10 Empowering Life Lessons My Military Children Taught Me

As parents, our job is to teach our children ALL the things we think they need to know to be strong, confident adults. Little did we know, our children also teach US essential and empowering life lessons as their parents. You may be thinking, but what can I learn from my child? I’m the one leading them. If you take some time to step back and think, I bet your children have taught you so many valuable things.  I know my military children have taught me so much about life already.

Military Children

April is The Month of the Military Child, and I’ve been thinking a lot about my four military children and others around the world. I think about how uniquely different their lives are from non-military children. These unique experiences and opportunities have shaped their lives in ways we couldn’t imagine. I’m so thankful for these experiences because I have learned valuable life lessons from my children along the way.

In honor of The Month of the Military Child, I decided to share with you 10 empowering things my military children have taught me that we could all use more of in our lives.

10.) Play More, Worry Less. 

Play more, worry less, easier said than done, huh? It’s easy to get caught up in our heads as parents. From the moment we wake up until our heads hit the pillow at the end of the night, we have a never-ending to-do list that we worry about. With so many things to do, how do we play more and worry less?

This is one my kiddo’s taught me during our last PCS. I was busy packing our house, worrying about every little detail of how we were going to not only finish packing our belongings in Texas but also get all our things moved to the east coast and unpacked all by ourselves. I was dreading every moment of it, that was, until I looked at my children. They thought it was all one grand adventure

The kids were so excited to pack up their suitcases with a few of their favorite toys and 2 weeks’ worth of clothes that had to last us 2 months (and several seasons because the east coast weather was drastically different than in South Texas). They weren’t worried about where our stuff was going or how it was going to get there. They were simply excited to play in these big packing boxes. Once we made it to the hotels, they had so much fun playing tag in the hotel hallways and swimming in the hotel pools. They taught me to worry less (as much as possible) and to play again. 

This is a lesson that can translate to many areas of our lives, not just when moving. If your stressing about your day, take a break to play. During our move, my “play” looked a lot like taking my camera out and taking pictures of our journey. Disconnecting from the worry and being more present to what was going on around us. 

Your play may not look like a child playing with blocks. Maybe your play looks more like photography, baking, woodworking, or gardening. Whatever your “play” may be, make sure you’re making more time for it.

9.) Fresh Air is the Best Medicine

When we moved last summer, there was a particular day the kids were having a rough time. Our boxes weren’t quite unpacked yet, & the house was a mess. My oldest looked at me and said, “Mommy can we go out for some fresh air, maybe a hike in the woods?” As much as I wanted to stay at the house and continue to unpack, I knew it was more important to get them outdoors. We headed off for a hike, and by the end, we were all in a better mood. There’s just something about the fresh air that always puts everyone in a better mood. 

We now try to incorporate fresh air into our routine in various ways, especially on those tough days. It doesn’t have to be a hike in the woods; it could be a walk through the neighborhood, a trip to the playground, a walk along the river, or even just enjoying our backyard. Enjoying the fresh air can look different, but the effects are essentially the same; it brings a sense of calm to those that seek it.

Nature is the best medicine.

8.) Be patient, & Do Not Give Up. 

My 6-year-old he’s patient, and he does not give up. I’m not sure if he would’ve had this trait if we wouldn’t have been a military family, but regardless, it’s impressive to watch him. Every day after school, I watch him gather up other kids on the playground to play soccer.

The first time he asked, no one wanted to play. He kicked the ball around, and eventually, another kid came over and kicked it with him. A couple weeks later, he recruited kids older and younger than him to play soccer. As soon as the kids get out of school, they all run out back to the paved area, my son jumps the fence to go find the soccer ball they hide, and then they get started with their game. He cheers everyone on, even telling the kids who miss the ball, “Great try, you’re doing so good!” 

Playing soccer after school.

I’ve had parents come up and tell me how good my son is with teaching and incorporating their kids. Despite being the new kid at school, watching his persistence every day is the most remarkable thing. It always melts my heart and is so inspiring to watch. He’s taught me that sometimes, you have to keep doing what you love, have patience, and not give up.

7.) It’s Okay to Ask for Help.

Asking for help as an adult can seem daunting. We don’t want to feel incapable or weak because we can’t do something we think we should be able to do. However, take a look at children. They ask for help on EVERYTHING, literally, everything.

There are things that I know my children are fully capable of doing, and they will still ask for help. My daughters are fully capable of dressing themselves, and on most days, they do, but there are some days I hear, “Mommy, I can’t do it. It’s just way too hard! Can you please help me?” Of course, I help them, but first, I ask them to at least try by themselves, and if they can’t, I’m happy to help. Usually, they just want someone there to support them. Sometimes I even catch them helping each other, which is the sweetest thing.

Big sister helping with bedtime pajamas.

There are some things that children really can’t do and need an adult’s help. My toddler loves to say, “Mommy, thirsty, water,” which is his way of telling me he needs help getting his drink.

Do kids feel guilty about asking for help, whether they genuinely need it or not? Nope. And neither should we. Maybe we can do something but would feel better about doing it with support, or perhaps we genuinely need help because we can’t do it. Regardless, if we need help, we shouldn’t feel guilty about asking for it.

We hear “it takes a village” when it comes to motherhood. Often times as a military family, our village, or family, is not around. My children have taught me it’s okay to ask for help (or support) when needed. It’s not a sign that I’m weak or that I’m incapable. It’s a sign that I’m strong enough to ask for what I want and need.

6.) Say Hi!

