A FIFO survivor's tips for letting go and learning to enjoy life

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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.

So of late I've been having a recurring dream, which is unusual for me. I can never remember what I've dreamt, but it's got to the stage where it almost feels like a nightmare.

So what to do?

Something I always tell people NOT to do: consult Dr Google!

Turns out I need to let things go.

Well, that is easier said than done. How come women can’t be more like blokes? You know, get up in the morning, put on a pair of shorts they've been wearing for a week and decide to go fishing because the sun's out. How do they manage to switch off so easily?

My mind is always ticking away. Important stuff, like why did I eat that? How come my hair won’t sit straight for me, yet the hairdresser can run her magic fingers through it and it looks amazing? Did I take the meat out for dinner?

Actually, all these "important" things racing around in my mind really aren't that important at all. The sooner I realise this, the sooner I'll have time for what's really important, like family and friends.

We all need to live for today. Sure, make those plans for retirement and ensure you have insurance. But at some stage lighten the load of things that are unnecessary. I’m learning not to clutter my life with stress and worries. Lately I have addressed some of these demons from the past, too, and I must admit the load was taken off my shoulders.

I think we also sometimes need to realise that we are not invincible. Find a balance in life. Look after our health. Find something that challenges our mind.

And something that I tell our girls: make sure you're in a relationship where you give love and receive love too.

Sometimes I remember back to when I was working full time and raising two amazing daughters while the man of the house was working FIFO for weeks and weeks at a time. How did I do it? There were routines, lists for different parts of our lives (a ridiculously detailed sporting roster, for example, and a prioritised list of duties for the man on his return).

Some say I am anal with these lists but they are what kept me sane. Once on paper, they disappeared from my busy mind – well, still present but not so annoying.

Most of all these days though, I just need to do what our girls constantly tell me: "Oh Mum, chillax!"

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!