My husband works in law enforcement, and he went back to night shift after a promotion several months ago. Although he worked night shift for several months before our son was born, adjusting when you have a child is much different. Kids need routine, so adjusting our son’s schedule more than an hour or so in either direction is just not an option.
Although the opposite schedules are a challenge, it’s not a barrier to getting along and having quality family and couple time together. Here are some tips that have worked for us, and I hope they work for you, too.
This is the most important tip and one that I need to remind myself of often. It’s easy to forget the toll that working night shift or changing shifts can have on a body, but it’s grueling. You may want your spouse to get up immediately after 8 hours of sleep, but sometimes it’s not enough. After all, they’re dealing with all the regular daytime noises in the house and sleeping/working against the body’s natural rhythms. Try to have patience when your spouse needs extra sleep.
Communicate in other ways.
You may not see each other much, but you can still talk to each other. Leave notes for your spouse, send text messages and talk on the phone during lunch breaks, even if just to say, “I’m thinking of you.” If the kids are awake, let them talk, too. They’ll be super excited to tell Daddy or Mommy about their day.
Plan time together.
It may seem like you’re leading different lives—you have your plans during the day, and your spouse does his or her own thing at night. But you should make every effort to plan activities together. You may need to stay up a little later after the kids are in bed to have your couple time. Your spouse may need to get up a little earlier than usual to have more time with the kids. Both of you have to compromise.
For us, it almost always means evening activities for family time, because even when my husband is off work, he needs to keep his regular sleep routine during the day.
Are you and your spouse on different shifts? What are your tips for making it work?