Shift Work: A Blessing In Disguise

Okay, I admit it.  I complain about JD’s work schedule a lot.  I bitch about night shift, and feel jealousy towards the couples who seemingly take their in-sync work schedules for granted.  I would see families grocery shopping or enjoying a lazy Saturday morning brunch and envy them (I mean, honestly, who is jealous of grocery shopping?!) because moments like that are harder to come by for us.

As I’ve mentioned, the bright side of JD’s injury is that it forced him to go on light duty, which is a Mon-Fri gig.  We were blessed with a summer of togetherness with plenty of available weekends for family grocery shopping (score!) and lazy brunches.  He transitioned back to regular duty and his regular schedule this week.  Looking back on this summer, what I learned is that maybe JD’s usual schedule is actually perfect for our family after all.  Maybe I had spent so much time envying how “easy” other people have it, that I was blinded to the fact that our life, schedules, and routines are actually pretty great.

Yes, I would love to have every weekend to spend as a family, but the trade-off is that he gets to spend several weekdays at home with L every week, and I didn’t realize how much of an impact that made until the schedule change. Not only do they get a little daddy-daughter bonding time, but it means she doesn’t have to be in daycare full time (better for her, and makes me feel less guilty about being working mom).  This summer, not only did we transition her from an in-home daycare to a daycare center, but she was going full-time due to JD’s altered work schedule.  BIG transition for all of us.  I still think a daycare center was the right choice for her, but it really wears her out.  She’s a great napper at home, but her naps at daycare are pretty short (I just think she has trouble relaxing the way she can at home), so between that and the fact that she’s on sensory overload from everything going on, she’s exhausted by the end of the day.  I think cutting back to a few days a week will make a big difference for her, because she’ll get “breaks” during the week where she’s home, can sleep in, and can take super good naps.

I’ve noticed this summer that she’s been really clingy with me.  There have even been several times that she’ll reject JD and come to me instead.  I actually attribute this to his Mon-Fri work schedule.  Not only was he not home with her at all during the week, but every 2 weeks he worked second shift, meaning he left for work before we got home and arrived home after we were asleep.  That meant 5 nights in a row that we didn’t really see him at all, which was harder than his usual night schedule, where it’s only 2-3 days in a row and we got to see him for an hour or so before he left for work.  This was a lot harder than I anticipated (I thought feeling him crawl into bed every night would be a dream come true, but this pales in comparison to some good, old-fashioned face time) and I think it was hardest on L.  She still got excited to see him and played with him, of course, but I could tell that their relationship had suffered a little bit.

So, back to the usual schedule we go, with a bit of relief from all of us.  We’re thankful for a summer of togetherness, but also thankful for a little perspective.