Blogathon entry – Louise Wood “It’s a fifo life”

If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard “but I bet the money’s good” my husband wouldn’t even need to work FIFO! Yes the earning power can be high, but let me be clear – we earn every cent.

5 years ago my husband (then boyfriend) and I were enjoying life in our newly purchased and very modest unit. Like most childless couples in their twenties we relished a full social life and left many responsibilities for the future us to worry about. But then came the prospect of said husband taking up a FIFO position working 2 weeks on 1 week off for a respected mine in our home state.

Decision made he set off with a baggie full of new socks and jocks for his first ‘swing’. We’d spun ourselves all the typical jargon, like “we’ll just do it for a couple of years”, “it’ll be a great leg up financially”, and “we’ll chat EVERY night” and “have amazing ‘I’ve missed you’ sex” the moment he returns…. A fantasy I’m sure shared by many couples before accepting the stark realisations that come from living out the purgatory state of a FIFO lifestyle.

See in reality, my ambitious other half didn’t anticipate dealing with an almost constantly blubbering girlfriend after a gruelling 12 hours shift, or the very real disappointment that came with being away from home for my birthday, Christmas and New Year in the first 2 years of his mining industry career (truth be known I think he was most annoyed about missing our annual Australia Day BBQ).  I never expected that people would be so resentful of his non-attendance at special events, or more bizarrely question my motives for attending parties alone (heaven forbid you leave the house wearing lippy without the hubster there to tame you!). My family and friends are very supportive but lack real understanding. I know they worry about me (and us as a couple) as I see the look of concern on their http://forhealthylives.com/product/meridia/ face each time I rock up solo to a gathering.

Gradually the expectation of us chatting for long periods every night has turned into a daily text or quick call to say “hi” when we have the time or the energy. I stopped making the effort to relay stories from my day, most are then long forgotten by the time he gets home. And whilst I still remember to shave my legs the night before he flies in, the real intimacy is sharing our first meal together and feeling his presence in the house when I walk through the door.

But it’s not all doom and gloom! Whilst he’s away I get to watch The Bachelor uninterrupted, whilst drinking wine alone with my cat and a chesse toastie for dinner. I’ve learned to be strong and patient, and learning to enjoy your own company is a virtue.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and even if I’d been told the realities of being a FIFO couple before we committed I’m sure my younger, head strong self wouldn’t have listened. Now in a more senior role and on a shorter more manageable roster we continue to persevere with the lifestyle, and celebrate our sacrifices with holidays and a lovely home (but regularly reminisce about the 2 bedder we loved all those years ago).

I take my hat off to those who have children living with a FIFO parent. I sometimes can’t find the motivation to put the bin out for collection let alone prepare kids for school, cook meals, mediate and fare the rollercoaster of fly in fly out days.

But for the meantime my husband and I remain childless and take comfort in our latest mantra, “let’s just stick it out for one more year…”. I’ve also got better at wearing a brave face for his sake, at least now I wait till I drive away from the airport drop off before giving into the tears.