Wednesday, September 23, 2009

love the shift you're in

These are the results from the last poll I posted. I asked What shift do you prefer?

14 (35%)
11 (28%)
2 (5%)
8 (20%)
not sure/ it doesn't matter
4 (10%)

Votes: 39

Every night this week, I've sat in front of the computer, cracked my knuckles and wiggled my fingers over the keys, ready to write. Nothing comes. Instead I end up reading Harry Potter, or I clean the kitchen, shave my legs, pumice my feet, watch Dancing with the Stars, or end up crashing face down onto my bed, falling fast asleep. It's a pampered life when HF works graves, I'm tellin' you. Sometimes when HF is on his way out the door for work, I will say something like, "When the cat's away, the mice come out to play!" and then I do my best dirty old man cackle with jabbing elbow and all. If he's ever wondered what it is I do while he's at work and our children are sleeping, he can rest assure that I'm usually not doing much of anything. Sometimes there is an ocassional ladies night. Usually I'm enjoying a couple hours of relaxation before heading to bed. One night last week he came home unexpectedly for some items he forgot. He needed me to run them outside to the patrol car. I had just settled in on the couch in my pjs to watch some ALIAS with a large mug of ice cream, and had a face mask on. I hesitated on the phone. I looked down at myself and touched the hardening mask on my face. "Uh, do I have to come outside?"
After reading the comments, I have to say some of you have some CRAZY work schedules! I don't think I have anything to complain about any longer. Each shift HF has worked has been an adjustment. Just when I think I'm getting the hang of one, or liking the routine, *bam* new shift. Since being cut loose, he has been working graves. He'll probably be working graves for the next couple of years at least. These are my thoughts on the night shift (great. now I have the song by the commodores, "night shift" stuck in my head).

What I don't love about HF working nights:
  1. He is not at home while we are sleeping. Sometimes I hear noises, or feel a little scared at night. If you lived in our neighborhood you would feel the same way.
  2. If he's not here during the night, then that means he's not sleeping with me. With small children, our only chance to spend quality time together is when the children go to bed. Physical intimacy is not always achieved before he has to leave for work. That vital part of our marriage gets easily neglected so therefore has to be scheduled. We do have a little less than 2 hours without kids before he has to go to work though.
  3. We don't get to have a normal date night. And his days off are on awkward days for date night. Sunday and Monday nights. It's hard to get babysitting on those days. At least for us it is.
  4. Sleeping during the day, even if he gets 7-10 hours before waking up, is still not the best sleep. He is always tired because his body is always out of wack.
  5. His days off sometimes don't seem like days off because his body still thinks he's on graves.
  6. Overtime. This would be an issue with any shift though.
  7. When I wake up in the morning he should be next to me in bed. For obvious reasons, he can't always leave work when his shift is supposed to end. Sometimes he can't get to bed until later in the day and then has to go to sleep when we would normally be seeing him and spending time together.
  8. It seems like there is a lot more action in the middle of the night. Good for him, not good for me if I'm being a worry wart.
  9. Feels like he is always gone. Even when he's here sleeping upstairs.
I'm sure there's more things to hate about the graves (from a police wife's perspective) but here's what I love, or at least am finding to be not so bad:
  1. Even though he is sleeping, it's comforting that he's here and just a few steps away if there's some kind of an emergency.
  2. Sometimes when I put the baby down for a nap, I leave with Luke and Daisy to run errands or go do something fun. He predictably sleeps at least 2 hours for his nap, but if he were to wake up and cry, HF would hear him if he needed to help him. So far it hasn't ever happened.
  3. He wakes up at 3 pm, which if you think about it, is like getting home from work earlier than your typical 9 to 5-er.
  4. He gets some good quality time in with the kids, gets to eat dinner with us, and help put the kids to bed.
  5. Me time. I'm finding that having this time at night is really good for me. I can watch movies, read, work on projects, do office work, organize our lives, take care of my physical, spiritual, and mental/emotional needs. It actually forces me to be organized in most ways; personally, home management, etc. If he is home at night, then we usually don't do anything except hang out. Everything else gets neglected. With him gone, I am better at time management.
  6. It's a good schedule with young children because he can go to any afternoon and evening events and be here for dinner and nighttime routines.
  7. I've been able to take care of myself better. I guess that fits under the me time category, but I read a lot, I beautify, I talk to friends and family, I make plans, set goals, sometimes I make playlists.
So for us graves really works well. I'm actually quite happy with our little arrangement right now. I'll just have to figure out a new rhythm when the shift changes to days or swings. Just please not the dreaded cover shift. I don't know how I would ever rock the cover shift.

