Homecoming Advice Needed!


It seems like every post I write these days has to do with homecoming, but I guess you could blame it on excitement…or nerves! I am so excited at the thought of having my husband back in my arms and knowing that he is safe once again, but I’m also terribly nervous about the homecoming and the days afterwards. My to-do list continutes to grow and I’m trying to find time to get it all done, even though I have no real date yet to know my deadline. The to-do list includes the typical things like thorougly cleaning the house, hanging the shelves in the bathroom and making room in the closet for my husband’s clothes to fit back in (I kind of took over a bit when he left). And I could stand to pull out that exercise video that I’ve been meaning to use for the past few months too…

But there are also other items relating to the homecoming that have been on my mind lately. I need to determine how many days I can take off of work once he arrives home, as well as what I need to do once I get “the call.” I also need to establish who will take care of the kids when I go to the homecoming ceremony. We are only allowed an hour together before they are whisked away for their demobilization, so we’ve decided not to bring the kids or even tell them that daddy is home yet. It just didn’t seem fair to them to only be able to see their dad for an hour after not having seen him for MANY months, only to have to say goodbye again. That also leads to wondering the best way to reunite the kids with their dad. Do we surprise them? Or do we just tell them?

And how do we welcome him home? Sure I know, with lots of hugs and kisses, which I can’t wait for. But what other things do we do to make it that much more special? I have the fairytale homecoming vision in my mind, but I am realistic and know that is just what it is…a fairytale. But I want it as perfect and memorable as I can make it. I’ve already ordered our “Welcome Home” banner and the kids have been making signs for MONTHS now to put up in our windows. I want to keep things simple for my husband, but still show our excitement and enthusiasm for him being home!  So many questions, and it’s getting overwhelming. So I’m asking for advice from all of the spouses who are deployment veterans…

How did you welcome your servicemember home after a deployment?

What did you do for the actual homecoming ceremony, as well as after they came home?

Did you take time off of work to be with them? How much?

Did you take a vacation as a family? As a couple?

Did you have a “Welcome Home” party?

If you have kids, did you surprise them? Is that a bad idea?

I love to hear homecoming stories, so I can’t wait to hear what you all did (or are planning to do) to welcome your loved ones home! Please share and help this homecoming “novice” with your advice!

About the Author

The New Normal
The New "Normal" (aka Kris) is an Army National Guard wife of 6 years, married for 12 years, momma to two fantastic kiddos and caretaker of the household zoo. While not juggling the house, a full-time job, chauffeur duties and the kids increasingly busy social lives, she enjoys running, reading and sewing. She continues to navigate the ever-changing life with the National Guard, having survived her husband's first deployment without pulling all her hair out. Now the family gears up for her husband's second deployment that is quickly approaching. With training missions filing up the remaining weeks before they say "see you later" once again, the family works hard between school, work and activities to stop and enjoy every minute they have left together. The New "Normal" blogs about daily life and the craziness of military life over at her personal blog - The New "Normal" - attempting to make sense of the insanity with a bit of humor.
  • Clementiney

    I’m in the same boat. Hubby’s coming back soon. I don’t know the exact date. He is National Guard as well but he didn’t deploy with his home unit and this is our first deployment. We have six kids and we are a little worried that since he isn’t going through any type of formal demobilization that he will be easily overwhelmed by them. So, I’m going to get him a hotel room for the first night he flies in so he can have at least one night of peace and quiet. Then, he plans on surprising the kids. We just aren’t sure how. I would think going to 4 different schools to surprise them would be extremely over whelming for him. One possibility would be that maybe I’d take the kids out for pizza and when we got to the restaurant they would see dad there. I think we’ll just play it by ear.

  • Michele

    Horray for homecomings!!! And yeah, that’s a weird way to do it (we’re also guard ) We have demoded in other parts of the country and specifically families were NOT allowed to go and then the ceremony was done all at once when they got back to the home unit – but it doesn’t’ really matter in the end… it’s still just as amazing.

