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Not sure how to fix this - living with a shift worker

(12 Posts)
cookiemonster100 Mon 24-Nov-14 10:20:01


DH is in the emergency services and works shifts which vary to early mornings to night shifts. They are 12 hour shifts & it's common for days off to be cancelled at short notice.
I have recently returned back to work post mat leave & really struggling with the support I get from DH.
For example LOA is teething, & was up 1/2 the night. I have had literally 2 hours sleep. DH comes home from night (albeit via the pharmacy to bring in more supplies of calpol which saved me a job!) & goes to bed. He gets a full 8 hours sleep while I deal with a grumpy toddler.
Tonight might be more of the same, he is at work tonight, I am due back in work tomorrow so will have to do a full days work on no sleep, while he gets to have the house to himself & a good sleep.
If I am ill it's my mum I call to help not DH as I can't guarantee he will be there to help.
It's making me feel quite lonely & invisible. I resent he gets a good sleep generally where as for me it's pot luck & I still have to get stuff done. It's rare I get a lie in on my non work days as generally hubby is sleeping off nights / lates or has gone to work early.
I resent having to find a baby sitter if I want to meet my friends in the evening as he is not there to look after him. I have missed out on loads of meet up with my friends recently as it haven't been able to find someone.
I resent going to functions alone with LO if he can't make it. It was my cousin wedding this year & I went with my LO on my own as he couldn't get the day off. I found it really hard juggling a baby & enjoying myself.
I don't feel anything he does intentional it's just the nature of his work.
I just don't know how to fix it, but can't face living like this.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 24-Nov-14 13:51:36

Does he compensate in any way? Make it up to you when he can? Show his appreciation of everything you do? I have a DB who has a job with antisocial working patterns - two weeks travelling out of range of mobile networks followed by a week at home - and they have two small children. When he's home he makes a big point of relieving his DW of ALL the tasks... children, housework, cooking etc. She finds it tough when he's not there but they manage to maintain a balance and a sense of humour this way.

Isawmommykissingsantaclaus14 Mon 24-Nov-14 14:00:05

Is it possible for your DH to have the baby fully on his rest days?

cookiemonster100 Mon 24-Nov-14 15:01:28

Hi, he does try to help where he can but it can fall down when he is super tired eg double shifts. He does look after him on his days off when I am at work or sleep in the spare room with the monitor on those days so I don't have to get up in the night if LO wakes up. But the days off are getting fewer & fewer & I can see he needs a break too.
It's just so hard some days sad

muddylettuce Mon 24-Nov-14 15:21:38

I really feel for you, it's not easy living with a shift worker, I should know I am one! My dp is also, and from what you say we are in the same line of work. I work part-time and mainly evenings while dp is full-time. It is hard to sleep when you are a shift worker, 8 hours in bed doesn't equal 8 hours sleep thanks to stupid bodies. Dp and I give each other 'protected' sleep when we work around our shifts. So, for example when I work my mid lates dp is off work so he gets up with dd and I can sleep in. When I finish at 3am he is on late shifts so I get to sleep in until mid morning before he leaves for work. We also get two days off together every set which is so important. Do you get any time off together at all? The bonus for us, worth putting up with all the tiredness and anti social hours is the fact we don't need childcare for work. Saves us a lot of money. Having said that it's hard socially, I hardly ever go out as dp is never around to look after dd and vice versa, visiting family at weekends is tricky as we only have limited weekends off.
I am presuming your dh is in the same line of work due to the cancelling of days off comment. Whilst work can order dp in he won't go unless an absolute disaster and likewise work shouldn't be calling him in unless absolutely necessary. No calling him in just to give minimum cover. Plus there is always a few little tricks 'oh I am sorry I am in the middle of a pub lunch with family, I can't drive in to work' etc etc. Plus, having sole charge of a child is a pretty good excuse which is what dp would use if they tried to cancel his day off when I am at work.
I think sleep deprivation is a killer, but it's a temporary thing. Firstly talk to your dh, tell him you are tired, would he mind doing bedtime etc tonight while you get some sleep? Then when you feel a bit more human tackle the bigger stuff. Without knowing your work hours and his it's difficult to make suggestions but perhaps the current arrangements aren't working, do you need to change days to enable dh to take on some more childcare? Unfortunately, unless he fancies a career change your social life will always be tricky and you may have to ask others to babysit or attend family events alone so only you can know if that's something you can deal with in the future.
As I say, one step at a time, wake him up after his sleep today and go back to bed yourself. X