How do you make graves work for your benefit? Or whatever shift you or your spouse is on? I also want to know what it is you do for your "me" time. How do you nurture yourself when you are done taking care of everyone and everything else?


Meadowlark said...

Sadly, I don't take any "me" time. For whatever reason (yes, I know something wrong with me) I spend my alone time waiting for him to get home. I run on the treadmill because I have to lose weight for YoungSon's wedding, I pretend to try to knit, I stumble around on FB and blogs, but always - I'm simply passing time until he gets home.

I'm hoping when I hit 50 I'll learn to be independent. I don't really have much hope though. :(

It does seem that you're making the best of what you have and that is such a healthy response. It seems like He gives us what we can handle, so if you really couldn't handle covers, perhaps He'll keep them at bay.


Anonymous said...

How do you make graves work for your benefit? The biggest benefit of Mr Deputy working graves is he is home and awake every morning. He is the one that gets the girls ready for school, make breakfast before waking me up which gives me that extra amount of sleep time since i am a night owl. And then he is awake with our boy while i take the girls to school and if i have to run a errand. It helps out ALOT having him awake first thing in the morning and home to help with that Chaotic hour or so.

I also want to know what it is you do for your "me" time. How do you nurture yourself when you are done taking care of everyone and everything else? I rarely take any "ME" time. When i do have "ME" time i usually spend it grabbing some coffee and chatting with my friends at a java cafe, or i will go shopping (grocery, supplies or just for fun) its all better when i dont have to take the kids with me. A few times I have escaped to the Coast by my self for a while but When A chance happens that we can do stuff as a family I take that time and let go "ME" time.

When He is at work I take "ME" time everynight though. its after the kids are in bed and i either take a hot bath or read for a while before going to bed or on bad nights when our son wakes up multipple times from night terrors.

Anonymous said...

I'm like meadowlark, I need to do better about getting stuff done when he is not at home, instead of just passing time until he is home. So I neglect stuff a lot, when he isn't here and when he is. :-)

I also need to get better about taking me time. We should and need to pamper ourselves ladies!!

911 and the Randomness.. said...

When DH is on graves, I tend to stay up later with him to spend more quality time together. It depends on my shift too though because we are on different shifts and rotations. I like to scrapbook and hang with girlfriends and lately I've been working out a little bit. Talking long walks with my dog helps too. I'm lucky in that we don't have kids yet. I pray you don't get cover shift again!!

Dori said...

So, I totally wasn't going to comment because you really don't need to hear that graves/mids dang near ruined us. But then my husband asked why I hadn't commented. So I came back here and read the post again. And you know what? You guys--at least you--sound like you're really healthy.

We were functioning okay until our second baby came along...I found myself enjoying that time alone--just me and the quiet, before our oldest was born I'd go out with friends or by myself if I wanted. And then the department changed up their shifts. Instead of starting at 9, his shift began at 7:30--right in the middle of bath/bed time. So I was thrown into dealing with all of that with two small children (one of them an infant)all by my lonesome. Not pretty. Not pretty at all. One year of the 7:30-7 schedule and I was ready to call it quits. (Have I discouraged you yet?) But he had all of these extra duties, he was never home. Ever. And here's the thing...he was on mids for six years. And it was a very unreliable schedule with court taking up daytime hours. It effected all of us negatively. His shift to days saved our marriage. Literally. Just the stability of having him home to help put the little ones to bed--they're certainly better off for it. Which make me a better mommy and wife.

Continue the path you're on. It's a good one. Don't look at us...we're a really bad example! I'm going to shut up now before I make you cry...

Anonymous said...

For us, there are only two shifts, days or midnights. 6 to 6 either way. Days means waking at 430 in the morning. I'm way more tired working days than nights, and enjoy the work at night more, anyway. Plus, with 12 hour shifts, I only work 15 days in a month, max.

So in the end, for both me and Sara, I think we prefer nights, despite the problems it creates that you mentioned.

mrs. fuzz said...

Dori- THANK YOU for your comment!! Those couple of hours make a HUGE difference. That shift you mentioned that he started at 7:30 sounds like what HF's dept. calls the cover shift, but it goes from 7 pm to 4 am. Still not as bad as 7:30 to 7 like your man was doing! I know EXACTLY what you mean about the dealing with the little ones at bath/bed time. I do it on my own a lot because HF takes a night class on Tues and Thurs nights and it is not pretty. They get to bed much later than I would like and I am drenched in sweat when it's over. I hate it. HF does his part when he's home, but I pretty much act as though he is deployed or will be deployed any moment. Helps me to be more independent, but it is seriously impossible to be a wife and mother and deal with all that entails when he has a schedule like that and then the added stuff like you were mentioning like court and extra duties. A nightmare. I'm guessing you didn't have a husband at all for 6 years. Man. I can tell it affects the kids negatively when they don't see their dad for a while. They need him even if it's just for a few minutes at bedtime. I don't know how single parents do it. I really don't.

