One of the conundrums parents face is finding a balance between career and family. A work schedule plays a big part in finding this balance. As a nurse, there are many shifts we can have depending on where we work. Nurse schedules vary between night shift, day shift, 12-hour shift, 10-hour shift, or even an 8-hour shift. The most common full-time schedule for nurses is working three 12-hour shifts per week. Many parents have asked me how I manage to work as a nurse with young children. I credit these pearls of wisdom from my Aunt who is also a nurse and was a military wife, like myself. I will share with you how I balance my nursing career with young children.
If you work for a hospital, like myself, you can either work a 12-hour day shift or a 12-hour night shift. Many nurses are able to self-schedule through a centralized system for the hospital; although, some places still use paper scheduling or schedule your shifts for you. My hospital allows me to self-schedule. I have found that working night shift and mainly weekends worked best when finding balance between nursing career and family. I know this doesn't sound ideal, but hear me out.
I chose to work night shift (7pm-7am) and self-scheduled one day during the week and two days during the weekend because my husband works a daytime job during the week. Before this, he was a U.S. Army Officer working crazy daytime hours, but this schedule still worked at that time as well. One of the benefits of working night shift is that we avoided paying for childcare. We basically did a hand-off update about the kids once I got off of work the next morning, and then he headed straight to work and vice versa. So one of us was always with the children.
Sacrificing weekends as a night shift nurse has many benefits. The children won't be young forever so this is a temporary schedule. If your ultimate goal is to work day shift in the future, just keep that in mind. Working night shift and on the weekends allow parents to be able to do the following without having to miss work:
Save money on child care
Be able to take the children to doctor's appointments during the weekdays
Attend school functions and parent-teacher conferences
Avoid missing work during the week when children are sick and home from school
These are just a few reasons why I chose to work night shift and selected mostly weekends to work. I work one day during the week to free up at least one day during the weekend, which is Sunday, so we can have family time with both my husband and I home with the children.
The one day during the week when I work is also the only day that I have to worry about making sure I get off of work on time so my husband can get to work on time. During the weekend, I don't have to worry about getting off on time because my husband doesn't work during the weekends. This is good because we can't control when a code happens, an admission comes, or a busy night happens at work leading to us staying overtime.
During the weekend, I am able to get enough sleep before my shift while my husband watches the children. It is harder to sleep during the week, when my husband is at work. I am tending to my 8 year old and 1-1/2 year old during the day. I basically may get a few naps in while my youngest naps. Other than that, I am basically awake taking care of my baby before my shift. It is challenging but definitely doable. Thank goodness for coffee!
Every family's situation varies. This is just my personal experience, and I have found that many new mothers moved from day shift to night shift because it worked better for their family. Whatever shift you choose, it will be the best for your family. I just wanted to share my experience in hopes that it may help you.
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