This is my husband. He arrived home a couple of hours ago. Its 2.53pm.
He works FIFO (fly in, fly out)
He started work at 6 o’clock last night and worked through until he boarded a plane at 9 this morning. After his flight he drove over an hour to get home to us.
For the past 2 weeks he has worked between 12 – 14 hour days. He’s worked through nights, he’s worked in the heat, in the dust, in the humidity. He’s slept in a single bed under the buzz of air conditioning. He’s eaten dinner with 1000 other people none of whom are his wife and kids.
He’s exhausted, and rightly so.
And while he’s passed out on the bed with our little Spider-man, i’m laying next to them, scrolling on my phone trying to be very quiet because I just don’t want to leave them just yet – and I come across a comment, somewhere in the realms of social media, that says “FIFO workers have it easy”.
I’ve heard comments made about this lifestyle that make me want to just;
So I thought id write a thing about it to clear up a few common misconceptions and respond to a few of the comments that get thrown around about the FIFO community because, to be rather frank about it – comments like that really get on my tits.
1. “You must be loaded”
Contrary to popular belief, no. We do not have his and hers gold watches, I am not always wearing matching underwear and there is not jet ski in our garage. We do not go out for every meal on his week off because we still have all the same bills you do. We still work to a budget and crunch numbers in order to reach our goals. It is true that some jobs and sites pay phenomenally well however those dream jobs are few and far between and are only ever temporary. Once there’s no work left, you’re out without warning to live off something you’ve hopefully saved until the next job comes up. Tax brackets and payments thresholds can take a good chunk out of your take home pay too. The golden age of mining is long gone. My husband works hard in a harsh environment and is remunerated for it, but that doesn’t mean we are sitting pretty on expendable income. Those that are still fighting to work away are likely in it for the lifestyle more so than the coin. We might be doing OK, im not complaining, I know how lucky we are but please don’t assume we will be doing airport runs in a Ferrari anytime soon.
2. “FIFO workers only really work part-time”
I have a friend who earns more per hour in her job than her husband does in his, but he brings home more money because he works eleventy billion hours a week. Eleventy billion.
It is not part time work. Its fitting 28 days worth of work into 14.
3. “FIFO workers cheat”
No, cheaters cheat. this barely even warrants a response.
4. “My husband could never spend that long away from his family”
Firstly, are you suggesting that your husband loves his family more than mine? That’s childish. In his line of work, when he worked locally he left the house at 6am and got home at 6pm, usually 6 days a week. We were lucky to get a few hours together on a Sunday when he hadn’t fallen asleep at the table or in front of the TV and that was our “quality family time”.
He might spend 2 weeks away at a time but a full week with him home helping me with school runs and making it to sports days goes a long way towards making up for it. I wonder if people say this to fishermen? Or anyone in the Army or other jobs that require a parent to be away.
5. The children will grow up to resent him being away for so much of their childhood
Bullshit. My dad was a fisherman and I rarely knew when he would be coming home. But he was such a great dad that I don’t ever recall a time in my childhood where I held that against him. I don’t remember him not being there as an issue, ever. I just remember the days he was there and that he loved me.
6. “I wish my husband would work away so I could get a break from him”
OK….. … (I don’t know what to say about this one)
7. But don’t you miss him?
8. “So you’re basically a single parent”
No. I still have a husband to bitch to about the fact my kids wont sleep in their own beds. I still have someone to send photos and videos too when they do something cute. I still have someone who will come home and help me eventually. I have been a single parent before and while what i’m doing right now is hard, it is not that.
9. But don’t you get lonely?
Yes. This is one that I cant argue with. This is the biggest battle I face with the lifestyle. I get lonely. It doesn’t mean that i’m going to go looking for other men, it just means that I miss having company. I miss having someone to bounce ideas off or share things with. Sometimes when my kids do something exceptional, I just really wish i had someone there with me to experience that moment and socially, I’ve taken a hit. Unless you have alot of family around or a reasonably priced babysitter, you often find yourself turning down invitations and as a result, you are viewed as a) too busy because her husbands away or b) too busy because her husbands home.
10. FIFO wives are spoilt/we spend all the money while our husbands are away/we own shares in a nail salon and we drink excessive amounts of posh gin while bitching about our husbands at scentsy parties.
UUUUUGGGGGHHHH. Do you remember all those situations where 1 group of people ruined it for everyone. Like that guy who tried to take explosives on a plane in liquid containers? Or your older sister who threw a completely out of control party so your parents never let you have one. Its that. I went to the hairdresser once in 2016 and I don’t even like gin. There are so many situations that I find myself in where manicured nails would be a guaranteed waste of money like when gastro hits and I have to scrub shit out the carpet and bleach everything because believe or not, while my husband is away working, I’m working extra hard here trying to keep my house in order and raise good children and be solely responsible for their social development. Im running to the post office when my husband left his phone charger behind and getting up at 3am to drive him to the airport and cleaning the whole house for our inspections. Its tough. Who ever thinks that the wives and girlfriends of FIFO workers are Predominantly sitting round having fancy lunches and watching daytime TV are naive fuckwits. Yes I consider myself very spoilt with the husband I’ve got and the life we have, but I’m not spending all his dimes on acrylics and waxing. I work hard to make this lifestyle work for all of us. Stop stereotyping us.
And lastly “its the lifestyle you choose”
This is the one that probably shits me the most. This is the one that comes when you’re just fucking fed up with everything and you’re considering running away and you just need a vent and for someone to nod their heads and pour you wine and then they hit you with this. Because complaining about your life and your struggles and missing your husband is apparently solely reserved for people that sleep in the same bed every night. I complained about my husband 75% more when he worked locally and people were 75% more understanding and accepting. Because he now works away, i’m expected to take it on the chin because “that’s our choice”.
Yes it is our choice. It is our choice to have more quality time together. It is our choice because actually we have worked out that this works pretty well for us, and while that’s not the case for everyone , that’s why we are doing it. And i’m so grateful, I think we are so lucky, despite the challenges, to have found this thing that works for us and have these opportunities But regardless of this choice, we are still living and this is still life and we still have our struggles and we should still be able to voice them without your eyes rolling uncontrollably. FIFO families are still entitled to shit days and even though we have made this choice, sometimes we will question it and doubt ourselves and consider throwing it all in JUST LIKE YOU DO WITH YOUR JOB because some days are just fucking hard. Telling us to “just think of the money” doesn’t help us anymore than it would someone in a 9-5 job because committing to being a long term FIFO family isn’t just committing to a paycheck. It’s a lifestyle. Just because our battles may be different from most people’s, that doesn’t make them irrelevant <3