Sure I'm a survivor - but fly-out day can still be tough sometimes
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:
- Cutting the apron strings and learning to find your own way
- How to stay calm and carry on when aliens possess your teenagers
- If FIFO life has taught my daughters one thing, it's resilience
- If you want a job done, give it to a busy mum
- Whatever your reason for choosing FIFO, set realistic goals and stick to them
- Yes I'm FIFO: DON'T JUDGE ME!
- Tough love: how to tempt fussy eaters
- From the Pilbara to Indonesia - how I've learnt to love thy neighbour
- Sandy's Law: things always go wrong when you're on your own
- Even for a FIFO survivor, the shit does hit the fan sometimes!
- To raise great kids today, return to the values of yesteryear
- Looking back on how we prepared the girls for school
- Cocktails at breakfast, waterfights and a house full of people - Sandy's perfect Christmas
- Fifty Shades of Sandy: sex and the "experienced" FIFO couple
- Karratha: a little mining town with a big heart
- Striking the right balance between parent and friend as the kids get older
- Coming out as a Kiwi to offer advice to other NZ mining families
- Even FIFO Supermums do it tough sometimes
- Prepare FIFO kids for change and you'll all have amazing adventures
- Yes, mining life can take a toll on friendships
- How to communicate with tetchy teenagers and a husband working offshore
- Give your kids the blessing of hard work and routines
- Special times are what (and when) you make them
- Keeping your cool when travelling with little people in tow
- Goals, routines and other clever clues for FIFO families
- The memorable meltdown moments of a FIFO mum
- The joys of travelling across Australia to a new mining town
- The pros and cons of boarding schools for FIFO kids
- How to relocate AND save your sanity
- How to be happy with and without your partner
- Meet Auntie Sandy, the FIFO survivor
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!