This question has played on my mind a lot of late.
Is the FIFO lifestyle right for us?
Are we doing the right thing?
We are two years in but now with two babies the FIFO (fly in fly out) lifestyle has become harder than it ever was.
My husband is a very lucky man. He is doing a job that he loves which is rarely available as a home every night gig anyway. The job has career progression possibilities and also the excellent roster of 2 weeks on/2 weeks off. I know this kind of roster is sort after and to be honest if it was any other I think my pros and cons list would be very different. Two weeks away is as long as I could do but I say that now. I feel for those families that live a 3 on/1 off, that would be hard.
FIFO isn’t just work. It is the deciding factor on how you live your life. My husband misses out on a lot. I find anything I would like to do isn’t as simple as getting the Mr to look after the kids because for sure it is when he is away. I have two conferences coming up. Both I will have to have my baby strapped to me while Ari stay with his grandparents. When it comes to FIFO it is a lifestyle that affects the whole family.
I have been closely looking at the pros and cons for our family and have banked them in four categories.
We chose to move into this FIFO world as it was a natural progression in my husband’s industry. We had been very lucky in Mackay that he was able to do a well-paying job and be home for a fair chunk of time. Unfortunately Mackay is not where I wanted to set up for the next 10 to 20 years so we decided to give that gig up. The position the Mr is in now is a dream job for him. I know he would much prefer to be at home every night but he gets to do something that a decade ago was just a daydream.
I will be honest and say I do carry a little envy. What I would do for one night in a hotel room alone. A flight where I can just sit back with headphones on and watch a movie. I don’t want two weeks of it but just one night without having to think about everybody else.
As if I am actually going to spend a night in a hotel room and not think of the kids! Ha! But I still want it.
In a previous life I travelled a lot and spent many a night flying solo in a hotel room. I loved it and that is probably why that envy lingers. I know he doesn’t walk away every fortnight going back clicking his heels but that was me once jet setting around and as much as I wouldn’t trade being a mum to my two for the world my eyes flare green when he tells me what he is up to hanging out.
I should say that my husband’s work isn’t in a camp, he stays in hotels and apartments. He has it very good and will be the first to admit it.
Career kind of leads onto our lifestyle. Yes he is away for 2 weeks at a time but then he is home for 2 weeks. The FIFO roster allows more quality time with us. He isn’t home for just a couple of hours before the kids go to sleep. When the Mr is home he is home. Another quality pro is that he is also a long way from his “office”. There are no call ins or constant phone enquiries, something that was continual in past workplaces.
The Mr comes home for his two weeks and we can do whatever we would like. That could mean a few nights down the coast, visit family interstate or just work on projects around the home. Very rarely does he need to use his holiday leave. The financial side to FIFO work also allows more travel or spontaneous decisions. It gives us a nice house to live in and flexibility to live comfortably doing what we want, when we want.
I am able to stay at home to be with the kids but in saying that if I chose not to want to do that things would certainly sway to the negative because flying solo with two kids, while working and managing care…wow! I salute those single mums who juggle it all.
I can’t really see any cons on our lifestyle. Except for not being home each night for a little parenting relief for me and to see the kids. Pros far outweigh the cons on this one.
Here is my biggest worry. It is really the unknown at this stage but is the FIFO lifestyle the right thing for our kids? How long will we be able to keep this up? Will Ari suffer without having his Dad around all the time?
Right now the kids are fine. Ari is showing no signs of distress when the Mr isn’t around and he fully understands where he is and what he is doing. We ensure there is continual contact if not every day it’s every second and Ari is a busy kid, with more appointments than me, so doesn’t notice so much.
When his Dad is home he never leaves his side. It is GREAT for me! Like I said when talking about lifestyle, he is then getting the full attention of his Dad for a banked up 2 weeks. Right now it is fantastic. I couldn’t even say quality over quantity because essentially it is both.
How this will pan out come schooling and sports etc we will just have to wait and see. It is something that plays on my mind the most and needs careful consideration often.
The Mr and I are one of “those” couples. We have always been quite loved up which I think comes from many stresses early on in our relationship. We rarely fight and we still rarely do but for the first time in our relationship we have to consciously work on being us.
How we are going to do that I am still not sure. I think it may be a pens down and focus approach for me. When he is away I run at a pace I have never gone before. Actually I never knew I could go. If I stop I find I forget things and then I am playing catch up. Looking after two kids under 4, playing catch up is impossible. When he is home I don’t need to do it so much but I am often looking to retreat for a bit of me time.
We always spend quality time together as a family but maybe we need to spend some quality time together with just us.
Obviously the recent birth of baby number two doesn’t help but I don’t think it is an excuse to just let it go. We need to work on it now.
A few weeks ago we went out for our first date night with just the two of us in three years! My how things can get away from you – three years!
Right now this is the sector where our effort must be.
There are so many positives about the FIFO lifestyle but what there are in cons, many are big ones. You can’t brush off your child’s best interests or just allow your relationship to end in tatters (not that ours is anywhere close to this) just for good money and holidays.
Any job that takes a member of the family away for long periods of time affects everyone in the family and shouldn’t be taken lightly.
This is us. Our situation right now. Who knows if it will be our situation in 2 years or 10 years but right now it is the right one for us as long as we are mindful and considerate of each other.
The question I will continue to ask myself is not is the FIFO lifestyle right for us? It is will I look back on these years and regret spending the time apart or cherish them for the adventure it allows?
Have you considered FIFO work for you or your family?