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Fitting in With FIFO Life

Fly-In Fly-Out Employment   --- Ngala and Meerilinga Logo 

Managing the Parenting Transitions

Recognising the fly-in, fly-out lifestyle as a valid choice which will continue being a significant part of family and community.

This article is available at the WA State Library and online

Parents who work away: Offspring Magazine

This article was prepared by Ngala for Offspring Magazine, WA’s own family lifestyle magazine.  Visit http://www.offspringmagazine.com.au/.

This article can also be found in the March 2010 issue of Offspring Magazine

Families with a parent that works away regularly are more common than people first think. First thoughts are usually of FIFO (fly in fly out) and the less recognised DIDO (drive in drive out) workers in the resource sector. Other groups of parents who work away include defence personal, transport, small business, corporate, sales and service industries to name a few. The differences between many of these types of work and their impact on families is the length of time, the predictability and frequency of the working parent being away from home.

There are many common challenges   present for the parents I speak with, and at the heart of those concerns are wanting what is best for their family, given their particular type of employment.  Some of the common concerns are;

    • How does the parent working away stay emotionally connected and in tune with their partner and children?
    • How effectively do both partners function as a parenting team given the physical absence of one parent?
    • How does the parent working away adjust back into functioning family life on their return?
    • How does the family at home effectively manage and adapt the needs of their household in the patterns of absence and presence?

How families manage what is best for their family is as individual as the personalities in them. Some of the ways to overcome the parenting challenges is in recognising those challenges that are particular to your family. Some of the more common challenges could be associated with children’s personalities and ages, type of employment and conditions associated with work, extended family support available, community activities, and access to services in the place where you live.  These factors and how they fit for your family are the detailed considerations that experienced families with a parent working away tell us they problem solve through.

Dads and Mums tell that the quality of life they experience with their children is often tied to the level of support they have access to. This may be through friends, extended family, sporting and community groups, as well as services associated with parenting and education. Often, they say, it is about being connected to a network of people who understand what it is like being a family where there is a parent who works away. It is important they say for families to develop a network that can provide support in times of potential stress to act as a buffer for periods when one parent is away. Families also tell us that while there are different stresses there are also aspects of their lifestyle that offset those. One of those, dads tell us they most enjoy, is blocks of uninterrupted time where they get to be involved in all aspects of their  children’s lives for the period they are home. For partners where workers have blocks of leave following being away they tell us they enjoy the quality of the family time able to be had.

For those that don’t know where to start or need resources for a particular aspect of their family’s lifestyle there are lots of community agencies and services that cover a wide range of children’s, parenting and partnering relational concerns. There are also those that like Ngala offer something that specifically deal with the context of families with a parent that works away and can provide information that will increase awareness and access to supports.

More information about Ngala's Parenting Workshop Parents Working Away.

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