Getting rid of stuff to remember what's most important
Sandy (or 'Auntie', as many people call her) is our FIFO Survivor. Her husband works offshore in oil/gas and they've been together for more than 30 years - many of them as a fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) family. In that time they've raised two beautiful daughters (both now in their 20s) and moved more than 19 times! Sandy wanted to write for Mining Family Matters to show you can survive FIFO.
It's the little things in life that matter to me: not the five-star holidays with all the bells and whistles.
One of my most precious mementos is a little card my girls made for me while they were poor university students – it's covered in photos and hand-written notes.
Actually, despite all the travelling and moving we've done, only four special keepsakes remain with me. They were given to me for special events in my life. Plus I have just one small box of photos of childhood memories.
I'm ruthless when it comes to throwing things out. Even when I'm buying a new pair of shoes, I always ask the attendant to keep the box. I don’t want the clutter.
But I wasn't always like this. We lived in the same house for nearly 20 years. There was so much stuff surrounding me that I couldn’t see straight. I could never throw out clothes. You know how it goes: 'Oh, it might come back into fashion. Or I’m sure I’ll fit into it again one day.'
Moving to Australia gave me a fresh start.
Now I'm one of those people with matching coat hangers in the closet. I face all the coat hangers in the same direction, and as I wear something I turn the hanger around the other way. When the season is finished, I look to see if any hangers haven't been turned around, and then I cull the unworn clothes.
Before this new-found-me, I had to get my mum to throw out anything she hadn’t seen me wear in years. I'd make her take the bags away immediately, otherwise I was tempted to go through them and accidentally pop all the clothes back into my wardrobe!
Now, every year as Christmas approaches I go through the whole house, cleaning up and de-cluttering in preparation for the visitors I hope to receive.
I start with one room. Usually it's the kitchen: my busiest space! I remove everything from a single cupboard at a time. In the pantry, I check expiry dates, wipe down the shelves and reorganize. (In our house everything has to be labeled, as the FIFO worker doesn’t recognize the difference between the white sugar and the caster sugar.) I always throw out any broken china and containers with no lids too.
And if there's anything that's lovely but really never used, I donate it to charity. Most of us have way too much stuff, but sadly there are plenty who have way too little.
More from Auntie Sandy:
- Coco Pops for dinner: the dietary habits of FIFO partners
- Facebook support group comes to the rescue of sick FIFO mum
- Don't take your health for granted - especially in FIFO marriages
- Sandy's soapbox: all marriages are stressful sometimes, so why single out FIFO families?
- Lessons learnt from a transient FIFO life
- How to be a better listener and friend
- Sure I'm a survivor - but fly-out day can still be tough sometimes
- Cutting the apron strings and learning to find your own way
- How to stay calm and carry on when aliens possess your teenagers
- If FIFO life has taught my daughters one thing, it's resilience
- If you want a job done, give it to a busy mum
- Whatever your reason for choosing FIFO, set realistic goals and stick to them
- Yes I'm FIFO: DON'T JUDGE ME!
- Tough love: how to tempt fussy eaters
- From the Pilbara to Indonesia - how I've learnt to love thy neighbour
- Sandy's Law: things always go wrong when you're on your own
- Even for a FIFO survivor, the shit does hit the fan sometimes!
- To raise great kids today, return to the values of yesteryear
- Looking back on how we prepared the girls for school
- Cocktails at breakfast, waterfights and a house full of people - Sandy's perfect Christmas
- Fifty Shades of Sandy: sex and the "experienced" FIFO couple
- Karratha: a little mining town with a big heart
- Striking the right balance between parent and friend as the kids get older
- Coming out as a Kiwi to offer advice to other NZ mining families
- Even FIFO Supermums do it tough sometimes
- Prepare FIFO kids for change and you'll all have amazing adventures
- Yes, mining life can take a toll on friendships
- How to communicate with tetchy teenagers and a husband working offshore
- Give your kids the blessing of hard work and routines
- Special times are what (and when) you make them
- Keeping your cool when travelling with little people in tow
- Goals, routines and other clever clues for FIFO families
- The memorable meltdown moments of a FIFO mum
- The joys of travelling across Australia to a new mining town
- The pros and cons of boarding schools for FIFO kids
- How to relocate AND save your sanity
- How to be happy with and without your partner
- Meet Auntie Sandy, the FIFO survivor
If you've got a question for 'Auntie' Sandy or would like to make a comment about FIFO living, we'd love to hear from you. Click here!