(Closed) FI starting shift work soon… Tips?

posted 4 years ago in Career
Post # 2
7431 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: February 2013

Darling Husband works 12 hour night shifts 3 nights a week, and he almost always picks up a 4th night for OT. The days he works changes weekly. I’m a Stay-At-Home Mom and we have a 21 month old, and another baby on the way.

Darling Husband has always had shift work since we’ve been together, anywhere from 12-24 hour shifts. It’s tough sometimes, but it’s just something you get used to. His current schedule is hard because he has to sleep during the day before work, and then sleep again when he comes home in the morning. Sometimes I feel like we barely get to see each other, but it’s really nice when he gets to be home for up to 6 days in a row. I don’t feel like it’s put extra stress on our relationship.

Post # 4
757 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2015

My husband also works 3/4/4/3 12+ hr night shifts.

He always has, but I would say yes there will be some very frustrating times (and missed holidays, etc) but try not to make it worse for him, don’t be short with him, etc.  He still wants holidays too so see if you can still make them special!

Post # 5
563 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2014

I worked this type of schedule for over 5 years. And to be honest,I liked it a lot!  A lot of people told me it was because I’m “young”(less than 30). The switching back and forth did not bother me but I did not have a family(no children). But on days where we had days off,or even significant hours off together,my fiance and i would do something like go out to lunch or watch some tv shows. Some of my coworkers do have families and seem to manage well also. But good luck to you and your family!!!!

Post # 6
533 posts
Busy bee

Sleep is critical for relationship and personal health. Get black out curtains or better yet foam insulation sheets (be sure to cover both sides) for the  bedroom windows. Hang a heavy curtain to cover the door. Try to block as much light and sound as possible. Set up a bedtime routine, to cue his body that is bedtime ( bath and a cup of sleepy tea was mine). I have also heard about a light that mimics natural light and turns off and on slowly so the body thinks it is sunrise or sunset.

He will be more tired. 40 hours of rotation shift work is usually harder on people than 40 hours of a set  schedule, even overnights.

It is easy (very easy) to gain weight on an erratic schedule. Your body clock is out of wack and you eat for energy to compensate for lack of solid sleep. Try to have things like apples and nuts in the house for snacks. Also try to keep a plate in the fridge so he can eat a proper meal instead of grazing if his body decides it is meal time at an odd time of day.

The beginning will be the hardest part, but this is not normal even if he does it for decades, it will still always be a little harder than 8-5 .

Congratulations to him.

  • This reply was modified 4 years, 2 months ago by  handa.
Post # 7
146 posts
Blushing bee

My fiancé works a rotating shift – four months on night shift then four months on days…at least that’s how it is supposed to work. He’s about to start his second night shift rotation in a row, making it 8 months of nights. Same thing happened last year too. Sucks, but it could always be worse. I work pretty early in the morning, so the hardest part is that my sleep schedule gets messed up.

Anyway…we make it work. I go to bed before he gets home from work, but I wake up to chat with him for a few minutes to talk about our days, etc. Then we curl up and go to sleep.  Communication is huge, and it can’t just be through texting. Chat when he gets home, leave him cute notes to find, try and squeeze in a phone call here and there. It’ll help big time.

The other thing I do is make sure I make him a home cooked meal every night. When he’s on night shift, I will make a big batch of food in the crockpot over the weekend and then seperate it into enough containers to last the week. That way he isn’t stuck eating sandwiches or takeout every night and it’s something nice I can do for him.

Post # 8
824 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2017 - Sea Cider

my Fiance does rotating shifts, but not on a predictable schedule. sometimes she has 12-16hour day shifts, sometimes 12-16 hour night shifts, sometimes a six to eight hour bridge shift, and sometimes a four hour CT (as in the scan) shift.

the way the shifts are set up does not always make sense, and sometimes it REALLY screws with her sleep patterns, so I will echo PP and say that sleep should be priority number one.

make sure YOU know what the schedule is. if it changes, keep a shared calendar up in a public space, so you can check it if you need while your Fiance sleep.

makes meals ahead of time. freeze ’em, pack lunches, whatever – just make sure there is always food that can be grabbed in a hurry if need be (see above about sleep schedules).

is your Fiance a doctor? assume they will always be late, be grateful when they come home on time, and appreciate the bejeebers out of days they get off early. I cannot tell you how many hours I have spent waiting in the doctor’s lounge for “one more surgery”, on a night when I brought dinner so it could be eaten hot mid-shift.

good luck!

