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Written by Adela Ellis, RN, BSN
Working the night shift is never easy. Add a kid or two into the mix and it becomes even that much more difficult.
Life can be challenging for working parents, even in the best of circumstances and working night shifts is no exception. Raising kids when you are sleep deprived is challenging at best, and it’s often challenging to find someone who can take care of your children while you’re on the clock.
There are perks, though. For example, nurses are usually paid more per hour when they work nights instead of days, and working nights means that you’ll have more time to spend with your family during the day. There is even some evidence that working the night shift can benefit the parent-child relationship.
Plus, the lines at the grocery store tend to be really short first thing in the morning when night shift workers are heading home.
If you are a parent and you are struggling with how to make working the night shift work, you’ve come to the right place. Keep scrolling to discover three tips for parents working the night shift.
Night Shift Nurse Tip #1: Prioritize Self-Care
As a parent, you probably put your kids’ needs ahead of your own pretty much all the time. But it’s important to remember that you need to take care of yourself too. Self-care is important for everyone, and it is even more important for nurses who work the night shift.
As humans, we are naturally programmed to be awake during the day and asleep at night. Working the night shift means fighting against one of your body’s most basic instincts, and it’s not easy.
To minimize the negative effects of working nights, you need to make self-care a priority. Make sure you get plenty of sleep each day, maintain a healthy diet, drink plenty of water, and pamper yourself once in a while.
Set boundaries with family members (including your children) to ensure that you are able to get the rest you need. Don’t feel guilty about saying “no” to afternoon playdates if you need to sleep. If you want to be the best version of yourself, both at home and at work, you need to make taking care of yourself a top priority.
Even choosing the right clothing to wear to work can be a part of your self-care. Invest in quality scrubs that you will feel great wearing. Keep in mind that you’re likely to get chilly during the night and make sure you have a few nice scrub jackets in your closet. Invest in high-quality nursing shoes that won’t leave you feeling fatigued just a few hours into your shift. When you feel your best in cute nurse scrubs and comfy footwear, it’s a lot easier to make it through your shift with a smile on your face.
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Night Shift Nurse Tip #2: Find an Amazing Babysitter
If you and your partner work opposite shifts, having someone to watch the kids while you are at work might not be a problem. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that you won’t need someone to watch them during the day too. You may get home first thing in the morning and not need to return to work until later that night, but you need that time to get some rest.
Plenty of parents think that they can work at night and take naps throughout the day when the kids are asleep, but that very rarely works out. You might not need a sitter if your kids are in school during the day, but, if you have little ones at home, a good sitter is a must.
Find someone that you can depend on to watch your kids on a consistent schedule. You need between seven and nine hours of sleep each day (roughly), so make sure you choose a sitter who is available for enough hours each day to enable you to get some much-needed sleep. Consider sending your kids to daycare or choosing a sitter who can watch them in their home. This will help minimize the noise in your home and allow you to rest without worrying about why your little one is crying or being woken up by random noises throughout the day.
Night Shift Nurse Tip #3: Learn to Embrace the Night Shift
For most parents, one of the hardest parts of working the night shift is knowing that you’ll have to miss out on things like family get-togethers and school events. A big part of your kids’ lives will happen when you are asleep, and that can be a really tough thing to accept. If you want to successfully navigate working the night shift as a parent, though, you are going to have to learn how to embrace it.
Instead of thinking about the negatives, consider the positives. You’ll make more money and be able to pay off debt faster or surprise your kids with special treats. You’ll get to provide better care for your patients and build stronger relationships with your coworkers.
In addition, you won’t have to deal with things like grocery shopping during the hours when most of the world is awake. Your nonstandard schedule may even enable you to spend more time with your kids.
The Bottom Line For Parents Working The Night Shift
As a parent, you want what’s best for your kids. Often, that means doing things that you don’t really want to do––like working the night shift––in order to provide a better life for them. Working nights isn’t always easy, but there are things that you can do to face the challenges head-on and be a great employee and parent. Use the tips listed above to make life as a night-shift working parent happier and healthier for you.
Additional recommended reading:
About the author: Adela Ellis is a full-time nurse and part-time ambassador for Infinity Scrubs. Adela attended the University of Arizona and has been a travel nurse for the last 6 years. She enjoys working with different doctors, nurses, and patients from all over the country and blogging about her experiences. In her free time, she loves true-crime podcasts and cooking for friends and family.