Self care for FIFO Mums - it can sometimes seem impossible. FIFO life can make it really hard to practice self care, especially if you don't have a lot of family or friends surrounding you while your partner is away. But ensuring you look after yourself is vital. It can become especially hard if you are supporting a fifo husband or partner who is dealing with mental health issues or just not enjoying their work or being away from the family.
There's no denying, FIFO life can be stressful. Your routine changes, there are a lot of transitions between fly in day and fly out day. Not to mention dealing with emotions - and not just your own, but your children and partner's emotions too!
Taking time for yourself is tricky - but it's a necessary part of looking after yourself. One of the best ways to start thinking about practicing self care is realising that it is not all bath salts and candles. Self care for FIFO Mums is about finding time to nourish your soul amid the chaos of FIFO life.
Practice what you preach
I found self care particularly hard when I had a 2.5 yr old and a newborn. Life was chaotic, my partner was not coping with FIFO life but I found something that worked for me and nourished my soul in the limited time I had available.
How I practiced self care for FIFO Mums
- Finding a topic I enjoyed reading about and finding a way to read without books. I set up an ireader on my phone and found this was an easy way to entertain myself while breastfeeding in those early days. It not only helped me to learn new things, but it made me feel like I was able to do something for me.
- Taking the kids for a drive to my favourite drive thru coffee place while listening to an uplifting podcast. This didn't always work, but if I timed it right, they would both fall asleep, meaning I got to enjoy my coffee in peace.
- Drinking cask wine in the pantry - no not really. But giving myself permission to have a glass of wine with my dinner if I wanted to. Sometimes it's easy not to enjoy ourselves while our partners are away due to feelings of guilt. Self care for FIFO Mums can be as simple as giving yourself permission.
- Taking offers of help when I got them - even though it was hard to admit that I needed help, simply accepting a meal that someone had made for us or saying yes to a friend coming over to watch the kids so I could shower in peace went a long way to improving my own mental health and ensuring I didn't burn out.
- Giving myself permission to wear make up or putting on nice body lotion ... even when my partner was away. Sometimes it's easy to forget about making ourselves feel good when hubby is away at work. It becomes about survival. We forget that this is our life and it's ok to enjoy ourselves.
Coping with the Mental Load
Finding a way to cope with the mental load of being a FIFO Mum is essential. As a FIFO mum you're often carrying more than your fair share of mental load - the kids miss their Daddy, the constant coming and going, being a sounding board for your partner who might be going through a tough time on site ... plus your own needs as a mother and as a woman.
It all adds up to a lot! And if you don't find a way to nourish your soul among the chaos, you risk burnout. The problem with burnout as a FIFO Mum is that it is more than likely to happen when your husband is a thousand kilometres away.
Self Care for FIFO Mums with Older Kids
My boys are now a little older, 4.5 and 2. My eldest is at Kindy 2 days per week and I put my youngest in daycare on those days. Having this mental space gives me some time to get on top of the housework, as well as my own work in my business. If my husband flies in on one of these days, it means I get to pick him up from the airport alone, which is always a treat.
Even when my husband is home, our youngest goes to daycare as this gives us space to spend some time together as a couple - which along with self care for FIFO mums is vital to your relationship.
Are you a FIFO Mum? How do you practice self care and nourish your soul among the chaos that FIFO life can often bring?
Kate Freebairn is a FIFO Mum of 2 spirited boys. She founded South West Mums in Western Australia to create a village for Mums in her area and provide a connection point in her community. Providing information and resources for Mums and families in South West WA, South West Mums is the biggest online community for Mums in the area.
When she’s not writing, you’ll find Kate at a local park, coffee in one hand, phone in the other, laughing and creating lifelong memories with her boys.
You can connect with Kate on Instagram and Facebook or email her at email@example.com