How we handle fly-out day
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.
"How do you handle fly-out day?"
I get asked that question a lot.
Followed by, "When do you tell the kids and what do you tell the kids?"
"The truth generally works best," I reply. "I also don’t think making a fuss of fly-out day is a good idea. It’s just Mum or Dad going back to work. They aren’t leaving to go on a holiday or leaving because they want to. They are leaving to work, make a better life, to make some money, to pay the bills like every other Tom, Dick or Harry."
I do think, however, that there are ways to prepare the family for moving back into the work swing, and easing everyone into the new routine.
As soon as we know when my husband is flying out, we tell the kids. There is no need to explain that he is going to work, because they know. The sea is my husband’s place of work. We don’t do a countdown to fly out, we just tell the kids that Dad is going back to work next week, this Friday, tomorrow and then this morning.
Once upon a time they would travel down to the airport and we would literally drop off and drive off. Goodbyes were short and sweet to save me on tears and pulled heart strings.
I notice that as soon as he gets in the car, he is in work mode and as soon as I kiss him goodbye, I am too. Our switches are flipped and we are at "work". We don’t dwell on the goodbye, but what needs to be done.
Now that the kids are in school, they say goodbye in the morning and off they go to school.
Before we drive to the airport I often turn the lights on, have the radio going and have dinner in the slow cooker. It makes the house less lonely when we get home. My husband takes his extra noise and animation with him when he goes, and so the radio helps to combat the stark reality that the weekend is over and we are back at work.
If the kids can join us on the airport drive, we stop at a park, shopping centre or McDonald’s for a short time. I've found that's another good way to help them make the transition to Dad being at work (although he never stops parenting, even from 4000km away ... and it's amazing what a stern talking to on the phone will achieve!)
When we get home, we hang out, watch TV and plan our goals for the month. (Some people called this grieving or suffering the "fly-out day blues". I call it adjusting. As I said, Dad takes his noise with him and leaves an empty space that takes a little bit of getting used to. But grieving or "the blues" just doesn’t sound right to me.)
Transitioning and adjusting can sometimes be emotionally tiring, so TV, comfort food and couch time is just what we need before starting the working month. It prepares us for another amazing month of growth.
And we never forget that work is always about moving forward, and getting ahead.
More columns from Oil & Gas Mum Deb Russo:
- When tiredness takes over and you start to second-guess your life...
- Future-proofing your family against the "blood bath" in Australia's oil and gas industry
- To protect those you love, prepare for the worst
- Christmas and the meaning of "stuff"
- Surviving with a growing brood when your husband works away
- 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