How to Survive the Police Academy

This post has been a long time in coming. I wanted to actually survive the police academy before I wrote this post. We are now over two months out from the academy, and I wanted to briefly write some of my tips for surviving.

To be clear, I am not the one who went through the police academy. That was all Theo. But surviving the police academy is for the entire family, not just the one who is physically attending the academy.

Police academies all across the nation can vary from one another, but most of them will have many similarities: It’s long, it’s hard and it will test all mental, emotional, and physical boundaries.

Our city requires that all officers go through the city police academy. Even if they have already been officers in other parts of the country, they have to complete the 6 months of rigorous training for the city. Some cities do their own academy, some cities will hire straight from the national academy, and some cities will do a mix of both. It all just depends on the city.

I will never understand how there are so many corrupt police officers in our country, because the process to actually become one is so thorough and challenging. I guess that sin is sin and there will always be corruption in every job. I also feel the same way about foster parents…why in the world would you chose this job if you are just looking for a means to gain money/power?

Theo’s academy was 7 months long and thankfully he was paid to attend (not every city is like this). Theo was expected to be there from 8-5 every M-F, and we really enjoyed the consistency in schedule and having weekends off. The class went through rigorous academic, physical and even emotional work every single day. Throughout the 7 months, they had different focuses in their class- for one month they did Defensive Training (wrestling, boxing and running) every day for the full eight hours. For several months they did rigorous academics with weekly tests and an insane amount of note writing. For one month they did firearms. On day one, they had EIGHT HOURS of lecture on every single reason they should and could be fired. They were treated like scum the entire 7 months. In fact, they were told that they were NOT the bottom of the barrel. They were the dirt under the barrel. And then they were treated accordingly the entire seven months. They were not allowed any sick days, and they did not receive any vacation days.

It was a really intense 7 months of our life and there were days and weeks that I absolutely wondered if we would even survive.

Theo started the academy when we had a 2.5 year old, a 4 month old and halfway through we added a 10 year old foster child to our lives. Basically, we are insane.

So, how did we survive?

  1. Lots of prayer. The only way I could get Theo through the academy was by starting each morning in prayer for him and for me. It was challenging. It was hard to wake up early and be his supporter, but I couldn’t have done that at all without the strength that comes from God. Even when some of the days were so hard and lonely and I didn’t really know how to pray, just spending time in His Word was the only thing getting me through.
  2. Choosing a good attitude. So much of life is about attitude. During the academy, there were plenty of things to gripe and complain about. PLENTY. But instead we chose day after day to continue pressing on and having a good attitude. We can’t control the circumstances, but we can control our attitudes. It makes a HUGE difference.
  3. Remembering that it is a season. One of the best things about the academy is that it doesn’t last forever. There is a graduation date. Press on until the end. It really doesn’t last forever. Make fun paper chains to count down the days or mark off days on the calendar. Set small celebrations after a month or 4 months or whatever it is that you need to look forward.
  4. Saying no to everything else. During the police academy, our family had one goal: get through the police academy. There were a lot of things on the side that I just had to say no to. I had to say no to blogging, I had to say no to extracurriculars for the kids, I even had to say no to attending some weddings over the summer. It was so hard to say no to those things, but our family needed the time more than anything else.  
  5. Turn to each other and grow stronger, instead of at each other and growing apart. This one was so much easier said than done. Never in my life has it been so easy to separate Theo and myself. He does the academy, I take care of the kids and the house. It was very easy to entirely separate those roles and almost live separate lives. Instead, we decided to be all hands on deck in ever area possible. Obviously, he did the academy all by himself, but I took on the role of supporting him, making him lunch, organizing his schedule and helping him with homework whenever possible. He was the same great Dad he has always been and did such a great job still being involved in the home whenever possible.
  6. Choose to be his biggest supporter and cheerleader. It was very easy to feel discouraged or resentful towards Theo while he went through the academy. He was getting to pursue an exciting career, while I was still at home with kids. He was overburdened and overwhelmed with the academy while I was overburdened and overwhelmed with everything at home. It would be easy to resent him but instead I could choose to be his biggest supporter in order to get him through.

We did it. We survived. We made it to graduation. Theo graduated third in his class and won an award for beating the 1.5 mile running record for our city. There were weeks and moments when I truly wondered how we were going to survive, but we did.

If you would like to watch the graduation ceremony, it is on YouTube here. It’s over an hour long, so the exciting parts with Theo in them are at 33:01 (award), 44:50 (swearing in), 48:54 (receiving diploma), 51:26 (the video showing what they went through at the academy, including Theo getting pepper sprayed!)

If you are currently in a situation where you are living through the police academy: take heart. It is just a season, and it’s ok for it to be a tough season. The season will end and you can choose to grow better and stronger through it, or to grow bitter and further apart through it.

As always, I choose to be vulnerable and honest on this little corner of the internet. Being a police wife is no exception. If you are going through this or are considering going through it, please reach out to me! I would be more than happy to give a listening ear and encourage you as you go through the police academy with your spouse.

What are your tips for surviving a difficult season with your spouse?

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