Organisation: the key to sanity in FIFO households

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It’s a New Year as I write this. December 31 in fact, and while I don’t believe in New Year's resolutions I’m trying to be more organised this coming year. The control freak in me says I’m not organised enough - so here is February's column written back in December. I’m impressed, to say the least!

Anyway ... being organised (or at least a little) is one of the main ways I stay sane while my husband is away. Life doesn't need to be perfect, just organised. The house doesn't always have to be clean, but it does have to be tidy.

As the kids get older, they are responsible for more of their own stuff. Aged seven, five and three, they are responsible for packing and unpacking their school and activity bags. They put their clothes away, tidy their room and make their beds. They are responsible for homework and readers. It sounds harsh, but if they don’t do it then it doesn’t get done and they learn the consequence for being unorganised.

I started becoming more and more organised as our family grew. I decided I preferred that option to drowning.

I rely on three different organisers: a weekly planner, yearly planner, and my iPhone for when I’m on the run.

On Sunday I review the week ahead, transferring stuff from the yearly planner or from my iPhone to the weekly planner. Sounds a little laborious but it’s my lifesaver. It saves me from missing appointments that have been made well in advance. I keep the planner in the kitchen, so when my husband's home he can just flick through and see what's in store for him.

Sunday is also the day I write my menu plan for the week. Never underestimate the power of the menu planner! I use to plan evening meals around our activities, more so than budgeting (but saving a couple of dollars is never a bad thing!) 

Whenever I can, I make a batch of freezer meals. But usually I just make double dinners when making meals like stew or spaghetti sauce. These are handy when the whole world is against me and we don’t get home until after 6pm. They are also fantastic when I'm very occasionally unwell.

Household admin is done on Thursday evenings. There is nothing more satisfying to me than paying bills and filing them away. I run my house like it’s a company and so far we are semi-profitable!

I have learnt to assign big appointments or household chores to each month of the year. So every year we all get a full check-up at the doctors in July. The budgets are reviewed in June, hedges for the garden are done in October and insurances and cyclone packs are reviewed in November. Every month there is something done - by assigning jobs this way you are less likely to forget them and life doesn't get on top of you.

The other key is this ... I have finally learnt to ask for help if and when I need it. I've also learnt to say no to outside requests. And I don’t beat myself up anymore if I can’t get it done or it’s not quite right. I don’t have the help of family, so this is all really important. Putting too much pressure on yourself (and your family) to be perfect will only end in disaster.

So while I’m organised right now, it might not last! That's just the way life is...


More columns from Oil & Gas Mum, Deb Russo:

Check out Deb's daily blog at www.thefifowife.com.au 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