16 Homecoming Tips from Military Spouses Who Keep it Real

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The day that John came home, I was a mess. I had driven more than 9 hours (much of it in stand-still traffic), in blazing summer heat and a car who’s air conditioning broke…  Once I got into town, my battle buddy and I thought we had enough time to eat a nice meal, go get fixed up, and make it to the MAC terminal– with time to spare!

We were so surprised when we received a panicked phone call from the FRG leader: no one had told us that the flight came in hours early. We had been left out of the phone chain and the homecoming was already happening at the airport. We flew (nearly literally) to base, got lost, had no idea where we were going, and finally made it into the terminal seconds before the doors opened and our guys emerged from customs.

The first thing I remember John saying was, “Are you okay? You’re shaking.”

And I was, I realized. I was shaking with anger and adrenaline.


A few days ago, we had a great conversation on the Jo, My Gosh! Facebook page. I had asked what advice my readers would give someone going through their first homecoming. The answers were amazing… and I knew right then and there that I had to share them!

Looking perfect is overrated

I was freaking out about looking “perfect” for the day which I soon discovered wouldn’t happen in the humid Hawaiian sun… But they could really care less, you could be in a paper bag and still look absolutely incredible to them! So my advice is just to not worry so much about looking perfect because you already do just the way you are. As for photographers we just had a friend who was good with cameras and she took amazing photos!!! Which was convenient because my man ended up proposing on the pier! -Sabrina

Relax your schedule

Don’t expect them to fall right into your schedule. Make sure you outline what your life was without them (especially if you run your own business) and give them some grace. –Rachel

[Tweet “Don’t expect them to fall right into your schedule. #homecoming #milspouse @JoMyGosh”]

Delays happen

Expect delays, expect changes in arrival, expect that your service member will have to stop by the office for something or a meeting or whatever that may last hours. Don’t go crazy planning a schedule for the day. Anything can happen! – Tracy

It’s just one moment

What you see in the photos isn’t what really happens. That is just a moment in time. Be prepared for real transition afterwards and a lot of adjustment. –Kim

Know your limits

And put your foot down on family staying with you, it should just be the immediate family in the house ( I told my parents and my husbands brother and wife they needed to get a hotel that my husband and I needed the two nights back at the house to recoup, not for “romance” I was 2 days from delivering baby, I just wanted the evenings for us to feel a bit normal and not to be entertaining houseguests). -Amanda

The details don’t matter

They are not going to be looking at your toenails, or if your winged eyeliner is perfect on both sides (like that ever happens) or if your dress is ironed just right. They are looking at your arms for a hug and your lips for the kiss!  -Tracy

Don’t have expectations

Don’t expect to much from your loved one. They are going to want to rest, sleep, so don’t be discouraged if you two don’t get it on right away( if you know what I mean). It will happen, and believe me its the most amazing too! (esp. when they come home from deployment). -Jyoti

Hire a pro

Hire a professional photographer! When you explain that it’s for a homecoming most people will give you a discount or even hire a photographer that’s a military spouse! After a 12 month deployment all we had was a cellphone photo that someone took of us. We learned our lesson. We hired a pro after that and we have been so happy with it! -America

Hire or borrow a photographer, those memories are awesome. –JD

But seriously, don’t have expectations

Have no expectations. Don’t want to ruin an amazing day because it wasn’t what you expected it to be! -Amanda

Use the restroom

Plan ahead for things you’ll need. If you’re going to the airport, try to see if they’ll let you in to the arrival gate (some airports do that!). If you’re going on base, make sure you have your ID (and ID of anyone going with you) so you don’t have any issues getting on. If you have to travel, fill the car gas tank! If you have someone going to take pictures, make sure they have base access if on base or they can follow you to the airport so you know they’re there on time. Go potty right beforehand (learned that one the first time!) and wear COMFORTABLE shoes cuz if you’re standing, it could be a while (hello 2 hr delay the first time). -Tracy

Messy is okay

My best advice is that homecomings might be magical. Or they might not. But after the photos, reintegration is messy and that’s okay. It’s okay that it’s messy. –Kim

Go with the flow

Don’t over plan it! -Amanda

It’s special no matter what

Just because it doesn’t go the way you expected/planned, it’s OKAY! Your story will be original and special to you! -Tracy

Mickey D’s might just be okay

Talk to your spouse about Homecoming Day expectations. After years of me slaving over his favorite meals for Homecoming, my sailor finally told me he’d rather eat McDonald’s with me beside him on the couch than watch me slaving in the kitchen that first day! –Jodi

[Tweet “Talk to your spouse about Homecoming Day expectations. #milspouse @JoMyGosh”]

Don’t take offense

Directly from my husband: let them have their space and don’t take it personally when they need it. -Heather

Be present

Just be fully present, offer love and grace, don’t be afraid to cry. –Hope

If you’ve gone through a homecoming before, what advice would you add to this list? If you haven’t yet, what are you worried or have questions about?


5 Responses

  1. This is so helpful! My husband is coming back from him first deployment in a few weeks, and I couldn’t be more excited. Thanks for the insightful post!

  2. I’m worried that, because I’m the photographer, I’ll never get to be in homecoming photos, even if I bring a tripod and set everything up for timed shoots. It’s not the same. I don’t trust anyone else with a camera. I’ve already spent enough money on my own equipment. :(

  3. What about if the wife has no idea when her husband will be back? How does she find out?

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