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Dangers of a shift work partner

(25 Posts)
Lesmacarons Sun 30-Mar-14 10:10:41

I have just old my ex partner that I am not prepared to accommodate his shift work job any longer. Some people might think it is a strange move, but I have had 23 years of working around the fathers of my children and I've had enough.

My youngest is now 13 and some might say 'she is nearly grown up - why now'. well, 13 year olds still need a lot of input and with working around someone who works ridiculous unpredictable shifts - I cannot plan anything. Expensive childcare is the only answer and I have to pay for it out of my income.

The problems are this, so I would say, think hard if you choose a partner who works shifts:

You cannot even plan an evening out or a class without arranging and paying for childcare.

You end up doing jobs that you are over qualified for and just fit in with the kids.

After a long while the fathers get so used to the idea that you are available 24 childcare that they just do not see it as a problem - because it isn't a problem for them.

You can plan a career, but it often doesn't feel fair on the child. You can feel that you are abandoning them with no one if one partner pursues a career relentlessly and then you do the same. I just ended up taking the hit and staying home more so that they would have some quality of family life.

You basically function as a single parent most of the time but without the freedom to make entirely your own choices. As a single parent you do have some other advantages in that regard. With this situation it really can feel that you have the downsides of both single and couple parenthood, because they come home and want to tell you what they feel you should be doing!

The kids don't like it - they like routine and they don't know from one day to the next what is likely to happen.

It is possible to drift in to a slightly depressive state without realising it. It becomes 'the way it is' - but in fact you are living a miserable life and just putting up with it. Nobody should have to do that for money or someone else.

I'm sure there are women out there who don't mind or think that the money is worth it, but I have met quite a lot of women in this position who are permanently dealing with low level stress and a borderline depressive state.

MrsDonnaLyman Sun 30-Mar-14 10:16:32

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Lesmacarons Sun 30-Mar-14 10:17:12

Apologies for the odd mistake - I wrote it in a rant! There doesn't seem to be an edit function.

slartybartfast Sun 30-Mar-14 10:19:36

i see you put your rant into general health and i thought you were going to flag up just how unhealthy shift work is for your generla health <<which it is>>

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 30-Mar-14 10:21:17

You should not be paying childcare out of just your income

Your partner should be consulting you as far as possible about working hours.

Your partner shouldn't be coming home and criticising you.

These things need to change whatever job your partner is in,

Lesmacarons Sun 30-Mar-14 10:22:25

Donna, I think it might be worth asking them. I'm sure that if partners agree completely then it can be OK. Obviously, some people have to work shifts, but I just thought it was worth bearing in mind how difficult that can be for the other partner.

I didn't fully appreciate how difficult it was until I started to get a bit depressed and tried to pin point what was getting me down. I was suffering from anxiety and low level stress all the time and I didn't really understand where it was coming from. I just thought 'he works shifts'...but after a few years I found it impossible to maintain some areas of my life and it really got me down. Evening classes, meeting friends etc - or just planning a day out - let alone a career.

Your partner might not feel the same way - but it is an area that I thought hadn't been covered enough.

missisboot Sun 30-Mar-14 10:27:42

Hear hear.
Dp is a shift worker with non optional overtime at a minutes notice.
It is bloody hard and all the things you mention are risks. In general women tend to make concessions for their children and partners so I don't think this is purely related to shift work.

I have told dd to never marry anyone who works shifts though grin

slartybartfast Sun 30-Mar-14 10:36:19

surely there must be some bonuses to having a shift worker as a partner? such as being home in the day time occasionally, rather than always out at work between 8 am and 6 pm.

