Santa isn't the only FIFO worker this Christmas. Across Australia, thousands of mining men and women will spend the big day away from loved ones.
It can be tough when you're working away on the one day of the year we’re all supposed to be together – especially if you've got kids who just love Father Christmas and can't wait for the big day.
But there are ways to cope even though you're apart. Here are our top tips for surviving a FIFO Christmas:
- Remember there’s no law that says Christmas can’t be celebrated twice in one year. Some families do Christmas lunch twice, complete with turkey, pudding – the works. (And if your kids are little, they’ll have no idea if you’re celebrating the day on December 25 or December 12.)
- Plan ahead with presents so you don’t have regrets on the day. You don’t need to spend a lot of cash because this isn’t really about the gifts – it’s about feeling connected.
- If you’re the one working away, spoil yourself. Take your favourite food or drink to site. If you’re the partner back home, send a Christmas care pack to site including a small gift, cake, cracker and photos to make the day special.
- Model positive coping skills for your children by acknowledging your feelings, but then finding ways to feel better. If you need to offload, talk to a supportive friend or family member when the kids aren’t in earshot.
- Discuss ahead of time what will work best for connecting on the day. Obviously this depends on your roster and the family’s plans, but it should also depend on what’s easiest for you all emotionally. Some like lots of contact, others not so much. There is no ‘right’ answer.
- Watch your thinking and try not to feel too down that the family isn’t together. Don't fall into the trap of imagining everyone else laughing merrily with their families. Lots of people work on Christmas Day. Plan to watch a movie that makes you laugh.
- Don't be tempted to drink more alcohol to help you ‘cope’ with sadness or loneliness. It’s likely to have the opposite effect.
- Get reflective. Spare some time to think about everything that’s great in your life.
- Plan something special for the next time you’re home after Christmas – a special day out or short break that you can all look forward to. Book it. Put it in the diary.
- Surround yourself with positive people. That goes for on the mine site and at home. Don’t let your energy and positivity be zapped by people who want to whinge about life or don’t understand your lifestyle.