Your comment didn't upset me at all. Just makes me cross my fingers that he doesn't get that cover shift EVER and maybe knowing about the possibilities of nonstop work will help me anticipate when that happens to us. Fingers crossed. I'm hoping for just days and graves that end exactly at the time they were supposed to with no overtime and no courts and no reports to write that extend past his shift. I think it's possible. :)

Momma Val said...

My husband has sleeping issues so sleeping when the rest of the world is works best for us. He is on swings and it works best for us right now. I was fond of mids cause I got the best sleep ever sleeping without someone with sleep issues is best for sane mama. It really did not bother me too much of he was gone at night, we have a big loud dog, fabulous burglar alarm and protector and I have a safe full of loaded guns that I am certified to use. Days really stinks for us, for now. I think one day it will be ideal. Now it wakes up Little Buddy way too early. Then hubby is going to bed before me and I like to lay in bed and watch TV alone before bed (he is not a fan). I LOVE having date nights and family time in the day or the middle of the week. Beat the crowds and totally cool. Just leaves a VERY lonely me and Little Buddy on the weekends where everywhere we turn is packed and full of families. His 22 mile commute does not make days easy either, swings beat all with a lengthy commute, traveling during non-traditional rush hour :)

Dori said...

When we were looking at shifts, mids/graves really was the best fit for us--in spite of the previous comment. When I went back to work full time, he'd be home to get the baby up and help with stuff then sleep while I was at work. I'd get home with our son around 5:30 and he'd be awake--usually--and we'd have a normal family evening. That all went to hell with the shift change. Days wasn't an option--he would have died with getting up at 5 every morning!! Evenings would have been worse! No family time there at all. But his new day position is ideal--typically 7:30ish to 4ish, with odd hours thrown in every now and then and being on call 24/7. We can handle that. This summer when he was gone for 6 wks we did fine--it was a struggle, but it was without resentment or bitterness. Amazing. Having gone through all of that has made us extremely grateful for what we have--the fact that we did stick it out when others would have crumpled showed us that we really are a good team and that we really do love each other! And, yeah, I have no idea how a single mom does it. At least I know that I may have a string of really long, trying days but there's a break somewhere in there too. Hopefully any "swing" shifts Mr. Fuzz gets are only temporary!!

Natalie said...

Checking into the blogging world is TOTALLY me time while my kiddies are nappingand hubs is on days. I use to clean during this time but my daughter wakes up too easily so I try to be as quiet as I can by going on-line and chillin'.

When FH has nights I do a lot of what you do. In fact, sometimes I look forward to his night shifts so I can stay up and get my girly accomplishments like self pedis done or chick flick watching.

A big thanks to Dori for making me not feel so alone when crappy hours and MIA hubs comes to be.

Thanks for this post!

Paula said...

As a nurse, I worked the 11 pm to 7 a.m shift for 26 years...all the years I was raising my kids and they didn't even notice that their mom was at work. I put them to bed long before I left for work and was at home in the mornings (unless it was a really bad night) to get them ready and take them to school. Then I slept all day while they were gone. I never missed any of their school activities....nights is the best shift ever as far as I am concerned!!!

Anonymous said...

Any of my shifts suck. Currently I work our middle shift. We have 3. Days (6am-630pm), Covers (2pm-230am **My Shift) and Graves (6pm-630am).

Days are all taken by people with lots of time on. I have that time but had the work product I have to deal with. But...I get home just before the kids go to sleep. So I get about 30 min with them.

Cover, well I get to be jard awake by a 4 yr old and 2 yr old and maybe the baby too. Don'y sleep real great after going to sleep around 4am but there is nothing better then waking up to a 2 year old saying, "daddy, daddy."

Graves - The wife just says I turn into a different person. A GRUMP! And I'm already grumpy!!!

The plus is tech. get 4 days off. Except I work weekends so on Mon-Fri I have lots of subpoenas and don't seam to have a lot of "off" time.

Stella said...

Right now, graves are really killing us. DH works weekend graves, which means he sleeps all day while my 2 kids and I are enjoying life..going to the park, zoo, playdates..sometimes I think he is missing everything, especially watching the kids grow up. I work a full time job during the weekdays and take our 2 young kids (4 1/2 & 2 1/2) to a lab school at the college where I work. DH is so exhausted on his days off or has court that not much gets done. Sometimes we'll meet up for lunch and that's our date time. My mantra has always been "Embrace Your Independence!" Hopefully, he'll get anotner shift January!