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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Spouses Need a Battlebook Too

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Spouses Need a Battlebook Too

You know how our husbands in leadership positions have something called a battlebook? Sometimes it's called a continuity book. It's a binder with all the pertinent info he needs to do his job. So he's going to have info on there on his soldiers and what he does day-to-day in his job for quick reference. If you are a leader in your Family Readiness Group, then you need one too. I started out this last go the leader of our Battalion FRG, totally disorganized. I don't know if I was just in denial or just didn't want to deal with it....I had papers and things everywhere and anywhere. Now that I have it organized in a binder, life has gotten SO much simpler. Here are my recommendations on what to keep in your book.

  • Spouse rosters. Try to get your rosters in a telephone tree format. That means one spouse (after being asked) is in charge of the section or squad her husband is in. It does not have to be the officer's wife or someone high ranking. Just someone willing to call the few people on her list, should important information need to be passed on. Yeah, we all have email...and we get lazy and just fire emails out there, but I personally believe it fosters unit cohesiveness to use the phoneline...yes, even among the wives...and shows that you care when you call, even if it is just to check up once a month, especially when the guys are gone. Some FRGs also run their lists with the key caller in that squad calling the next person and then that person calls the next one...the last one calls the first one again to say "mission complete"....kind of like the telephone game. However you do it....just do'll thank yourself later....especially if there is a crisis or a rumor starts to make its way through the unit. I also keep a copy hidden away in my car should I need it in an emergency.
  • A section on the monthly FRG steering meeting. If your unit has an FRG steering meeting, for example, once a month, the company FRG leaders get together w/myself and the Sergeant Major's wife (we co-lead our FRG). All the agendas, notes and later, the minutes from each meeting go in here. I write my notes directly on the agenda instead of a notebook...easier to follow along. Once I get six months' worth, I file away older items in a file cabinet in a huge FRG folder (I'll tackle that at a later date).
  • Another section for your monthly FRG meetings where the whole unit is invited to attend. Ditto goes for here.
  • Welcome/Hospitality. Since we have a welcoming committee, I try to stay on top of rosters of new families coming in. We have a budget and like to welcome each new spouse with a bag of goodies. I also stash away new welcome ideas, such as pamphlets, things to buy, catalog resources, stores downtown and that kind of thing. Thank God we have a welcoming commitee chairperson, but I like to be a part of what is going know me...just enough not to interfere with someone else's great ideas!
  • Finances/Budget/Treasurer. Everything related to money goes in here to include our FRG spreadsheets. I used to carry around our SOP, until my binder got a bit too heavy. So that is now packed away in my bookshelf. Always stay on top of the money, and if you can help it, get a treasurer, so that you remove yourself from any conflict of interest in handling the finances.
  • VMIS. I blogged about this great tool before. Manage all your volunteers and volunteer positions.
  • We just added our unit to this great resource. Keep everyone from your unit connected! They have an announcements section, photo albums, message boards and a few other resources that come in handy...the best that this site is secure and only people assigned to your unit can register. Any notes I think of I want to add to this site, go in here.
  • A section for each company. When someone from a company hands me a piece of paper that I deem goes in sure to frequently purge this section. I must say since we do most things by email now, it's not overflowing and is pretty much empty.
  • Workshops. Our community frequently has workshops...I like to put the copies of slides or notes in here until I get a chance to really read them. Then they get filed away.
  • ACS Info. Our Army Community Service has so many classes, events and resources, I like to keep their course schedule and general notes handy in here.
  • Gift Log. We voted to award a volunteer every month and use battalion monies to purchase that gift. I also log every baby gift, which comes out of the "LTC and Mrs. Battalion Commander" Fund, ie our own pocket. It can be expensive, but if you set limits, it can surely be doable while your husband is in command. I did this at the company level too. It shows that you care and are interested in their lives.
  • CARE Team section. Just a roster of who our currently trained CARE team personnel are. What is a CARE Team?
  • Current Event Planning. For example, if your next event is "Sunday with Santa", all the notes from the planning meetings go here, as well as any to-do lists. Once the event is over, file it away for next time.
Do you have a battlebook? How do you stay organized in your FRG?



Anonymous Janet said...

I wish our FRG leadership ws this organized. We only have one leader and she is the colonel's wife and she doesn't do anything but bitch at us. When she does come to our meetings she comes in late and asks us for our ideas and then does what she wants to do anyway. I wish you were our FRG leader. I LOVE your blog!

December 4, 2008 at 8:14 AM  
Blogger Susi said...

all I can say is, if our BN Leaders would be as organized as you and just not into "power", I wouldn't have quit the FRG

December 4, 2008 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

Ohhh shoot...I hate to hear this...that is crap....when will people ever grow up, right? Life is too short, and the time of wearing your husband's rank ended well over 20 years ago...these wives need to get with the are your own person, regardless of rank or whatever...

December 5, 2008 at 8:40 AM  
Blogger lauren said...

Once again, I am so happy to have found your blog. It is always inspriring. Now how do we put this battle book together? Put it together and I will be your first buyer. :)


December 9, 2008 at 7:30 AM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

Easier said than done! I thought I was already telling you how to put it together...on the book thing...I am seriously thinking of writing a book encompassing my many ideas and not enough time to turn them into reality!

December 9, 2008 at 7:38 AM  
Blogger Holly said...

Love your blog! Found it roundabout via a link on Nomadic Matt's site! DH and I are both retired Navy and DS is currently an officer...we all can SO relate.
Am adding your blog to my list.

February 7, 2010 at 10:16 AM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

Thank you for that! I SO miss posting on my blog!!!! My current job precludes me....or at least I don't have the time I used to...BUT we are getting ready to PCS, so I am hoping I will have more time at my new location, which is also in Europe:-))

February 7, 2010 at 8:47 PM  

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