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Navigating night shift with kids can absolutely feel stressful, you are not alone there. My husband and I have 3 children and we’ve been through the newborn phase, toddler phase and now our kids are in elementary school.
There are hard parts and easy parts about each of those phases of parenting.
Trying to balance dinner, homework, bed time routines, then not waking our spouse the next day while they are sleeping can all feel incredibly stressful and hard to manage at times.
I personally had the hardest time during putting all 3 kids to bed around the same time without loosing my sanity. Another stressful time for me was when my husband was sleeping during the day and my kids were SUPER loud. I somehow felt responsible is they woke up (even though he never put that pressure on me, I managed to put it on myself).
So in today’s episode I share both some common struggles for navigating night shift with kids but also tips for balancing it as best as you can (and during the day with littles at home) for you, your kids, and your marriage.
Tips for Parenting While Your Spouse Works Night Shift:
Block out noise and light as much as possible (this is for your spouse)
To help your spouse get the best sleep during the day (especially if you are kids are home), I do recommend investing in black out curtains, ear plugs or headphones, a sound machine and even a box fan or loud air purifier to help block out as much noise as possible.
Remember, that kids will be kids
One of the biggest things I learned is that trying to force our kids to be quiet all the time or not have meltdowns because they miss their other parent at bedtime is not going to work.
They are little and missing their parent who is working and being loud is normal for them.
Designate areas of your home that are quiet areas and not quiet areas
So basically I made “zones” of the house. I would tell the kids that certain rooms were off-limits while my husband was sleeping and others were designated for play, being loud, etc. It helped us be respectful of the fact that my husband was trying to rest while also allowing the kids to be kids.
In the evenings when I was trying to help kids with homework, clean up, make dinner, bath the kids, then put to kids to bed, it could be a lot of balance. If I rotated toys every so often then it helped my kids stay entertained longer so I could manage to get what needed to be done in the evenings.
Enforce quiet times
Sometimes when things got out of hand, when my kids were tired or when I needed to begin putting kids to bed, I would enforce a quiet time. I had each child go to their room and we would quickly review some things they could do in their rooms on their own. Many times it was reading/looking at books, drawing, tablet time, legos, etc.
Updates/Visuals for when kids could see or talk to daddy/mommy
My kids really missed their dad when he was working. So trying to let them know when they could Marco Polo him, Facetime him, or see him next really helped with all the questions and unhappy tears.
Carve out Time for your Marriage/Relationship
With this lifestyle, it is really easy to let yourself just make it to the next shift, or the next day when your spouse is off. But in the craziness of it all, you really need to make sure to carve out time for your relationship, as well, even when your spouse is on night shift.
One way I would do this, is if I knew my husband normally gets up at 2 p.m. for example, then I would go in the room around 1:50 and lay with him for a bit. I would put a movie on for the kids or have them do rest time just so I could have a minute with my husband.
This is not selfish. This is for you, your spouse, your marriage and your kids.
Be okay with saying “no”
The only way you can do all the things (that really matter) is to say NO. Yep. You need boundaries. You do not need to say yes to every activity, event, etc. There is no way you can do it all and not feel crazy.
I promise you, life will move on and you will be glad you said no.
This is such a HUGE topic so I can definitely foresee more podcasts about parenting and night shift in the future!
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