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Kirsty writes regularly here

Become a Master Blender


I would like to introduce one of my favourite parenting strategies – blending.

I have become a master blender—I can blend activities to make sure that everyone’s needs and wants are met. I can blend to create a learning or fun space for my kids while I am getting a job done or relaxing. I find blending offers many opportunities to connect with my children, hear them, and be present with them completely. As my children grow I make changes to fit in with their needs and values at their current age.

blender-576331_1280Most activities can be blended. Just be aware of the ones that require your 100 per cent focus and place those in your calendar at a time when there are no interruptions. Once you identify the blend-able ones you can work them into your weekly scheduling. I have grouped activities by age to get you started. There are many more depending on your area, family situation, and family interests. Get together with your family to create more ideas.

Six activities for five and under-

  1. Baking and cooking together. Children enjoy watching, stirring, and touching. There is something about food that brings a family together. Give them their own bowl and let them go for it. You get your kitchen tasks done and have a chat and bond along the way.
  2. Walking (either pram-ing it or on their little bikes). Great way to get out, exercise, and talk about bugs, butterflies, birds, and trees.
  3. Meet friends at the park. Big people and little people combination time.
  4. Reading a book. Don’t forget the all important tickle time.
  5. From about three years old, let them help you clean. Give them their own cloth and/or bucket of plain water and guide them through the task.
  6. Sing and dance together.

Ten activities for primary school ages-

  1. Baking and cooking. Both my older children can bake and make a couple of main meals. Very helpful on make your own dinner night.
  2. Get out and kick a ball or play catch. Good for developing their skills and revisiting yours, and lots of laughing.
  3. When at sporting practise, catch up with new and old friends, take a book you have been meaning to read or listen to your music. Remember to watch them too.
  4. Brush your daughter’s hair and style it, play make up, paint each others’ finger nails and swap foot massages— Dads can do this too.
  5. They can read to you or practise their dance rehearsal while you do the dishes.
  6. Plan holidays, meals, and weekly activities together.
  7. For boys, lots of hugs, draw monsters and aliens, and build an indoor car tunnel and ramp out of toilet paper rolls.
  8. Play cards and board games. Join in on their video/ computer games. It can be a quick or long game—the point is to learn, laugh, and connect.
  9. Read with them. Have a time each week where you all lay out on your bed or carpet and read. Each one of you has your own book, it is just quiet time spent together, no talking; just learning to be in a room silently with someone you care about.
  10. Watch movies with them. Bring out the popcorn, blankets and turn the lights out. We have movie night every Friday and the kids love it.

Eight activities for high school ages-

  1. Afternoon snacks around the bench. Great time to chat about their day. They don’t tend to move while food is there.
  2. Go out to dinner and movies date. Go to a big people’s restaurant, rather than McDonalds.
  3. Play cards and board games.
  4. Plan holidays together.
  5. Just be there. The most important thing is to be there for your pre-teen and teen. Be present and withhold adult Talk to them about you and your day often. Don’t expect lots of conversation—yet be open for it.
  6. Shopping—especially for the girls.
  7. Extreme days out. Try rock-climbing, abseiling, swimming at a waterhole, or something in your area that is different. Their curiosity will get them wanting to join you and join in.
  8. Offer to do pick up and drop off to their destinations, sporting events, parties, and friends houses. Allow it to fit into your schedule as much as possible. It is a perfect time to be in touch with what they are up to, meet the friends, chat in the car (they can’t get out) and show you support them.

I make time each day for all my children to have one-on-one contact time. They know that in that moment I am just with them, for them, and not distracted by anything else. I am all ears, eyes, and heart. I ask questions to get them talking. This is the time I enjoy the most, even if it is just a few minutes.

What I like is that for that few minutes I get to look through a window into their rapidly changing world, and understand a little bit more about how it is for them.

How can you become a master blender, or how are you already juggling it all?

Kirsty 🙂


Posted in: Mindfulness, Parenting

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Book Review – One Minute Closer


I am continually blown away by the support my book – Separated by Work – receives from FIFO families, workers and the professional community.  I was left speechless though when this review came through from Regan.  Regan is an excellent blogger and heads up One Minute Closer, an App that allows families to stay connected and share rosters.

He writes –

“Anyone who has worked away, or had loved ones work away for extended periods, knows that it comes with both a magnification of any existing issues and a set of different challenges from “normal” employment.