Post # 9
755 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2016

I’ve done shift work for the last 10 yrs (I’m an ER doctor) and night shift is NOT fun. My tips to survive:

– Install blackout curtains in the bedroon where he plans to sleep, and buy a white noise generator. Sleeping in earplugs hurts your ears after a couple of days. 

– Make a hard and fast rule that once he’s asleep he’s left in the bedroom to sleep until he wakes up on his own. Don’t pop into the room just to say hi, to put away clothes, for a hug. And keep the kids out as well.

– Eat as healthily as you can, and continue to exercise. I’ve found the easiest way is to completely reverse your day on night shifts ie wake up at 6pm and treat it as if it’s first thing in the morning, go to the gym, eat breakfast foods then off to work

– Don’t get reliant on coffee / sleeping pills to wake up or go to sleep, you’ll feel a hundred times worse

– Get out of doing shift work as soon as you can! It’s horrendous for your physical and mental health as you feel like you have jet lag all the time. Plus its disruptive on the routine for yourself and your family. It also becomes harder as you get older. It’s fine as a stop-gap on your way to something better but I would never recommend anyone do it permanently!! Hats off to people who can!!! 

Post # 10
154 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2015

I agree with everything PP have said. I would also like to add, please don’t give him too hard of a time if he falls behind on chores around the house and things like that. Working nights makes me feel like crap even on my days off and it’s really hard to muster up the energy to be productive! 

Post # 11
15 posts

Adding to the number of people suggesting black out curtains!! It is a very hard transition in the beginning, so be patient with each other because lack of sleep tends to make people a little moody.

If you are finding the shifts difficult on yourself (because your Fiance is not home/awake as much as you are used to), keep his successes and the support you have for his endeavours in the forefront of your mind. Shift work is hard, and may accompany a job that is even harder. He will appreciate you as a support system.

Congratulations to the both of you, for his landing his dream job!

Post # 12
3065 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

betterdigtwo:  wow they switch Week to Week midnight to day shift??? 12 hour shifts are actually kind of nice ( Darling Husband is on a texas two step with 12 hour shifts but luckily he is on days)

The roughest part i think will be him adjusting to sleep- he might be exhausted. Blackout shades are a MUST. 

My Darling Husband used to do monthly rotating shifts- one month days, one swing, then to midnights then back to days. The hardest part was switching from the day shifts to mids- he was a zombie for like 3 years lol!

Just be patient, with a 12 hour shift you will easily be able to find time together itll just probably not be on a weekend ( ie tomorrow me and Darling Husband have a date even tho its wednesday and i work a reg 9-5) You’ll make it work just be open minded and cut him some slack- switching like that is rough- if you feel frustrated try to vent to a friend or get a glass of wine ( or both!)

What is his job?

  • This reply was modified 4 years, 2 months ago by  Boxerlover24.
Post # 13
509 posts
Busy bee

I’ve been on this shift for 26 years (yeah, I’m that old).  It’s tricky to make this work, but, it can be done.  You’ve gotten some great tips from people.  I just want to add that people who don’t work shift just can’t understand how tiring it is, and how hard it is.

You have to be understanding that we as shift workers have to miss lots of family events, holidays, birthdays etc., because we have to work.  It’s depressing, and hard, but, worse if your family makes you feel guilty about it.  They ask why you can’t get the day off etc.  Not always possible to do.

So, as a shift worker, I would just ask the people in my life to try to be tolerant, and understanding. 

Post # 14
469 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

oops misread your post. Congrats to him on getting his dream job!

Post # 15
1792 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

I have a set night achedule but transitioning is the worst! Here’s my tips:


-don’t do blackout curtains, light still gets in around the edges. Put up aluminum foil on the bedroom windows to make it light tight. youre tryin to sleep during the day, so light will wake you up easier than it would at night 

-only eat when you’re hungry, don’t try to follow a pattern or you’ll overindulge. Just eat when your body is genuinely hungry 

-understand that he will NEED to sleep during the day. Just let him go without making him feel bad about it because he can’t help it

-don’t try to stay awake to switch over. Take a three or four hour nap when you’re trying to transition, before his shift starts. its much easier to transition with extra sleep rather than trying to stay up 24 hours to get back on nights 

-be sure to get outside and see the sun on night shift nights, it makes you feel better! 

-only drink coffee on nights that you reeeeally need it. Or else it stops being as effective and you’re just hooked on caffeine

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