’t allow stress to cloud all judgement. Release the weight of what you can’t control, and not only will your life outlook change, but so will your LIFE. Hello? We all need this reminder!

Share your strength.

Unpredictability may be totally new to her. Help her see the perks and seize the opportunities that come her way. No better excuse to “just do it” than knowing that the chance to do so may not last long. Military life offers the perfect time to see just how brave you can be, and in the end, it’s totally empowering!

Give her resources.

You’ll find yourself digging through your internal toolkit and will be amazed at what you pull out of there for her! Links, groups, and ideas will all be helpful, and you’ll likely run across a few you forgot existed but quickly realize how handy they will be in your own life again now that they’ve resurfaced.

Show her love.

Teach her about military spouse bonds and how vital it is to build relationships within the community. It’s okay that she isn’t yet married, many of the issues she’s facing don’t discriminate between married/unmarried couples. Show her that she’s never alone and remind yourself of the same while you’re at it. Sometimes we allow ourselves to forget that one, and it’s one of the most important lessons of all.

MIGHTY MILSPOUSE

7 ways to help your family cope with the anxiety of coronavirus

For the majority of Americans, the coronavirus is scary. But for adults and children dealing with anxiety, “what if” questions and “catastrophizing” scenarios end somewhere between zombie apocalypse and death by starvation. Service members and their families, who already live life on edge, may be used to national panic, but they are not immune.

Panic can be felt, in raised shoulders, clenched fists, upset stomachs and extreme thoughts that can’t be dismissed no matter how many episodes you binge. For me, I could tell that my feelings about the coronavirus shifted from casual observer to concerned when I realized that I could not protect my children from panic.


I can keep them at home. I can isolate them. But I can’t guarantee that they are well-fed and have access to clean water, or something as simple as toilet paper. Through scrolling fingers, we judge the hoarders, but something inside us wishes we were as prepared. No one wants to be the family who is not prepared. The family who can’t protect their children.

That thought alone has put me on edge, not fear of death or illness or boredom or homeschooling.

Ultimately I can’t protect my children from everything. But I CAN protect them from me and what my anxiety does to them.

Just like in an airplane, parents first must conquer our fears before we can conquer our children’s. As adults, we want to present answers to a lot of these questions, but this becomes complicated when we are uncertain what the outcome will be.

“Children look to adults, parents, teachers and other caregivers to be the competent people in their lives, to have the answers,” said Dr. Martha Gleason, licensed clinical psychologist based out of Pacific Grove, California. “When the adults don’t even see their children, if they are more worried about where they can grab the next six-pack of toilet paper, they miss some of the symptoms or problems that their children are having that they could have helped them with pretty easily.”

Our children take their cues on how to react to this isolation from us. They see the empty shelves at the grocery stores and wonder why they can’t play with their friends or go to school. If we panic, our panic trickles down to them. But there are steps we can take to combat anxiety in ourselves that will benefit our children, who are watching our every move:

  1. Maintain a schedule – get dressed in real clothes every day, create a “new normal” pattern.
  2. Limit media intake – watching an endless loop of uncertainty and negativity can make anxiety worse.
  3. Get physically active, inside (find free apps, yoga, stretching) or outside (walks, bike riding, family “field day”).
  4. Calming activities for kids (baths, coloring, writing and telling stories, building, creating) and adults (baths, meditation, reading).
  5. Combat fears with evidence not speculation. Look at stories that show how we can control our circumstances – St. Louis vs. Philadelphia with the Spanish Flu versus media stories intended to stir up controversy.
  6. Focus on what stabilizes you. What makes you who you are? Faith? Family? Friends? Stay connected to those things in whatever way you can, online church services, video chats with family or even host a Netflix party.
  7. Find the fun whenever and wherever possible!

Gleason cautions, whenever dealing with anxiety one must be careful to look for underlying physical conditions. It may seem obvious, but if your child is dealing with asthma, don’t treat their shortness of breath by treating it as a panic attack. If you are unsure of the cause of these new symptoms contact a medical professional.

But for the majority who are dealing with situational anxiety triggered by the coronavirus there is a lot we can control. “Whenever your kids give you a fear you give them a reason why they don’t need to be afraid. Be honest. Be positive. But only answer what they ask,” said Gleason. “Because if you go on and on, it not only confuses them, and they still feel like they didn’t get the answer they needed.”

Kid: “Are we going to starve?”
Parent: “Of course not, look at the refrigerator and the pantry.”

Kid: “What happens when we run out of toilet paper?”
Parent: “We use all those socks that we can’t find the pairs for. They’ll finally have a home!”

Kid: “Will we die?”
Parent: “One day a long time from now. But we are washing our hands, staying away from sick people and making safe, healthy choices.”

All their questions really boil down to, “Why don’t I have to worry about this?” Our answers should convince them that the adults in their lives have already thought about their questions. The world has experienced tragedies and epidemics for the history of time. We might not know how this will end, but we know that it will.

COVID-19 Anxiety Resources

For those struggling with anxiety, you are not alone. Military OneSource has confidential resources available to servicemembers and their families. https://www.militaryonesource.mil/confidential-help

CDC’s Advice for Adults Children: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html

For Children: National Association of School Psychologists