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Fifo family

Community Member

My wife is now a fifo worker. She is 2 weeks away 1 week home and as much as she tries to talk to us at home (myself and the 2 kids) she's often tired or in a rush. She's nearly at the end of her second swing and it is wearing me down already. I've seen her for 6 and a half days in the last 5 weeks and most of those days I was at work; I'm a teacher.

I'm exhausted after work and then I'm basically a single parent and we keep the kids pretty busy with their sport and music lessons several days a week and on the weekends. So my school week is super busy. But it is so lonely. Then there's all the house work, cooking, ironing, homework etc to do each day. I wasn't prepared for how draining this would all be and if I had thought it through I would have actively encouraged her not to take the job. However, this is it for now, the job, the lifestyle is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

But I'm not coping. I can't sleep in my own bed, it feels empty without her. I don't sleep well. I can't stop thinking about her. I am getting emotional and I have had several nights where I cry myself to sleep. I'm moody. I really have to watch myself around the kids so I don't yell at them for doing trivial naughty things. So far it hasn't impacted on my work.

But everyone else is doing fine. My wife thinks her job is ok but her workmates are good fun, she's made some good friends. It's long hours but they have good facilities and she's doing lots of social stuff and sport classes...and the food is good. My kids are doing well, they seemed to have handled the extra responsibility they now have with ease. Haven't had a single time when one of them has been upset about their mum being away.

But I'm hating every minute of it. The moodiness, the distraction, the sadness, the loneliness and feeling of hopelessness. So what do I do? I don't have family support in the area and very few friends. None of which I can talk to about this on anything but a very superficial level. I don't really know what to do. So I guess that's what this thread is about. What can I do to make things better, to be able to cope better with a new lifestyle that I just hate so much.

11 Replies 11

Champion Alumni
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hello Azreal, I'm sorry it hasn't turned out the way you had expected and it seems that you are the only one who is suffering, because it's an enormous job looking after two kids, with cooking, cleaning and taking them to sports then picking them while you're still working, it's not easy.
I'm not sure your wife would see this to be a problem because where she works, all the facilities suit her, plus she works with people she gets on with and doesn't have any responsibility as she leaves all of this for you to handle, but none of this is helping you.
I don't know what job you have but can you afford someone to help with the cleaning and the cooking, that's only half the problem, because the other is your lonely, but perhaps you are feeling sad, well yes you are, but it's going a bit further than this, it's making you feel depressed, and if this is true, then you need to visit your doctor and have them give you a diagnosis, which could mean putting you on AD's.
You must also talk with your wife about the situation to see if there is any compromise can be made. Geoff.

Community Member

Hi azreal75,

I feel that you could take off some pressure by having a domestic worker in once or twice a week. Working and maintaining a household is a challenge in itself and requires some good strategies from you and your kids even if they are younger [not babies but school age]. Here are a couple of things that come to mind off the top of my head:- when you cook a meal do double and freeze half for another day,

suggest to the kids that they could choose what type of healthy lunch they want and get them to make it up the night before,

lay out clothes for the next morning each night and wash each night to keep washing down,

You may already do this but i feel you could think of other things that suit you and your families lifestyle to time save. Google other stuff on net as i am sure someone has put some good stuff out there.

As Geoff mentioned going to your GP to talk could help you with your sleep and feelings. Getting enough sleep is very important when you are working and running a household as well as finding out strategies to keep depression at bay. Finding some things that gives you some pleasure is very important as you are very busy you need to make time for yourself, even if it is as simple as going for a coffee with a mate.

With both of you working very hard, i feel you need to have some together time and family time. Maybe you could get out with your wife to dinner by yourselves, having a games night or movie night is great and if you are able to have a weekend/day trip together could help.


Community Member
Thanks for the suggestion. I'm looking now for a domestic cleaner, I think that will at least make life physically easier with less work to do.

Hi there

I found your post interesting, not that I'm old fashioned or discriminatory, but there's a lot more men than women living the FIFO lifestyle.

There's no doubt it is challenging and there's no doubt it takes a massive toll on marriages. So how you are feeling is understandable.

Most people I know who live the lifestyle do so for a relatively short period. Usually for the high salary (helps the family to get ahead, save for a bigger home etc) or it helps progress their career. But ultimately due to the issues you've raised, it's hard to sustain long term. Maybe 1-2 years etc

I know you've said the kids are fine with it so far, but it's only the second cycle. I'm quite certain they will start to miss their mum, the added responsibility will become a chore. Right now it's all new, exciting and a novelty.

I really think you need to speak with your wife about the impact this is having on you, your mental state and your concern for the children. Find out her intentions of how long she envisages doing this and if there are opportunities within the same company to move into other roles closer to home after a period etc. It's really important to voice these concerns.

In terms of your responsibilities, my hat is off to you! I have two little boys, only one is at school, and my hands are full. So what you're experiencing is normal and the single dad lifestyle.

Getting a cleaner is a big help, as is lawn and garden maintenance. These can be looked after while you're at work.

Preparing everything the night before ie clothes, lunch boxes can help. Canteen lunch orders a few days a week is an option also.

Can you rely on any of the other parents with after school activities? Eg could you kids go with them after school to the activity? This can free up time considerably.

I think it's also a great idea to see your GP to discuss how you've been feeling. Having some professional input is worth it's weight in gold!

