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.

The PANK Perspective: Kids say the darndest things…

Back in the Spring for one of our family vacations we travelled to Smyrna, DE to visit my Aunt and Uncle. With my boyfriend and I in one car, and my parents, brother, SIL and two nephews in a van, we drove for a good part of a day, maybe not the best trip planning but it worked out okay.

Upon arrival we settled in at the hotel, and grabbed take-out pizza. All of us huddled into my brother’s room to eat. You’d think that after so many hours in the car, we’d want to be as far away from each other as possible, but we didn’t. This is one of the best parts of family vacations. We took advantage of spending this quality time together, and thankfully we all like each other, so it’s never a chore to hang out. Over dinner, we gave my boyfriend the low-down on my Aunt and Uncle; where he once worked, how they are connected to my family and funny stories from the past. When he asked why my Mom’s brother lives in the States and not in Canada, he made a comment about the name of the town – Smyrna. He kept pronouncing it like Smear-na. We corrected him, but he was convinced that we were all saying it wrong. He then went on to say that no matter how you say it, it sounds like a dirty word.

“You’ve got some Smyrna on your shirt.”

“Kiss my Smyrna!”

“I just Smyrna’d, and it smells.”

Yes, this is the man that I love. What can I say; he’s pretty creative and always good for a few laughs. While he listed a few more ways to use the word, my nephew was playing swords and shields with his Papa and not paying much attention to us.

Fast forward to the next evening as we’re all gathered around the dining room table at my Aunt and Uncle’s house telling family stories. There was a brief moment of silence as we finished one story to start another when my nephew took the opportunity to ask me a question.

“Hey, Aunt Dee?”

“Yeah, buddy.”

“You got something up your Smyrna?”

Every single one of us, other than my Aunt and Uncle busted out laughing. We didn’t think he heard us talking about the name of the town, and we surely didn’t think he’d use it in that context. With my relatives looking confused, we explained my bf’s take on the word and they didn’t quite see the humour the same way we did. Crazy Canadians they’d say.

If there’s a dull, awkward or simply a quiet moment, on family vacations or otherwise you can bet a child will take advantage of it uttering one of the many funny things that kids say. We had many stories of our trip to Smyrna when we returned home, but one of our most favourite was what my nephew asked. Kids say the darndest things.

Do your kids say the darndest things? What are some funny kids quotes you’ve heard recently that had you busting at the seams with laughter?

PS – The boyfriend was told the correct pronunciation of the town by my Aunt and Uncle. He still thinks his version is right.

 

About the Author:

Diane Morris is a PANK; Professional Aunt, No Kids and works for Mabel’s Labels as the Sales Coordinator. She’s an Aunt to two boys, and an “Auntie” to her boyfriend’s niece and nephew. She’s a sucker for romance, country music and peanut butter.

Sister Power!

Sisterhood!

I recently came back from Ottawa where I spent the weekend visiting my sister, while my husband held down the fort. It was a perfect weekend. Two sisters sharing pajama coffee chats, shopping, walking by the river, visiting the Farmer’s Market, trying new recipes, going to the pub, and falling asleep at home watching movies (this may be a genetic trait.)

We treasure the relationship we have with each other now, but we only really became friends when my sister moved out and we were living under separate roofs. That’s when we decided to live together – back under the same roof, but by choice this time! When we first shared an apartment we moved almost everything by subway because neither of us had a car. When we moved to a bigger place, our dining room table was a picnic table that we had delivered from a hardware store.

Our childhood memories include weathering our mom’s different cooking phases (we still cringe over the homemade yogurt phase) and wearing beautiful matching Easter outfits she had made, complete with hats and gloves. We washed and dried dinner dishes while singing “Edelweiss” from The Sound of Music. As sisters, we suffered the same awful haircuts as our mom tried to even out our bangs with scotch tape and scissors, until we basically had no bangs at all. My sister taught me how to put on mascara and helped fill in the blanks for things that weren’t covered in the, “On Becoming a Woman” book that Aunt Char gave me.

And today, when I need advice or someone to vent to, my sister is always there for me. I value her insight and she knows exactly what to say to talk me off a ledge during a crisis (real or imagined). She’s always a few parenting steps ahead of me as her daughters are older, and she’s generous with her encouragement and wisdom. She’s one of the first people I call when I have exciting or terrible news to share. As sisters we’ve celebrated births (I was even in the delivery room when my niece was born) and mourned the loss of loved ones. We’re in a race to see who turns into our mother first (my sister’s winning because she’s organized and loves ironing).

I often wonder what kind of relationship my daughters will have with each other when they’ve outgrown their sibling rivalry and are no longer arguing about borrowed clothes and whose turn it is to set the table. Will they reminisce about their childhood years and family vacations? I wonder if they’ll ever be roommates by choice. Maybe they’ll have their own families and live right next door to each other, which has always been a dream for my sister and me. Or maybe they’ll live in separate cities, knowing their sister is just a phone call away, and they’ll get together to share fantastic weekends as sisters and friends.

Do you have sisters? What are some of your favourite memories of the bond between sisters?

 

About the Author:

Karen Pearson is one of the friendly voices you’ll hear on the other end of the phone when calling Customer Service at Mabel’s Labels. She enjoys writing about her family, which includes a husband, 3 kids and a rescue dog from Greece.

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