Cookiepants Sun 30-Mar-14 10:37:11

My DH and I both work shifts, sounds like we're buggered grin

Seriously though shifts are crap for the person doing them. My DH and I for example ;

1. I have had 1 Xmas day off in 10 years (maternity leave). Same for Easter and most bank holidays.

2. Main meal of the day is 1pm or 2am depending on which shift I'm on.

3. I am very overweight (see 2).

4. I haven't completed an evening class for over 10 years.

5. Meeting my friends (who also work shifts) is like trying to herd cats - coffee in six months anyone?

6. I am more likely to die prematurely and am at greater risk of certain cancers.

Phew, pity the shift workers. Someone has to do it.

Lesmacarons Sun 30-Mar-14 13:42:03

Someone has to do it - this is true - but if, somehow, there could be more understanding for shift workers and their families, perhaps we could all be happier.

Sometimes it is nice to have someone around during the day etc. but the unpredictability of it is such a big problem, the pluses do not make up for it. I found it better for everyone to know where you all stand, without having to stress so much about it every week.

Lesmacarons Sun 30-Mar-14 14:45:18

'You should not be paying childcare out of just your income

Your partner should be consulting you as far as possible about working hours.

Your partner shouldn't be coming home and criticising you.'

These things need to change whatever job your partner is in,

I agree with you. I think he has been so used to being provided with a steady stream of free childcare that he doesn't understand the basis of it anymore. He just says 'well you are their mother' - I know, but in this day and age it doesn't mean that the other parent can take utter advantage of you to the point where your life is going nowhere...

I think, the trouble is, we all want to be good mothers and I, like many, want to be the kind of mother who is always there for her kids, multi-tasking and ready for anything. If our partners also had mothers like that, they just think it is 'mums job' and forget that they have an equal responsibility.

I've done it for a very long time, but this time I have absolutely had enough because I asked him not to take another shift job before he even started this work and explained the way it was likely to go - but he absolutely took no notice and went ahead. I had no choice but to go along with it and he just threw a paddy about money.

It isn't easy to find work, but there were comparable income jobs with more regular hours. He just wanted to do a job that suited him again. I understand, but he really did not give me a second thought this time and I have just insisted that (as you've mentioned) he has to discuss his working arrangements with me until my daughter is properly independent. I am not a walking instant housewife facility - ready to drop my life in favour of his at a moments notice. He has to think about childcare/spending time with our daughter as much as I do.

Basically, his income increases when he does shift work and my capacity to earn reduces. It just isn't fair.

What he earns really is not justifying the unhappiness he is causing.

heisenberg999 Sun 30-Mar-14 14:51:08

My mum always worked shifts and I loved it. Wjo cares about being in childcare? I didnt as plenty of money. I think you are absolutely crazy not working for 13 years

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 30-Mar-14 14:58:14

His capacity to earn increases but do you as a family get equal access to those earnings?

You will also have more money as a family if you both earn £20k than if he earns £40k and you earn nothing because you have two zero rate tax bands rather than one then.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 30-Mar-14 14:59:11

I think OP cares about childcare and so does her DH, in the sense he's leaving her to sort it all out.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 30-Mar-14 15:02:30

"we all want to be good mothers and I, like many, want to be the kind of mother who is always there for her kids, multi-tasking and ready for anything."

I do think your expectations of yourself may be a bit high, but I don't think that's the primary issue...

somedizzywhore1804 Sun 30-Mar-14 15:02:49

I hear you. I lived with a policeman for five years and found the shift work thing very depressing. It definitely contributed to our relationship breaking down. Some weeks I would see him on a Sunday night and then that was it for the rest of the week. It was lonely and isolating and didn't feel like being in a proper relationship to me.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 30-Mar-14 15:03:48

Sorry for the many posts - just realised that you two aren't together any more, is that right?

heisenberg999 Sun 30-Mar-14 15:04:23

Its not the shift work thats the problem then. Its tjat whatever shifts you or he would be doing hes mugging you off as a slave. Very hard to change it if you married someone like that.

There is nothing to stop someone on shifts or even both on shifts from both working round each other as my parents did.

Lesmacarons Sun 30-Mar-14 15:16:53

We live together, but aren't together properly because of what I perceive as a lack of respect in this regard.

