Sure I'm a survivor - but fly-out day can still be tough sometimes

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Sandy (or 'Auntie', as many people call her) is our FIFO Survivor. Her husband works offshore in oil/gas and they've been together for more than 30 years - many of them as a fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) family. In that time they've raised two beautiful daughters (both now in their 20s) and moved more than 19 times! Sandy wanted to write for Mining Family Matters to show you can survive FIFO.


Sometimes I think I have super human powers: invisible and coated in a hard shell. Then wham and reality hits!

The other day I became a marshmallow. I was whimpering like a puppy that had lost a bone. The man of the house was leaving again. I was sitting in an empty hotel room in New Zealand. It was at this moment that I realised how I cope with fly-out day.

In recent months we've been lucky to have my husband working close to home - so we haven't had a fly-out day for a while.

We've also been back in New Zealand for our youngest daughter's graduation and a family holiday. A time of celebration.

But at the end of all this fun, the man flew to his new job in China and I was to fly home to Australia.

When the reality hit, I had to reflect. I was sitting alone crying and wondering what to do with myself. Right Sandy, get yourself together! How many times have you done this? I showered and a good night's sleep.

So next time I’m asked "How do you cope?" I will have a few answers up my sleeve. 

I do the airport drop off. We have always done this. In the early days the girls didn’t come with us, but we did have a three-hour drive to get to the airport and it was usually in the early hours of the morning.

Then I return home and get stuck into clean-up mode. I mean real clean up. Those organic house cleaners (spiders) are removed, dusting the legs of tables etc. I keep myself busy, preferring my own company. Sometimes it must look like a scene from some comedy movie: loud music, singing and dancing with the vacuum.

I spent time in the garden. If I am finding it extremely hard, I will be out there working with headphones on. I don’t want to be aware of anything around me.

Then all of a sudden I just snap out of it and manage to get on with life. Feels great: house is tidy, garden weed free.

We never count the days. To me this just prolongs the process. So when someone asks when the man of the house is coming home, I am not being elusive or vague, I usually just don’t know. As time gets closer, within seven days, I count.

So my house is starting to look spick and span. Needs to, as next month I say goodbye to our oldest daughter when she relocates and starts a new job overseas.

Does anyone need their windows cleaned?


More from Auntie Sandy:

If you've got a question for 'Auntie' Sandy or would like to make a comment about FIFO living, we'd love to hear from you. Click here!