A free support website has been launched in Canada to boost the emotional resilience of employees and families in mining, oil and gas.
Created by two Australian moms, the free website is designed to offer professional support and friendship to Canadian families coping with the pressures of fly-in, fly-out (FIFO) rosters or life away from strong support networks.
“Mining, oil and gas are dynamic industries offering financial stability and great career opportunities – but the lifestyle can also be tough sometimes, especially on young families,” says founder Alicia Ranford. “I created Mining Family Matters in Australia four years ago, after struggling to find specific information and services to help my two young children cope with their FIFO mining dad being away for extended periods. The website is now accessed by more than 16,000 people a month.”
After receiving regular enquiries from North America, Alicia and co-founder Lainie Anderson decided to offer the same dedicated resources to Canadian families and companies.
The website, www.miningfm.ca, caters to both English and French readers. Key features include:
- A free Q&A counselling service where families can seek professional advice on relationship and parenting issues;
- Columns by resident psychologist Angie Willcocks; and
- Stories by lifestyle contributors and mining, oil and gas workers.
The Mining Family Matters team has also launched a new guidebook to help Canadian families survive and thrive when one partner works away. The 32-pageWorking Away Guide is printed in English and French and targeted primarily at resources companies. It contains professional advice most commonly requested by FIFO families around the world, as well as practical ways to keep relationships healthy and families happy.
Topics include what to expect when you first work away, parenting and discipline, sex and FIFO couples, the art of making new friends, house rules for happy homes and helping kids to cope.
“FIFO family issues are universal,” says Alicia. “That’s why we’re so committed to ensuring families don’t feel like they’re alone – because the fact is that mining families the world over are tackling the same issues every day.
“Our goal is to make families feel like they’re part of a community – despite the fact that we might live and work in different corners of Canada and even on the other side of the globe.”
The Canadian launch follows significant success for Mining Family Matters in Australia, where 16,000 families now access the free website every month and more than 100,000 guides have been sold to companies nationwide.
EIGHT STRATEGIES FOR SUCCESS IN THE WORKING AWAY GUIDE
- Coping in the early days: don’t assume your life is tougher than the person who’s away/at home. It’s natural to feel this way, but getting into a competition about it won’t help your relationship.
- House rules for a happy home: Try to remain as accessible as possible while you’re apart. Keeping in regular contact with phone calls and little emails makes a big difference in the continuity stakes.
- Helping kids to cope: If your child is missing Mom/Dad, allow them to talk about it. Try to avoid saying things like “be brave” or “don’t be silly” because they might think you are not interested or they are unacceptable feelings to discuss. Give them a cuddle and ask “Can you think of anything that might help you feel a bit better?”
- Sharing time and avoiding conflict during precious time together: for some couples, it works best to agree from the outset on a set number of nights that will be spent together and socializing together or apart.
- Keeping the love alive: there are all sorts of fascinating benefits of regular sex – including an improved sense of smell and immune function. But the main benefit is enhanced connection and intimacy in your relationship.
- Don’t let money make you miserable: set shared financial goals, and make sure they’re SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timed). For example, “Let’s save $20,000 towards a home loan by the end of next year” is more SMART than “Let’s save for a house”.
- Working away – parenting and discipline: remember the golden rule for families separated by work: the rules apply all the time, whether you are home or not. Standard rules are very important for kids in hectic households.
- Tackling loneliness when you’re apart: Loneliness is not a nice feeling. Like all feelings, however, it doesn’t tend to hang around for too long unless it is deliberately ‘hung onto’. Whenever you feel lonely, tell yourself something like “I can cope with this” and then distract yourself with positive behaviours like exercising, reading, enrolling in an online course and contacting a friend or loved one.