Posts Categorized: Julie Cole

When One Parent Travels … a lot.

For the last 2.5 years, Daddy-o has been a FIFO (Fly In, Fly Out) Father. His current client requires that he be onsite during the week so as such, he arrives home on Friday nights, then leaves again on Sunday evenings. I have not written about it because I was advised not to go public that I was ‘alone’ during the week. But since I don’t feel “vulnerable”, if someone wants to break into my house based on the fact that there is no man around, they will have to get through Mama Bear first. Yeah, good luck with that.

Most of the time, I have these beauties all to myself!

So there is no ‘man of the house’ around during the week. Although an initial adjustment, we have worked with our situation quite well. Since my youngest is now five-years-old, ‘flying solo’ in the parenting department is much easier than it would have been a few years ago.

Making this arrangement work can be a bit of a trick. These are the lessons I have learned:

The FIFO parent:

  • Daddy-o was very excited to tell me about all the new and exciting things he could do now that he didn’t have the usual parent responsibilities. He got to exercise and get fit. He would tell me about his morning 1 km swims and how his post-work training sessions were going. Although happy for him, I would find myself feeling a little glum. All I could think was “and here I am, happy to get 30-seconds a day to move my bowels without interruption”.
  • Daddy-o was also excited to tell me about all the cool things he was watching on Netflix. He’s all caught up on “Lost” and watches all the amazing shows I only know about because of Twitter. The last TV show I watched was the season finale of “Seinfeld” in the mid-90s.
  • Occasionally on a Saturday, Daddy-o would turn to me and say “Wow – is the house always this noisy?” Yes. Yes, it is.

Lesson for the FIFO:

Keep on doing what you’re doing. Enjoy this time while you have it. Perhaps keeping a little bit of it to yourself is not a bad idea. It’s OK to share – but not too much or too often. Don’t go overboard relaying how much “me time” is happening.

Stay at Home Parents:

  • I know too well the temptation of handing off the kids when Daddy-o walks through the door on a Friday. He walks in and you kind of want to say, “Here you go! They’re all yours and I’m OUTTA here”. But here’s the thing – FIFOs don’t actually WANT to be away from their families. They are doing this for work. It is a sacrifice for them too and they don’t need to feel punished for it. Inevitably, the kids will feel like they are a burden on you during the week and that you only want your spouse home so that he can relieve you of that burden. That’s no fun for anyone.

It’s a tricky situation for everyone, but manageable if you have the right attitude and remember that everyone is doing the best they can for the family.

Do you have a FIFO parent in your family? Are you a FIFO? How has your family managed the transition?

 

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

Surviving Sixteen Years and Six Kids

I recently celebrated my 16th wedding anniversary to Daddy-o. When I say “celebrated,” I actually just mean that we both “remembered.” It has been a busy sixteen years and I’d be lying if I said we’ve actually remembered all of our anniversaries. Usually we are reminded of this special occasion when his mother calls to offer congratulations.

People have asked how we’ve survived 16 years and six kids. I could say all the usual healthy relationship tips: don’t go to bed angry, appreciate each other, say “I love you”, make time for each other, communicate honestly and often, blah, blah, blah. All this marriage advice is useful and we probably do them for the most part.

A little pre-wedding croquet!

What I really think has been useful is some of the advice that was given to me.

Before we were married, Daddy-o’s mother sat us down and said this: “Just so you know, there are not going to be hard days, hard weeks and hard months – there are going to be hard YEARS. If you can just work through them it will all be worth it.”

I also remember what my brother says: “If the grass is looking greener on the other side, try taking better care of your lawn.”

Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t actually think people should be miserable with their spouse for years, and certainly some people take very good care of their lawns and still can’t avoid those poisonous weeds. Ending a marriage can sometimes be the very best thing for a family. Only those in the marriage are qualified to make that call and decide how to fix a relationship. But, I think these messages have been good reminders to me that relationships were never meant to be easy all the time and that part of my responsibility is to work on it.

One thing I do know is that the guy who posted his dissatisfaction with his married sex life online last week should have kept this dissatisfaction to himself. I doubt it helped his marriage and I’m certain it won’t lead to him getting more action in the bedroom. So if nothing else, my relationship advice is DON’T DO WHAT THIS IDIOT DID.

You’re welcome. You can thank me for saving your marriages henceforth.

What keeps your marriage/relationship going strong? Did you get any good dating advice that has helped your partnership?

Sticks and Stones -The Power of Words

Words are powerful. My dad was an English teacher and word junkie so we were always taught to use our words carefully. The lesson has stuck with me and I have found that in raising my kids, I’m careful about not using vocabulary words that I don’t like. There are certain words not in my personal dictionary, that I’m pretty sure they’ve never heard me use. The short list includes:

“Best friend”

I just don’t like this term and never have. It feels exclusive and it inevitably leads to annoying sentences like “I’m not your BEST FRIEND anymore” and “Sorry, but Jenny is already my BEST FRIEND”. I find the newer terms like “BFF” and “Bestie” far less annoying because they seem to be used more generally and don’t seem so serious. The term “best friend” feels like it should have a ring and commitment ceremony attached to it.

“Tomboy”

Just because a girl is sporty and adventurous does not make her like a boy. It makes her sporty and adventurous. These kinds of gender stereotypes have no place in my home (or society).

My girls are not “tomboys” because they like power tools

“Fat” and “skinny”

As a general rule, I don’t speak about appearances in front of my kids. I specifically try to stay away from comments regarding body shape when describing how someone looks, and particularly these two very loaded words.

“Diet”

My kids have never heard me say this word and certainly not in the context of me going on one. My hope is that my daughters will never feel like they need to diet. I like to think that I will face most parental challenges with a certain level of comfort and confidence. I know the exception is eating disorders. I have three girls and if any of them were sticking their fingers down their throat, you would find me in a corner rocking in the fetal position. The thought of facing eating disorders horrifies me and my heart goes out to families raising girls and dealing with it.

“Waitress” and “Mailman”

My kids never hear me use gender when describing a job or career. Yep, this PC mama says, “Server” and “Mail Carrier”, to name just two.

“I hate you”

My kids have never heard me use this term nor has anyone else. I don’t think I’ve ever used this phrase. Words cannot be taken back, even when you are sorry you said them.

Do you have parenting tips on any words that you keep out of your personal dictionary? What words are on the “no say” list in your house? Do you hear any words that make you cringe or that you try not to use in front of your children?

About the Author:

Julie Cole Mabel's Labels

Julie Cole

Julie Cole is co-founder of Mabel’s Labels Inc., the leading provider of kids’ labels, and a proud mom of six.

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