Folks have countless coping strategies; some excellent and some not so much…some intentional and some on pure subconscious reaction. I’m in no position to say which are best but what I do know is you can never have too many options.

So couple of months ago I was message tic-tac’ing with the lovely Kirsty O’Callaghan about a few things FIFO well-being. In this chat she asked if I would be interested in reading and reviewing her book – Separated by Work.

Now as well as being an author, Kirsty is an accomplished Public Speaker, Executive Consultant, Coach and FIFO Wife / Mum who has numerous awards and accolades to her name. So as you can imagine, I wasn’t sure if she was actually serious, so of course when she asked for a postal address I knew she was fair dinkum and I couldn’t wait to see what this book had in store for me.

So after a couple of cross country flights and a few late nights, here are my brief thoughts on Kirsty’s FIFO Paperback.

Long Story Short

Separated by Work is 276 pages dedicated to Kirsty’s take on all things FIFO. It is aimed at building, bolstering, or consolidating the FIFO stakeholder’s tool kit of coping / resilience strategies so we all can get the most from this chosen life style.

Kirsty covers a broad spectrum of topics and she has broken down the book into six parts. The Parts and their corresponding Chapters are titled so they are self-explanatory and a clear reference point for their contents. Each can be read as a stand-alone section/chapter to the rest of the book; so if one title draws your attention, to you can dive straight into that chapter.

Along the way there are plenty of personal anecdotes, shared stories from FIFO workers and suggestions from Kirsty’s own experience / research. During most of the chapters, you are engaged with questions and short activities with space to make notes

Subject matter experts (SMEs) in specialist fields are also utilised to succinctly provide expert opinion directed at the FIFO audience. These range from financial planning to relationships; healthy eating to raising special needs children.

What I really liked…

The Range of Topics

Kirsty covers literally the entire gamut of issues and challenges that FIFO workers and their families do or may encounter; to the point where this book would be a helpful tool for those who are just interested in tips on general life.

Separated by Work captures the usual FIFO suspects with  Chapter titles like – About the Money, Relationship Success – 50 Shades of Away and Communication – Words that can Boost, Crush or Baffle.

But, it also ventures into some lesser known struggles of the FIFO existence such as – Managing Change for High Support Needs, Life After FIFO, The Unexpected – You Cannot Prepare For It and my favourite…Not Just About a Happy Ending.

The SME input

No one is as smart as the sum of all of us, something that Kirsty really taps into. She has not engaged any old SME but ones from her own close network. For me this adds so much more authenticity to the read and you can really feel that these professionals want to make a difference for Kirsty’s audience.

There is Louise the Home Economist and Professional Organiser; Delma the Portfolio Manager; Kim the Eating Psychologist and Health Coach; and Anna the Online Communication Specialist.

Personally, the most enjoyable was Carmel Murphy whose passion and dedication to special needs kids almost jumped off the page and slapped me!! Her advice on Social Stories is excellent and is something I plan to try with my 3.

What I loved!!

The activities

At first I thought these were a bit gimmicky so skimmed over them to concentrate on the reading. It wasn’t until I got all the way to Chapter 6 that I tried one…and was hooked!!

I went back and did all the previous activities and found them interesting, enjoyable…and intrigued as to what they managed to suck out of me. Even now reviewing my notes to write this review, I am loving the reflection on these and how much self-awareness they provided.

The Structure

For me, this book is a reference tool and one that I will keep handy. The format which Kirsty has utilized is fantastic for this purpose. The titles of the parts and chapters mean there is no flicking through thinking “where did I read that again”.

The information is also segregated in such a way that limited cross referencing is needed and there is little preceding information needed to pick up and jump straight into any chapter. The parts flow well and are in a good order to keep the theme of the book rolling and consistent.

Add to this the words and line spacing are conducive to a casual read and the chapters are short enough to hold my attention…which is not that easy!!

The Openness and Frankness of the Discussion

this is the passionfruit icing between two vanilla crumbly cookies. It added that piece of bitter / sweet flavour that that makes Separated by Work the enjoyable treat that it is.

Kirsty really opened up and shared some very intimate information from her family and personal experiences. Believe me this takes courage, character and conviction but adds the perfect amount of extra credibility and integrity that just completes the work.

