Today’s the day.
You’ve been preparing yourself for this, but somehow- now that it’s here- you feel completely unprepared.
Deployment: day zero.
The bags have been loaded, the goodbyes have been said, and the deployment season is officially here. Even though you’ve been thinking about this day since you found out there was a deployment on the horizon, day zero can be particularly difficult.
Day zero is a moment that places us firmly between the sadness of goodbye kisses, and the overwhelm of a deployment countdown not yet started. The best advice I’ve been given? Don’t hyper-focus on either. The goodbye is sad. The countdown is overwhelming. Allow both of those realities to exist, but force them to exist alongside of another truth: today is still a day, and you get to choose how you will spend it.
Owning day zero (instead of letting it own you) like most things, often comes down to planning. There are so many ways you can spend this day, but it can be hard to imagine doing anything other than missing the one you love.
So, I’m planning ahead by listing 50 things that you COULD do on day zero:
A phone call with your most caring and trustworthy friend.
Choose someone who is a good listener, and you can trust not to give advice and call them on your drive home from drop-off. Advice doesn’t help on day zero, so let them know if you just want to vent or share.
If cleaning is therapeutic for you- save it all for today! Don’t bother cleaning the house the week before deployment starts so you can dive into some serious household detox.
Wine & Cheese Solo Date
Start strong with a solo date night featuring some fancy wine and cheese. Spend an afternoon shopping for your favorite too-expensive snacks and enjoy them in the evening.
Visit your favorite nail artist and spend a few hours getting a mani-pedi.
Need some alone time? Plan ahead to have a full movie series on hand (we’re partial to the Harry Potter series!)
Even if just for a few minutes, find time to catch up with a friend over coffee or tea.
Reserve a Brave Crate
Focus every month of your countdown around a new theme with a box of inspiration filled with tools, tips and treats to help you make your deployment countdown count. PRO TIP: sign up ahead of time so you can have your first box for day zero.
If you work from home and are planning to work on day zero, consider planning ahead to co-work with a friend outside the house this day.
Is there something you NEVER eat but always want to? This might be the night to indulge! Pro tip for our Southern friends: greasy Bojangles chicken and a giant sweet tea are basically made for day zero!
Calendar Prep Time
Take a trip to your favorite office supplies store and get yourself a fancy calendar. Use this to list all the things you’re looking forward to in the coming months while you count down to homecoming!
Get in a workout
Here’s your chance to check out that group class you’ve been dying to try! Get your heart pumping and release those good endorphines!
Helping others is a wonderful way to reconnect with what’s important. Check out your local library, FRG or USO for great volunteer opportunities!
Craft your first care package
Nope! It’s not too early! Get creative with sticker kits and care package flaps then go crazy planning what to put inside.
Have a family sleepover
Day zero is the perfect day for a family sleepover! Build a fort in the living room, pop some popcorn and make some smores in the kitchen. You can get into those new sleep routines tomorrow.
The Netflix Black Hole
Similar to a movie marathon- but this one can carry you through the whole deployment! Choose a show you’ve been dying to watch and let yourself get lost in it on day zero- then watch when you have time in future weeks
Create a countdown wall
Get some pin-spiration and work as a family to create a countdown wall. Visit your local craft store and let your imagination run wild.
Restock the pantry
Deployment is the perfect time to embrace a new healthy eating habit. Take a trip to the farmers market and restock your pantry with healthier options.
Clean out your closet
Day zero is the perfect time to get distracted with that project you’ve been putting off- like cleaning out your closet. Bonus: you’ll wake up tomorrow feeling more organized and ready to take on day one!
Visit your favorite local coffee shop with a friend and treat yourself to the sweetest, most decadent thing on the menu. Chat about nothing, refill, repeat.
Clean out your inbox
If you and your spouse are communicating via email this is a great day to clean out your inbox or even create a new email address just for deployment chats. Be sure to save all those love notes so you can come back and enjoy them later.
Have a good cry
Seriously- it’s ok to check out today, and sometimes a good solo cry can be an important part of moving into the deployment countdown transition. Give yourself the freedom to feel sad today.
Bake all the things- and bring them to friends
Some of us are happiest when baking! If that sounds like you plan ahead for all the ingredients and bake as much as you want. Then, bring the goodies to friends who are also starting their countdowns.
