Deb's advice for FIFO newbies

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A journalist asked me the other day how my husband and I have survived FIFO all these years.

First of all: there is no surviving. This was and is a choice. We actively took the job. We knew it was working away. We adapted to it. If you don’t evolve or learn to roll with what life hands you, then you're going to fail whether it’s FIFO or not. FIFO just makes it trickier. Having said that, a good attitude and clear communication are also vital - but that goes for every relationship.

So what's my advice for FIFO newbies? 

1. You need to understand the job. You need to understand the roster. There has to be a reason you’re doing this. Keep that in perspective. For us it’s the lifestyle. For others it's the money. We do 4:4 weeks (four weeks on followed by four weeks off). So we work six months of the year. Those four weeks at work can be tough, but we know that. We knew that when we took the job. Understand how long that time is away from each other. You will have good days, great days, some bad days and horrible days but that’s life ... nothing in this life comes easy. How you adapt and change will you see you succeed or fail.  My husband and I talk about everything and, as mentioned in earlier columns, that goes from divorce to life after death. Some people say we've cursed our relationship by already talking about divorce, but if you can’t talk about everything without fear (no matter what the scenario) then you're in trouble. The same goes for being willing to listen. There is a right and wrong way to communicate. If you don’t know how to do it, learn how (and quickly). All your relationships depend on it. In fact, MiningFM's psychologist Angie Willcocks wrote on this very topic ... The top three issues in mining relationships … and how to overcome them

2. Adapting and having the right attitude go hand in hand. Life is all about evolving. We never get something for nothing, and FIFO is no different. You want to make decent money with good time off? Well then, a little hard work is required. You can’t be naive and go in thinking it's going to be easy all the time, because it’s not easy for anyone. Not for the partner working away, the partner at home or your children. The way to get through is to find a routine (and roster) that works for you. Try different things until you find what is right for you - and by that I mean what works for you and your family - not what others tell you is right! Go with your instincts and trust yourselves as a unit. Self-doubt can be a pain in the proverbial.

3. Thirdly, have a positive attitude. I'll be honest with you: I don’t deal with people with a continual bad attitude anymore. Negativity takes me to horrible places that affects me, my kids and my husband. I do understand that everyone has a bad day every now and then. I'm in that spot every other month, and that’s cool (more than cool) but you control the thoughts in your head. You control how you respond to what life throws at you. If your thoughts are constantly negative or angry, you need to seek advice from a medical professional.

Having said all of this, if you've given FIFO a good shot and it's not working for you and your family, you need to reconsider your position. It's simply not worth risking your relationships for FIFO (or any job). Money can’t fix a family and being able to make FIFO work doesn’t make you more or less of a person. In fact, recognising that something isn’t working and having the courage to change says more about a person than any amount of money. 

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