Here we are five months down the track of the initial six month contract. After our first week I said we were surviving, I’d still say we were surviving but nothing more than that I’d hope we might have been thriving but that really seems quite aways off at this stage.
Drew is I’m pretty sure still loving the job. Of course there are challenges but there are those in every job. We are still getting used to Drew not being here 4 nights a week. There have been a couple of times when he has been gone longer than that but not many.
Some things I’ve learnt over the last few months:
* I am stronger than I think but at the same time I fall in a big heap at times too!
* Support networks these are so important! Make sure you have a great support network in place for both of you before you even consider dido or fifo work!
* I need to ask for help more and pretend less but this is something I have always struggled with. There have been a lot of times when I haven’t been coping at all but I don’t want to admit that to myself, I don’t want to burden Drew and I won’t burden my already busy friends so I say nothing and suck it up. My intuitive friends who typically aren’t local will notice I’m not ok and will send me messages and to them I am truly thankful and to all the others (and Drew) I only have myself to blame for not asking for help! I know you would give it (or Drew would come home if he could) if only I would put my hand up and say I’m drowning not waving!
* Shared parenting is really hard when you are not doing it together, I have to make the bulk of the parenting decisions during the week and then I may have vented during the week about something and in my mind that’s all it was but then Drew has come home trying to sort things out that have long since been sorted out. This is hard for me and the kids particularly when the consequences are typically things that i have to follow through on during the next week.
* Communication is really, really important and this is something we are not great at, never have been. I try to talk during the week but then we have ended up in fights, as I don’t want to fight over the phone I say nothing and then because he’s only home for a short period of time I don’t bring things up on the weekends either. So I would say our communication isn’t great. It is especially harder when the other person doesn’t know there are problems or doesn’t think the things you think are problems. Not saying this is particularly our issue but generally we don’t communicate well. We talk a lot about the superficial things but never really anything more than that.
* Balance this is really hard when Drew is home on the weekends the kids want to see him a lot and I am simply exhausted to I will often retreat this then means that we don’t see each other. Then I feel guilty taking him away from the kids but if we don’t make a conscious effort there is no time for us as a couple.
* Chaos this is something that we have always lived with but there just seems to be more of it these days. Take one person out of the equation even for a few days and things run differently. I am not saying better because it is not better when Drew isn’t home but it is certainly different. The kids and I get into a little routine and get things done we are all normally in bed quite early. When Drew is home that all changes Drew has a different concept of time to us and seems to run a little slower so often if he is looking after dinner (as an example) it won’t get started until after I would normally have had it finished. This is only a little thing and it is something that I have to let go. Perhaps the chaos and my lack of enjoying that has more to do with that I like order and structure because I cope better that way and less to do with Drew is a go with the flow bloke.
* Overscheduling I try to squeeze in so much on our weekends because he isn’t home that sometimes it is just exhausting. I need to remember that sometimes we need to just chill and that is ok and if Drew wants to see his mates he is perfectly capable of organising it.
* Competing priorities this is a lot to do with communication but I think you both need to be clear on why you are doing this and what you are hoping you will get from the fifo/dido experience. There has to be more than just a pay packet in it. For us the pay packet is important (but it is just a basic pay packet it isn’t your usual fifo/dido money incentive) but in reality the real incentive for us was the foot in the door for Drew to a different career hopefully converting all of his volunteer hours and passions for emergency service into a career of the paid variety. It was an opportunity after being made redundant to try to forge a different future doing something other than working on the tools.
I would say that over the last few months we’ve had some doozies of arguments and mostly these come from lack of understanding on both sides me not understanding that it is hard being away from us and him wanting to fix everything when he comes home when really I just wanted him to listen.
I’m not sure we are cut out for long term dido or fifo work and I am certainly sure that I wouldn’t cope if I didn’t have a great support network but for now we are getting there little bit by little bit every day. What I do know is that in the changing job market there are likely to be more fifo/dido workers and more “non traditional” family structures. We are hopeful that making these short term sacrifices will pay off with a job closer to home but for now we make it work. We are lucky that the kids are older and can understand where dad is and what he’s doing but sometimes that makes it harder too. The change to dido work from shift work has also meant that the kids have had to get used to that Drew is no longer available during the week like he once was for school things. So every work pattern has its pros and cons.
What I know for certain is that we love our house and the area we live in and have a great support network so it would have to be an amazing opportunity for us to move on! Most importatnly I know we love each other so we will get through this together and look back on this time as a growing experience.