Monday, June 10, 2013

Mums struggle with FIFO life

Christiana Jones,
The West Australian June 11, 2013

A picture of calm, Perth mother-of-four Rosalind Tay describes the week that has been while her husband was away on an overseas work trip.
The hot water system failed, one of her daughters lost her mobile phone, another slipped and chipped a tooth, the dog was sick and a string of light bulbs blew.
Yet, surrounded by the bustle of her four energetic daughters, she smiles and explains how she managed to get through each crisis without too much stress.
It has not always been this way. Opening up about her past struggles when her husband used to work fly-in, fly-out, Rosalind said striving to be the perfect mother took a huge toll on women in an increasingly insular society.
"I tried to be 'Supermum'. I tried to do the best for the children and it became like my plate was so full that everything started toppling down," she said. "Fly-in, fly-out is good money . . . but at what cost to our own mental health?"
The stress of being sole carer while her husband was away, a lack of sleep and less social contact had eventually spiralled into self-harm and stints at Bentley Hospital.
Crucial to her recovery was the support of her husband who based himself back in Perth, and engaging in community services to get some balance in her life, she said.
She sometimes used catering instead of cooking and realised devoting some energy to pleasurable things instead of chores rejuvenated her so that she had the energy to do the chores as well.
Rosalind wanted to speak out after a recent inquest into the deaths of tots Malachi and Lochlan Stevens, who died after their exhausted, anaemic mother Miranda Hebble put them in a running shower and passed out while her husband was away on a mine site.
The inquest was told a withdrawn Ms Hebble turned down help despite struggling with her 10-month-old and two-year-old. WA Coroner Alastair Hope is due to deliver his findings today.
Yesterday, Rosalind said the tragedy had reignited memories of the strenuous demands of motherhood while missing her partner and retreating from the social events they used to enjoy as a couple.
She believed many women were suffering the same in silence and missing out on advice from women who had "been there".
"In a society that epitomises, salutes and applauds the strong superwoman of a mum who can juggle a multitude of roles . . . there is no space for a stay-at-home mum struggling and not coping," Rosalind said.
FIFO Families director Nicole Ashby said connecting with other FIFO wives and mothers helped women share the load, talk about their struggles and avoid burning out. "The feeling of isolation is what can feed mental health issues," she said.

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