Start a good book
A trip to your local Barnes & Nobles can work wonders! Spend some time picking out a good book and let yourself get pulled into all day long.
Do that thing…
You know! That thing you love to do but your spouse can’t stand? Whether it’s visiting a museum or seeing that band you love, today’s the day to let yourself indulge!
Fold the laundry
You’ve probably been focused on family time for the past few weeks, so that laundry might be piled up! Reclaim your sense of zen by washing, folding and perfectly putting it away.
Take a trip
I did this once and it was glorious. If you have the time and resources, deployment day-zero is a perfect time for an immediate vacation. Shake yourself out of your routine and come back to it later!
Stay out late
Chances are sleep might be tough tonight- so make plans with that crazy friend whose always awake too late. You can stay home and play games with the little ones, or go out and dance the night away. Either way- be sure to come to bed tired!
OR get to bed early
On the other hand - if deployment drop off was before sunrise you may be ready for an early bedtime. In this case, get those jammies ready and snooze!
Get into your hobby
Deployment is the perfect time to spend focused energy on the things you often forget that you love. Music, art, exercise- whatever your jam is take time today to remind yourself.
Don’t feel like chatting? Get it all out on paper and let yourself embrace all of the emotion that today brings.
It’s tempting to hide today, but no matter what the weather is take a few moments to be outside. Take a walk, a hike or a bike ride with friends and family.
Cook something fancy
The opposite of our “guilt meal” option. You can spend an entire evening preparing something special to enjoy. Pro tip: this idea pairs perfectly with #6
This one will help carry you through the rest of your countdown! Spend a little time today finding inner peace and calm.
Make a Vision Board
What will this countdown look like for you? In what ways do you want to grow, learn and evolve before homecoming? Get it all out and visual!
Write a Love Note
Write as many love notes as you can and store them all to send later!|
Have a photo shoot
Chances are your spouse will LOVE getting pictures of you during their deployment. Pick out a few favorite outfits and locations, then enlist a friend to help you get a few great shots to have ready!
Start a blog
Seriously- your journey can inspire others! Make this space your own to share ideas and thoughts about your countdown. Don’t forget to get up to date on standards around OPSEC before sharing.
Get sucked into pinterest
Similar to #34 but bigger! Think about all the things you want to accomplish during this deployment countdown and create pinterest boards to inspire you!
Update your Podcast favorites
We recommend Stitcher for this but you can use any podcast app you want! Ask friends on social media what their favorite podcasts are, and put together a stash that you can listen to any time you’re feeling the house is too quiet.
Dance it out
Yep. Seriously. Whether the house is empty or you’re home with the kiddos, have a one-song dance party and release some of those feel-good hormones!
Create a time capsule
Use a shoebox or bag to collect things that will mark day zero. A picture of your goodbye, a note with the last text to each other, a list of goals you’re planning to accomplish, a note to your future self- anything you might want to look back on. You can pull this out at homecoming!
Write a local bucket list
What will you do on a free weekend or evening when your spouse is deployed? Create a list of places within 15 minutes that you’d like to explore or visit!
Call the family
Chances are your family is thinking of you- if you feel up to it, consider giving them a call and letting them know how you are doing.
Buy a planner
Things are probably going to be a little busy during your countdown. Invest in a good planner to keep it all straight. Spend today filling it in for the next week!
Host a no-cook potluck
Chances are the rest of the spouses in your family’s unit are also looking for things to do today. Host a potluck where everyone brings their favorite takeout dish to offer some company!
Get a massage
Yes… it’s a little pricey, but doing something special for yourself on day zero can give you something to look forward to on a day that can feel less than special. Bonus: all the health benefits that massage offers are a great way to kick off your countdown.
Get your Karaoke on!
If you’re feeling down about deployment try hitting it from another extreme- get silly! Doing something out of character with a friend like trying karaoke. Let yourself laugh a little and shake up your normal routine.
Plant a garden
Not only is this a great project, but a garden is also a great reminder of the passage of time and the beautiful gifts that we receive with consistent efforts. Not a gardener? Try a small indoor plant to start with!
Set a goal
At least one- then write it down and put it somewhere you can easily see it!
Becky Hoy believes that deployment is one of the best things that has ever happened for the growth of her marriage and her own personal development. As an Army spouse, Becky realized quickly that wishing away the days during deployment could not be an option for her- so she founded Brave Crate- the deployment countdown box! Meet Becky here!