James Cook University ISSN 1445-6354
Introduction: Employment related mobility (ERM) is a complex phenomenon which impacts family life. New mothers who have partners working away from home for intermittent and extended periods of time are particularly affected. As these families transition to parenting roles they are further challenged with the expectation that the mothers manage sole responsibility for family and home life while her partner works away.
Methods: A hermeneutic phenomenology approach was used to explore the experiences of new mothers on the island portion of rural Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, whose partners participated in ERM. Participants were recruited through community health nurses and family resource center staff. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, audio-recorded, transcribed and analyzed following Ricoeur’s approach.
Results: The essence of the experience of these 19 women was about their stories of adjustment to periods of transition when their partner was working away from home. Five themes were generated from interpretation of the experiences of the participants: ‘he’s here and he’s gone again’; ‘one-woman show’; ‘putting myself on the back burner’; ‘the routine goes out the window’; and finally; ‘making it work’.
Conclusions: While many women felt over-whelmed with the responsibilities of balancing family life, and often experienced loneliness, others described a smoother adaptation to an ERM lifestyle. The experiences of the mothers warrant consideration to inform health care providers, policy-makers, and community leaders to be more responsive to the emerging needs of families in these situations.