The sun goes down. You get up. You go to work. The sun comes up. You go home. You get in bed. All the while, your family is on the opposite schedule. Come days off, you spend a few hours together. Before you know it, your kids have grown up and your spouse is a different person.
Of the challenges shift work presents, syncing with the family is one of the hardest. Fortunately, life’s hardest challenges are its most rewarding. Use these tips to build more family time into your schedule and reap the reward of better family relationships.
Schedule your chores
Before and after your shift, there exist a few precious hours of waking time. Make sure you’re using that time for what’s important: YOUR FAMILY!
When you get home, it’s easy to get distracted by chores. While you were at work, the grass grew and clothes were dirtied. And the grass and laundry will be waiting for you.
But they can keep waiting. Save what chores you can for the middle of the night when the spouse is sleeping or the middle of the day when the kids are at school. The grass and laundry won’t notice your neglect, but your kids and spouse are sure to notice the time you spend with them.
Your best friend in this pursuit is a notepad. As you notice tasks, jot them down. Then, when the kids are at school, you can run a week’s worth of errands. While your spouse is sleeping, you can do the week’s meal prep or plow through a week’s worth of laundry. You’ll have a ready-made “honey-do” list to guide your work, so odds are good you’ll be extra productive during this time.
Create a weekly family routine
Routine and habit are powerful drivers of our behavior. Use them to your advantage. Once per week, maybe on your “Monday” or “Friday,” set up a family routine that aligns with your shift. It might be a romantic dinner with your spouse. Maybe it’s a breakfast with the kids. (You or one of your co-workers is sure to know where to find the best breakfast burrito in town. Your family will enjoy that knowledge, too.)
The details are best left to you, but what’s important is it’s a regularly scheduled event in your household. Unlike the vague promise of spending “more time together,” a family routine pegged to a specific time is a concrete commitment. It’s much harder to skip a scheduled event, even if you were up all night. And it’s especially hard to skip comforting food with your favorite people.
What do you do to build family time into your shift work? Where can we find the best breakfast burritos in town? Leave a comment to let us know!