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If you have kids and work evenings or nights as standard, what does family life look like?

31 replies

limonadarosa · 21/10/2020 16:45

I don't have kids yet but want to. I have a sleeping disorder, however, and I'm struggling to see how I can make it work when I can only work nights and evenings. So I'd love to hear from others who work nights or evenings for any reason at all and manage to parent children and have a life too!

OP posts:
ISBN111 · 21/10/2020 16:54

It would depend to a large degree on what your partner is able to do.

Would you be taking maternity leave? Or would you be sharing it? Will you both be working full or time?

I used to work weekends only, but changed job because I missed out on too much family time.

I used to work regular lates; that was ok, because it was part time.

My partner used to work a lot of anti-social hours, and he ended up quitting his job to stay home with the kids when they were young because it was just too much.

Do you have colleagues at your workplace with kids who work nights only?

Whether there are many or not will say a lot about how do-able it is

limonadarosa · 21/10/2020 17:03

I'm self employed and work from home ISBN111. But I earn a pittance at the moment and I can't see how I can make it work. But if I get another job it's going to have to be the same hours as I can't sleep at normal times. How early did you get up when you were working regular lates and was it the same every day? I don't have a partner yet. Just thinking ahead trying to work out how I can not have a totally shit life.

OP posts:
newpup123 · 21/10/2020 17:04

When you say you can't sleep at normal times, when do you sleep? I would suspect that's more likely to be an issue with family life.

limonadarosa · 21/10/2020 17:10

Well yes, that's what I'm asking. I'm looking to hear from people who are forced to sleep at anti-social times but who manage to bring up a family regardless. I need to find others who have made this work. I am unlikely to ever be able to get up before 10am earliest but ideally I'd sleep 6am to 2pm if I'm not going to be constantly exhausted. I've obviously tried one hundred things to get my body to sleep at more normal times but my disorder is pretty inflexible to be honest.

OP posts:
Pickypolly · 21/10/2020 17:24

My first child was a non sleeper & an early riser to boot.
So I was up between 4:30-5:45 and that was then up, awake & on the go all day from that point.

I worked nights.
When my children were small, I had to work all night then stay up all day to look after the child.
I had not much support & nursery/childminder fees were beyond our budget.
I survived on about 3-4 hours sleep a night for the first 5 years of my first child’s life. I was extremely unlucky.

I was unwell, grumpy, exhausted, bad tempered, foggy brained, nausea, felt hungover constantly.

That AND keeping on top of cleaning, laundry , food shopping, cooking & planning meals, getting kids to clubs, to & from school, entertained at half terms & school holidays....does not equate to happiness.

I’m sorry but you are not looking at it realistically, your sleep pattern will not matter one single bit when you have kids, you are on their schedule, it doesn’t matter if you like to sleep until 10am, they need to be up, fed, dressed, at school, etc.

I think you will really struggle... unless you have a brilliant partner to take on the lions share.
Good luck, it’s very tough.

Harmarsuperstar · 21/10/2020 17:27

I know lots of healthcare staff who work permanent nights, take their children to school in the morning, then sleep until its time to pick them up from school, while their partner works days, so can look after the kids at night. I don't think I'd like it myself though tbh. Not enough sleep and hardly any time with your partner, but many people do it for years and years.

limonadarosa · 21/10/2020 17:34

It's not really a question of liking to sleep until 10am Pickypolly, I just can't sleep early. When I had to get up early for school and uni I was on 1 to 2 hours sleep a night and my health started to break down completely. As in losing consciousness randomly, temporary blindness and deafness, that kind of serious. So I can't just go with my child's waking times unless I want to get that ill again. You're right in that I think a good partner will be the key to this if I'm going to have any luck.

OP posts:
limonadarosa · 21/10/2020 17:35

Thanks Harmar, these are the kinds of people I'd be interested in hearing from. I know it won't be easy but I would dearly like it to be possible.

OP posts:
movingonup20 · 21/10/2020 17:39

Unless you have a partner who is able to do the morning childcare you will have no choice than to adapt your sleep schedule. Kids need watching, you don't get to sleep continuously through the night or day, sorry, it was 5 years before I got unbroken sleep and my schedule was set by nursery, school, drs appointments etc not my needs. Family life means being adaptable and yes mums wants and needs come last.

