Lonje Mzungu and her serving husband Neddie have been an army family for ten years and have little girls Ayanna (7) and Annisha (4). Here Lonje tells us about their military family life…
It’s important to us that our family remains one and routines continue, regardless of where we are posted. We unpack quickly after each move so that our girls are surrounded by familiar things.
The best part about being a military family is that it has allowed us to travel around the world and make new friends. I try to sort out children’s schools and nursery and look at jobs before we move. I have found the HIVE is a good place to go for info. My kids do gymnastics, so we also get them enrolled as soon as we can.
We try to be honest with the kids and tell them that daddy will be going away again. My husband sends them postcards and video calls and our school is brilliant with army kids. It has a group for military children which means kids get to talk about their army life.
I get involved on the patch, but it can be hard as I’m also working. However, I have loads of friends on camp and we sometimes arrange nights out, coffee mornings or quiz nights.
The worst thing is leaving behind good friends. Frequent moves have also affected my career but as I am a nurse, I’m lucky that I can get a job wherever we live. This is important to me as it helps me ‘to be me’ regardless of where we go.
When the kids were little it didn’t bother them so much, but as they are growing up, it makes them feel sad to leave their school and friends behind. However, moving has also made them confident, friendly and outgoing little girls who make friends quickly.
Neddie and I dated for four years before getting married so I did have a rough idea of what army life would be like. Communication is very important. It has helped us to be strong as a family. When Neddie is away, we make sure we keep busy and plan our weekends. We join in activities in the area which helps the days go faster.
My advice to a new army family would be to make your own experiences. Sometimes people have negative things to say about military life, but it’s good overall. You have to be open to moving and understand that sometimes you’ll be on your own – your military friends become your family. As hard as it is for family members left behind, it’s also hard for our soldiers who miss out on family life.
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