Surviving with a growing brood when your husband works away
Deb Russo is a FIFO wife of the offshore kind. Her husband works on oil rigs and vessels. Typically, he does a four-week-on and four-week-off roster. They've lived their entire 14-year relationship like this. Initially Deb's husband was in the Navy, then he shifted to work in the mines and did the 28/7 roster (Deb's least favourite!) With this offshore roster, though, she wouldn’t change a thing.
"I don't know how you managed with three babies and a husband who worked offshore," she said.
I looked at her and then at her gorgeous baby in my arms and replied: "It was just routine. Strong routine."
Truth is there were times, especially when B2 and B3 were on the way, when I wondered how I was ever going to manage. But we all get through.
I recently found myself caring for an 18-month-old for a few weeks, and funnily enough I quickly returned to my old ways to cope. So much so, in fact, that B1 (who's now 10) said "Mummy, you are so good with babies." And I suppose it's easy to be good when you're well rested!
So I thought I'd share a couple of things that I found helpful when B2 and eventually B3 came along and my husband was at work. Here they are...
- I slotted the routine of my new babies into B1's routine. I found this was easiest. It ensured B1 felt secure, knowing his routine was still in place, and it kept me in place also.
- I made B1 my little helper. I constantly told him how important this help was to me and rewarded him every now and then with a treat. B1 was in charge of having all the nappies handy for me, helping me with bottles or handing me the pegs.
- I let the housework go sometimes. I would do the basics but didn’t stress if I couldn’t get to mop the floors or do the washing every day.
- I baby wore. I would wear B2 in a carrier while I did other things. I remember having him in a baby carrier, painting the back of the house, while B1 played under the tree in his Portacot. I was a can-do type of girl.
- I got meals ready early and cooked extras for freezer meals.
- I took care of myself with regular walks. To be honest they were initially around my back yard and up the street, but I got some quiet time all the same. I would have bubba in a Portacot in ear's reach.
- I planned one outing a day. It was sometimes as simple as the library or park but I got out of the house all the same.
- I also learnt that letting the TV 'babysit' for a little while was okay. I didn’t need to be the entertainment officer 24/7. I used the TV to get dinners done, house work or have a bit of me time. My biggest TV watcher, B3, is doing extremely well at school so don’t stress it too much.
- I learnt late (but learnt all the same when B3 came along) to accept help and so I accepted the help of my neighbours.
- I also learnt late that I needed to cut myself some slack. No one can do it all.
- And finally, I learnt to enjoy my babies. Better late than never!
More columns from Oil & Gas Mum, Deb Russo:
- Top tips from a frugal FIFO family
- Don't be afraid of tough conversations - your relationship will be better for it
- Put your marriage first. One day, your kids will thank you for it
- Clever mum's guide to juggling work and kids when your husband works FIFO
- Christmas? Been there and done that!
- My top tips for next time you're wearing that nurse's hat
- Don't play the waiting game. Get busy with your own life instead
- Easy tips for taking the stress out of drop-off day
- Real friends care about me. Not what my husband does for a living
- Learning the hard way to ask for help
- To be the best possible mum, you need to look out for number one
- The airport drop-off - learning the art of leaving
- Why I left the kids at home and went to Paris with my husband
- When your husband does FIFO, are you a single mum?
- Use 'welcome distractions' to survive long FIFO swings that seem to drag forever
- Those little words every FIFO mum dreads: "I don't want Daddy to go back to work."
- Heard of life hacks? They're great for FIFO families
- Winnebago wonders: blessings of a FIFO wife
- Beating the loneliness of FIFO life in winter
- Diary of a FIFO mum (4.30am starts included!)
- My husband spends 2016 hours of quality time with us every year. Beat that!
- Deb's advice for FIFO newbies
- Put some va into your relationships's va va voom
- Organisation: the key to sanity in FIFO households
- How to ease the pain of being apart for special events
- Four weeks apart from your loved ones? It's just part of the job on an oil rig!
- An oil & gas mum's advice on raising your own little superheroes
- Introducing my fantastic FIFO family