Beyond parenting military kids during a deployment, there are tons of toys, products and resources that can offer that little bit of extra support. As I recently shared, I frequently get questions about how to best help military kids during a deployment both on my Facebook page and via email. A huge thank you to all the military spouses who helped compile this list of creative resources and ideas for military kids!
*For simplicity, Dad is used as the term for the deployed service member. Post contains affiliate links, see my disclosure here.
Best toys and resources for military kids during deployment.
Camouflage Truck Play Tent | This pop-up tent is perfect for imaginative play while mom or dad is away on deployment. Folds down for super easy storage.
Daddy Dolls |: This organization offers you the opportunity to purchase a doll with a deployed service members photo printed on it. Daddy dolls provide a comforting item from which children can gain strength in the midst of challenging situations.
Dog Tags for Kids | This organization sends dog tags to troops currently serving in harm’s way so they can send them to their kids back home. The dog tags serve as a special memento for children to hang onto while awaiting the return of their parent.
Flat Daddies | Flat Daddies and Flat Mommies are life-size photos of deployed service members. They are provided to help children better cope with the separation they experience when a parent is away from home for long periods of time.
Kids Journals | A children’s initiative created to offer resources to help children better navigate the unique challenges military families face. Easily review, download and print journals related to deployment, military moves, and the death of a loved one for FREE.
Brats: Our Journey Home | A documentary about growing up in the military. U.S. military BRATS share personal memories about their unique childhoods, including lessons learned from life on military bases around the world and struggling to fit into a typical American lifestyle, which is so different from their own. Note: This is for older kids.
Sesame Street Workshop | An outreach program to help military kids through deployments, combat-related injuries, and the death of a loved one. Videos, storybooks, and workbooks are available through this program to guide families through challenging transitions by showing how real families (and our favorite sesame street characters) cope with similar situations.
United Through Reading | A military program that aims to ease the stress of family separation during deployment. Parents read children’s books aloud via DVD for their child to watch at home.
Voice Recorded Books | Grab a few more off Amazon and record several books of dad reading a story to the kids before deployment. During deployment read the story each day with your kids.
My Mother’s Pearls Children’s Book | Sweet, Rhyming Bedtime Story/Picture Book, About Childhood Loneliness from Military Separation, for Beginner Readers, with 30 Illustrations, Ages 2-8
My Father’s Shirt Children’s Book | Sweet, Rhyming Bedtime Story/Picture Book, About Childhood Loneliness from Military Separation, for Beginner Readers, with 25 Illustrations, Ages 2-7
Bear Regards | This is a recordable talking bears and stuffed animals to help comfort your child.
Best toys and activities you can make at home.
Make a tell-dad list | Allow your kids to keep a running list of things they really want to tell their dad. Then have them share those things in a letter, on the phone or via Skype each time they talk.
Daddy box | Keep a box of items in your home that reminds your kids of daddy. Allow the kids to pick out the items pre-deployment and have them open the box each time they miss dad.
Daddy games | Play a made up family game where you earn a point each time you name something dad likes or does. An example would be basketball, where you earn a point by making a shot and saying something about dad. The first person to 10 points wins.
Dad puzzles | Use online puzzle makers to create a crossword or word search about dad.
Dad dance party | Sing or dance to songs only dad likes. Record it using an iPhone and post it on a private YouTube account to share with dad.
Do a homecoming project | Choose a homecoming project to do as a family. This could be taking a picture each day and then making a picture book using Shutterfly to give to dad at homecoming. This could also be sending out blanket squares to extended family to create welcome back messages. Have family members return the blanket squares and sew together to create a homecoming quilt.
Want more on military life?
- How to Respond When Your Military Child Feels Anxious
- The One Thing You Miss Most During Deployment
- Best Tips for Parenting Military Kids During Deployment
- 10 Things Military Spouses Won’t Tell You About Deployment