So, I know this is sort of a different subject to focus on but, nonetheless, it’s something I feel the need to share about, to help others better understand the lives of a night shift family. I’m going to attempt to compare below the “normal” day-to-day happenings for day shifters and then night shifters in a sort of timeline fashion. Granted, there are always things that pop up and our schedules always get changed, but from my own life, and those of friends and family, this is a generic idea of what each shift would generally encounter through out a normal day.
- 6:30ish– get up and get ready for work and school
- 7ish-breakfast and off to work
- 8ish– kids on the bus or take to school
- 8:30ish to 12ish-errands, grocery, play time, crafts or creative time, play dates, library, maybe the zoo (which includes picnic), really whatever needs to be done, probably coffee time, dr.appts., or maybe homeschool time if that applies.
- 1-2ish rest and/or nap time. Which is also rest time or catch-up time for mom
- 3ish-getting kids from school
- 4ish-getting homework going and getting things together for dinner
- 5-6ish– spouse home from work, dinner time and cleanup
- 7ish-family time or outside time, maybe a sports practice or household duty like cutting the grass, maybe an ice cream trip
- 8ish-winding down for the night and getting baths
- 9ish-bedtime for kiddos
- 9:30ish to 11:30ish-hubby and wife time (insert your own details here) lol
- 11:30ish and later-sleeping (hopefully)
This is how a typical day runs for us:
- 7ish-getting up and ready for school and the day (all while being quiet as a mouse, dad is sleeping)
- 7:30ish-breakfast (again no dinging spoons on bowls or slamming cabinets-have to be quiet)
- 8ish-getting all the kiddos to school (unless some are too little)
- 9ish-quiet time, coloring, a cartoon or very quiet play and also getting small ones dressed for the day, oh and don’t forget coffee time! Or maybe homeschool time if that applies
- 10-11ish– real quick errands or a fast grocery trip, also could be homeschool time
- 12ish– lunch and wake spouse up
- 1ish-household stuff like cutting grass, garden, laundry and loud cleaning like vacuuming and dishes, things that are too loud in the mornings.
- 2ish-try to spend some family time, try to catch-up on schedule details and family plans since we haven’t got to speak to each other since the day before around this same time. (usually nap time for smallest)
- 3ish-start dinner and get kids from school at 3:30
- 4ish-sit down for dinner and start cleanup; spouse starts packing lunch for work and getting ready (sometimes there is sports practice and I eat later and hubby leaves before I get back)
- 5ish-spouse leaves for work; me and kids start homework
- 6ish-sports practice and/or game, finish homework
- 7ish– outside time, play time and snacks
- 8ish-start baths and house cleanup
- 9ish– getting everyone in bed. Takes 30-40 minutes for just one person, some nights longer.
- 9:45-11:30– quiet time for me..usually paying bills, maybe a Netflix show or finishing tasks around the house
- 11:30ish and later-hopefully sleeping
I know the schedules may not seem much different from one another, but this is really a day in the life of a night shift family, with each parent working separately on different ends of the clock. All the while, I juggle kids, dinner, messes, homework, sports, baths, bedtime, etc. My poor husband is sleeping or working while all this hustle and bustle is going on, and he knows he’s missing out on some great stuff…but he does it for our family. I know some who would say, “Why go to such lengths of being quiet?” or, “Why cater to when he’s getting up?” My answer is, would you want your spouse only getting 3 or 4 hours of sleep a day? Which leads to awful health issues later like high blood pressure, diabetes, and eventually heart disease…and don’t forget…feeling like crud as well. My job is to ensure the health and safety of my whole family and that includes my husband too.
I said all that to say, we night shifters want “play” time or “talk” time too, or would like to socialize with friends, but when we’re able to do that most of our friends are at home with their spouses having dinner and having family time of their own. If I called to talk at 7 or 8 on any given night you probably wouldn’t answer because you’re spending precious time with your family, just like I’m doing for a precious hour or so earlier during the day. And let’s not forget my school aged children only see their daddy for about an hour when they get home from school, and that time includes sitting down for dinner and my husband getting ready for work. The weekends are absolutely sacred to us. We have just a couple days with a few hours to focus on our family and try to makeup for almost zero (whole) family time we get during the week. By God’s grace, and by keeping our family centered in Christ, we have been able to handle this way of life for 16 years now.
I’m not saying us night shifters have it harder really, but there is some extra responsibility that falls on us and that’s ok, that’s how families work…we work together. I can only imagine how a single parent feels and the lengths they go to, to try and cover the roles of both parents. So, if you’re a day shifter have a little grace for those who have to do life a little differently. Try to put yourself in their shoes and imagine how it would be. Don’t assume they’re too busy for you or have new friends…just realize they’re doing life the best they can.