We often get asked how FIFO dads can manage their work life balance and family time. We hear stories of dad’s concerns that they aren’t there enough to spend quality time with their children and feel like they are missing out. Although it can feel difficult and provide your family with a unique set of challenges, we are here to tell you, you can still maintain a strong relationship during the time you are away and be the best dad to your child, and partner.
Let’s start with parenting partnerships. Being on the same page as your partner whilst you’re away and at home is key.
- Set shared goals. Stay united when it comes to issues about the kids. Set your rules, expectations and discipline styles and work together at implementing them. Ensure when you come home that your set of rules aren’t different to your partner’s.
- Stick to them same schedule. Try not to upset the usual routine when you return home to minimise any disruptions.
- Appreciate your parenting partner. Recognise, encourage and celebrate your partner for their skills and hard work.
- Be dependable. Be responsive to your family’s needs. Stay connected and make yourself available whenever possible.
- Make and keep promises. Only say you will be there if you really can be. Be honest.
Now, quality-dad time might seem near impossible when you are on the other side of the country, or even in a different country. But it’s still possible!
Here are some ideas to stay connected with your child whilst you are away:
- Communicate every day. You don’t have to have anything special to say – just explain how your day was and ask them a question or two about how theirs went. Make use of FaceTime or zoom, you can even read them a bedtime story every night and make it your routine.
- Connect in your own way. Relax into your unique communication style with your kids and check in when something reminds you of them – maybe you like to send silly photos, videos or memes.
- Keep up with the family schedule. Maintain a family calendar so you know what events are coming up at home. Check in with your kids to let them know you have remembered what is coming up and that you will be thinking of them even though you can’t be there.
- Share special things. Give your child something of yours and ask for something in return. This helps maintain a tangible connection from a distance.
- Tell them about your work. Talk to them in an honest and age-appropriate way about what you do while you are away.
- Always say ‘I love you’. Children need reassurance. Reassure them that even while you are away, that you will always be there for them.