If you're a FIFO Mum, then chances are you sometimes find yourself in a situation with a child, or children, who miss their FIFO Dad more than words can express. It can be difficult to soothe a child that misses their FIFO parent - nothing can replace a warm hug from Dad! But there are things that we can do for our kids to help them when they're really missing Daddy. As a FIFO Mum with 2 small boys, I've dealt with lots of hard days, where they just feel sad because they're missing Daddy. Here are some of the things that I do for the boys when they are missing their FIFO Dad. I hope they help you to navigate those challenging days a little easier!
FIFO Dad Books
There are a number of books that have been written specifically to help children to understand the FIFO lifestyle and deal with their emotions surrounding Daddy working away. These are the books that I read to my boys. The last one is currently out of print, but we borrow it regularly from our local library. We have purchased the other two and they love them!
Photo Books for FIFO Kids
I created a special "Dad Book" for my boys. It is filled with special photos of them with their FIFO Dad. When they are missing him, we sit and look through it and talk about their favourite things to do with their Dad. It really helps them to feel better and closer to their Dad. To create it, I spent a few days adding every photo I could find on my iPhone into a folder for each child. Once I had finished I had about 100 - 150 photos in each folder and was able to use these photos to create the books.
I ordered small, hard cover books that were easy to handle for little hands. I used Snapfish, but you could use any store that produces photobooks. I didn't spend a lot because, well, you know kids!
Another option which I find is incredibly easy and perhaps better for older kids is Chatbooks (I really really wish I had've known about this option before I made the other ones!!!). Chatbooks allows you to create gorgeous photo keepsake books automatically, with little to no effort and you can get your first Chatbook FREE!
FaceTime & Skype for FIFO Families
We try to FaceTime and Skype as much as we can. It can be difficult if your FIFO partner isn't able to have their phone on site or is on night shift etc but we find every couple of days can be a really effective way to help the boys connect with their dad. Especially when my eldest has been at school, he enjoys the time to just chat with his Dad.
It's a little harder to maintain our toddler's attention, but he's getting more interested in video chats as his ability to communicate increases.
One of my friends uses FaceTime to connect the whole family, even when they aren't all in the house at the same time which is really great. She also gives her FIFO husband a "virtual tour" of the gardens and house as he's away for 4 weeks at time. She says it really helps him to stay connected with everyone, as well as their home, while he's away.
We try to keep Daddy involved in bedtime as much as possible while he's away. Sometimes hubby will just talk to them as they fall asleep, sometimes he will read them an e-book from his phone. If we are organised, we send a couple of the boy's favourite books to site with him and we have the copies of the same books here. He will read them a book over FaceTime, and they can follow along with their own copy in their bed. It works really well and helps to make it feel much more real.
If your children are a little older and can understand time and read a calendar, then a Countdown Calendar is a great idea. There are lots of ways that you can create a Countdown Calendar - it can be as simple as creating one on your computer.
If you don't have time, our SWM Family Planner makes a fantastic Countdown Calendar that you can personalise with coloured markers and stickers. I've also created a FREE Countdown Calendar Download available at the end of this post that you can laminate and pop on the fridge.
Spending Time + Special Rituals
It might seem like a strange thing to suggest, but sometimes we forget just how much our children crave our time - and this can be even more accentuated for kids who are navigating the FIFO lifestyle and missing their dad. Just carving out some time to spend with kids can be a game changer for them - watch their fave movie altogether, reading a special book, playing a board game or getting out of the house to go for a walk or to visit the park.
We also have some special rituals that we include in our routine to help them deal with things a little easier. When we drop Daddy off at the airport, we always visit a park close to the terminal (it may also have a great take away coffee van 😉 When we get home we have rainbow babyccinos and just hang out. Whatever these rituals look like for your family, they can really help the kids to process what's happening and feel safe in the knowledge that Daddy will be home soon.
I hope it's not too many sleeps until your FIFO partner will be returning home!
Download your FREE FIFO Daddy Countdown Printable
FIFO DAD COUNTDOWN
Download our FREE FIFO Daddy Countdown Printable - great to help kids keep track of how many sleeps until Daddy comes home!
About the Author
Kate is the founder of South West Mums, coffee connoisseur, FIFO Wife and Mumma to two boys. She loves to explore and write about life in South West WA, motherhood, business and the effects of FIFO on family life. You can connect with her on Instagram and Facebook or read more of her blog here.