The Wrap

Separated by Work is not a gospel or bible for all things FIFO, nor does it pretend to be. But it is the best collation I’ve come across yet of facts, thoughts, experiences, tips and advice to cover all stakeholders in this lifestyle.

For those new to FIFO, or looking to take the plunge, this book is a fantastic tool to build some realistic expectations about what to expect and to start planning for what you are likely (and unlikely) to encounter.

For the experienced FIFO workers / families, it provides a great opportunity for personal reflection on the problems we face and possibly offer some new solutions to them. This was definitely the case for me as it bought a whole other perspective to common issues we in the FIFO thing all have faced and I’ve come away with some new angles of attack, no doubt.

One big piece of value I took from Separated by Work, and totally unexpectedly, was the tangibility and awareness of seemingly quite common challenges that many of my colleagues and team members face. Things that have not affected me and I never gave a second thought to, are covered by Kirsty and it really reminded me that “everyone has a story, especially in FIFO”.

So there you have it, my very brief and totally unqualified thoughts on Separated by Work. Of course, don’t take my word for it, go to the Unity Words website and check it out for yourself.”

Today I am so very grateful for this review, and I am proud that my ‘paper baby’ is out there in the community making a difference.

Please check out One Minute Closer website, or their Facebook page.

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Company News, Separated by Work

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Do your relationships inspire or drain you?


We are wired for relationships and building these relationships is tied to our happiness and well being. Resilience research shows there are behaviours within family, friendship, and community environments, which nurture resilience.

The three types of relationships that build resilience are –

  1. Caring relationships—Relationships that convey understanding, respect, and interest.
  2. High expectation messages—Firm guidance, structure, and challenge. Conveying a belief in the person’s strengths and assets, rather than problems and deficits.
  3. Opportunities for meaningful participation—Having opportunities for valued responsibility, making decisions, speaking out, being heard, and contributing talents to the group or community.

To enhance this third area of relationships—consider the people you hang around with the most. A person’s happiness, feelings of being supported, and the ability to cope is influenced by their social environment. Three helpful questions are –

  1. Do we have similar likes, values, and goals?
  2. Do I feel inspired and supported when I am around them?
  3. Am I comfortable to be truly me when I am with them?

Think about where you are right now, your life results, your behaviours, your view of the world, and how you feel. Then consider the five people you are around the most. There could be many similarities as well as either opportunities to grow, or limiting circumstances and conversations. I have found that we become who we hang around, so if you are not feeling like you belong, are uncomfortable, or feel that you want different results and want to be inspired and supported—be around different people.

Why be around people that bring you down, that drain your energy? Why give your thoughts, focus and time to those that don’t even bring a smile to your face or a warm and fuzzy feeling to your day?

My suggestion is to ask yourself if that relationship is sustaining you or draining you. The answer should determine your next steps. Do not judge others poorly because they are not a right fit for you, we are all on a journey somewhere; you are just going in a different direction.

I value my close friends highly as I know they value me too and we follow through on what we say we will do for each other. It is a safe place to be me, express my self, feel accepted and loved, no matter what. I like the saying that goes, “My best friends know everything about me, and they are still my friends.” The love I get from my group is a stepping-stone to feeling anything is possible.

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Business, Resilience

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The Connected Business Woman


I am not an online marketing professional, nor am I a social media expert. Yet I have realised how important it is to be connected on many different platforms. In this blog I share my thoughts on keeping your sanity and credibility whilst building and maintaining your online presence.

There are numerous social media sites – all with different audiences and purposes. There are quite a few conferencing and webinar tools at your fingertips to choose from. Someone suggests that short videos are the next best was to connect. Then you must blog and make sure your website is representing your brand in a way that excites and invites people to do business with you. Not to mention at some point you also have to do the work that actually makes you money.

You could spend most of your working hours updating profiles, writing posts, hash tagging, commenting, liking and uploading. You could employ or contract someone to do it. But you need to ask yourself what will bring you the most money, build your online and business profile/credibility, and what tools are most effective for your business. Then add the question, “How do I balance it all so that I am not sitting on the couch at night with my family still doing ‘work’ tasks?”

