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Spouse Programs Only For Stay Home Moms?

My boss told me this would happen. He said that if we hosted a SpouseBuzz LIVE event on a weekday that the working spouses would feel excluded and insulted.

“No way,” I exclaimed. “There are only 168 hours in a week and those working spouses do not have time for a live event.”

Clearly, I am an idiot. Because I got this message from Steven this morning:

            Why didn’t you tell me that ” spouse” meant stay at home mother with children? This seems to be the trend when I see functions such as the up coming (SpouseBuzz LIVE) at Ft. Campbell. The hours are conveniently arranged around school hours, which completely alienates the working spouse with no children. Perhaps they would like to attend? Perhaps this could be done on the weekend where all could attend? It’s as though spouses who have careers don’t fall into the spouse category or stereotypical spouse image. Please remember the working spouses when you plan the events for spouses.

The truth is, I do think of working spouses, job seeking spouses, stay-at-home parents, male spouses, same-sex partners, spouses with kids, spouses without kids who want kids, spouses without kids who don’t want kids yet, spouses without kids who never want kids, OCONUS spouses,  National Guard and reserve spouses, dual military spouses, spouses-to-be….you get the picture.

Military spouses are not all alike.  This is 2012, people.  There is not one socially acceptable way to be a military spouse. In my job, I don’t work a single day without realizing that spouses are so diverse that we really only have one thing in common—we love someone in uniform.

I think that is an awesome common denominator. Which is why I love to put together spouse programs an in-person, live event. I like to see the people who are living the same life I am living because it makes me feel so much better to know I am not alone. I hope that makes you feel better, too.

So how should spouse programs be distributed?  How can we plan an event so the most possible people attend? Event planners from military installations all over the country tell us that they too have problems with creating functions that suit the needs of their audiences.  Your input could really help here.

Our spouse diversity and the busyness of life in general make it hard to plan an event for everyone.

If we plan something on weekends, families with kids tell us that they can’t attend because the kids already have soccer and play practice and swim lessons at that time. Or they say that weekends are for family time so they can’t come then.

If we offer something during the week, working people can’t attend because they are working.

If we offer an event at night or on a weekend, working parents don’t want to attend because they already have their kids in daycare so many hours a week that they don’t want them in more daycare. Or there isn’t babysitting. Or the service member does not want to attend one more training.

One way to divide up resources would be to plan programs based on the statistics. According to the Department of Defense 42% of military spouses are employed full- or part-time. Fifteen percept of military spouses are unemployed and looking for work. A full 45% of military are not in the labor force and not looking for work (I’m guessing these are mostly stay home parents, but there are no specific stats on that.)

At SpouseBuzz, we look at those numbers and try to offer a variety of events. Our last SBL was in San Diego on a weekend. The upcoming Ft. Campbell event is on a weekday so that we can offer childcare. I would love to find the right balance.

How do you think programs and services for spouses should be offered? Is there a time that you would be more likely to attend? Please weigh in. Because I want to meet you. And we will never get together if we don’t find the right place and time.

About Jacey Eckhart

Jacey Eckhart is the Director of Spouse and Family Programs for Military.com. Since 1996, Eckhart’s take on military families has been featured in her syndicated column, her book The Homefront Club, and her award winning CDs These Boots and I Married a Spartan?? Most recently she has been featured as a military family subject matter expert on NBC Dateline, CBS morning news, CNN, NPR and the New York Times. Eckhart is an Air Force brat, a Navy wife and an Army mom.

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