Best wishes x

Thanks for your reply. I have tried talking to her but it's not going to change anytime soon as this is her start back in the workforce after being a stay at home mum. So the fifo situation is here to stay for the foreseeable future.

I now have a cleaning lady booked for once a week. I will probably get a gardener sorted as well.

The real issue for me though is the loneliness and isolation. It's stopping me sleeping properly so I don't get a good nights sleep and then I'm just exhausted throughout the day. Which then means I'm tired and cranky and increasingly dopey and forgetful/absent minded. I find myself looking at my phone all the time. It's obsessive. To see if she has messaged or to make sure I didn't miss a call. I can't seem to distract myself from thinking about her. Even when I am busy it's what is on my mind. It's a thought I can't seem to switch off so it's a permanent state of sadness and loneliness. I'm normally an in control and no worries kind of guy so this is really doing my head in.

I am kind of limited in help from other parents but I am doing that a little bit as my kids sometimes have football and netball games on at the same time so I do rely on others to take them.

Anyway, thanks for your reply. I think I will really struggle to talk to a gp. I don't have a regular one as I'm never really sick. I struggle to talk to friends about personal stuff so talking to a stranger is going to be almost impossible. I wish I could text a gp...that would be easier.

Hey there

It's really tough, and I honestly don't blame you. I'd be the same to be honest.

Talking to a GP can be hard, especially if you don't have a regular one.

You mentioned that you wish you could text a GP. Well that implies you feel more comfortable writing rather than talking. So if I were you I'd write down what's been happening. Even just print out what you've written here and take it in to your GP.

They are trained to deal with this and they deal with all kinds of things from patients, emails, phone calls etc They know how to professionally manage it. I doubt any would feel strange reading a sheet of paper.

Do you have friends that can recommend good GPs in your area? You don't need to tell them why you're going, just say your looking for one.

There is also a search function on BB for professionals.

You can also go straight to a psychologist without a GP referral of you feel more comfortable starting that way. It just means it won't be on Medicare. But maybe it could get you started.

Sleep heavily effects your mood and outlook as well as ability to function. So I agree that needs to be sorted. I've started a new medication recently, it's the newest to the market and non PBS but it allows me to sleep without any hang over the next day. Leaving me feeling better. Your GP will know what I'm referring to. I'm unable to mention the name here.

Take care and keep in touch on here x

Community Member

Hi azreal75,

I feel not getting enough sleep makes your mental and physical health difficult to keep in check. I have also gone to the GP for some support with my sleep.

Beyondblue has a spot on their site under get support to help find different health professionals this might help you find a good GP.

You mentioned you check your phone to see if your wife has contacted you or if you have missed a call, i feel this could make you a little anxious. Do you think you and your wife could set aside some times during the time she is away so you could Skype, use messages on facebook [video chat] or call each other on the phone. That way you and the kids could see and chat to her regularly.

Look after yourself and take some time out for yourself to have some time to socialise/relax as well, with others.


Community Member

Yeah I agree. We have talked about trying to get a more regular routine of when phone calls will happen so life becomes a bit more predictable. And you are right it was making me anxious, so fingers crossed that will work.

She is home now so after a very exciting morning, everything is temporarily back to normal for 6 days. I've been quite overcome by emotion a couple of times and had to hide from her the fact that I started crying. As much as this situation is tough on me I know it is also difficult for her to start he new job and I owe it to her to give her the opportunity to try this as she has been a stay at home mum raising our kids for 8 years.

My fitbit tells me I got 2 and a half hours sleep last night but I don't recall that happening. A lot of what I do seems to be in a bit of a daze. I know I've watched half or a season of a show I like on Netflix last week but I could not tell you anything that has happened in the show.

One my wife returns to work I think I will have to talk to a gp about the sleep issues.

Community Member

So my wife's week home has been and gone and that was good. I got some good sleep in and it was nice to feel normal again.

But she's away again now and has been for the last 6 days.

I'm finding it really difficult to manage the phone calls/text messages. She often sends a message during the day and we chat quite often but it seems like I am forever looking at my phone to check and see if I have missed a message. Even at work during lunch breaks it happens. I am always looking and most of the time there is no message. It was getting quite obsessive and so I told my wife I needed some time without messaging each other, just so I knew there was no reason to look at my phone, so I could actually get on with my life and do stuff. She didn't like that and found it hard. So today I was messaging her again and it's the same, I am forever looking at my phone to check if she has sent a message. Making sure I haven't missed anything. I tried putting my phone in another room but that didn't work, it just meant I had to get up and walk but I still checked it all day.

I don't really know the words to use as I'm not really knowledgable about stress/anxiety/depression/mental health words but I can physically feel unwell when I am always checking my phone. I can feel my heart beating/racing and I feel flushed in the face. I also can't really focus on the other things that I am supposed to be doing. And then I get really moody and irritable. I don't really understand what label to give this...

Anyway I have been putting off seeing the Dr about the sleep issue as I slept really well during the last week my wife was home. I think I might have to get around to it though...but even when I get the courage to finally do it, it becomes almost impossible as I have something on nearly every afternoon with my kids from the footy team I help to coach to netball training, piano lessons, guitar lessons, swimming training, cooking, cleaning, work meetings, work...