From Fly In Fly Out to Stay at Home
Like a circling plane in a holding pattern… we are destination unknown!
As a FIFO (fly in fly out) family who is usually separated by work, this current global crisis has perhaps impacted our family dynamic more so than most.
With one partner (& parent) usually routinely away for regular periods of time, many FIFO families have now found themselves in one of two very unappealing scenarios:
The work away partner may now be a permanent resident forced at home and likely without employment due to the fact that with current travel restrictions they cannot fly for work and are unable to continue to work remotely from home. This may or may not see them continuing to earn financially for their family, which is an extremely tough situation.
Alternatively the work away partner may actually not have been able to return home since the beginning of COVID-19 travel lock downs, for an unforeseen period of time. To remain in the workforce, they wait it out at work locations so that they can continue usual employment, in hope that they can fly home to be reunited with family soon. Sadly, for many families I know of this has actually been the case and for more than 2 months they have not seen their much-loved partner, Daddy / Mummy… another extremely tough situation for all.
FIFO life is already a unique situation with families often dealt with a few extra layers of ‘delicate’ circumstances and challenges, especially where parenting, kids and relationships are concerned, as usual family issues are often exacerbated by the frequent absence of a partner and parent from the home.
This is not a lifestyle of choice suiting everyone and definitely not for the faint hearted! It is well documented that the frequent separation of families can induce negative pressure on all family members; with potential detrimental effects on mental and emotional health, often imposing feelings of loneliness, overwhelm, high pressure and the distance can often result in communication problems with feelings of disconnect a real consequence.
However, being separated by work can be a prosperous, exciting and balanced lifestyle that many families do embrace and can manage well to their best advantage.
Although today, many FIFO families now find themselves in very new and uncertain territory regardless of the altered scenario they find themselves in.
Normally in a constant mode of adjustment as life routinely flips between united coliving and coparenting, then conversely navigating life independantly, many whilst solo parenting, it is now a different challenge that is quite possibly the hardest and most frustrating aspect to really come to terms with. That is the instant onset of this new forced ‘normal family dynamic’ is completely out of your control, with an end date still unknown.
You know that old saying ‘be careful what you wish for’… well I find it a little ironic that when we made this decision to relocate our family to Indonesia from Australia with MR.IBU working in overseas FIFO roles, one big element for this decision was that it would allow us much more valuable family time together! Now here we are, in the midst of a global pandemic and we have never been together in the same household for this longest time… EVER!
To be honest I’m tiring of hearing and talking about this once in a lifetime disastrous world event. Instead I reflect that for quite some time as a couple after more than 20 years of living a working away lifestyle, we have been discussing strategies and possible ways in which we can continue adventuring and living our way of life, but move toward a lifestyle where we are more united at home, with Chris more present than he is away.
Living in Bali we are fortunate in many ways that this tragic event has actually not largely negatively impacted on our lives, as is the case for citizens of many other countries. See my last blog The Covid19 Expat for more insight into real life in Bali during the Corona Virus.
In Bali we are not policed into a ‘lockdown’ state where strict regulations are imposed forbidding outings outside the home. However, mandatory face mask use when outside and social distance regulations are enforced, with many large venues, social attractions, beaches, schools and retail precincts completely closed… we are simply encouraged to stay at home where possible and are not given many enticing avenues to lure us out!
Taking health precautions to self-guard ourselves very seriously, the situation in Bali has however enabled us flexibility to enjoy the most incredible time together as a family, as we can continue to take short outings and adventures; experiencing beautiful Bali sights without the crowds, pollution and hectic streets. Quiet Bali is reveling being tourist free and we are certainly benefiting! Blessed to enjoy Bali’s many rewards we often find ourselves in usually heavily populated tourist destinations, yet we are the only ones there, which is a truly magical experience!
But what next for Little.Miss.IBU?
With a more thoughtful and contemplated character we are not usually ones to over react in situations, but more often act after much consideration. Sometimes, as is in this case, it can go against the best well thought out plans! However, my instinct tells me that in this current unknown situation that this is all we can do… that often with uncertainty and change brings new hope and possible opportunities.
Individual mindsets and ideals can be reset with personal priorities and goals changing, so too can the environments outside of your own home and world. Sometimes it is a matter of just letting go, holding on and hoping the world catches up with all your stars aligning.
Having spent more time at home than away for the past 6 months has seen much reflection for Chris especially, as he now spends most weekdays helping solve complex year 5 Math problems, encouraging story writing ideas or engaging in year 4 Inquiry experiments! MR.IBU has lost his PC (lifeline) thanks to more than 8 weeks of home schooling, and continuing… he has read more books, taken more naps and is more bored than ever before!
This has no doubt had him reflecting on ‘his’ career and life big picture, as currently he is in the very unusual place of simply being a full-time parent and teacher, 24/7.
Going outside each sunset, we watch the beautiful varying colors in the sky across rice fields from our villa. Currently in Bali it is ‘windy season’ which sees many very large kites flying around each village, we observe the kites flying so high with their different designs, flying in varied patterns in different wind streams. It’s a short but calming ritual we can both enjoy together which allows for reflection and future hopes to be expressed.
I know he’s bored; I know he’s not motivated and he is really missing the mental stimulation, interaction with colleagues, challenges and rewards of his work. He watches infrequent planes fly over our villa and tracks their flight paths for his own knowledge and interest. The other night watching a plane fly over he confides of how he really misses travelling for his work, being up there flying above the clouds and working in overseas locations. And I get it… this is not a choice for him, but a forced stay at home without employment disaster. Until now, we chose this lifestyle, we had our flow and we made it work for our family.
More than anything Little.Miss.IBU longs for her family to remain in Bali, since our time living here has been so short and under such irregular norms. Many Bali dreams and hopes are still to be lived and it would feel completely unjust to not tick some family adventures off our evolving Bali Bucket List!
What next is still very uncertain and unknown for our family. Somewhat like a plane circling in the sky we currently are in a steady holding pattern, destination unknown. For now my focus is to simply make the most of our current world; acknowledge and appreciate MR.IBU’s constant family presence which we may never have like this again, to strive to keep my family healthy and safe, project optimism that new opportunities will arise for us and hope that our new future path soon becomes known… and that this future is indeed a bright, engaging and stable one!