Sandy's Law: things always go wrong when you're on your own

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Hi! I'm Sandy (although lots of people call me 'Auntie') and my husband works offshore in oil/gas. We've been together for 30years, many of them as a fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) family. In that time we've raised two daughters (both now at uni) and moved more than 19 times! I wanted to write for Mining Family Matters to show you can survive FIFO.

Why is it that when you remember the umbrella, it never rains?

It's often like that in the life of a FIFO wife: everything runs smoothly until they are airborne, heading back off to camp.

Over the years I've been through some unforgettable moments. Here are just a few:

  • Cyclone: lost the chimney, TV antenna and part of the roof. Nothing to say about the soaking wet carpet. I spent three days living in a bedroom at the other end of the house with our youngest daughter. Had to man up and take control of the situation. Found electricians, insurance, roof man and somebody to seal the windows so they would withhold the sinking of the Titanic.
  • Childbirth. The most challenging thing to do on your own. Husband working overseas and fast delivery so had no time to call my support person. Not something that I recommend you do without the support of family and friends. The worst part was the man of the house did not meet his first born until she was six weeks old. The upside of this was I just had to "man up" and establish routines and systems, to adjust to a newborn in the house.
  • Day shopping to town, returning home to find the roads closed. Spent three hours in the car of an older gentleman, both of us soaking wet. Finally let through the road as they thought my ute was 4WD. Part-way through had to stop and do the girly cry thing. A man came to my rescue and led me through the flooded road in his 4WD. Straight home to the girls and to the fridge for a liquid refreshment.
  • Relocated to a new country and company couldn't organize removal of husbands’ gear. Yet again, took control and got it sorted.
  • Relocated to a new country in Asia, hoping it was a resort destination. Ha! Is all I can say on that. Persevered for as long as I could, but one day my husband flew home from work, said I looked unhappy and should look at flights home. Flew out the next day!
  • Eldest daughter coming home "under the weather". This was one of those times the husband could not be reached. Called on a girlfriend to help work out a suitable punishment. The punishment was unusual: the girls weren't allowed a cell phone until they were 15, so I gave the phone to my youngest, 14-year-old daughter as a punishment against her older sister. Worked.
  • Dealing with the dating scene and gentleman callers for the girls. I have the ability to sleep with one eye open now. Just did what my father did when I was younger. Sat down and had "the chat" with the boys from the word go. Also, when the man of the house did come home and they were still around, made sure they met him. He is a "man's man" and pretty much a straight shooter.

Over the years I've faced some seemingly impossible situations, but you just have to look at them as learning curves. Don’t let them beat you down. You may take a step sideways, but never let them push you over. A FIFO wife can be assured that somewhere, someone has gone through the same situation. That's why it's so important to surround yourself with a strong support network - whether it be family or friends.

Got your own crazy story? We'd love to hear it! 

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!