I got stuck in this cycle of trying to cover all platforms – posting and blogging everywhere and all hours of the day. I spent hours attempting to make and upload that natural off the cuff three-minute video of me just saying hi to the watchers and sharing a thought that would change someone’s life! A blog would take at least two hours by the time I wrote it, edited it, uploaded it, found the right picture and then shared link. I would wake up in the morning, go for my run then spend 20 minutes checking social media before breakfast! By the end of each working day at least half of it was spent online jumping from one site to another. And if I went to a seminar that was teaching me something about an online platform you were lucky if you saw me for the next couple of days as I applied everything I had learnt with the promise of super exposure and business opportunities.

What changed? I took some time off and saw that my business and profile didn’t disappear just because I wasn’t all over it every day. I saw that there is true value in being connected, yet the value comes from a balanced, healthy and strategic approach. I thought about who was my online audience – and what they wanted to see so they could connect with my products, my professional services and me. I also looked, very closely, at which platforms were more likely to convert into sales, create brand awareness, and which were just ‘social’.

So I came up with my plan. I investigated what are the most engaging posts for different social media platforms and action that. The platforms that serve my business and book best are newsletters, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and Twitter. I give no more than one hour per day up keeping my online presence. I make face to face contact and phone calls my priority. I have learnt to use Zoom to conference and webinar. I reuse and recycle a lot of my writing so that I can cover many options and platforms with little effort. I write for businesses that have huge followings online so that I increase my profile organically through that. I chat (face to face or on the phone) a lot to my friends who are online savvy or doing something that I find impressive, and discover what I could be doing differently, and how to do it without paying someone.

To be successful in the business world you have to be connecting with your audience on a regular basis. This has always been the case; it is just now we have many more ways online to increase our exposure for little or no cost. The trick is to manage your virtual world so that it is still making you money, building your profile and giving you real leads. You also have to manage your time and the energy your give to it so that it does not create a black hole of lost productivity.

In business know you and a bit of like you can come by online connecting – but trust you may need a bit more work and contact to make that sale.

I like to check in and ask myself often, “Is my online messages and profiles congruent to how I introduce myself to a room of people, have a trade table at an event, meet a prospective client for lunch or attend a business meeting?” I will always look for better ways of doing things – I think as the world gets more connected through a screen being better than your competition means keeping your message clear, your integrity in tact and balance it all out with time away from the devices and connecting face to face.

How can you make your online presence and activities more clear, meaningful and profitable, and less time wasting?

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Business, Resilience

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Life can be hard sometimes…


Life can be so hard sometimes, can’t it? The day in day out ‘stuff’, like –

  • Meeting all the expectations and demands of others.
  • Trying to look like you are successfully juggling it all.
  • Putting on a happy face when you really just want to say, “no, I’m not okay!”
  • Friends and family letting you down – yet you can’t mention it in case you look insensitive.
  • Pretending your whole family is so happy – like the Brady Bunch.
  • Moments when you think that you need some new goals because life isn’t exciting or purposeful anymore.
  • Life is dishing you up lemons instead of Lamborghini’s.
  • Then to top it all off – you are getting closer to 50 and there are bits that just aren’t doing what they are supposed to!

I am certain this is just not me, actually I know this isn’t just me as most of my friends and clients, at some point, go through all this too.

Is there a special trick to overcoming these moments? Is there a quick fix that works for everyone else? Some would like you to think so, but…

I don’t know about any tricks or quick fixes that actually have a substantial long-term impact – yet I do know that not giving up and being open to other possibilities is a start.

We are now in spring in Australia. It is a time of warming up and getting outside more to enjoy the sunshine, and a time of growth for plants (and people too).

It is the best time to think about and begin to plan new possibilities and watch them grow. It is a time to reflect and put to rest what isn’t working and the things you no longer want to move forward with. It is a time, which I use, to welcome in the energy of nurturing newly planted ideas and doing what it takes for them to grow strong and balanced.

My big announcement this month, after a couple of months of feeling like I had no clear direction, I decided to hit the books again and am going to University – beginning 1st semester next year. I have been offered a place in Bach of Communication. I fell in love with writing last year whilst writing my first book, and I want to get even better at this art. I will be doing this part time so I can work around my business and my family. I am so excited, and feel that inner drive deep in my belly again. I know this is the right thing for me to be doing right now – as yet though I have no idea how I will pull it all off! My nervousness was overcome when my offer came through on the 1st September – 1st day of spring – can’t get a better ‘sign’ than that of being on the right path!

