• Joni Ganguzza

5 Ways to Not Let Shiftwork Tear Apart Your Marriage

Where are all my shift workers at?!? Shift work can look glamorous sometimes. My job allows me to work a full time job but still have 15 days off per month. Easy right? I can get my errands done on weekdays when stores are empty rather than busy evenings or weekends. I have friends that I see regularly that are stay at home moms since some weekdays I am completely off as well as having my mom friends that also work outside the home. I can be there to chaperone a school field trip or attend a school play without having to miss work. Sounds great right, I mean who wouldn’t want to have 15 days off per month?

Well y’all, there is the less glamorous side too. I don’t always have a consistent schedule so I have worked day shifts, late midday shifts and nights and sometimes I have worked all those shifts in the same week which leaves me physically exhausted and my circadian rhythm completely thrown off which leads to a grumpy wife and mom. I have to work major holidays so I’m not home every Christmas to celebrate with my family. If shifts aren’t evenly balanced throughout the month because I’m covering when a colleague goes on vacation or gets sick, I can end up with a 70 hour work week. Since my shifts usually don’t allow me to be home after school or even to put my children to bed, my husband ends up having to take care of everything from homework, bath times and bedtimes solo and with 7 kids, that is no easy task, and in the past it put a huge strain on our marriage. We both love our big family, but neither of us signed up to feel like we were just co single parents.

My husband worked a busy finance job that was the more typical Monday through Friday schedule, which allowed me to work my crazy hours. He would have to leave on time when I worked so he could get home and take care of the kids. On days I was off, he often would stay late to catch up on work he couldn’t get done on days I was at work. It really caused my husband and I to grow apart, since some months we would never be together in the evenings to have dinner together or share the tasks of taking care of 7 kids in the evening. Finding the balance to support both our careers and to have a healthy relationship with our kids and each other has been difficult at times, but we made some big changes to find a better balance and foster a loving relationship with each other.

1) Google Calendar

Since my schedule is never consistent week to week, having a shared Google calendar allowed my husband to easily schedule meetings or an occasional social event for him like an alumni happy hour, rather than feeling like he could never make plans because he wouldn’t know my schedule

2) Self Care

We both have become more aware of each other’s self care needs. For me, hot yoga is my place of self renewal, so I put on our shared google calendar classes I want to take so I can refresh my body and mind. My husband enjoys an occasional morning of sleeping in or just to get out of the house solo to run errands or go for a walk so I make sure to make that happen for him on weekends I am off.

3) We hired help

In the past we hired a part time nanny who only worked during the day when I was at work who would go home as soon as my husband got home from work. I would be solo in the evenings I was off and my husband would be solo in the evenings when I worked. So we decided to hire an AuPair. An AuPair is essentially a nanny from another country who lives with us. This has been much more affordable than having a more traditional nanny, but it also has been an amazing cultural exchange experience. It also has given us much more help in the evenings and flexible scheduling. An AuPair can work 10 hours a day, 45 hours per week as long as they have 1.5 days off per week and one full weekend off per month. We often schedule our AuPair to work until 8pm so there is an extra adult to help with the kids in the evening. This has also us to have help on weekends as well as scheduling more regular date nights

4) We made our marriage a priority

Prior to having an AuPair, date nights rarely happened. Once we had more hours of childcare, when we made our AuPairs schedule for the month, we made sure we had regular date nights scheduled to keep our relationship with each other strong. Sometimes in the busy hustle of raising a family, we weren’t taking the time to really talk to each other to find out what each other were struggling with or going through. A regularly scheduled date night allowed us to sit down and talk as best friends again to better love and support each other.

5) We Pray Together

If you haven’t every prayed with your spouse, I encourage you to try it. When I listen to my husband’s prayers and petitions to God, it gives me a deeper look at his hearts desires and what is really bothering him. Being aware of my spouses fears, worries and goals allows me to better support him as a partner.

So my fellow shift workers, what are your tips to finding the balance with marriage and family with your irregular schedule?

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