FIFO Christmas Survival Kit

Ask any experienced FIFO worker and they’ll tell you –Christmas away from loved ones is tough. The gap between site and home suddenly seems so much greater at Christmas, especially when there are small children involved.

But the mining show must go on.

Prepping for the emotional challenges of the festive season can help soften that sense of distance and preserve your own wellbeing. So, whether it’s your first or your twenty-first FIFO Christmas, plan to make it a good one. Here’s how.

Don’t opt out.

Just because you’ll be absent for the festivities doesn’t mean you can’t be part of them. Organise presents now. On Christmas morning, these gifts will connect you with your family and friends, especially if you include a special, thoughtful message.

Dangle a carrot (not for Rudolph!).

Before you fly out, arrange a date for a second Christmas to be celebrated on your return – the FIFO Festivities. This will give you, and your loved ones, something to look forward to on your return. It needn’t be a re-run of the 25th and it might even become a new family tradition.

Treat yourself.

Pack something special, food or drink, that will help to make this trip a little different. Invite loved ones to write you a message and promise you won’t open it until Christmas Day (maybe during your ZOOM catch up). They will enjoy the anticipation as much as you.

Avoid the glums.

Try to avoid negativity – in reality and in your head. Try to keep your ‘self-talk’ positive. Be appreciative of what you do have, not just what you are missing; after all, you have a job and your health. If fellow workers are moaning, and you are unable to distract them from their complaints, give them a wide berth so they don’t bring you down too.

Make the most of the technology – but don’t let it ruin the day.

The capacity to keep connected is a real gift at times like this. Seeing family and friends on Christmas Day, sending love, watching kids open their presents means you can be as close as possible whilst miles away. Try to stay upbeat when you make contact with loved ones on the day. Saying how much you miss them is fine but focus on sharing in their happiness and excitement too. After the Zoom/FaceTime session, aim to switch off. Following every Tweet and post during the day can make you feel more removed than ever.

Keep up the spirit of Christmas but don’t rely on spirits.

Drowning your sorrows with grog is guaranteed to make you feel sadder not happier, so keep an eye on the celebratory drinks. Try to make the on-site festivities a distraction. Organising an activity – something physical or Christmas trivia – will benefit you as much as your workmates.

Finally, remind yourself that you are not alone but in the same boat as all those other essential workers around the world, and Christmas, after all, is only one day.

Keeping the Christmas Cheer ( or how to have a festive FIFO Xmas)

It’s been a long, long year.

COVID threw unexpected challenges at all of us and no one escaped the impact of the pandemic, not least the thousands of FIFO workers who were impacted by changed conditions and border closures.

Now, with Christmas on the horizon and restrictions in Australia easing, there’s more anticipation than ever to shake off the gloom and share the festive season with loved ones and friends. But for some FIFO workers who won’t get the opportunity to reunite with family, this Christmas will be particularly tough. So, it’s worth considering ways to keep the blues at bay despite the distance between you and loved ones.

These simple suggestions might just help.

Make a Date

Before you fly out, lock in a particular day when you intend to celebrate on your next R&R (nobody said you can’t do Christmas twice!). If you have kids, put the date on the fridge and make it a Red-Letter Day – something they can look forward to.

Make it your job to plan the event (deciding what to do will prevent the day being a fizzer). Planning can be a distraction for you while you are on site and a surprise for everyone back home.

Spring some Surprises

If you have a partner or children, maintain the element of Christmas morning surprise by arranging a special gift – even though you’re not there to see the reactions. Maybe consider hiding gifts before you leave and then give clues when you call on Christmas day.

The Christmas Call

Schedule your Zoom or video calls before the day -maybe to coincide with the kids waking up, present opening time or the start of lunch when everyone is gathered. That way your family or friends will be anticipating your call and you’ll feel a connected part of the excitement and festivities.

Tackle the Technology

Find time early in the day to send all your texts to friends and loved ones, then avoid watching the screen for replies.

Remind yourself how crazy a household can be on the 25th. You can feel a little left out if people don’t reply at once and that can add to the isolation blues. So, consider going ‘cold turkey’ (no pun intended!). Switch off your phone and throw yourself into the on-site festivities.

Consider your Co-workers

Remember that you’re not the only one missing family and friends.

Maybe pack a few goodies before you leave home to liven things up for your on-site celebrations. Whether it’s a bag of party poppers, some Santa hats or chocolate reindeer droppings, get enough to share. It might be enough to create some laughter and lift everyone’s spirits on the day.