When life is being hard and heavy, I acknowledge it, then get out a piece of paper and begin to write what it is, what I want to be different and what I can do now – even the smallest thing – to begin change. It is amazing what gets written on that paper, just like my decision to study again.

Enjoy the energy and possibilities that spring can bring for you – allow spring to soften the tough bits so that new things can grow.

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Business, Resilience, Separated by Work

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S.T.O.P – Begin to disentangle yourself from negative thoughts, reactions and judgments.

On of my favourite mindful practices is S.T.O.P.  It is easy, quick and effective. I have shown many of my clients and students this skill over the years and it is an essential to keep your calm – or return to your calm space – when moments of overwhelm, frustration, chaos, madness and confusion take over.

S.T.O.P stands for –

S = Stop right now

T = Take a breath

O = Observe

P = Proceed

To be able to consciously pause and stop is a very powerful state. When you pause you give yourself permission to not have to be anything or do anything in that moment – you give yourself a mini break to reflect and become aware of the present where there are only choices.

Following this with a couple of deep breathes in and out to release tension will clear uneasy feelings in your body and reduce anxiety levels. You may then begin to notice that you have more clarity and insight into the situation that got you so wound up.

From this vantage point of calm and possible clarity you can just observe what is actually going on around you and within you, and a new awareness will be gained. You can begin to ask questions at this time. What is this really about? What would be a way to deal with this that would be okay to all involved? Do I need more information? What could I be doing differently? How do I really want to handle this?

Then you are much better able to proceed with your next action or non-action – whatever you feel most appropriate, beneficial, and right for you. You will be more in control and accepting, and better equipped to deal with the situation in a way you feel comfortable with and that will get better results for all involved.

Today take time to S.T.O.P and then move forward more confidently, clearly and calmly.

Kirsty 🙂



Posted in: Mindfulness, Resilience

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What is it you decide to create?

IMG_0111A verse by Kirsty to inspire you to overcome setbacks, leap over overwhelm and feel encouraged to turn the unfortunate situations into fortunes.

Resilience, to some, what a big, big word,
Some even shiver each time it is heard.
It may remind them of those who win,
And how they don’t have what it takes and are failing.

They say, “those people are just luckier than me,”
Or, “they have no idea what hardship I endure and see.”
Their motto is “I can’t do that” or “that is impossible”
Or “you just don’t understand, I’m not like you – unstoppable.”

Well let me tell you right here and right now,
Resilient people don’t run with the crowd.
They don’t buy into what is possible and not,
They don’t even accept that this is their lot.

Resilient people endure failure, setbacks and traumatic events,
Then they get up and just take the next steps.
They hurt just like you, and even have thoughts of unfairness,
They just don’t let it stop them; they lift their pain tolerance.

Resilient people don’t say “this is because of you,”
They say instead, “it is up to me to see this through.”
They keep a smile on their face,
Even though, to others, it may seem out of place.

Resilience is to be well, to be happy, and to be better,
So how can this happen without a bit of pressure?
So next time you think you can’t or you won’t,
How about deciding that you can definitely cope.

Maybe, just maybe, this terrible thing is teaching you,
How amazing and capable you are too.
That if you could, for a moment, be positive and regulate that emotion,
You will find a way to grow, learn, create change and forward motion.

So now it is up to you,
You can stand on the sidelines, or you can participate too.
You can play the game, the game that is life,
Love it or hate, it is the only choice that causes winning or strife.

Give yourself meaning, purpose and permission,
That never again will you live in submission.
You will never give up, be resigned to a fate,
It is all up to you, what is it you decide to create?

– by Kirsty O’Callaghan

Posted in: Resilience

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The Physical Stuff – Creating the Foundations for Reducing Stress and Increasing Calm

The Physical Stuff - Creating the Foundations for Reducing Stress and Increasing Calm

Creating a strong foundation to resist stress will put you in a better position to have a great relationship with yourself and others, to be calmer and more relaxed and increase your ability to deal with the any experience life throws at you.

Good habits for eating, exercising and keeping a comfortable and clutter free environment (home/office) are crucial in supporting and sustaining great results. I research a lot in this area and talk to many people to get their views. I have learned it is never a one size fits all approach. I encourage you to do your own research to create a plan that works best for you and your family.

