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Shift Work for Beginners

Categories: Career, The Juggle

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When Graham and I had only been married for a few years, I took a job at a brand new arena in a city about a half hour away from our home. The arena was just opening up and my job was to be the Assistant Manager of Suites and Catering. If you’ve been part of any brand new enterprise, you’ll know that opening a venue like an arena for the first time is no small feat; getting all of the private boxes or suites ready for the guests who were paying top dollar to occupy them during concerts or hockey games was a hefty job.

Doing that job required some long, late hours at work. Graham was very understanding when I would text him at midnight telling him to go to bed, that I wouldn’t be home for a few hours. I distinctly recall arriving home after a particularly long night at the site around four o’clock in the morning. I was barely in bed and asleep before it was time for Graham to get up for the day and head to work.

Several years, many jobs and one kid later, we are now experiencing the phenomenon of the night shift once again. Graham was offered some work during the night shift at his job site and decided to give it a try, since it would be for short term and also because the pay would include a premium.

Image source: Alday Consulting Services

Last night was the first night we ventured into the world of shift work. Nate went to bed around 8:00 and that left me wondering what to do with myself when the usual time for my bedtime came along.
I tweeted, “It’s throwing me off completely! Shift starts midnight. Do I just go to bed? Do I wait up? What’s the etiquette?

While it may seem ridiculous to consider etiquette when it comes to one’s spouse’s work schedule, I was baffled. It felt rude to just go to bed but I didn’t want to stay up until he left the house after 11:00. In the end, I watched old episodes of Beverly Hills 90210 until I dozed off and he came to kiss me good night and left for the night. I slept horribly…waking up repeatedly to check and see that yes, he was not asleep beside me (although it was certainly a more quiet night than I was used to).

The whole experience got me thinking about families who deal with shift work. I put the word out this morning, asking my Twitter followers to tell me what their favourite thing is about shift work, and asking what their least favourite thing about shift work is, too.

Some of the responses I received included:


“Favorite part? Maybe the bed to myself.”

“He definitely doesn’t sleep well because of the transition, and it is difficult to let him sleep well because the kids are noisy.”


“Fav is that during the days he’s home (even though he’s sleeping) I could put a toddler down for a nap and leave with the older kid if I wanted to.”

“Least is that he doesn’t get proper sleep.”

I didn’t hear from any women who actually work night shifts, but I’d love to hear from them and how this affects their family life.

Do you deal with shift work in your family? What is your favourite thing about working at night? What is your least favourite aspect of working shift work?

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