Q&A: How to balance DIDO R&R between kids and adults
By psychologist Angie Willcocks
Q: Hi there, I am a relatively new DIDO mining wife/mum with two pre-schoolers, and we have made the huge move away from family and friends. My question is, how do we find a balance for our family with this new lifestyle? We're finding that the days when Dad is home are so consumed with family time, and neither of us are having our own time let alone time together! I know it's only early days for us, but I feel that if we don't get some sort of balance there may be long-term effects.
Hi! Thanks so much for your question.
It can be hard to find a balance in a family with two young kids, even without the FIFO/DIDO bit added in. I think that the first step is to realise that you won't always get it right, because in any family everyone's needs can't be met all the time (pretty obvious for mums, I know!)
It's also important that you schedule how you'd like the family members to spend the time and when. For example, lots of FIFO/DIDO dads I know spend the first morning they're home catching up on some sleep, and then a day or two later mum gets her sleep in. The Saturday night he's home might be a family catch-up with friends for a meal at the local pub ... every second Saturday the men might stay on for a few drinks and every fourth the women can.
It might sound really nerdy but in the first few swings it pays to actually schedule all this in by writing it on a calendar or diary – even whose turn it to sleep in! It’s really easy to just be reactive, but one thing that can really help FIFO/DIDO families is to be quite proactive in planning how time is spent. Over time, and as you develop your own routines and habits, some of the scheduling can fall by the wayside (but don't forget to re-visit it if you get off track again).
In an ideal world, couples would also schedule in a 'date night' every time the DIDO worker is home, but I know that this often doesn't happen when there are young kids, because it is just too hard to fit it in or organise a babysitter (especially when you're away from your usual support networks). If that's the case, at least make sure you schedule in a 'date night' at home, where you and your husband watch a special movie together, catch up on a recorded TV series you both like, challenge each other on the Wii or just head to bed shortly after the kids (together that is!)
Please also remember that one of the benefits of DIDO/FIFO is that you both keep getting another chance to improve things, the next time your husband is home!
Of course, these are only suggestions and you and your husband will have to think about the sorts of things that are important to you. One of my earlier columns on prioritising precious time might help a bit with this too.
Thanks again for your question and all the best to you and your family.
To read other columns written by Angie Willcocks during her six years with Mining Family Matters, please click here. And remember that we offer a free email Q&A service with our psychologists, so just click here to ask a question about relationships, parenting or your career. All advice on Mining Family Matters is for general information only and should never be regarded as a substitute for professional health services or crisis services. To talk with a trained volunteer telephone counsellor at any time of the day or night, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. To contact the info line at beyondblue: national depression initiative, phone 1300 22 4636.