HOP ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE SEE-SAW PLEASE
Men and women have an equally hard time dealing with the separation that’s involved in a fly-in fly-out (FIFO) relationship. It is doing the best you can to balance the see-saw when you are involved in FIFO work.
This has become a very common way for families and relationships to exist. A significant number of people are becoming involved in this pattern of employment, working extended hours, being in remote locations, and being away from the support of family and friends.
On one side of the see-saw, as a FIFO worker, you essentially live on the premises where you work12 hour shifts each day, with generally only time to work, eat and sleep with little or no recreational activities. When personal problems occur at home, the FIFO worker can experience stress and even guilt, because they can’t just take some time to pop home and help sort out the problem.
On the other side of the see-saw, spouses and/or families have to exist without the support of the other person, handle the day to day running of the household, bills, going out to functions on their own etc. This can equally create stress for the person at home who is dealing with daily issues on their own.
When the FIFO worker comes home, they want to relax and/or catch up with people, that is, have a break. However, the person who has been keeping the household running may still have to work or carry out daily tasks and may feel, when do they get a ‘break’?
This has resulted in studies being done because of the impact it can have on relationships, family life, and the personal and social life aspects.
According to ‘Mining Family Matters’ Australia’s first online mining community, “New research out of WA suggests FIFO might not be so bad on mining families as previously thought. Traditionally the FIFO lifestyle has been seen as stressful and tough on the families and personal lives of miners, but new research suggests it may actually be a more positive experience than previously thought”.
Yet, that doesn’t stop someone feeling stressed and lonely because they are separated from their family. There are many healthy and supportive ways to balance the see-saw, and make the FIFO experience a positive one for a couple and individual, and/or family remaining at home, and the person commuting to work for an extended period of time.
It is important to understand the emotional and mental impact that working in a FIFO career can have for the worker and their family. Unfortunately, it is quite often the case that not enough planning goes into ensuring a smooth transition.
There are positive and negative elements for the FIFO worker, the person remaining at home, the family, finances, longer working hours, dealing with fatigue, and whether or not you have planned for support mechanisms.
How you handle issues either at work or home will depend on a number of factors, such as the choices we make, our level of problem solving skills, and how resilient we are. Problems can arise when issues begin to spread out from one area of your life into other significant areas (our relationships, family etc).
Being away from my partner and family
A strong family unit gives us a sense of belonging, being a part of something, a history, and a circle of support. It is important to think about what it will mean to be separated from your partner, family, friends, especially if you have not experienced this type of situation before.
Do I have any financial plans or goals?
It is a new way of life for a lot of people, the thought of earning good money, paying off the debts, and creating a future for your family. It is extremely important to ensure you have planned for this, giving it as much thought and preparation as you would spend on planning a long holiday.