Once I get to know people, I’m very friendly, but I tend to be a little more of an introvert in the beginning. On the other hand, you have my girls and youngest boy, that are full-fledged extroverts. They’ve never met a stranger in their life. They’re the first to wave and say “hello!” everywhere we go with big smilesThey’ll promptly tell you their life story as well. It’s as if they’re your immediate best friend. They don’t care who you are as long as you are willing to listen to them talk.

Last week as I was pushing the younger two in our stroller to school pick-up, my 3 year-old was waving and saying hello to all the parents we passed by as if she was in a parade. She then yelled at me “Mommy, don’t be rude, say hello!” to which I laughed and said hello to the next parent we passed.

What if we acted like they did and said hello to everyone we met?

Playgrounds are for saying hello and making new friends for both children and parents.

I’ve actually tried to start doing this when we go to playgrounds. I know what it feels like to be the new person in town (and an introvert). Therefore, if I see another mom at the playground, I try to make some type of small talk with her. I don’t care if they’ve lived in the area their whole lives or just recently moved; sometimes, it’s nice to talk to another adult. I know what it feels like to only talk to your kiddo all day, and sometimes just a friendly hello can brighten your whole day. I know there were days I needed that hello from a stranger, so now I’m giving it to other mamas. 

5.) Be Open to New Friendships

These last few years, I’ve watched my children go to school and make best friends. They do this while knowing that before the school year even ends, they’ll have to say goodbye and potentially never see these friends again. It doesn’t matter to them if these friendships are only for the two hours we spend on the playground or a year at their new school. They put all they have into these friendships and get to know their new friends each time. 

Friends at the playground.

When my first was born, I left the workforce to stay at home with him. I was hesitant to put myself out there to make friends. We likely only had two years left in the area because my husband would finish up his training, and the military would send us to a new base. Who would want to be friends with me for just two years? Little did I know we would spend 7 years in that location completing multiple training programs. Can you image the friendship I could’ve made during that time if I would’ve had my children’s perspective?

Last year before we left Texas, I decided to finally face friendships like my children do. Although I knew we’d be moving before the school year ended, I put myself out there, and guess what? I made a FRIEND! Let me tell you, she is fantastic. We walked home from school together almost daily, chatting about all things motherhood. She invited us over for a pancakes & pajamas breakfast while my husband was deployed. I’m so thankful I had her in my life during that short period, and I miss her dearly. I still keep up with her and am hopeful that if we are blessed with the opportunity and are sent back to Texas, we’ll have many more play dates and girl’s nights out in the future. 

4.) Value the People in Your Life

How do you show people in your life that you value them? Do you show them at all, or do you just assume they know?

Well, let me just tell you that my 5-year-old is one of the best at this! Her artwork covers my desk; it’s her way of showing people she cares. She drew pictures for her teacher when she started at her new school this year. She still does; she’ll draw or make something to take to her teacher or friends, just as a little reminder that she values them. My 3-year-old also loves to show people (even if she just met them at the playground) how much she adores them. She’ll find flowers or leaves and quickly hand them out to all the moms, and kids, on the playground.

It’s a sweet sentiment that we could all incorporate more into our lives. You can show people you value them in various ways; you can call them, text them a special message that you’re thinking of them, and send them their favorite gift. If you want to be like my 5-year-old, handwrite them a letter with a personal hand-drawn masterpiece, or if you’d like to be like my 3-year-old, you can pick the most beautiful flower you see and gift it to someone special in your life.

3.) Cherish Family Time When You Have It.

This one may seem silly to those of you reading this that are not military families, but my kids know that at any given moment, daddy could have to leave (deploy). It has taught them (and me) a precious lesson, cherish family time when you have it. 

Saying goodbye as daddy leaves for deployment.

It’s happened to us twice before on short notice. Daddy received a phone call from the military that he was deploying, and we could do nothing to change it. It’s never a call anyone wants to hear, but it’s one that is bound to come eventually if you’re a military family.

This means that family time is so special to us. The kids have taught me to pack as much fun into every single day as possible, and when I think we can’t do anything else, throw in just one more fun thing for good measure.

You never know when something may be your last, so value the time while you have it.

2.) To be Unapologetically Myself.

I think the most empowering things you can do for yourself is to stop trying to be who you think others want you to be, and focus on being your most authentic self.”

Jennifer Aniston

I’ve never seen as much confidence as I have in my three-year-old, that steps out of the house in her high heels and glittery princess dress with a tiara to introduce herself to the new neighbors.

I’ll keep this lesson short and sweet. If there’s one thing we can all learn from our children, it’s to always be our authentic selves and stop worrying about what other people think.

1.) When all else fails, Dance it Out!

Have you ever tried to dance while angry?

You can’t do it; you are bound to smile at some point.

Our kitchen, wherever we go, instantly becomes a dance floor. We’ve had many dance parties in our kitchen just to lighten the mood. We keep an Alexa on the countertop so whenever someone needs to dance it out, they can head over to the dance floor and say, “Alex, play “Let it Go,”” which is a personal favorite of the girls. Each of the kids has their own favorite songs to request.

Kids dancing in the kitchen.

I love to listen and dance to “Surface Pressure” from the Encanto Soundtrack. I swear it sometimes feels like the theme song for military moms and just moms in general! If you haven’t heard it yet, go give it a listen.

What Have You Learned?

I think there are so many life lessons we learn from our children and from parenting but sometimes we may not even notice. I’d love to hear below in the comments what you’ve learned from your children!

I hope you’ve enjoyed reading this. It was a labor of love and such a unique exercise for me. I’m always working on teaching the kids but it was fun to take a step back and see what I’ve actually learned along the way too.

If you have something you’d love for me to cover in my blog you can request it here!

If you’re deep into spring cleaning and looking for some tips on managing your weekly cleaning schedule check out this post.

Until next time friends,

Love, Tandra Nicole


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