A FIFO survivor's tips for letting go and learning to enjoy life
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:
- Down time on arrival, no lingering goodbyes and a positive attitude: Sandy's way of making it work
- Getting rid of stuff to remember what's most important
- Coco Pops for dinner: the dietary habits of FIFO partners
- Facebook support group comes to the rescue of sick FIFO mum
- Don't take your health for granted - especially in FIFO marriages
- Sandy's soapbox: all marriages are stressful sometimes, so why single out FIFO families?
- Lessons learnt from a transient FIFO life
- How to be a better listener and friend
- Sure I'm a survivor - but fly-out day can still be tough sometimes
- 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!