Author: Jenni Swain
The FIFO/DIDO (Fly in Fly Out/ Drive In Drive Out) life is an interesting one and not everyone understands it, most people tell us they would never cope and how do we manage etc, especially me being the one at home with 3 young kids, but this is our normal. The funny thing this year, is that hubby has taken on a Manager’s role, now time away is a lot less and we are actually finding it hard to adjust to this change!
Our situation may also be a little different, but like a lot of FIFO/DIDO families my husband is in the mining industry. He is an exploration geologist though so he does not have a set roster, the time away varies greatly and we are not always given much notice. When we found out I was pregnant with the twins he was made redundant and started his own business contracting so things became even more unpredictable for a while.
A little about us
I’m Jenni, wife to Greg, mother to James (5) and identical twins Amelia and Chelsea (3), small hobby business owner and a prem birth contact for MBSA.
Life has been a series of ups and downs for us and one of the biggest shocks was Greg being made redundant and then just a couple of weeks later finding out we were expecting twins, the up side was he began working for himself so we had more flexibility.
The pregnancy was quite hard and Greg was away a lot at the time, so I felt like James was missing out on so much as I could hardly move from the couch most days. Then to make it worse I went into labour at 27 weeks gestation and was put into hospital on bed rest. I spent Christmas, New Year and my Birthday in there and that was hard on all of us. I stayed until the girls were born at 32+3 weeks weighing a tiny 1.7kg and 1.4kg. They then spent 67 days in NICU/SCN so I spent even less time with James.
The one good point about Greg now working for himself was that for this period of time he became a Stay At Home Dad! It almost felt like I was now the one going away as I was spending so much time at the hospital. The downside of Greg staying home this long was that only 3 days after I brought the twins home he had to go away again. This may sound tough and as much as I would have preferred him stay, it actually helped us settle better as I learnt very quickly how to manage on my own.
The good side to our lifestyle of FIFO life with twins and more
Ok, so some people really don’t understand this but we like the FIFO/DIDO lifestyle, it works for us! It’s not for everyone but, it keeps us sane, even the unpredictability of it at times!!.
When hubby is away our routine is impeccable, the household runs with military precision and the kids just know it’s different when daddy’s away. They even help me in little ways (which they should do anyway…but yeah you know how that goes) by doing little things like getting their shoes and socks on, tidying their room, helping set the table etc and this just helps life run a little smoother. For me there is one less person in the house to worry about, I don’t need to cross check information, less dishes, less washing and no-one for the kids to turn around and ask the same question I have just said no to (this obviously causes less arguments)!
FIFO life with twins and more makes our relationship stronger
Now this is the part most people really don’t understand, both hubby and I agree that for the most part we actually enjoy the separation (if its not too long). It gives us some space from each other to do our own thing, have time to ourselves and not have to communicate to anyone at the end of a long day.
We find it’s what makes our relationship stronger because we then enjoy the time we are together a lot more. Sometimes (especially now the trips are fewer) we find if he’s been home for too long we start to look forward to his next trip away.
Now to us this is not so important but of course the money that comes with Greg’s lifestyle is a good thing too as it allows me to be a Stay at Home Mum and run my little business, without it I would have to return to work.
The disadvantages of our lifestyle of FIFO life with twins and more
The worst part is that it’s hard on the kids, they don’t fully understand why daddy has to go away, why he can’t tuck them in at night, why he misses out on going to some events with us, and they just don’t get the concept of time. Sometimes they don’t even get to talk to him each day because phone service is limited or he might not get back to camp until after they are in bed. Our son, even though he understands more, he suffers the most and sometimes it comes out in his behavior. He is very much a daddy boy and struggles to adjust when daddy goes away because he just wants to be with him all the time.
Dealing with sick kids is tough
Another big issue we have, unfortunately, is our kids seem to get sick a lot, and of course the worst ones (like hospital visits) are always when daddy is away. This makes life really difficult, but we are extremely lucky to have an amazing support network from family and friends and of course our multi tribe who come to our rescue. We even have an amazing neighbor who comes to my rescue (even in the middle of the night) and watches the other two kids until one of the grandparents can arrive to take over.
The unpredictability of Greg’s job makes planning anything hard, although most times he can work around important events if need be, but he does miss out on some things. He can be away anywhere from one night to weeks at a time and for some of the shorter ones we might only get a few days notice. This is a big disadvantage of our lifestyle of FIFO life with twins and more.
How we help the kids cope
I said it before and I’ll say it again, routine is everything when daddy is away, not only does it help me to stay on top of things but it also gives the kids stability each day as they know what to expect. They have little jobs that we call daddy’s jobs (such as helping put the bin out), especially for our son, we tell him “You’re the man of the house while daddy is away” and he likes it and feels important.
The countdown sheet on our fridge that says how many sleeps until daddy comes home is a huge hit. Each morning they stamp it and count down like a rocket launch, how many nights are left.
Sometimes we make a mental list of all the things they want to do with daddy when he comes home, and they take great joy in putting some funny things in, like tickle him.
The most important thing for all of us though is communication. We do our best to Skype every day so we can see each other as well as talk and the kids can show daddy things. Its more personal than just a phone call.
A Poem about FIFO life with twins and more
I could write a novel on our life but that would bore you so to finish off here is a little poem I wrote when the twins were only babies. It’s not the greatest and was written at a hectic time in my life but it gets the basic idea across.
For those who know a FIFO wife,
Here’s an insight into their life,
While he’s away she’s mum and dad,
So has to deal with the good and bad,
There’s cuts and bumps and laughter and tears,
And lots of cuddles, screams and cheers,
There’s jobs to be done and kids to feed,
A grocery run and, hang on mate, what do you need,
Oh you want that toy, you’ve spilt you’re cup,
Please be a good boy I’m tidying up,
Now your sisters are crying they want a feed,
Before I start what do you need?
You want to play, I know you do,
We’ll do just that, when I’m through,
Oh we mustn’t forget to hang the washing out,
Then maybe we’ll get out and about.
Let’s go to the shops and walk the dog,
Have we got everything? oh my brains a fog,
Okay when did we change your nappy last?
Where’s the time gone it’s gone so fast,
I’m sure at some point we all were fed, and perhaps the kids were bathed and put to bed,
And I always make sure that every day,
Each child has cuddles and time for play,
Some days I don’t get time for me,
But I don’t mind it’s meant to be,
There’s plenty more that I should do,
But I really think my day is through,
Now I know it’s only half past eight,
And I haven’t showered but it’s too late,
I really need to climb in bed,
And try to rest my weary head,
Let’s see how much sleep I get in
Before my night shift is about to begin,
I’m sorry if I didn’t return a call,
But please try again I still need you all,
Sorry I think I was sidetracked somewhere,
But that’s my life so I thought I’d share,
Some days are harder than the rest,
But like everyone else I’m just doing my best,
Don’t get me wrong I love my life,
But this is the life of a FIFO wife!
Author: Jenni Swain