My top tips are:

Engage in physical exercise daily. As you work up a sweat endorphins are released, which create feelings of happiness. Working out can help manage physical and mental stress increasing concentrations of chemicals (hormones and neurotransmitters) that can moderate the brain’s response to stress. Studies have shown that exercise can even alleviate symptoms among the clinically depressed.

Maintain a healthy diet. You will have fewer mental and physical health-related problems and more energy if you eat well. Lacking proper nutrition can put strain on the body, which becomes mental stress and can contribute to illness.

Two things you can do now to eat to encourage excellent results are:

  • Get off junk food—it has no nutritional value. It may satisfy an energy slump or cover up a lonely moment, but it also decays teeth, lowers self image, and heart health declines. The sugar in junk food is doing a heap of bad things to the brain—impairing memory and learning skills, and contributing to anxiety and depression. Moderation is key.
  • Drink more water. This is the most effective habit anyone can choose to improve his or her inner health, energy, life balance, and skin health.

A nutritionist once explained it like this—“When dehydrated, your cells become more like sultanas than plump healthy grapes and consequently that’s how you think and feel. Blood flow to your brain is reduced, which limits the amount of oxygen reaching your brain cells and slows it down. Therefore, you feel tired and lack energy. When our cells are like shrivelled- up sultanas the process of nutrients flowing in and out of the cells is hugely decreased and this has ramifications throughout our entire body—our health, our moods, our thoughts, our appearance, our vitality are all below par.”

The vision of the shrivelled sultana was a definite motivator for me. A must-have is a refillable environmentally friendly water bottle. Drinking enough water each day is easier when it’s readily on hand.

De-clutter to minimize overwhelm. Studies into this topic report that clutter increases cortisol (stress hormone) levels. Disorganised people with cluttered lives often feel frustrated, anxious and out of control. They find it difficult to unwind and relax. In my experience de-cluttering has the ability to create energy, mental and physical space, and release negative emotions.

To begin to de-clutter and make life easier for you, consider that clutter can fall into two categories –

  1. Anything that you do not love, need or use.
  2. A disorganisation of things that you love, need, and use.

Pause for a moment to gaze around the area you’re sitting in. Note things that catch your eye that may bring to mind phrases like—

  • I need to pick that up and go through that pile.
  • I’ve never liked that ……
  • X could use that item; it is just taking up space for me.
  • That reminds me of x (person or situation), and
  • That’s a mess!

Statements like these alert you to clutter-spots.

Ask yourself three questions to keep you focused and making good decisions as you de-clutter –

  1. Do I love it?
  2. Is it useful?
  3. Is it in full working order?

If the answer is no to any of the above questions, consider getting rid of the object, either by giving it away or throwing it away. If you cannot bring yourself to do this, then pack it away neatly in the back of a cupboard. If you do not give it a second thought for six months then it is time for it to go.

And lastly – Get enough restorative sleep to enhance performance, as poor sleep patterns and stress go hand-in-hand.

Without taking time out to rest, recover and have adequate sleep judgment, mood, and the ability to learn and retain information are weakened. Your health, mentally and physically is impacted. People who have poor sleeping habits are less productive, anxious, less safe when driving and suffer more mood swings – compared to those that have good sleeping habits live longer and have stronger immune systems; and possibly those that live with them live longer and are less stressed too!

What can you change to create a strong foundation to resist stress, feel better, have more energy and enjoy a good nights sleep?

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Parenting, Resilience

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Separated by Work – Book Reviews

Separated by Work

I am blown away by the support my book, Separated by Work, is getting and I am so delighted when I get book reviews coming through.

I recently received the following reviews from Pamela Crane from FIFO Love, and Megan Sweetlove from Sweetlove Family Law, and wanted to share with you all.

Megan said after reading the book, “As a former FIFO wife with intimate experience of how challenging the FIFO life can be – particularly for those families who are on uneven-time rosters, I understand how brutal and challenging the FIFO life can be on your personal and family relationships.

Difficulties with communicating within your relationship can be exacerbated by the geographical distance combined with the shift work rosters common to so many FIFO workers. When I read Separated by Work, I found it to be a very practical and logical reference guide for use by families who are separated by work – whether as FIFO workers or in other industries such as transport or defence force personnel.

