To be the best possible mum, you need to look out for number one

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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.

Taking care of yourself. It's so often put to the bottom of the to-do list, isn't it - especially for us FIFO parents. But if you get burnt out and run down, who's going to take care of everyone else? As they say, 'happy wife happy life' and as a FIFO mum, nothing could be more true.

Here are few ideas to get you through the next swing as the healthiest, happiest you:

  • Exercise. Be it walking around the block or around your back yard. Many times when my babies were little, I had one strapped to my back and two in the pram, walking the hill in my street or the perimeter of my yard. Exercise releases feel good endorphins, it helps you sleep and reduces stress - all so important for FIFO parents.
  • Eat well. Not only eat well, but make your portions the right size. You are never going to feel on top of the world eating McDonald’s every night for dinner, so have spare freezer meals on hand for those nights when you're too tired or busy to cook. When you are cooking - make double the portions and save some for the freezer.
  • Be organised. This can be hard I know, but clutter brings chaos so try to be semi-organised. Simple things like freezer meals and routine are comforting for the soul when things are starting to go south.
  • Watch your alcohol intake. It’s easy to use alcohol as a reward for making it through the day, but it can actually make loneliness more tough than it already is. Remember to drink water. It’s important for hydration and it helps keep tiredness at bay. 
  • Watch what you say. Try to stay upbeat with the words you use - it can have a big impact on your own morale. And sometimes your children are listening too. 
  • Keep busy. Find an interest to keep you occupied in the quiet times. It keeps the loneliness and dementia at bay!
  • Find a good support group. The ones that lift you higher - not make you constantly question your FIFO lifestyle and the impacts on your family.
  • Rest when you need it. Rest ... meditate ... whatever you call it! Even just 10 minutes is enough to recharge the batteries.
  • Ask for help. There is no shame in needing support sometimes. Being too independent can be isolating.
  • Get out and about. Be involved with your local community - it keeps you busy and meeting new people. 

Remember - happiness is usually a choice. If it isn't, seek the support of loved ones, or speak to your GP to help make it so.

Deb x

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