Over a year ago, I wrote a post about some proposed legislation which would require employers to give military spouses and parents time off when their service member is about to leave for a deployment. I thought about that old post (in reverse) when the following question landed in our mailbox:
I am in desperate need of some advice from veteran military spouses! My husband has been overseas (deployed) since March and should be returning this coming November, which is getting super close!!! However, I am a preschool director and a school teacher. I will clearly be taking time off when he returns, but I’m having trouble knowing just how long is a good amount of time to ask off?! How long do most women take away from jobs when their husbands return from a deployment? I don’t want to overstep boundaries or take advantage, but I need to give my husband and I the time we need to readjust!
It’s a tricky question because everyone’s situation is different. Sometimes our spouses spend a portion of the first few days back turning in equipment and taking care of other post-deployment issues, so they may not be home all that much. On the other hand, sometimes they immediately start leave and don’t have to return to work for a while. But perhaps more important than whether your spouse will be around enough to justify taking leave from work right away is the fact that everyone’s family dynamic is different. Reintegration can be a beast, but talking with your spouse and planning ahead of time can help minimize the negative aspects of reintegration.
I recently talked to an Army Wife who said she takes homecoming day and the day after off, goes back to work on the third day and then a few days later she takes a week of leave. Part of that week is spent on a mini-vacation somewhere away from home, friends and family. It’s their time to reconnect as a couple and focus on the emotional and physical aspects of their marriage. She explained that this routine gives her husband some time alone to adjust to being back at the house without them smothering one another immediately upon his return, therefore they’re less likely to get on each other’s nerves in the early stages of reintegration. For them, this makes for a less stressful transition.
Congrats on almost having this deployment behind you, V. I would say that there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to your question. It all depends on what your expectations and needs are as a couple. I would suggest discussing it beforehand. Talk about each of your expectations and how you would prefer to spend the first few days/weeks upon his return. That should help with your decision on how much time off from work you should take, and whether you should take it immediately or take it a little later.
What’s your post-deployment routine? Have you had to experiment to get it right? What has worked for your family and what hasn’t been that successful?