Thursday 26 June 2014

The FIFO life

FIFO FIFO it's off to work he goes...

The hubs is away again and it's back to a quieter life at home with the littles.

Sometimes I feel like a bit of a sham saying that we are a FIFO family as I often feel like the hubs is home more than he's away (lately he has been) but then B will get sad and moody her daddy is gone and I realise it's all very real.

For those who have thought about it this is what our lives look like.

Whilst our family is extremely fortunate that the hubs has a family friendly roster which is equal time home and away it comes with its own set of challenges. Extracurricular activities like team sports, classes etc that require weekly attendance in the evenings just can't happen. I have had to learn how to get two young children dressed fed and  around each day alone. I have had to get young children bathed and put to bed alone and I have been up all hours of the night with a crying baby and a toddler to manage the next day alone.....

Yep there has been a lot of alone time for me over the years. 

My dear hubs has felt lonely, he had missed his family, he has had to leave his newborn baby daughters and go back to work on 12 hour days. He has worked covered in flies, in heat over 45 degrees Celsius, bunkered down through cyclones....
and in one particularly terrifying moment, been just a few hundred feet from a pipeline explosion. I am grateful everyday he was far enough away to be unhurt, a few minutes earlier could have been an whole different story.

The gas plant where the hubs works, isolated, red dirt and blue skies. IMG source apachecorp

The girls miss their daddy. Ally is too small to understand what is going on although I know she thinks of him she points out his photo on the wall, picks up the phone and says "daddy" and always gives him the longest hug when he comes home. B on the other hand is well aware of how it works, she knows the drill and will happily tell anyone "my daddy will come home in two weeks". She can be clingy and sometimes struggles with just having one parent around but she is completely crazy about her dad and he is her hero.

Then I get the comments from well meaning friends and sometimes strangers about how FIFO marriages often split up, FIFO men often cheat on their partners, how it can get pretty wild up there.... I really appreciate those comments but I think we will take our chances and stick it out.

Why would we? I have just listed a whole bunch of things that make it hard, lonely sometimes dangerous and emotionally distressing for our children (and ourselves). It's not the whole story, not even close.

The most obvious in peoples mind might be the money - yeah it's great we have been able to buy our own home, we live quite comfortably and don't scrape from week to week but that's not all it is for us. We get a lifestyle where our children get to spend days on end with their daddy all day not just at night when they are tired and grumpy. He gets to take B to gymnastics, we take family trips together mid week out to lunch somewhere fun, we share the job of parenting equally. He knows their routine and is competent and confidant caring for them on his own as I am something that many dads can't make claim too.

As for us, we like missing one another. There is nothing like being apart from your loved ones to remind you why you love them. Our time with each other is not taken for granted as it's limited and needs to be enough for the time we are apart. I have grown more independent and the hubs has learnt he functions better when he doesn't have to juggle a work life balance that comes with a Monday to Friday 9-5 job.

We have time to work on our home, being able to owner build and not have to scrape together weekends and late nights to get jobs done means things can move at a much quicker pace. We both have time alone to pursue our own interests.

Will there ever come a time when the hubs packs it in and comes home for good? Possibly, maybe.... We have always said he will come home when B gets a boyfriend (so he can be at the door with the shotgun). For now however, we are happy and doing exactly what works for our little FIFO family and wouldn't change a thing.

Are you are part of a FIFO family? Do you love it or hate it? Or would you just never consider it? I would love to hear from you



If you would like to check out some of the awesome resources now available to FIFO workers in Australia, be sure to check out My FIFO Family for list of organisations that are now supporting those working away and their families.


  1. Great post Dani! I think people often just think it's about the money but there's so much more to it than that. My husband doesn't do regular FIFO but does have to go up north for his job, sometimes often, sometimes not. I really hate it for the reasons you've mentioned, but then the other side is the positives you've also mentioned (although he usually doesn't have time off when he gets back!) I think whatever works for your family is what's best for you and people need to keep their "helpful" comments to themselves!

    1. Thanks so much Nat, I love to hear other families with positive experiences with FIFO. It really does come down to attitude like anything there will always be positive and negatives and focusing on the positives and making them work for the family is always the best way to go. Such a shame your hubs doesn't get the time off when he comes home again but at least you get to take charge of the tv remote at night hehe x

  2. I can definitely see the value in FIFO. We have never done it and with our children all grown up now I can see how spending that quality time with the children would have benefited them. My husband works incredibly long hours leaving at 6am and returning at 7:30, so the children saw very little of him. I wish something like that had been on offer when we were younger (we lived in a different non-mining country then). Great post xx

    1. Thanks Sarah, it's something I really wanted to post as I often see so much negativity surrounding this type of lifestyle. I too didn't get to see my dad a lot growing up as he ran his own business there were times I wouldn't see him all week for the early starts and late finishes. Weekends just never seemed to be enough.

  3. One powerball and i wouldn't be working at all...
    Mr DD

    1. Haha yes I would find work for you to do if you were at home. Toddler poo patrol would be right at the top of my list muhahaha

  4. You're so right, it *is* quieter when they are away. In many ways, running a family or a household is so much simpler when there is only one captain steering. We're not a fifo family, but we were dido for almost two years after my third was born. It was hard, but there were positives too - like the ones you've listed - and really when those things were celebrated, it made all the difference. Also? Not fighting against the negatives that are out of your control. It only leads to frustration. Lovely article. X

  5. Wow so refreshing to read someone being positive about FIFO and have same feelings as I do. We are also a FIFO family :)

    1. Yes I think it is important to share positive experiences, FIFO gets a bad rap often but really does work for a lot of families. Glad to hear you have had a similar positive experience :)


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