Happy Mother’s Day, Military Moms! Military moms are truly the backbone of their homes. However, if you are a new military mom, it can feel really overwhelming! Being a new mom is challenging enough, but adding in the chaos of military life can make it even more so. I know when I had my first child, it was a struggle without family nearby to help out.
Over the years, I’ve learned how to navigate being a military mom and found military parent benefits as well as support that helped my family. Here are 4 tips for new military moms to ease the transition into motherhood:
1. Keep Up-to-Date With Leave Entitlements
Great news! As of January 4, 2023, the Department of Defense has expanded the Military Parental Leave Program! Now both active-duty moms and dads will receive 12 weeks of military maternity leave or military paternity leave. This leave can be taken all at once, or in increments of one week or more anytime in your child’s first year of life. This is such a fantastic step forward and really gives military parents a much-needed chance to bond with their new child.
2. Register For Childcare ASAP
If you plan on utilizing childcare for your new baby, it’s better to register sooner than later. Even if you plan on staying home with your baby for a few months or even a year, it is often a good idea to figure out where you want to send your child and get on a waitlist if necessary.
The child development centers that offer childcare to military parents frequently have long waitlists, so if you wait until you actually need the care, you may not be able to immediately enroll your child. Fortunately, the Armed Services YMCA (ASYMCA) offers affordable childcare programs that help care for young children and prepare them for early childhood education.
3. Check on Tricare
As soon as your little one arrives, he or she will be temporarily covered as long as you are actively enrolled in Tricare. However, this is only for the interim and will expire after 90 days if you are stateside or 120 days overseas.
In order to enroll your child in Tricare, you must first register in Tricare’s Defense Enrollment Eligibility Reporting System (DEERS), an information database for service members. Then, schedule an appointment at a Uniformed Service ID (USID) card office and fill out registration forms. You will need to bring your child’s birth certificate to the appointment. After that, you can select a Tricare plan for your child and call Tricare to register your baby.
4. Look Into Resources in Your Area
It takes a village to raise a child. This is always true, but it can be challenging for military families to “find their village” due to frequent moves and long distances from extended family.
The good news is that in and around bases there are often multiple resources available to new military moms and families! If you simply type “military family support groups near me” into a search engine, you are bound to find lots of local results. You can also start with some good national resources that may offer local branches near you:
The ASYMCA is Here to Help
The ASYMCA offers a wide variety of resources and services to families! These include:
- The Children’s Waiting Room, a service located inside many military hospitals and clinics that provides childcare while parents attend appointments
- Operation Little Learners, an early education program that focuses on play-based learning
- Operation Kid Comfort, which provides photo transfer quilts and pillows to military kids, helping ease times of separation during deployments
If you are a new military mom looking for support, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your local ASYMCA branch today to find out what resources are available in your area!