womaninthewildsofwales Mon 24-Nov-14 15:25:29

Living with a shift worker is hard! My dh is a signalman for network rail and shifts vary- he's on nights at the mo and it's the little things that are hard- not being able to hoover on my day off winds me up no end! I am 34w pregnant and taking a very short mat leave (long story!) but I envisage the same scenario. Not sure what to suggest, took me a long time to get used to shifts- but now I take advantage of nights and late shifts, lates mean a leisurely bath and pottering about, nights mean sleeping naked (I'm a prude and always wear pj's to cover my huge belly!) and letting the cat curl up on my feet all night :-D

muddylettuce Mon 24-Nov-14 15:27:30

Ah, thanks to my epic post written in between fetching snacks for dd I missed your update. I can see he does try too. Teething is horrid. Like I said though, it's temporary. Please take my advice and go back to bed when he gets up, before he goes to work so you can catch up a bit. Everything looks a bit better when you have had some sleep. Ps. Friends who work 'normal' hours and have children are still bone tired! X

Bumpedbonce Mon 24-Nov-14 15:33:35

Living with a shift worker sucks and is really hard at times. It does get easier and it really does have advantages some times. Tell him that you're going to bed for a bit and get some rest before he leaves for his next shift

Thurlow Mon 24-Nov-14 15:36:36

It is hard, very hard. It's probably not what you want to hear but I can't actually think of any practical advice sad

The exhaustion from someone working physical, demanding, probably stressful shifts and sleeping at really odd times throughout the week is pretty overwhelming so yes, while sometimes it seems unfair to outsiders, they probably do need that lie in. And yes, weekends rarely seem to coincide with them having a few days off so that you can have a lie in too.

How old is your DC? Are you working too?

The only benefits we have at the moment with DP doing emergency services shifts is that his seem a bit more fixed, so I can work f/t too and he probably does more daytime childcare than I do. I agree with a PP, DP occasionally puts his foot down and says that he has sole charge of DD and so he can't do an extra shift/work overtime.

Social life - yep, it's babysitters all the way. Or going on your own with your DC (which I hate too. I went to a wedding last summer without DP and with a toddler, it should have been fantastic, it was hell on earth.)

My support is often my parents, too. They aren't near enough to help out on a day to day basis but they are near enough to visit, so every few months I just go there at the weekend with DD and have a chance to get some proper sleep. It works for us because it's a intensive but short period of them toddler wrangling, rather than me calling on them for an hour here, an hour there.

But for all that, I think the big thing when you have a partner who does this sort of job is that you actually just have to get on board with it. It probably isn't going to change. If they are a police officer, paramedic, A&E doctor -it's shiftwork for the foreseeable future. Nothing is going to change. I know that can seem so insanely depressing, but IMO you have to just face up to it. Do you love them? Do you want to be a family together? Yes? Then be honest, talk to each other about the problems you are having and where you can help each other, but the big thing, for me, is that you can't keep arguing about the job and the hours.

Though if he's getting a full 8 hours every night, then poke him in the ribs after 7 hours sometimes and tell him to get up and give you at least one hour's peace grin

SeattleGraceMercyDeath Mon 24-Nov-14 15:39:22

I'm the shift worker in our family and it is hard, if second the poster who says just being in bed for 8 hours during the day doesn't equal 8 hours sleep although I must admit when my youngest didn't sleep at night I was more than happy to go to work all night for a break. It's difficult and you do have my sympathies, as does my DH who works in a 9-5 (ish) role who often doesn't get a real 'day off' for weeks if I am working weekends. It's rubbish but for us the fact I can be around for the children more than I could in a 5 day a week role is the pay off. I don't know how you get round it, especially if your DH does pull his weight when he is there.

Purplehonesty Mon 24-Nov-14 15:42:16

I hate it too. My dh does similar shifts but I work from home so we so actually get more time together and I get occasional weekend lie ins.
If I worked outside the home i would hardly see him!
I have two dc 5 and 2 so I am up doing the school run every day and then working.
I resent the night shift sleep too but then I remember that there is no way I could ever work all night!
I've missed countless nights out and functions due to dh's work but I guess 5 years in I am used to it.
It pays the bills and its not his fault so I just get on with it. I think once I accepted its the way it is, things felt easier.

Goingintohibernation Mon 24-Nov-14 15:49:53

I am a shift worker, married to a shift worker. I'd echo what Thurlow said. It is tough on both of you, and to some extent it is something you need to put up with. I think a lot depends on how your relationship is generally and whether you are both able to support each other. If you can avoid competitive tiredness and,both try and sympathise with each other it can work. Can you and your partner sit down and,try and work out a system that works better for both of you?

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