    My one biggest thing – forget the to-do list. For the next couple of weeks or day just keep your life as simple as possible. Clean up , sure, but don’t have a house that’s strange for your soldier to come home to. In his mind, he wants the home he left. He wants everything as it was. So don’t work on any major project that he’s unaware of. Also, just try to find a calm place for yourself. Reunion is joyous, but it’s also stressful. You need to allow yourself the time to mentally focus on the change to your household and you can’t do that if you’re going crazy with prep.

    As for the kids, I am decidedly in the ‘no-surprise’ camp. I get that you don’t want to bring them to the quick ceremony, but aren’t they going to realize that you’ve already seen their father? Maybe when you know the date after demob you can tell them – I’m sure you’re going to have to pick him up from somewhere, right? they can have their own little homecoming with him and you’ll have time to take lots and lots of pictures! I have THE best pics of my kids greeting their dad. They are priceless to me and to him.

    What we do on the day of homecoming – when he finally gets home – a cold beer or two LOL, and his favorite home cooked dinner is always on hand. Though last time all he really wanted was pizza, real genuine pizza from our local pizza place. And we just kept it very very low key. He saw all the families a few days later anyway.

    Good luck! And remember, the important part is that your family is back together again. The rest is all just extra.

  • Pattie

    Air Force wife here…my husband deployed alone, came home alone, no ceremony, no pomp and circumstance. Just a windy day at the airport…

  • We just did the windy airport thing last night, with 6 kids…but they’re 7 to 17…there were others there with younger ones. So far we’re not planning a big shindig, but just doing our usual. I did the HUGE to-do list last week, and it went okay…but I was stressed, and wishing I had started on it earlier, instead of waiting to the last minute.

  • Xteenb

    I blocked the entire homecoming window out in my work calendar. Everyone knew that I might not be available then. I knew I’d go crazy if left alone the day before he arrived so I worked until the day of arrival. I made plans to have his sister drive us to the armory. Her car died. My car sounded like a jet was landing in the back seat but it got me there. The official ceremony was the next day, I think. And waaaay too long. I should have driven home instead of letting him drive. He felt like he was speeding whenever he got above 30 mph. He wanted to go to Chipotle and be in his own home. Waiting is hard on the rest of the family, but it’s better not to overwhelm the jetlagged.

  • joe

    after doing almost three years in viet nam, and returning home i was lost. all my friends had no intrest
    in me any more, my family all gone. i returned to my next duty station, and came home again, after 26
    years in the army. all returning vet’s need there space, alone time, and remember they came home a different person than when they left. give it time it will work out ok. thanks. jc

  • JAN

    My husband is coming home and I didn’t plan anything because every time to do things go to hell in a hand basket. And that is the way of life in the national guard. LOL

  • Petra

    Last one we got to see him for thirty minutes, then he had to go hand in gear and weapons and be briefed, and then we could finally take him home. I had the house cleaned and the tub ready and fresh linens on the bed and his favorite snack food ready, because that seems to be the pattern with mine, bath, nap, tv and snacks :)) I am so happy for you though, just have fun with it. The best laid plans and all that…and yeah, me, I’d drag the children along, did last time and we were just fine, if exhausted after an 8 hour wait at the hangar In the middle of the night, but the happiness on all faces was worth it :)

  • Danyle

    here is part 2… it was too long as a whole.

    As much as it sucks, your returning service member really, really needs some decompression time. Yes, they missed you. Yes, they missed the kids, the family, the house. Bottom line, they probably have not been ALONE for one single second since they have been gone. The military, especially on deployments has a tendency to lack personal space. There is no closing the door to take a bath and relax or even to enjoy your alone time on the toilet with a good magazine! NONE. No alone time. Sleep areas are shared, living areas are shared, vehicles are shared… Sometimes you even forget what your own thoughts sound like because it hasn’t been quiet enough to hear them. If I could tell you one thing, LOVE them the second they get home, let them know you are there when they are ready and then LET THEM GO. It sounds like the craziest contradiction in the world but if you let them silence what they left, find themselves again, remember what it feels like with YOU, they will WANT to come back. And guess what? This time, they are READY.