Working away from home (FIFO)
Article prepared: 30 October 2014
Here are some tips on ways that you can stay involved in your children’s life even though you are working away.
Stay in Touch
A study of 32 long distance families stressed that frequent contact was important for maintaining relationships1. Your family is only a phone call away, so try to avoid saving things up for when you are reunited, and take the time to spend a few minutes on the phone each night.
Even something small like a text message saying: “I love you” or “How are you?” once you’re back at your accommodation shows your kids that, even though you’re away, you are still thinking of and supporting them.
A parent’s level of interest is incredibly important for a child at any age. A parent who does not show interest in their child’s life is not going to have the same relationship as one who shows that they are thinking about their child, interested in what is happening in their day, their hobbies and friendships. It is important while you’re away that you make an extra effort to remember significant events and dates such as school activities and birthdays, and remember to ask your children about them. It may help if you write important dates down as your kids talk about them. This can help you remember what to ask them about the next time you speak.
Kids love surprises!
Leave a little something behind under your children’s pillows; it could be a little note or an inexpensive gift that can mean a lot. A great tip for a surprise is to look online for businesses where you live and order goodies to be delivered to your house such as pizza for dinner. This is a great idea and it’s easy and creative; you can pay over the phone and it lets the kids know mum or dad is thinking of them.
Being “there” for your kids on you Rest & Restoration (R&R) break
It’s also very important to look after yourself while you’re on site, make sure you eat well, and get enough exercise and sleep. You want to have the energy for your family when you get back for your R&R and not feel burnt out.
Get with It!
If you have internet access, it’s definitely worth ‘getting with the technology’. There are plenty of ways to keep in the loop with what’s happening back home. Impress your kids by using the latest technology, the most popular internet communication sites at the moment are Facebook, Skype, and Twitter, to name a few.
E-cards are great if you don’t get the chance to send a card in the post for a special occasion. Another cheap and effective idea is to email photos, mini-films or newsletters to show your family what life is like away from home.
Gallegos, D (2006). Aeroplanes always come back: fly-in fly-out employment: managing the parenting transitions. Perth: Centre for Social and Community Research, Murdoch University.