The independent woman's tool kit

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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.

"You can't shift that," he said the other morning.

"Yeah okay," is all I said before whispering "I love you" and hanging up.

Then I put on my gym gear and best pluggers (that's what we call thongs in Queensland) and grabbed my trusty sack trolley and shifter ... and off I went to Mum’s house.

She's been living two doors down and was moving out. So of course, a few things needed to be shifted. Now, ordinarily we'd arrange a mover or ask a few friends ... that sort of thing. However, all that remained to be moved were two single beds, three couches and a double bed. To me, that's not much. And I lack patience. By the time I called and waited for someone to help, I reckoned I'd be finished with the dismantling and have it all shifted myself.

So that's what I did.

I do a lot of stuff like this on my own. I change tyres, paint walls, fix mowers, bikes and reno where I can. I am too independent (strong-willed and stupid, some might say) to wait for someone if I think I can do it myself. I'm not afraid of trying anything. I have, however, learnt my limits. I do ask for help when there's a likelihood I might get injured. With hubby away so much, I realise that would be a disaster for everyone.

I have also learnt to invest in good tools to make my independent world easier. So if you're embarking on a FIFO life and needing to be more independent, here's the supplies I'd suggest: 

  • A sack trolley: the best you can afford. It's great for shifting furniture, air conditioners, mowers, trees. So far there isn't anything my sack trolley hasn't shifted.
  • A thick rug: so you can slide heavy furniture without damaging the floor (because on a Saturday night when you're home alone, what else do you do but shift the furniture or help your mother move house?)
  • A hydraulic jack: for changing car tyres. So much easier than a normal jack. Also, ladies and gents, if you drive a car you need to know how to change a tyre. It's not hard.
  • A tool kit containing the basics: hammer, shifter, screwdrivers, adjustable wrench, tape measure etc.
  • A first aid kit: and, again, know the basics just in case you drill your fingernail or hammer a finger.

So, with my sack trolley and adjustable wrench, I was done at Mum's in two hours! Plenty of time to don a dress and head to the boys' fancy dress ball. True, I had a broken nail – but the job was done and mum was shifted. 

More columns from Oil & Gas Mum Deb Russo:

Check out Deb's daily blog at and if you've got any questions for her, please click here.

And here's another oil and gas couple's advice on making FIFO family life work when you're working offshore