This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of 1 Natural Way, a TRICARE breast pump provider. All opinions are entirely my own.
“I thought deployment on my own was hard,” one of my friends said to me one day. “But deployment with kids? It feels impossible.”
She had been battling an raft of on-going kid illnesses– the flu, fevers, colds, earaches. The list didn’t seem to end. Throw in sleepless nights and children who didn’t want to stay in their own beds, and she was frazzled. More than frazzled, if we’re going to be really honest.
That’s not uncommon in the military community. Military life throws a heck of a lot at just one person. Then add a spouse… and a kid… or two… or three… and it can get hectic and frustrating fast.
The good news? If you’re feeling a little frazzled (or completely in over your head, that’s okay, too!), there are a lot of parenting programs, websites, and apps out there to help. They’ve been made with military families in mind… not as an afterthought! And the cost of absolutely free is definitely a bonus.
Let’s talk about free stuff
Thanks to 1 Natural Way for sponsoring this post and allowing me to bring you these wonderful parenting resources. 1 Natural Way is a TRICARE breast pump provider that works to make sure you are able to take advantage of your TRICARE benefits as easily and painlessly as possible and all at no (or very, very little) cost to you. In stock at 1 Natural way are high-quality products like Kiinde, Medela, and Spectra. Simply fill out the insurance information form found here, choose the breast pump model you like (they’re all TRICARE-covered), enroll in 1 Natural Way’s Resupply program to get supplies and products sent to you monthly, and upload your prescription. Everything ships directly to your door. (Woohoo!)
1 Natural Way makes breast pumps and accessories easy and hassle-free so you can spend your time on the things you love: your kids. And that’s why you’re here–because you want parenting resources for military families. So let’s get to it!
Now, let’s talk about more free stuff!
The USO offers a whole-family mini day retreat called EmPaCt. Kids get the opportunity to lead parents through play-based exploration and fun.
2. Sesame Street For Military Families
Sesame Street has an entire website (and an app too) dedicated to supporting military families, kids, and their providers (like doctors) dealing with all of the joys and obstacles that military life has. From informational videos for adults to fun videos (that also teach) for kids, to experiential games, to printables and conversation starters for families, there is so much research-based information available for families through Sesame Street. And that doesn’t even include their in-person live events through the USO.
The Armed Services YMCA offers a variety of opportunities for parents and children, which sometimes can include parenting help and classes. If you need a break, most ASYMCA’s offer respite child care for infants through tweens and safe places for children through classes and programs.
4. Army Community Service Programs
Some Army posts provide parenting programs through Army Community Services. For example, Fort Carson has a beloved Nurturing program which includes child care, classes for parents on topics like potty-training, and play groups for children. Fort Riley offers a New Parent Support Group headed by nurses and social workers, with classes and a play time offered as well.
5. Visiting Nurse Program
The Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society provides a visiting nurse program to families with newborns. The nurses check on the baby’s general health and provide health checks. They can also answer parent questions and educate caregivers on a variety of child-related topics as well as help assuage new parent worries.
6. The Military Birth Resource Network
MBRN’s mission is “to enable continuity of care by providing the necessary community, network, resources and awareness to our military families stateside and those stationed overseas.” You can find out more about the network and the services they offer for military spouses and families who are ready to give birth or who have just welcomed a new baby into their family here.
On- or off-base, libraries can provide a wealth of programming for parents and children. Check your local one to see if they have any parenting groups that meet.
8. Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program
At some installation’s USOs, there are in-person reading groups for parents and young children through the Bob Hope Legacy Reading Program. Some of these programs include craft time, others are focused on particular topics, like deployment.
9. New Parent Support Program
Many installations offer the DoD’s New Parent Support Program. The program covers a wide range of topics that are are military-specific and more general to new or expecting parents. To find the closest offerings to you, search here by clicking the drop down menu and selecting “New Parent Support Program.”
10. Real Warriors
Real Warriors provides a wealth of knowledge and articles for military couples who are becoming (or have just become) new parents. Check out their library of articles here.
11. Babies on the Homefront
This app, from the National Center for Infants, Toddlers, and Families, keeps information and help close to parents at all times including information about play time, behavior, and self-care. You can also visit their website for videos and articles with information specific to military families.
12. VA’s Parenting Course
The Department of Veteran’s Affairs has a six-module parenting class available for your use online. Login whenever you’re able and learn more about topics like age-appropriate behaviors, positive discipline, and how to manage emotions as a parent. The course is meant to serve military and veteran families and broaches military-affiliated parenting topics.
13. Military OneSource
Oh yes, of course Military OneSource is on the list! This governmental website has become a lot more user-friendly in recent years. With articles and videos that cover nearly every military community topic under the sun, it’s probably no surprise they have a bevy of parenting articles available for military families too.
14. Parent to Parent Workshops
Provided by the Military Child Education Coalition, the Parent to Parent workshops are designed to help parents learn how to advocate on their child’s behalf when it comes to their education. You can learn more about this program here.
15. Zero to Three
Zero to Three provides parenting resources for families regardless of military status; however, they also have a subpage on their website dedicated strictly to military families and resources for those families. It includes article series, children’s book recommendations, and videos. Check it out here.
The Department of Education has a website dedicated to help parents of military kids with special needs navigate some of the challenges and difficulties that may arise. Take a look here.
17. Surviving Deployment
Another website with great information, you’ll want to especially check out some of the free downloads for children. They include bookmarks and a deployment journal for older kids.
18. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
This national professional association provides a list of links and help for military families. Among them are clinical resources and how to get professional help for children who are dealing with more than they can handle.