This post is written by Rebecca of Proud Police Wife.
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Thinking back 11 years ago to when my husband began the police academy, I had no idea what our life was about to be like. Our life was about to change in so many ways and at times, I felt blindsided by it all.
We didn’t have anyone “filling us in” about the law enforcement lifestyle and gosh, it was so needed. I needed someone to talk to, to ask questions to, and I am sure my husband could have needed it also.
My husband and I did have several families that were extremely supportive to us. We mostly just hang out with them on the weekends or when their shift had days off. It was helpful, but I don’t think I asked many questions. I wish I had, but you know what they say about hindsight.
As soon as the academy began, I started noticing small changes in our lifestyle. These small changes grew after the academy ended… Like the fact that my husband was not always going to come home at the same time each day. And now, even when a shift “ends”, it can be hours before I see or hear from him.
I am very used to this change now, but as a new police wife? It’s scary. Support from another police wife or family can help reduce the worry and fear.
That’s where you come in.
Can you or your husband think of a family you could reach out to? If only each new recruit, couple, or family had the support of another law enforcement family. Think of how useful you could be to someone else.
6 Ways To Help A New Police Family Adjust
This is first and foremost: make a connection with a new family or recruit.
This was easy for us when my husband was a field training officer. Since he trained new recruits, we knew who the newbies were, but usually departments will send out an email welcoming a new officer. Have your spouse look for those and begin to reach out!
I can say that this was the most helpful thing when we entered the first responder life. So many of the amazing family we connected with we’re still in contact with today.
Bring a meal.
Who doesn’t love the gift of food, really?
Whether they have just moved to your town or it is your way of welcoming them to the agency, a meal can be a nice treat. If this is a family that has children and the officer works nights, then I’m positive a meal would be a huge relief to them.
My only suggestion is to try to coordinate with them on day/time, etc, andit isn’t a bad idea to ask if they have any food aversions or allergies.
Need suggestions? Pastas, like lasagna or ziti, make large batches and are great for meal deliveries. You could grab a bag of salad and french bread and you have a complete meal.
Exchange numbers/emails/social media information.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but let me tell you, it is not.
You may forget, the other party may feel awkward reaching out further, any number of things.
So my suggestion is when you first reach out, exchange phone numbers and email or social media accounts. Just hand the family a piece of paper with some of your contact info, if you feel comfortable doing this.
Doing this makes them feel like it is okay to reach out to you. It makes them feel like they don’t have to hunt you down and you can be easily contacted for questions and support. Your goal is to make the new family feel welcome and comfortable.
Start just by asking if they have any questions. If they seem receptive, then offer suggestions about police life that you think they may find to be helpful.
The suggestions are endless, really. They could be specific to the police department or your town. Or maybe you want to give suggestions about night shift and creating a routine.
Another option is to leave the offer on the table. Just say you are here any time they need to talk, vent, or need advice.
Regardless of how you do it, it will be welcomed.
This can be once per week, per month, whatever. Just don’t let time get away from you. Stay in contact and keep each other accountable.
Eventually you will both be there for one another and have each other’s six.
It is easy to get stuck in an emotional rut when you haven’t seen your spouse for any length of time. Try to pull each other out of those ruts and just let one another know that you understand each other’s situation. Remember, not many people understand the first responder life, but you do.
You have this in common, so try to build on that.
Plan get-togethers when your husbands are working.
A great time to connect with a new law enforcement family is when the officers are working. What better way to keep yourself busy?
Go out to dinner, order pizza in and drink wine, let your kids have a play date (and crack open some wine for the moms)…see a theme here? 😉
It really is a great time to take advantage of your officers not being home. It is an added bonus that you can connect with someone who shares the same lifestyle as you!
Think about how this lifestyle began for you. Would an accountability couple or family have been good for you? Or maybe just a meal? Consider reaching out; I know your support would be appreciated.
What’s the most important piece of advice you’d give to a new police wife?