Okay, I’ll be the first one to step up and say it.  I have NEVER been “normal”.  I grew up in
an “abnormal” home under “unusual” circumstances.  I married another “abnormal” person
and we proceeded to have the world’s “strangest” child together.

So we’re used to not being “normal”.  

We’ve strived to be “normal”.  But when PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) hit our
home, “normal” became unattainable.  I no longer define days based on a “normal” day
and an “abnormal” day.  I would have nothing to differentiate my life.  It would be a giant
string of “abnormal” surrounded by a haze of confusion, anger, frustration, and exhaustion.

So, how does a PTSD family find “normal”?  We don’t.  We never will.  We need to get over
it.  Stop looking at the kids playing nicely with Mommy and Daddy at the park.  I can tell you
from personal experience.  The “perfect” family down the street has some SERIOUS
skeletons in their closet.  Those of us with ours out in the open are actually more “normal”
than they could EVER hope to be.

Here are a few tips to help you find some degree of “normal” in your everyday life:

  1. Give yourself permission to not be perfect.  I read a few months ago an article about
    a woman who went to an event at her son’s kindergarten.  Almost all the mother’s
    she saw first looked perfect.  Hair perfect, nails done, gorgeous makeup.  You know
    the ones I’m talking about.  All of them were mothers of girls.  All the mothers of boys
    just looked like they had crawled out of the crypt.  I’m not saying give up entirely, but
    don’t worry too much about being perfect.  If you start the day with a clean shirt,
    clean pants, and clean underwear, consider yourself a success.
  2. Get a haircut that styles itself.  There are going to be mornings when you just don’t
    have the time.  Tell your stylist you don’t have 45 minutes to spend on your hair and
    chances are the two of you can find something lovely for you that won’t have you
    looking like Sasquatch on PTSD days.
  3. Stock your cabinets and freezer with quick prep meals.  Then give yourself
    permission to serve them.  It’s OKAY to feed your children a frozen pizza or mac and
    cheese from the box.  These products were created for a reason.  I’m all for veggies
    and real meals but let’s face it, it doesn’t always happen.  Ditch the guilt and enjoy
    the time with your kids.
  4. Organize your closet.  If your clothes are grouped in ways that make sense to you,
    you won’t wake up after a PTSD night and 2 hours sleep and come to at the office
    wearing a blouse from the mid-90’s, a skirt that would better suit a hooker, one flat,
    and one heel.  (Add that to the Sasquatch hair and Wow!  What a looker!)
  5. Keep a small bag of makeup and a hairbrush with a small refillable bottle of hair
    spray in your car.  Trust me, you’re doing yourself a double favor.  If you don’t have
    time in the AM, you can do it in the parking lot at work or at a red light if you’re really
    brave.  Plus, you have all the materials you need for touch ups when the radio
    makes you cry.
  6. Whenever possible, try to minimize the stressors both you and your vet are exposed
    to at one time.  I know this isn’t always possible, but give both of you permission to
    let some things fall by the wayside.
  7. Find ways your vet can help you that he’ll enjoy.  Is he a master of the grill?  Have
    him cook out every Sunday.  Does he like to work with his hands?  Have him tackle
    some of those left behind home improvement projects.  Find something that meets
    his skills and your needs and have him work on it.  Giving him purpose and
    something to focus on can be the best thing for his PTSD.
  8. Get organized the night before.  Have the kids put everything in their backpacks and
    pick out their clothes for school the night before.  Everything should be complete
    and laying out.  Tell them if they don’t do it, they won’t be going to school with
    clothing.  It will save the morning shuffle and decrease the stress in the morning.
  9. Make good on your threats to your children.  Okay, we all know we sometimes say
    things we shouldn’t.  But if you’ve been threatening your kids for years that if they
    don’t put their clothes away properly their underwear will be on the lawn, DO IT.  
    Their clothes will be where they belong and you can have a private chuckle about it
  10. Nip misbehaviors in the butt right away.  Try not to let them “get away with” behaviors
    that aren’t appropriate in your home.  You’re begging for problems down the road.

This article was written by our own Heather Hummert, the wife of an OIF Veteran & Purple
Heart Recipient.  If you would like to contact Heather directly, you can e-mail her at
Heather -at- FamilyOfAVet.com or

If you would like to help us build this site and reach out to other Veterans, their spouses,
and children, please e-mail us at Info -at- FamilyOfAVet.com or

Don't miss these other articles about Real-Life Coping Skills for those of us living in a
"PTSD World":

Day-to-Day Skills for PTSD Households

Dealing with "Nina" (Better Known as Your Nosy Neighbor)

Dealing with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in the Workplace

Coping Skills for the PTSD Spouse

Helping Children Understand PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder)

How to Handle the Weeds of PTSD

Protecting Your Perimeter (Dealing With Paranoia & PTSD)

Searching for "Normal" - Ideas to Make Life Easier

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