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A Balancing Act: "A FIFO Family's Journey to Relocation and Routine Harmony."

Updated: 4 days ago





Decision-Making and Relocation Process Initial Decision


What prompted your husband to take on a FIFO job?

The main deciding factor for accepting the job was achieving a better work-life balance.  David had always wanted to move, but I was hesitant to leave friends and family in Sydney. We loved holidaying in Perth and admired the completely different lifestyle from Sydney. After having our second child, we considered the move more seriously. Upon discovering that our eldest would be eligible to start Kindy the following year in WA (where children start school a year earlier than in NSW), we decided to try living in Perth for 12 months. If we didn't like it, we planned to return to Sydney so she could start Kindy again.


Preparation and Relocation


How did you prepare for the relocation?

We calculated the cost of relocating our household goods, cars, and dogs. To save money, we moved in with my husband's parents for a few months before the move. We had already decided on a suburb from previous holidays, reducing stress. Upon arrival, we visited Perth to tour daycare centres and enrolled at our preferred choice. I started enrollment with a school, and our daughter was accepted into the Kindy program in advance. My workplace allowed me to work remotely, but my husband had to find a new job once we arrived.

What were the biggest challenges you faced during the relocation process?

Fortunately, our relocation went smoothly. I settled in quickly as my daughter started Kindy four weeks after our arrival, and I met supportive school moms. We arranged playdates and outings, and our mom group, consisting of others who had relocated, became a great support system. Five years later, we still rely on each other, a testament to our resilience and adaptability.


Impact on Family Relationships


How do you maintain your relationship and communication with your husband while he is away?

Maintaining the relationship requires conscious effort. We make time for date nights or family outings when he is home and speak multiple times a day when he is away, which makes a significant difference.

Managing parenting responsibilities alone was initially challenging, especially during his longer swings (two weeks away, one week home). Now, with a one-week on, one-week off schedule, it's much more family-friendly.


Children's Adjustment


How did your children react to the move and the FIFO arrangement?

Our children adjusted well to the move, and the FIFO arrangement since many of their friends in Perth come from FIFO families. We explained that Dad works on a mine site and comes home for a week without working. They leaned on me more when he was away, but we established routines, and now my husband fits into them when he's home. However, there were times when they missed their father a lot, especially during important events or when they were feeling unwell. Technology, like video calls and kids' messenger, helps the children stay in touch with their father while he's away.


Social and Community Impact Building Support Networks


How has the relocation affected your social life and community engagement?

Moving at the right time helped me connect with school moms, providing a support system. We shared our experiences, helped each other with school and daycare recommendations, and even organised playdates for the kids. Making friends was initially harder for my husband due to his work schedule, but joining a local sports club helped. We're involved with the school and our sports club. Our suburb has a small-town vibe, so familiar faces are always around.


Community Involvement


How involved are you and your children in the local community?

We are heavily involved in the local football club, where I hold an executive role. Although my children do not play the sport, they have made friends within the club. I also participate in school events and try to attend all activities. The kids have been attempting various sports and participating in local council events, which helps us stay connected to the community.



Psychological and Emotional Impact Mental Health and Well-being


How has the FIFO lifestyle affected the mental health and well-being of your husband?

There have been challenges, especially during Covid and personal matters, but his employer has been flexible and supportive. Staff well-being is a priority, and open communication with management has helped. The 2-week on, 1-week off schedule was tough, especially with younger children. It's easier now with a more family-friendly schedule and as the kids become more independent. I also have more time for myself when my husband is away.


What coping strategies do you use to manage stress and maintain well-being for yourself and your family?

Engaging in sports, finding enjoyable activities, and establishing routines help manage stress. Getting a puppy has also positively changed our family dynamic.



Challenges and Coping Mechanisms


What have been the biggest challenges you have faced as a family due to the FIFO lifestyle and relocation?

 The biggest challenge of FIFO life is adjusting routines when my husband returns. Both parents feel they deserve a break, leading to potential resentment. When my husband is home, he handles school drop-offs and pickups, and we share morning tasks to ensure I get a break.


Future Plans


How long do you plan to continue with the FIFO lifestyle?

We have no end date in mind. The FIFO lifestyle works well for us and offers many benefits, including significant time at home and exciting career progression opportunities that we look forward to exploring.


Relocation was the best decision. Our family is happy and healthy. We have an idyllic lifestyle living by one of the best beaches in Western Australia, and we have no regrets. We are content and at peace with our current situation.


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