I have worked and I even ran my own business for a few years, but I wanted at least one of us to be around - so it had to me.

I worked school hours, from home etc. I did try full time work at different points, but there was no one there and a shift worker can be all over the place, so things like parties, school events etc...can be really difficult to organise.

When my daughter was in primary school, quite a few of the mothers - in a reasonably affluent area - decided not to work. Most of them appeared to be going round the bend to be honest. There was quite a bit of bitchiness and obsessive behaviour.

Now she is at secondary school I thought it would be easier - but someone still needs to be there quite a bit of the time organising things and after school too - my mother left me on my own after school from the age of 10 - but I didn't like it and at 13 I raided the drinks cabinet and got blind drunk! So they do still need a bit of supervision - even if it is just someone in the house.

Today, for example, we have here on our own and she doesn't want to go out. it is a difficult age because they do appear to be fairly mature - but you can't leave them. I will nip to the local shop or take the dog for a walk, I've also done an Asdas run - but I won't leave her to go out for longer.

I think 14 is probably the right kind of age for leaving her a bit longer.

heisenberg999 Sun 30-Mar-14 15:22:56

Lesmacrons - When she was younger you could of sent her after school club or childminders. Now she will probably be spending all her time with her friends I think your really overthinking it 1000s of single mums and couples with all kind of shifts manage full time each if not significantly more.

TheDoctrineOfSnatch Sun 30-Mar-14 15:25:01

Does your DP think she should stay home alone?

Pobblewhohasnotoes Sun 30-Mar-14 15:31:45

I work shifts, part time, my DH often works weekends and occasional evenings as part of his job. We just juggle it around each other. He does the nursery pick ups and bed time if I'm at work. I get my shifts about a month ahead. If it's a last minute thing I could see how you would get pissed off about it, but plenty of families do shift work with no problems. If your DH just sees you as a convenience and will always be there, that's a different issue.

PurpleSproutingBroccoli Sun 30-Mar-14 15:54:34

That sounds like such a sad and draining situation, but I agree with heisenberg that it sounds like more to do with your partner than with shift work itself.

I'm very good friends with a couple where the dh works shifts, and have talked about it with them. There certainly are issues that are intrinsic to shift work. For example, the fact that she needs to organise childcare if she wants an evening out. Also, now he's 40+ they're concerned about the effects on his health, and as a couple they tend to be a bit like ships that pass in the night. For the latter two reasons, he's now looking for a daytime job.

However, what strikes me about your post is that it's all about you working around him. That's to do with his attitude, not the nature of his work. My friends made the joint decision to have the dh working night shifts. It was for financial reasons - he got paid more for night work, and also they needed less daytime childcare. She also worked full time. She would take the kids to school, they'd have an hour with a childminder then he would collect them when he woke up, see them through their homework, hand them over to his dw when she got home from work and then go to his own night job. Obviously every family is different but my point is that they were a team, and he was pulling his weight as a parent in the best way he could.

Your dh, on the other hand, seems to have taken his work as the universal get-out clause and made it all your problem. That can happen with any working hours, if you're with the sort of person who uses long working hours as and excuse. I'm glad you're not going to be enabling this any more, but please don't think that it will be solved just by him changing his hours. He needs to change his attitude towards you and his family responsibilities.

MsSharpe Sun 30-Mar-14 17:52:19

DP does shift work, I work f/t M-F, we have a 2yo.

It's not great but it's not that bad either. If anything, his shift work means I can work f/t - I can't imagine how we'd do it if we both needed to work 9-5 M-F.

It doesn't sound like the shifts that are the problem, it's your partner.

Runwayqueen Mon 31-Mar-14 09:14:29

I'm a shift worker, as is dd's father (xh), as is dp. My df and dm pick up on the childcare that nursery can't do, and df is a shift worker too.

Somehow it all works for us and dd.

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