Working a shift schedule often means you’re out of sync with the normal, daily life activities of your family and friends. As a result you may be experiencing one or more these issues:
- Social isolation or loneliness for you or your partner.
- Not enough time with children.
- Missing events small and large, like birthday parties and graduations.
- Decreased quality of your time with family and friends because you’re tired.
- Moodiness or irritability with family and friends.
- Conflicting parenting styles, or not feeling as though you’re a team as parents.
- Sleep deprivation for you or your partner, because you wish to spend time together instead of sleeping on off-hours.
- Difficulty coordinating or being part of family routines.
- Difficulty making social or family plans.
Here are ways to help you and the people in your life cope with shift work schedules:
- Create a visual schedule or calendar for your children, so they know what to expect. This is tremendously helpful. Explain very clearly when they will see you and do things together. Plan a weekly activity of special or routine things they can rely on and look forward to.
- Plan breaks strategically, so that you talk to your kids after school or before bedtime. Phone calls are great as well as live video calls.
- Keep small rituals in place, such as including handwritten notes in your child’s lunchbox each day.
- Talk to your children and allow them to express their feelings about your absence
Your partner and social life
- Have open communication with your partner. Even if it’s for a small amount of time when you’re home together, talk without distractions (TVs, smartphones or other electronics).
- Talk to other people who work shifts to see how they handle social and family life and share ideas.
- Allow for transition time, or time to wind down, after getting off a shift.
- Make social and family plans ahead of time, and pick a few important dates rather than overcommitting to many events.
- Inform your friends and family. You need your sleep, just like everyone else. Sometimes that means that passing on social gatherings so