Ok I'm unusual in that I was a sahm and did everything for my kids but even if I worked nights I would have needed to for around childcare pick ups

movingonup20 · 21/10/2020 17:40

Ps I did read what you are saying but kids won't change for you

CremeEggThief · 21/10/2020 17:45

I don't really know how to advise you, OP, but as a fellow night owl who used to stay up as late as 5-7 a.m. for no reason at all when I was younger, it's going to be tough. I was lucky as my DS slept 12 hours from whenever he went to sleep when he was younger, so we kept him up late. He never woke up before 8 or 8.30 a.m. before school, but most young children wake far earlier than that.

Harmarsuperstar · 21/10/2020 17:51

There's an 'HCP chat' board on mumsnet, it might be worth posting there, OP

limonadarosa · 21/10/2020 18:06

Thanks Harmar - that's a good idea!

I suppose I wonder if my kids might have this too. In some ways I'd be devastated about what it would mean for their life but it might make my life possible. I was a late riser. Had to be woken up on Christmas morning when my parents were bored of waiting for me to wake up!

Not expecting the kids to change for me. But looking for a way to coparent in a way that works or somehow afford some early morning help. Or do shifts of some sort.

OP posts:
ForeverBubblegum · 21/10/2020 18:10

If you could WFH overnight or had a partner who was home you wouldn't be missing much as DC would be sleeping anyway. You would probably need to use childcare during the day while you sleep (assuming any partner works days), but that would be no different to if you worked days and slept at night.

Could you stay up to do nursery drop off (most open 6.30/7) then sleep and drop pick up at 3 (or whenever) and have family time in the evening before work.

You can totally make it work around the sleep patterns, but it's all a bit academic as you don't yet have a partner.

nettytree · 21/10/2020 18:16

I relied very heavily on the grandparents to help out. Sometimes staying over night there. But mostly it was hubby home and me hone before he even had time to take his coat off. I worked a 3 on 3off shift. So not every night

Pickypolly · 21/10/2020 18:16

I’m not suggesting that you choose to sleep in until 10am, I did see that you said that it’s not something that you can control, sorry if my reply came across as such.
I have absolute sympathy with what you describe are the physical consequences that you suffered from due to your chronic lack of sleep because I can relate to those symptoms but mine were caused by my child, their lack of sleep & my responsibilities towards him, his needs and not mine.

I suppose what I’m saying is if you are planning a child, do so with your eyes wide open.
Your needs will not even be on the radar, your sleep will not matter, and 100 things will be thrown at you on top of bone drenching utter utter disabling exhaustion, things that must be attended to and done.

You mention your pay is poor, you have no partner yet.
Are you then looking at a partner who can then financially support you & a child, who will need to work in order to provide that financial support. So how can that person take on the lions share of the childcare & work.

I just don’t understand how it will be possible for you.
It sounds like a mountain for you to climb.
The above was my situation, it didn’t work as I had to work as well due to finances.
I don’t know how I did it. If I had known what I know now, I would not have had children.

ISBN111 · 21/10/2020 18:39

Right, sorry i didn't think About lone working. So nobody to ask.

I think you can do it if you have a partner who works normal hours and can do the nursery run in the morning.

I had a colleague at a previous job who worked full time but it was 3 shifts 6pm til 6am type thing. So she was able to do the parenting on her days off, and her partner did the nursery run while she slept on work days.

It sounded pretty challenging to me, but that was her preference; she could have requested a different shift pattern.

I think she didn’t see her partner that much.

If you work part time you might run into trouble on the days when you won’t want to be getting up til late, but you also won’t want to be paying for child care.

I think you need to try and work towards getting a decent rate of pay for your work, then it will be worth making a bit of a sacrifice in terms of inconvenience for.

limonadarosa · 21/10/2020 18:56

Thanks PickyPolly, I appreciate your input. And I do understand that it is going to be very very difficult if I can make it work at all. It has always felt like a mountain of a problem to solve. But I have solved some pretty big problems before so I'm trying to stay hopeful. I also asked the same question in a group of people with the same condition and there are some who have found workable arrangements. Sometimes using technology though. One sleeps while her husband monitors the kids from his work using cameras and calls her if she needs to wake up urgently! She also has a monitor by her ear so can hear if the kids start crying. I think I'd rather hope that the grandparents could help out than rely on technology like that but it's another option to consider.

ISBN, yes I really do need to find a way to make more money. I have high level skills so it shouldn't be impossible but I'm working in an industry in crisis at the moment so it's hard to know whether to push for more money doing what I do now or change track completely.

OP posts:
Pickypolly · 21/10/2020 20:23

In all honesty that sounds like a really really bad idea.
That is not safe and is somewhat neglectful.
There’s no way you could go to sleep with baby or toddlers or even small children while someone watched via a screen! You need to be in the room with them with eyes in the back of your head, and you need to actually interact with children.

