As a mum, our lives undergo a huge transformation. Our bodies change through pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum, meaning we sometimes aren’t able to physically do what we were once capable of doing. Our priorities shift. It’s no longer all about us and our partner, our children’s needs become more important than our own.
Quite ironically, some of the loneliest times I’ve experienced in life have been when I’ve had little people surrounding me 24/7. Logistically, it’s hard to make time for ourselves. Playdates can be tricky around nap times (and tantrums!) and often we’ll find that we’ve gone a whole week without seeing another person outside of the kids, face-to-face.
Loneliness is part of our human experience
Being able to acknowledge and accept feelings of loneliness can be helpful in itself. Loneliness is a feeling that we all experience at times in life.
Allow yourself to cry, feel sorry for yourself and honour that this is not a reflection of you as a person, it’s a part of living this FIFO life.
As with any decision in life, the FIFO lifestyle comes with some downfalls – one of which is missing your partner and that’s OK. A reframe here that can help, is to remember how lucky you are to have someone to miss, someone you care about so much.
Things that help to manage loneliness when your partner works FIFO
1. Phone calls/voice drops with friends.
Actually picking up the phone and speaking to someone can help so much with feeling more connected and supported in mum-life.
Make a call to your mum, your aunty, your best friend, a mum from school or if you feel like you don’t have someone to turn to, you can always phone an online support service like Beyond Blue or Lifeline Australia.
There is something reassuring about hearing another person’s voice and we are able to convey so much more emotion with our voices, than via text. Which is why speaking on the phone can feel different than simply sending a message.
Small business can help build your network
Owning a business has been pivotal in helping me to build my ‘village’ around me as a FIFO partner. The ins and outs of running the business not only gives me something to do, it fills me with a sense of purpose and was the catalyst for many of the connections and friends I surround myself with today.
These women have gone from business acquaintances to true friends and I receive so much support from them both in biz and in life.
I feel so thankful for the women that I speak to almost daily and am so grateful for the check-ins, the tales of their life, biz and everything in between.
2. Make time for quality connection with your partner.
Communication can be tricky in FIFO because sometimes the logistics just aren’t in our favour – like sketchy or non-existent phone reception at remote minesites.
This means it’s all the more important when you do get the opportunity to speak, that you feel like you are having a nourishing conversation where you feel like you can fully focus on one another.
Making time to have a proper chat with my husband (i.e. not in the middle of dinner/bath/bedtime) and share how I’m feeling helps remind me that I’m not actually doing this alone, I have his support and that what I do, matters.
If logistics are getting in the way, then find your groove. Maybe you can email each other once a week, maybe every second day is a FaceTime with the kids, instead of every night.
Don’t be afraid to try new things and find what works for you and your family. It can be a bit of trial and error sometimes. try not to judge yourself too, what works for you might be something a little different to ‘normal’ and that’s totally OK.
3. Get outside for some fresh air.
Nothing like a bit of vitamin D (or sea!) to help lift your mood. This can feel like a monumental task some days but it never fails to make me feel better.
We have a dog, which is the perfect reason to head down the road to the park. And I know how these things can feel monotonous at times but it’s rare that I won’t feel better after getting outside, even just for 15 minutes. Text a friend to meet up with you, take a frisbee or join in the game of chasey with your kids to mix things up a bit (and get some exercise, winning!)
Rounding the kids up and heading to the park always helps me feel accomplished and the fresh air definitely improves my mood if I’m feeling low. Also, quite often there will be other kids around so not only do my children find buddies to play with, it usually means I strike up a chat with another parent, or dog owner which is lovely.
4. Organise a regular activity (especially with your kids)
The commitment of joining any structured community like team sport or activities helps to get you out of the house and feel a sense of belonging.
Sport is a great way to keep fit (helping boost your feel-good endorphins!) and also to stay connected with others.
Sports are also wonderful for children for building skills and confidence. They also usuallt come with a community of parents which can help with building connections and friendships for the adults as well! Winning!
I know it can be hard to commit to these sorts of things when your partner works away but my tip is to go with the path of least resistance. This could mean looking for sports that only train/play on days and times that are going to work in your schedule or choosing an activity that all your children can do at the same time.
Choosing something that your kids friends are doing can help too. It usually means your children will be more motivated (and helps build their friendships and connections) and also means you can carpool lifts to help alleviate the load some weeks.
For younger children joining something like Playgroup is fantastic because your kids get to socialise and play with other little ones while you can have a coffee and chat to the other mums, too.