If FIFO life has taught my daughters one thing, it's resilience

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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.


If there's one thing I hope I've taught my two daughters over the years, it's resilience.

I like to think I've shown them how to be positive - to takes the highs with the lows in life. I think they've been brought up with a 'can do' attitude. As the old NZ saying goes, "Give a Kiwi a piece of number eight wire and we can do anything!"

I've also always stressed the importance of belonging to a family unit. With the backing of a strong, supportive family, they can go out and be independent and try to solve their own problems, knowing they can fall back on the rest of us when they need to.

With resilience, you can recover from the challenges that life throws your way: illness, anxiety in unusual situations. I remember #2 daughter heading from New Zealand to Townsville. She arrived in Brisbane for the connecting flight to discover her bags were still stuck in Auckland. No credit on her mobile. She asked to use someone’s phone to tell me she would be late. Hit the airline up for an emergency bag of items and continued on her way. She problem solved her way out of the situation.

I really think FIFO has helped the girls to learn this.

We have had to adapt and adjust our way of thinking. We could have been really miserable when the man of the house was off at work and life threw us a curve ball - the time a cyclone hit and we lost part of the roof and chimney, for instance, or the car broke down 200km from home.

My girls had lots of exposure to situations like this as they were growing up. We just had to square our shoulders and get on with it, and I think it gave them a fantastic insight into facing up to the challenges in life and bouncing back.

And yes, I am one of those parents who is a firm believer in keeping score on a sports field. There has to be a score and a winner and loser. Let's face it - later in life we can’t all be winners. (I’m not totally heartless, though. In one game of girls' hockey the opposition were really struggling so we swapped a few players around and let our team join in with theirs. Smiles all around!)

After growing up as FIFO kids, I'd like to think my girls are:

  • Organised
  • Socially competent. I have never felt uncomfortable with them in a social situation
  • Good at problem solving
  • In control of any given situation (but also flexible/adaptable to change)
  • Able to accept others for who they are
  • Confident in the knowledge that mistakes are learning curves
  • Willing to assume responsibility for their own actions
  • And above all ... RESILIENT

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!