The balancing act of a big Defence family
Juggling full-time work and five children is no easy feat, but for Brisbane local and RAAF mum Flight Lieutenant Halina Domalewski, it’s all about finding the right balance.
The mother of five boys, aged from 3 to 10, is a Personnel Capability Officer at No. 3 Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron at RAAF Base Richmond.
She has been in the RAAF since 2005 and got the chance to embark on her first overseas deployment last year.
Experience has taught her that the use of technology is the best way to stay connected with her young family and aided her transition back to family life after deployment.
“I spoke to my husband and children every day I could and routinely sent care packages home to the kids,” Flight Lieutenant Domalewski said.
“The American camp where I was has a small but great Post Exchange shop, so the kids got to sample some American snacks and candies, which they loved.”
Her integration back into home life was seamless and she credits this to the great communication technologies she had while away.
She was able to watch her kids grow up through the wonders of FaceTime, so she didn’t feel like she missed out.
With no family in NSW, Flight Lieutenant Domalewski’s Defence family banded together to ensure her husband, also a RAAF member, and children were well supported during her deployment.
“My unit and my husband’s unit were amazing. As we have no family support in NSW they stepped up and went over and above,” she said.
“Without asking for help, they went about providing a weekly meal roster, welfare calls and with the assistance of Defence Community Organisation they flew my mother down at short notice when my husband and the children became very unwell with the flu.”
After having four children in three-and-a-half years, Flight Lieutenant Domalewski made the decision to return to the workplace part time, two to three days a week.
“It was the perfect way for me to juggle raising a young family, supporting my husband’s career but also giving me the ability to progress with my career,” she said.
“The ability to use a flexible work arrangement allowed my family to find a happy medium.”
Although it was a difficult decision to return to full-time work, Flight Lieutenant Domalewski was confident her family made the right choice because it gave her the opportunity to commit to the RAAF career and to deploy.
Reflecting upon her 15-year career in RAAF, the combination of flexible work options had enabled Flight Lieutenant Domalewski to have quality time to raise her children and support her return to work.
She acknowledged that support and understanding from Defence had been vital to her family construct.