When One Parent Travels … A Lot.

For the last 2.5 years, Daddy-o has been a FIFO (Fly In, Fly Out) Father. His current client requires that he be onsite during the week so as such, he arrives home on Friday nights, then leaves again on Sunday evenings. I have not written about it because I was advised not to go public that I was ‘alone’ during the week. But since I don’t feel “vulnerable”, if someone wants to break into my house based on the fact that there is no man around, they will have to get through Mama Bear first. Yeah, good luck with that.

6 kids in NB

So there is no ‘man of the house’ around during the week. Although an initial adjustment, we have worked with our situation quite well. Since my youngest is now five-years-old, ‘flying solo’ in the parenting department is much easier than it would have been a few years ago.

Making this arrangement work can be a bit of a trick. These are the lessons I have learned:

The FIFO parent:

  • Daddy-o was very excited to tell me about all the new and exciting things he could do now that he didn’t have the usual parent responsibilities. He got to exercise and get fit. He would tell me about his morning 1 km swims and how his post-work training sessions were going. Although happy for him, I would find myself feeling a little glum. All I could think was “and here I am, happy to get 30-seconds a day to move my bowels without interruption”.
  • Daddy-o was also excited to tell me about all the cool things he was watching on Netflix. He’s all caught up on “Lost” and watches all the amazing shows I only know about because of Twitter. The last TV show I watched was the season finale of “Seinfeld” in the mid-90s.
  • Occasionally on a Saturday, Daddy-o would turn to me and say “Wow – is the house always this noisy?” Yes. Yes, it is.

Lesson for the FIFO:

Keep on doing what you’re doing. Enjoy this time while you have it. Perhaps keeping a little bit of it to yourself is not a bad idea. It’s OK to share – but not too much or too often. Don’t go overboard relaying how much “me time” is happening.

Stay at Home Parents:

  • I know too well the temptation of handing off the kids when Daddy-o walks through the door on a Friday. He walks in and you kind of want to say, “Here you go! They’re all yours and I’m OUTTA here”. But here’s the thing – FIFOs don’t actually WANT to be away from their families. They are doing this for work. It is a sacrifice for them too and they don’t need to feel punished for it. Inevitably, the kids will feel like they are a burden on you during the week and that you only want your spouse home so that he can relieve you of that burden. That’s no fun for anyone.

It’s a tricky situation for everyone, but manageable if you have the right attitude and remember that everyone is doing the best they can for the family.

Do you have a FIFO parent in your family? Are you a FIFO? How has your family managed the transition?

Comments (3)

  • My dad was gone for weeks at a time when I was growing up. Home for a few days and then gone again. As kids it was all we knew so we were fine with it. But it also meant that when he tried to impose rules on us we rarely understood. Simply because mom was in charge!!!

    Brandee Head
  • I applaud you. I like when my husband leaves for a few hours so I can get some alone time but this FIFO situation would leave me lonely. I am glad it works for you and you have found a way to stay sane. You are kind of my parenting hero right now:)

  • When our first baby was born, John worked out of state anywhere from 2-4 weeks at a time. Because it had been that way already, it wasn’t such a such, but it did get lonely some days when I just wanted a break. With our second, he was laid off and then found a new job where he was home every night. That was kind of lucky, and surprising, but through a series of takeovers, he now has a new job. For the first time since starting, he is traveling again, gone for 2 weeks at a time, at least for now. To be honest, it is almost easier when he’s just gone, rather than home every night just in time for bedtime. It added a huge level of chaos to our life because he would walk in and get everybody all riled up at various stages of bedtime. Or, on the off chance he got home early, I really wanted help, and he wanted the TV. It was a battle almost daily for us. It was really nice when he was home for the weekends though, and that the kids could see him almost every day. It’s definitely been an adjustment for the kids this time, and I imagine my feelings my change greatly in a few months when baby #3 is born. In no way am I saying that I like him being gone for weeks at a time, but it seems to keep our routine a little more on track.

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