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Any parents employed in shift work - could you share your experiences please?

(8 Posts)
BarbieLovesKen Thu 07-Jul-11 21:07:46

May not even happen but i may have an opportunity to start working shift, just weighing up my options and make an informed decision should this opportunity actually arise.

I'm currently on maternity leave (dd2 is 3 weeks old) and am due to return to work at the end of November. We have 3 dc (5 years old, 17 months and latest arrival) I work in a clerical/admin role for the health service -
Monday - Friday, 9.30 - 5.30, would I be insane to give this up for a job which will require nights working/ weekends etc.. (likely to be in accident and emergency).

I would also likely to be working nights all over this christmas (for instance)

The logic behind my considering this is because the recession is really hitting us hard (Ireland)- shift work would mean shift allowance - am guessing about between €200 - €300 extra per month but the big appeal - could possibly cut down childcare by 2 weeks per month (saving us €440 per month). It would take massive financial pressure off us both (but admittedly would take alot more organising with the kids), I'd be working 2 weekends of the month, dh would be off for the kids etc. That said, a couple of days per month, I would have to come in from nights, stay up with kids until 2pm (when dh is home to take over) and get about 4 hours sleep before going on nights again.

Another massive plus - I reckon it would give me so much more time with dc (because they are 12 hour shifts so I'd be working 3-4 days per week instead of the 5 and would often be off for 5 days in a row because of shift rota). Myself and dh would see less of eachother though.

My cousin is currently in this job and although she says the actual work is fine, she can't cope with the shifts and is desperate to get back to 9-5, apparently most people are like this after a bit in this job. She is single with no children and still lives af home, so I'm worried that if she can't cope with it I certaintly won't. On the flip side, I'm more used to not having much sleep (3 dc!!) so perhaps it won't hit me as hard. I'm also thinking we all have different coping abilities - for the past 2 years I've being attending uni studying for my law degree whilst working full time and pregnant with ds and then dd - I am used to/ like being busy so think this should be fine for me?

I dont know, cousin is very negative about the position - would love to hear from those with dc and how you find it?

Thanks for reading

BarbieLovesKen Thu 07-Jul-11 21:12:13

Apologies for rubbish post - am on phone

twinklytoes Thu 07-Jul-11 22:32:55

shift work and children is hard and very expensive in my opinion. I am yet to find a childcarer that is willing to work with shifts,especially unsocial hours and only charge for what you use. also once you've got a child using the pre-school free hours then your choice of childminders are limited to those that pick up from the nursery you choose.

I was on shifts when had first DD. my employer wanted me to do a rolling roster - I was only working 15hrs, which they wanted to be mon, tues one week, then tues, wed, wed, thurs etc. my childminder couldn't do this. I would also pay for 10hrs a day but might only need 5 as I was on a late shift for example. Also, needed to ensure DH shared every aspect of childcare otherwise it didn't work. e.g. childminders / nurseries very rarely open before 8am, but I was starting work at 730am and had an hour commute aswell.

TBH I hated shift work with juggling children. the only benefit was that I'd get a guarenteed day once a month where it was just me at home and i could do what I wanted, when I wanted. We rarely had time as a family as someone was always at work or we were restricted because one of us was oncall.

DH and I are now both 9-5 but now pay for what we use and get weekends at home together. in the early days we were passing ships in the night.

Could you investigate a "bank" post and pick up shifts in a&e as and when? you say you like to be busy. as you are already in healthcare then your pay would all be on the same payslip so no extra tax for second job etc and the money wouldn't be paying childcare if you worked when your DH had the children. you'd also be a cheaper option to using agency workers or topping up overtime on regular contracts.

re: night work - staying awake till 2pm after a 12hr shift is not realistic, you will be exhausted and will not be of any use of your next night shift at work with high risk of making mistakes etc, expecially as you say you'd be working in a&e. with night work you really have to change your body clock and sleep during the day, eat breakfast before u go to work, have a lunch break at midnight etc.

MovingAndScared Fri 08-Jul-11 13:18:29

I have not done this personally but know some shift worker:
if you know your shifts in advance and they don't move about from what I have seen its doable but not much fun - but it depends how sleep patterns affects you - and 12 hours shift are best
in the uk some childminders will be flexiable with shift worker - eg do more some weeks and less others = don't know about in Ireland
And I agree you couldn;t do the stay up until 2pm thing - you would need a plan for those days

TinyPenguin Fri 08-Jul-11 14:04:13

I work shifts with no family support for child care. Thankfully DD goes to a nursery that allows flexible booking - as long as let them know in the previous month what days she will attend in the following month they're happy - minimum booking of one day a week. If I work an early shift or night shift hubby drops off at nursery & I do the pick up, if I do a late shift then vice versa. Benefits are that DD spends less time at nursery than if I worked 9-5 mon-fri but disadvantages are that it has an impact on our family time if I'm working a weekend or not home at bedtime etc
Working shifts takes it toll though, especially nights, totally messes up my bodyclock & I suffer with migraines worse.
If your hubby / family have the flexibility to help you out with pick ups & drop offs then it's worth considering for the financial benefits - but if you "can get by" without working nights it's possibly easier with young children.

ILoveUMama Sat 23-Jul-11 07:33:02

I work 3rd shift just on the weekends part-time and I love it because you get payed the same as day shift but with the extra shift differential for working 3rd shift and weekends. Going without sleep is hard though for long periods of time. Your body needs 6-8hours or you may get sick more offten and forgetful because you are sleep deprived. If you can make sure to get at least 6-8hrs of sleep working the shift is wonderful based on the added benifits. Having a schedule that changes weekly however would be difficult because of childcare scheduling.

madamy Sat 23-Jul-11 08:01:59

DH and I both work shifts and have done so for years. DC are now 4, nearly 6 and 8. It is hard work and in my opinion do-able if you don't need to use 'formal' childcare. We are a bit like ships that pass in the night - regularly only have a couple of days off together each month. However we don't tend to work 12 hours, just regular early/late/nights. There have been quite a few occasions where one of us has had to take leave just for childcare and we often 'wing it'!! I'm lucky as I am a manager so have a lot more flexibility with my shift times.
It can work, but takes alot of committment from each side - we do equal childcare, housework, shopping etc - and can be tiring. You might find you can negotiate prehaps one fixed day each week once you get used to the job which would help with childcare.
Good luck!

cantpooinpeace Sat 23-Jul-11 08:23:49

I find shift work far easier. Eg I could work a night shift, come home take kids to school and got to bed until pick up time - plus get paid more money for a night shift/weekends etc so if needed more money would book in a few more wkds/nights.

I'm now on more of a flexi time system for now but I'm finding 9-5 more difficult as the traffic is stressful and getting in for a meeting at 9 means a chaotic morning and me being up very early (husband starts at 6.30). It also means DH has to come home at 8.30 to let me leave, then he takes them to school and goes back to work.

So IMO I personally found unsociable hours fitted better round family life but made me ratty and didn't see DH as much. It also meant missing a few bedtimes/mealtimes a week if working 1-9pm shift but couldn't grumble as the shift work allowed us to use grandparents for childcare 1 day each a week. I also occasionally did Long days 7am - 9.15pm which would condense my hours and give me an extra day off - usually if GP were away or something.

I'm boring myself now!!!

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