20 quick tips to ease the pressure on FIFO relationships
Mining Family Matters creator Alicia Ranford offers 20 quick tips to help families survive and thrive despite the pressures of FIFO living:
- Be very clear about why you're doing FIFO – what you want to get out of it and what the biggest challenges are going to be.
- Take an interest in how your other half lives.
- Discuss big issues on the phone before your partner comes home (i.e. don't throw him/her into the deep end the minute they walk through the door).
- Tackle issues as a united couple.
- Don't let sad feelings become negative thoughts.
- Write out a list of jobs that need doing around the house – then don't nag.
- Talk often on the phone but don't force conversation.
- Make sure you understand each other's sexual needs (and remember that most couples don't have identical libidos).
- Don't dwell on being apart. Remember why you're doing it and stay positive.
- Agree on the amount of time you'll spend with friends and extended family during R&R (and don't waste precious time arguing).
- Maintain a united front with the kids.
- Be smart about money.
- Give Dad space to be a parent too.
- Make time for each other without the kids.
- Also remember to ensure you both get time to yourselves.
- Help your kids to cope with separation by talking openly and honestly about their worries.
- Make big events special, even when you're apart.
- Dad/Mum is never 'going away'. Dad/Mum is 'going to work'.
- Take the time to create some family rules – involve the kids so they feel like they've got some control.
- Be on the same page with discipline, especially as your children grow into their teens.
Above all, don't be afraid to get help from your GP, your company's employee assistance program, a counsellor or even just a wise, trusted friend if the going gets really tough, and tap into available resources and support groups.