Kirsty provides very realistic and sensible advice on improving communication and setting and achieving personal and financial goals. Her advice is broken down into easy to read chunks and she provides useful exercises to help you reflect on what you have read and apply it to your own life. I recommend this book for anyone wanting to improve communication in their relationships and help set and achieve goals!”

Then I received an email from Pamela, “I first picked up my copy of Separated By Work at Kirsty’s book launch in March of this year (2016). As a long time FIFO partner and FIFO coach I enjoyed listening to Kirsty speak about her experience as a FIFO wife. She shared her relationship and family struggles and the mistakes she made in the beginning and she really hit home.

I connected absolutely with what she was talking about and I knew that I had to grab a copy of her book.

Kirsty’s book Separated By Work is a great exploration of many of the problems we experience in a FIFO lifestyle. Topics she covers include money and goals, parenting challenges, life after FIFO, the all important “why are we doing this” and much more. I personally connected with some of the issues she discusses and found her tips and hands-on solutions useful.

While she shares her personal journey as a FIFO wife, Kirsty has also included stories from others who have someone who works away so you get a real sense that these issues are not exclusive to just you and your family.

What I loved about Separated By Work is that it is not just a personal journey but offers real solutions on how to move through the issues a FIFO lifestyle can cause. Not only has she included her solutions, Kirsty also has had professionals offering helpful advice and includes “how to” templates to help you and your family survive and thrive through your FIFO lifestyle.

As a professional supporting FIFO couples to keep their loving connection alive in their FIFO journey I highly recommend Separated By Work to anyone who is just starting out in a FIFO lifestyle or is struggling with being separated by work. I also feel this book would be a great tool for non FIFO family members to understand the world of FIFO and how to best support their FIFO family members.

If you are looking for a workbook that is easy to read, self paced, full of practical tips, exercises and resources, then Separated By Work is definitely for you.”

I am so grateful to these ladies, and for all the reviews that are coming in.  They not only say really nice ‘stuff’ about my book – they let you know that my book is real, it is readable, and most importantly it will benefit you and your family.

If you have something to say about my book please let me know either by email or in the comments below.

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Separated by Work

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Reducing childhood anxiety through mindfulness and meditation


A child that experiences anxiety can be one of the most difficult things you have to face as a parent. You may worry that your parenting skills are lacking if your child experiences outbursts of anger, reactive behaviour choices, nervousness or panic attacks.

Anxiety has become increasingly common among children as young as four. Statistics show that one in every ten will experience intense anxiety at some point during their childhood. Stress, fear and anxiety is a fact of life for both children and adults – and the way your child’s brain processes the fight or flight response has a great deal to do with how he or she reacts to a perceived threat.

That’s why teaching your child to manage anxiety and stressful situations effectively are some of the most important life skills you can give them. By teaching your child how to breathe, meditate and perform other stress reduction techniques, they are able to deal effectively with the stressors that are a natural part of modern life.

Mindfulness and meditation are particularly effective stress management tools and are widely known to increase calmness and a sense of wellbeing, promote better health and clear cluttered and cloudy thinking – even for very young children. By guiding your child through meditation or bringing your child back into the present moment where they can take back control and calm down, you are giving them a very special and long-lasting gift.

When children are taught regular meditation and mindfulness techniques amazing results have been documented, including –

  • An increase in attention span
  • Having better concentration
  • Are less likely to experience regular illness – have a stronger immune system
  • A marked improvement in studies/academic results
  • More imaginative and creative – which leads to a resourceful and more resilient adult
  • Have a sense of peace, calm and safety
  • Show more problem solving abilities
  • Less disruptive behaviour and angry outbursts

After a period of time, and with your guidance, they will learn how to still their busy minds and be more present and calm. From there, they will develop a more confident outlook and disposition. Over time your child will be able to create a solitary space within themselves that is safe – a space to think, breathe, calm down, and remember or imagine.

I have taught all three of my children to meditate, relax their muscles one by one, and take a couple of deep breaths when needed. From a very early age I encouraged them all to just check in to ‘right now’. To take a long slow deep breathe and feel the breath go in through their nose, travel down their throat, fill their lungs, and expand in their belly like filling a balloon. Then, let it sit there for just a couple of moments, and then exhale, blowing all the air out. As they did this, they could imagine feeling a sense of release and calm. I would get them to do it a few times – slow and controlled, and with an awareness of how they were becoming more relaxed.

