Individually oilfield workers learn to navigate their shift and with it their lifestyle but, what about their families?
Now, some years later, I look at that phrase quite differently. Not because my dad has lost his zest, but because I am now in a similar relationship where my husband works week-on and week-off and planning children ourselves. The thought of being a part-time single parent is not one I find appealing.
As a child, getting in trouble from my dad was the end of the line and there was a since of fear and uncertainty accompanying that phrase. As an adult I see that that particular phrase was a life raft for my mother. It was something she could say, when dad was in camp that could help her to manage her unruly children and cope with her parenting situation. The phrase itself speaks volumes to how stressful shift-work parenting can be.
During the weeks that our household was a dual parent household, my brother and I fought less, my mother was not as frazzled, acreage chores were shared, and there was a partnership between parents that you cannot obtain over the phone. During those weeks my dad did what he could to get involved in the family life. Now, I can see how it must have been difficult for him because although, he has been away from home our life continued with or without him.
In talking with friends about their husband’s schedule, some have expressed that routine disruption is a big concern. Sometimes an exasperated wife might even say, "It is easier when he is gone..." Of course this is typically said during a stressful moment but the sentiment cannot be ignored and yes, sometimes life is easier when you don't have to deal with juggling schedules (especially one as uncertain as some forms of shift work) and without some form of flexibility and acceptance one or both parents can begin to feel isolated and disenfranchised encompassing a ripple effect on the marriage as well as the family.
So how can we establish coping strategies? Honestly, I am learning as I go but between my husband and I we have settled into some form of routine that is centred on communication such as 9:00pm nightly, planning in advance as much as possible, and flexibility.
Although I primarily talked about my mom and dad's relationship, my mom, also relied heavily on her sisters for support. I rely on friends and families as well. Support networks and communication are a critical piece to mental wellness.
Brandy Fredrickson, Aim for Success Mentor