When kids come along, FIFO breaks can soon change from party time to resentment time. Here's how we made the transition from FIFO couple to FIFO parents.

By Alicia Ranford

One of the many upsides of FIFO is the good block of time together when the worker is home on rest and relaxation (R&R). It's a great time to reconnect, bond as a family, socialise and generally regroup before the next stint away.

For my husband Joe and I, R&R was vastly different before and after children.

Before kids, it was like a mini holiday. I worked my nursing shifts around Joe’s roster, so when he was home all routine went out the window. We only had ourselves to think about, so we were forever going away on short trips or lazing about the house. We had friends over for barbecues or went out on the town, generally living life large until the inevitable came and it was time to go back to work, clean up the apartment and wait out the weeks until he came home again. They were such great years!

After kids, things changed. We had two little people to love, care for and nurture. Our care-free days were over and replaced with responsibilities and constant household chores.

I was singularly focused on children, keeping up with the housework and getting some sleep. Joe just wanted to spend time with the kids and rest before going back to work.

Somehow our priorities (although mostly still aligned) had changed somewhat and along came a little thing called resentment. Joe adored his family, of course, but resented the loss of his care-free wife.

Me? Well, I resented his mess, his ability to sleep through anything (including screaming children) and that he didn't have lactating issues. But mostly I resented him heading away for work, leaving behind mess, screaming children and a lactating me!

Thankfully, throughout the transition from pre- to post-kids, one of my dearest friends was busy getting her degree in psychology (thank you Angie, who of course you all know as the resident psychologist at Mining Family Matters).

When I needed her most, Angie was always quick to point out a few undeniable facts:

  • Our feelings were perfectly normal;
  • No, we weren't heading for the divorce courts;and
  • A few learned communication skills could help change things dramatically.

So for all of you new moms and dads out there who sometimes feel the way I did, here are some tips that helped Joe and I to reconnect and successfully transition from a partying FIFO couple into happy FIFO parents:

  • Communicate. Don't assume your partner knows what you're thinking. If something's bothering you, gently tell them.
  • Let go of the idea that one of you is right and the other is wrong. That's easier said than done at times, but arguments are never solved this way.
  • Move on. Once you have both acknowledged the problem and discussed solutions, let the issue go. Trust that your partner has listened and will action change.
  • Remember you are a team. Look at any problems as a third party (using phrases like "how can WE fix this?" instead of "what are YOU going to do about it?") and work together to find a solution.

Good luck!

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