My youngest son, who is now nine, has me smiling in many stressful situations. As he notices my posture changing, my body becoming tense, and he can possibly see steam coming out of my ears. He calmly walks over, puts his hand on my arm and says, “Mummy, just take a deep breath in – and hold – and let it go. And again, breathe in, and out.” Can’t get more stress relief than that!

The next thing I made a priority to teach my kids was to S.T.O.P – an acronym for mindfulness. I have shown many of my clients and students this skill over the years, but I found children took to it easily and quickly.

S.T.O.P stands for –

S = Stop right now

T = Take a breath

O = Observe what is going on around you and within you – just observe it, then

P = Proceed with your next action or non-action – whatever you feel most appropriate, beneficial, and right for you.

Most parents find it a challenge to get their child interested in meditation and seeing the benefits of pausing to be mindful. Our little people are full of energy and easily distracted, and the thought of having to be still and quiet can seem very boring, even impossible to them. You can grow their interest and love of meditating and being mindful when you begin by making it fun. You can make time regularly to guide them through the process until it becomes a habit they can easily follow through with on their own. Most kids will hold still for meditation if it’s something that Mum or Dad takes time out to do especially with them.

Keep your meditation periods short as you begin.

A child that is under five years old, for example, may only stay still for two minutes – and that’s okay. Slowly increase the length of time you spend on sessions as your child begins to take an interest. At first, you may have them start by laying down, but in time they can meditate while sitting cross-legged on the floor, by standing, or even during a walk. The most important thing to do is to make these times fun and relaxed.

You can encourage your child to practice deep breathing techniques by blowing up a balloon or blowing feathers as far as they can, then transition to imagining blowing up a balloon and blowing a feather.

Take a deep breath in ‘filling the belly’ for three seconds, hold, and then exhale for three seconds.

Do this three times to begin and once done for a while they will automatically know that when something is causing them anxiety they can take 3 deep breathes to calm down.

Here’s a simple guided meditation that I have used many times to get you started.

  • Remember to make this fun and relaxing for both you and your child. You can play soft music and lay on the floor or on the bed with pillows if that helps.
  • Begin by telling your child you are going on an adventure, using their imagination. Have them stretch out their arms and legs and allow them to go limp. They can close their eyes (usually the will peak occasionally!) Then count down from ten – as you do tell them that they are getting more comfortable, having a wriggle if they have to, and feeling more relaxed.
  • Then talk them through relaxing each part of their body, taking their awareness to each part as you say it, from the tips of their toes to top of the head. Name each part and ask them to imagine the muscles in that part relaxing and going soft as marshmallows.
  • When your child is relaxed, ask them to visualise a beach on a warm, sunny day. They can imagine standing on that beach in their mind, seeing the waves as they crash against the shore, hearing the wind blow and birds fly overhead.
  • Have them visualise the patterns of the waves as they wash over the shore, over and over again. (You can use any scene – a forest, a castle, a river, the backyard – anywhere you know they will feel happy to be there.)
  • Have them breathe in and breathe out softly, gently and regularly. Allow them to rest, feeling comfortable and safe. You can then use your imagination and trust your own intuition to guide them, with plenty of pauses, to where you want to go. You could walk along the beach feeling the sand in your toes, see a rock pool with lots of sea creatures in it, have people on the beach, sit under a tree, or even have a magic carpet ride! My children loved having a worry tree at the beginning of the meditation appear so they could hang all their worries, one by one, on it. When it was time to finish the meditation I would bring them back past the worry tree and they would find all their worries had disappeared.
  • When they are ready to come back out of the meditative process, ask them to take a deep breath, feel the floor beneath them, notice how calm they are and stretch their arms and legs – and smile.

You can also try a recorded guided meditation with your child. There are many options out there from beautiful music to someone talking and guiding your thoughts and imagination. I have found that children respond very well to background music and their parent’s voice – whether they are present or it is pre-recorded. In my personal experience, children are highly responsive to inner smile meditation, which promotes a healthy immune system. I believe this is because kids naturally and instinctively know the benefits of a big smile and happy thoughts. You only need 10 – 20 minutes ‘time out’ with a child a couple of times a week to see great results.

How could you introduce more meditative and mindful moments into your family’s life? What would be the benefits if everyone could S.T.O.P more often and be calmer?

Kirsty 🙂

Posted in: Parenting

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