In the 15 years that I have been a police spouse, my husband and I have had our fair share of holidays apart. Some years I adapted more easily than others. My first few years, when we were newly married, were some of the hardest. After that, once we had babies, was another hard season of navigating the holidays.
It wasn’t just the fact that he was working and I was home that made it hard. I was mentally tired of explaining to friends and family what our holiday plans were. I was tired of hearing the jokes “are you even married?” I longed to make our own traditions as a newly married couple but knew it was tricky to do when we were adjusting to his work schedule.
Naturally, as a police spouse, we will all encounter holidays apart, conflicting schedules, and our fair share of adjusting at some point.
But I think it is how we deal with it that matters most. We can have all the feelings of sadness, frustration, loneliness, but I don’t want you to allow those feelings to live rent free in your mind throughout the entire holiday season.
You can move through those feelings AND find a way to enjoy the holidays even if they are a bit different than what you expected.
Helpful Ways to Navigate Christmas as a Police Spouse
I can not stress this enough. Taking the time to plan what days you have available, what days are blocked off or you are not available, and what days are saved for ONLY you and your immediate family will save you so much stress and headache in the long wrong.
You can use a Google calendar, paper calendar, white board on your fridge, etc. Any way that is visible and most effective for you and your spouse to see.
COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE, COMMUNICATE
Next, TALK to your spouse. Not just about what days he/she is working or may be off but also about each of your expectations for the holidays.
What events is your officer okay missing? What events would he/she love to attend with you?
For many years I thought it was only me that felt stressed planning for the holidays around his schedule, but I was wrong. It was also stressful for my husband because he wanted nothing more than to be with us for so many traditions.
Once we communicated that, we found ways to still do those family traditions but just on different days or in new ways that worked for our family.
This can be hard for so many of us. If you are a people pleaser like me then you want to say yes to all the things. But reality is, you can’t and it may be stressful to always say yes.
Instead, think of it this way: when you say “no” to something or someone, you are saying “yes” to something else.
It may be too emotionally draining for you to attend every event with extended family, with kids in tow, while your spouse works. (Girl, I get it, me too). So you have to stand up and say “I would love to do that but our calendar is full. Maybe next year.”
No one, I repeat, no one will put the boundaries that you need in your life EXCEPT YOU.
Do not feel guilty for saying no. Do not feel guilty if you have to cancel plans because you overbooked yourself. You deserve to enjoy the holidays, too, and for some of us, the best way to do that is to do LESS on the calendar.
If you just still aren’t feeling so jolly, that’s okay! This post may help with that.
While navigating the holidays as a police spouse may be new to you or a harder season of life right now, I promise you, you will get through this. You are not alone. I’ve been there. I know hundreds of other spouses who have been there. We are all rooting for you.
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