Hey moms out there!
Today I’m going to be talking to a specific group of you, but don’t worry if your significant other isn’t on second shift; maybe this is something you can peruse to get a sense of where your fellow mom friends are coming from in their lives.
My husband is in factory work. He fixes the machines when they break down. We knew early on in our marriage college was not something he was interested in pursuing. We learned this lesson twice when he went to school and just couldn’t find his passion for sitting in a class all day. He started working in a factory as a maintenance mechanic and fell in love with the job.
Factory work is a system of seniority, with which comes shift preferences, and usually night shift for people just starting out. Having him on night shift for me personally is awful. I have terrible anxiety when I’m left alone home at night and would never sleep. It was not an amazing start to a marriage, two tired zombies just trying to function in the world.
Luckily when my husband started this amazing job three years ago, the only shift open was 3PM-11PM. Usually people with families hate this shift because they pretty much miss their kids until the weekend. I was looking forward to both of us finally getting some sleep. Well, I mean, as much sleep as you could possibly get when you’re constantly having babies that love to be up in the middle of the night!
This routine worked best for us until this year when we decided to stop homeschooling and send our kids to school (which, was best for my mental sanity and theirs).
So, here is how I navigate having a family while my husband is working second shift:
The short answer to this is I don’t. At least, it doesn’t feel like I do.
I pack lunches for school the night before and lay out the clothes the kids will be wearing on the couch so they can just grab and go in the morning.
My husband wakes up with them so he can get some quality time in before they’re gone all day. Once they head off to school, Kyle lays back down and once the two littles are up, the day gets started.
I usually let him sleep until around 10AM. 😴
During that time I try to get in a cup of coffee while being screamed at by my two littles demanding breakfast, and (most days) a few minutes later second breakfast. After spending years with Kyle on night shift I’m not a morning person. Honestly I never truly was, I mean in 4th grade at parent teacher conferences my teacher told my parents, “Shannon is just one of those people you leave alone in the morning.”
So, having him on night shift didn’t make me hate mornings they just solidified the falling out I was already having with them. We will never be best friends, but I can hobble along until that sweet, sweet nectar of life (aka coffee ☕) kicks in.
Once Kyle awakens from his beauty sleep we make a plan for the day while he eats his breakfast and we try to spend at least ten minutes without children at our feet truly having conversation. Most of these plans end in simple requests like, “You’ll come hang out with me while I work on that, right?” Who am I to say no to that? Any chance I get to avoid household duties — I mean hang out with my husband — I’m going to take.
We lay the kids down for a nap around 1PM and lately, we’ve both been napping for the hour before he leaves for work. I forgot how amazing a little nappy can be. With our second child he was pretty much done with naps at 3 (because he hates me.) The days I don’t nap I take an hour to work my business and get a blog or two started.
His alarm goes off at 2pm and he is out the door. By 2:30 both littles are up and demanding to be fed again. How can people so little eat so much? We grab a snack and hop in the car to pick the big kiddos up at the bus stop by 3.
Once we’re home we all split tasks, the kids starting homework while I clean up. Most days I spend holding their hands through each answer because honestly, by the time they get home from school they’re over it. I’ve tried giving then a break before finishing homework and it only makes it worse. These are the moments I start to miss my husband. I couldn’t imagine being able to have help with homework.
After homework I make dinner and we either eat picnic style in the living room or at the dining room table. Most nights it’s picnic style because they’d prefer it that way. When it’s four against one you tend to pick your battles.
I like to think I’m a good cook, nothing amazing but what I makes is tasty. Unless you’re my oldest then everything I make is poison, just ask him he will tell you. I wish there was another adult here to enjoy what I make.
By the time Kyle gets to it, it has been reheated which, we all know reheated food is never as good as when it’s first made (unless it’s Chinese which seems to gain strength reheated).
Time for Some Fun
When dinner is done we either head out to Boy Scouts or whatever sport they’re signed up for at the time. I want my kids to be active in extracurriculars.
I loved the time I spent playing sports and it’s important to me for them to have that, too. Although taking the kids to things alone is like a big sporting event in and of itself. I make sure to have tons of toys, a huge picnic blanket, and more snacks. Have I mentioned my kids love eating? I try to watch two kids simultaneously playing soccer while making sure the two littles aren’t running off in the middle of the field or running into the public restroom (they seem to love doing that?). All while missing every time the older boys look up to make sure I’m paying attention.
End of the Day
This is where I start to feel like I fail. It’s hard! So stinking hard.
I took a break this past spring from doing any sports because I was just done. After this we head home, it’s normally past their bedtime and they all need baths. I bathe the youngest to oldest tuck them in and call it a day.
I have about 3 or so hours from the time my children go to bed to when my husband gets home. I spend that time working my business or doing the dishes, but mostly I spend this time doing nothing. I need to turn my brain off and just be me for 5 seconds (or 3 hours). It’s just who I am as a person.
Hubby is home at 11:30ish where we catch up on how each of our days went.
There you have it, a glimpse at my day.
Here are some take aways I’d like to pass along:
Second shift is lonely.
I spend most of the time by myself and the days the kids cry they miss their dad are the hardest.
When I go on play dates or just go hangout with my friends those days I don’t get to see my husband at all. So some plans just get canceled because I need that extra time with him. Most of the ‘terrible life things’ seem to happen at night when my husband is at work. Sick or injured kids, bats invading the house (a future blog post!) most school events, and just life, in general.
Do you want to help a mom in my shoes? Invite her over for dinner. Most dinners are spent with a chorus of unhappy kids crying about not getting the meal they wanted. (NO we cannot have noodles again and again and again.)
Be willing to help if asked. If they’re anything like me, they won’t ask for help unless they REALLY need it.
To all the moms out there whose husband is working second shift — my solidarity sisters, you’re amazing! You have the drive and determination to make it work, and though the situation isn’t ideal, you’re trying your hardest to make the best out of it.
On the plus side you don’t have to sleep alone at night, which is everything to me. You know, because of murderers.