Parenthood and Shiftwork

As you may or may not know, Dave works shifts. He works 6 days and then has 4 off. The 6 days he works are between 8 and 12 hours, and generally he leaves home an hour and a half before he starts work and gets home an hour and a half after he finishes work. He always starts with two days where he leaves before we wake in the morning and finishes on two night shifts.

There are definitely pros and cons to him working shifts as far as LP is concerned.

The negatives are that Dave being a consistent part of LP’s routine is impossible. He will never be able to read a bedtime story every night, bath her every night, see her first smile of the day every morning, have dinner with us as a family every evening…

It also means that nights when he is working are sometimes incredibly hard. The nights where she wakes every four hours for a feed and then goes back to sleep are fine. But the nights like tonight where it takes me two hours of rocking and shushing and singing to her to get her to go to sleep are awful. I end up putting her in her cot and going to sit in our room for a minute or two whilst I calm down and compose myself, before trying to get her to sleep again. I always try to remind myself that she will go to sleep eventually, and now that LP is 8 months old it is so much easier to the early weeks where she didn’t go to sleep at all between about 8pm and 4am. So things are getting better!

The shifts mean that Dave misses the day-to-day interaction that I have with LP and so I make sure that I take photos as much as possible when he’s working so that he can at least have a glimpse of the day she’s having. LP doesn’t differentiate between us being there or not being there at the moment, but it is always lovely to see the smile she gives her Daddy when she sees him for the first time after he’s been work. She definitely saves the biggest smiles for Daddy!

Parenthood and Shiftwork

I honestly can’t think of any more negatives now that I’ve taken the time to write about it.

The positives though, are that if he were working 9-5, he would never be there for LP’s lunch, and maybe not even breakfast and dinner. With his hours the way they are, he gets to be there for the morning some days, the afternoon sometimes, and dinner/bath/bed sometimes. He gets to be there for a different part of the day each day which must seem to LP like he is there a lot of the time as a big part of his working hours do fall into the times when she is asleep anyway!

He also has 4 days off in a row. The first day off he finishes work at 7am, home about 8:30am so spends the majority of that day sleeping off the night duty but he then has three days with us as a family. We don’t have ‘weekends’ like conventional families, but we do have quality family time which may end up being mid-week!

It also means that when Dave takes a holiday from work, he takes 6 days holiday but with the 4 rest days either side, he has 2 weeks off work. Not bad really! Definitely something we will appreciate when LP’s at school and we need childcare for the holidays!

So really, shift work is swings and roundabouts. It will be different when I go back to work in October – we will have one ‘weekend’ a month together, but Daddy will have a lot more quality time with LP as he will be sharing ‘childminding’ with the childminder, and will end up having her on average for at least half the time I am at work.

When I’m back at work, I will definitely appreciate Dave, and the time we have together, more. Before LP, we would often be ships passing in the night – not seeing each other properly for a couple of days at a time. When I’m back to work it will be the same situation except that we have LP too. It means that evenings when Dave is home will be quality time for him and I. Weekends when he’s home will be quality time for the three of us, and the rest of the world can fit in around that.

I am just glad in all this, that I am not a shift worker. If we both worked shifts I cannot imagine ever having quality time together!

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