It’s finally time to tell the truth about being a wife of a FIFO (fly in fly out) worker. The last few years have been a rollercoaster of emotions, extreme planning and moving forward in life. Many couples will toy with the idea of FIFO work to earn a bit of extra cash, its a tough decision. Last year we went from just being a couple to a family and it has taken a year for us to put our lives back on track.
I want to share with your the secrets of being a FIFO Mum & Wife. The most common question I get is ‘how do I do it?’ followed by ‘I don’t think I could ever do it’. There are a few positives yet for us right now the negatives are weighing up far higher as we want to focus on being a family.
Heck yes it’s hard, the most important thing is to stay positive and remember why you made that decision in the first place. For us it was money so we could pursue our dream and buy a farm. Making a few sacrifices so we can get to the end quicker which also meant that we were not going to stay on this path forever. I guess you could see it as a quick fix in the grand scheme of things.
Depending your partners work rotation it can get pretty lonely after a week or two, human contact both mentally and physically is something we all need. We have been lucky this past year since Isla was born with 17 days away and 11 days home, previous to that Roy could have been away for 3 – 4 weeks then come home for six days. There was a time where he was home for a total of two weeks out of three months. This is due to Roy working as a contractor not a general shift worker.
Roy and I would speak each night while he was away to get updates and just to say hello. It is hard for the worker to leave their family behind too. It was always nights that I missed him the most, I had no one to snuggle up with on the couch, drink wine with and listen to my never-ending stream of ideas. He is my sounding board, we can do that over the phone however calls had to be short as the charge rates to call from Papua New Guinea are not the cheapest.
I have worked to fill my time during the day with various jobs, blogging and the occasional social outing. I love being busy and that is just me as a person, I can’t sit still for long, I love moving forward and I always see the positive. Having ‘me’ time was great, I could do what ever I want. Listen to terrible girl music, not have to pick-up the washing off the floor, sleep in and I am sure there is many more things.
The hardest moments of loneliness where while I was pregnant that third trimester kicked my ass. The hormones were just running a muck in my body and tears of joy, sadness, loneliness, love, hungry and satisfaction just crept up on me. All I wanted was for my partner to come home and not to miss the birth of our daughter. He didn’t miss a thing either.
Working around a roster is difficult when it comes to birthdays, wedding anniversaries, Christmas and bbq’s with friends. It not only sucks for the FIFO worker, tackling these events on your own just brings back that want of needing your partner close. Roy and I are yet to celebrate our wedding anniversary since we have been married, next year will be 5 years and I think we are going to have to do something super special. Birthdays have never bothered either of us as we are exactly two weeks apart so we generally combine our forces for a joint party. Christmas is something that I swore from day one that he must have off. This is the time of year that we get together not only with our families but our friends who join us at Woodford Folk festival each year.
Then there are the social bbq’s that get thrown at the last-minute. 9/10 times I will attend but it is never the same when your partner in crime isn’t present. These days with Isla social occasions have just started to get easier now that she is one. When she was tiny, man it was tough going, the amount of crap I packed as a super over prepared mum was just ridiculous. Now, I am down to one bag, a few kitchen bits and a rug depending on where we are going. My girl doesn’t need much.
For those who know what it’s like when your partner comes home you know what I mean when chaos arrives. I love Roy to pieces and this is not on him it’s just what happens when you don’t have a solid routine. Each 11 days home would be like a whirlwind of destruction (toys everywhere, double the amount of laundry, cups & books scattered everywhere), adventure and fun and then suddenly BANG it stops and you are left to clean up the pieces. I think this is the one I am going to love to leave behind us. Our new life will be around a family routine as a solid unit. No more tears dropping off Roy at the train station or airport, no more Isla being a little glum for a day or two because dad has gone. No more doing the night-time routine on my own – BLISS
PART-TIME SINGLE MUM
It’s true being a mum while your partner is away at work is challenging. What people don’t realize is for us we discuss the needs for our child continuously. We are parenting together even though Roy was away, I just had to implement them on my own (some of the time). We have been really lucky with Isla regarding sleep which is the most important thing of a baby. There have been nights were sleep didn’t happen at all and then Isla and I both got sick and it all went pear-shaped for a day or two. As any mum knows you need to pick yourself up and be the parent, I got back on top of the laundry and cleaning after I looked after Isla and my needs.
I know that I am going to look back at my time as a FIFO wife/mum, though I am not sure of what my reaction will be – was I just crazy or am I just well organised? Who knows. My hat goes off to all FIFO families it can be challenging at times but the time you do have together as a family are so special.
NOTE: Photo sourced from polyvore and then edited by me.