Beating the loneliness of FIFO life in winter

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Hi! I'm Deb Russo, a FIFO wife of the offshore kind. My husband works on oil rigs and vessels. Typically, we do a four-week-on and four-week-off roster. We have lived our entire 13-year relationship like this. Initially he was in the Navy, then we shifted to work in the mines and did the 28/7 roster (my least favourite!) With this offshore roster, though, I wouldn’t change a thing.

We're in the dead of winter, and there's no lonelier time for a FIFO wife than winter. The days are shorter, nights are longer and the couch less cosy without the company of your husband. Even total control of TV remote loses it's appeal!

Of course, winter can affect anyone, due to lack of sunshine and the feel-good chemicals we get from vitamin D. There's even a name for it - SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder.

So they way I see it, we have three options.

1. Get sloshed on red wine. This might sound glamorous, but drinking on your own is NOT pretty. It’s sad - Lindsay Lohan sad. Health-wise, it’s also dangerous and unproductive.

2. Let the kids stay up late, so the house is full of chatter. This, however, reaps nothing but evil the next day when they throw a tantrum over the colour of their cornflakes.

Which leaves us with option 3. Get clever with distractions:

  • First, turn on some lights and a radio in the kitchen. This is my number one way to stop the house feeling so cold and empty when husband is at work. It is also a great way to get an extra amount of light to hit the back of the retina, which helps increase your feel-good hormones. I have a lamp in my kitchen and lamps going in my lounge room. The radio is an effort to replicate the constant chatter that comes with my husband; it’s a silence breaker - something he is very good at.
  • Invest in a hobby. Personally, I like anything that involves a glue gun. I’m not particularly crafty but there are benefits in owning a glue gun for things other than scrapbooking. For one it’s a dangerous weapon and should come with more than just a warning that it can glue your fingers together. A glue gun would shoot terror into the heart of an intruder. A double whammy and I’m all about multi-tasking.
  • Read. Whether it’s Jane Austin, Stephanie Myers or the Guinness Book of Records, the benefits of reading are endless. It will expand your mind, you'll delve into another world and increase your creative use of the English language.
  • Write. Anything. Write a novel, your life story or just about your day. The benefits of a journal (self knowledge, clarity, and meditation) are empowering.
  • Telephone a friend. Just like on a game show, talking to someone can often give you the answer, relief or insight you're looking for.
  • Relish the fact you have full control over the TV. Watch Magic Mike (you know - the movie starring Channing Tatum and Matthew McConaughey as strippers) just because you can.
  • Be kind to yourself. Give yourself a pedicure or facemask. Change the colour of your hair.
  • Study (like you need something else so major on your to-do list!) Self improvement offers endless advantages.
  • Go to bed early - simple! And there is something very smug in being well rested.
  • Don’t dwell on the quietness - embrace it. Before you know it, your partner will be home and your control over the TV will be gone. There'll be no time to paint your nails, write a book or study. And then your evenings will once again be full, as you chat about plans for your future, the goings on of your day and (maybe) some Magic Mike action of your own.

More columns from Oil & Gas Mum, Deb Russo:

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