My husband is full on busy with work and would end up sacked for being distracted watching kids on a monitor and trying to do a days work.

limonadarosa · 22/10/2020 03:57

Yeah, I think I would be uncomfortable with an arrangement like that personally but it does seem to work for this couple and they've done everything possible to remove all the major risks. I think it might be the kind of thing I'd resort to in an emergency, like if you were so ill you couldn't function and just weren't capable of looking after the kids as a one off but nobody in your support network could help out. Surely parents do get that ill once in a blue moon and what do they do if the other parent isn't on the scene and friends and family are far away? I've always wondered about that.

OP posts:
Kinsters · 22/10/2020 05:41

The woman sleeping while her husband watches the kids on a monitor? I think she's having you on! That's really not possible with pre school kids. What do parents do when one of them is too sick to look after the kids? You have a responsibility to your children so you either find someone in your support network to help or you pay someone to help. If you can't do either of those that's when social services would get involved I'd imagine.

I think looking at what people who work night shifts do isn't necessarily going to be helpful for you as they'll have days off/holidays/maybe times where they're doing other shifts. What works as a make do during the week isn't necessarily sustainable as an all the time, if that makes sense. For example my partner works long hours during the week whilst I look after our daughter. If one of us then slept in until 2pm on weekends I don't think the other would take kindly to that!

Having said that probably neither you nor your future partner will really appreciate what having kids entails until you do it (I definitely didn't but maybe other people have more foresight). You'll just end up making it work cause there's no other option.

Submariner · 22/10/2020 06:19

I think, especially in those early years I would be looking at getting what used to be called a 'mother's helper' who could help with the crossover points where you need to sleep and partner has gone to work. It may be worth looking at whether you could get any funding for a PA as a disabled person, although I don't know the ins and outs of your condition and also depends how proactive/cash-strapped services are near you.

You could think completely out of the box and set out to find a partner who is also open to self-employment who could work from home and then set up your lives around that. Homeschool the kids and get them into the sleep pattern of waking at say 9am rather than 7am so you aren't asleep for most of their awake time?

I agree with a PP that sleeplessness will be par for the course too, but maybe that will be helpful for your set up as you could do all the night waking with the baby.

PearPickingPorky · 22/10/2020 06:39

DP works shifts, and will do a week of 3pm to 1am shifts week-about. I work 9-5.

I do nursery drop-off on my way to work. DP gets up to help get DC sorted. He then sometimes goes back to bed. On days where DC aren't in nursery and he's working that day then he just has to get on with it: get up, look after them, then go to work in the afternoon tired.

Being so tired you can't see, hear, etc is often par for the course with babies and small children. You just have to get on with it.

My mum used to work nights when we were young. She did 3 nights, one or two at the weekend. Dad would take us to school/childcare, she'd come home, go to sleep, get up to pick us up from school. Dad would look after us during the day at the weekend while she slept.

Gohackyourself · 22/10/2020 07:12

I’ll come at this with the angle of being a lone parent once upon a time...
You asked surely some parents get sick that they can’t watch the kids.... even when I was really sick, kidney infection etc I had no choice but to watch the kids, all I could do was doze whilst they watched a programme or played.There was no choice.

If you are to the point where you are so sick requiring hospital treatment then the decision is taken out of your hands by medical team .

I think it’s neglectful as another poster stated to leave kids to be watched by a monitor from someone remotely.If anything happened that was serious I think you would be in serious trouble.
Tbh after reading your post I empathise but I don’t see how it could work,but it’s very difficult for most ppl to understand a sleep disorder.I take it you have undergone treatment for this condition to try to help restore a more normal sleep pattern? Could you seek help again or put this scenario to a health professional in the field ?

Ylvamoon · 22/10/2020 07:13

The reality is that you will have next to no family life!!

DH worked nights for 10 years mainly for child care & enabling me to work in a job I love. So here are the ugly bits from my point of view: He would get maybe 4-5 hours sleep on average while working 12 hour shift and do drop off/ pick ups for DC ... he was tired, grumpy, short tampered most of the time. Christmas, holidays, and even on his days off, he would either spend sleeping or falling asleep in front of the TV. Known in our house as potato bag.
Days out to zoos parks or even kids activities that would take over 3 hours ... where difficult as a lot depended on his mood linked to sleep. I often felt, that I was raising DC on my own.
We did go on lovely holidays abroad during this time, but it had to be a min of 10days... He would spend the first 2-3 days more or less asleep.
My description for myself: Single mum with a full board lodger.

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