Many of us are aware that it’s not easy to do shift work. Disruption of normal sleep patterns is just one of the many challenges only shift workers would understand. But do you ever take a moment to think about the difficulties and struggles that the loved ones of people who do shift work face?
Few people think about what these people go through, and sadly seldom do we talk about what these loving people are up against. So today we are going to break the silence and honor these affectionate souls by highlighting some of the struggles only you, as a loved one of someone who does shift work, would understand.
1. You hardly ever get the chance to just sit and enjoy quality time with them.
That’s because your loved one who does shift work is always away working when you’d have loved to hang out and enjoy each other’s company. While this upsets you sometimes, you understand that they have to go to work.
2. You don’t get time to go out together anymore.
You used to spend mornings out together or go on fun date nights with them, but now you don’t dare ask them to go out with you because you both have different sleep schedules and they need to catch their sleep on off-hours. Even on holidays when you might want to go out and have some fun with them, they don’t feel like spending the day out. And you completely understand because they have to work the next night.
3. You can’t just pick up the phone and call them anytime you want.
That’s because you don’t know if they’re sleeping or not. They’re always moving from night shift to day shift and vise versa, and it’s difficult to know for sure whether they are free to take calls. Besides, some work places have strict cell phone policies and you don’t want to get them in trouble by calling them when they are at work.
4. You have a hard time making plans in advance that include them.
They might tell you their boss has promised a rotation to allow them to attend an event you’re planning, but you can’t be sure that the promise will pan out. So you put them under the “Maybe” category of those coming to your event, even if they said they’ll be there. Usually this is the case until the day before the event when you, hopefully, realize their shift duty was actually moved and they will indeed be there.
5. You expect them to miss or skip most social gatherings.
Why? Because you know they don’t have the weekends free to meet up with friends and family like everyone else does. They work odd hours, and sometimes that means missing important social gatherings, including birthday parties, graduations, and family meetings. It makes you sad that you rarely see them and that their youngest cousins usually have no idea who they are. But you try to understand that love—no matter how important and fulfilling it is—doesn’t pay the bills.
6. It is hard to spend time with them because they always seem so tired.
This happens when they somehow manage to beat the system and show up to hang out and spend time with you and other loved ones. You may even notice they are moody or irritable with their own children, relatives, and friends because of being so tired.
7. You sometimes feel as though you both exist in parallel universes.
This is especially true if you are a married couple with kids. You may feel like you’re not a team as parents, not because of any conflicting parenting styles, but because it seems like they don’t have time for you and the kids. Your kids, parents, and even close friends often ask about their absence, and it secretly hurts you inside to answer why he/she is not there with you.
8. You sometimes feel lonely and emotionally isolated.
That’s because your partner or loved one is never there. You just wish you would have more time to spend with them, but you know demanding more time will only create stress. You understand that your loved one has a difficult work schedule and needs their sleep and time to rest, just like everyone else.
9. You always hope that they’ll be available for Christmas.
Christmas is always a busy time for everyone. But if you do shift work, this time of the year is often more hectic than usual. It may be that Christmas doesn’t stop your loved one from working. So each year you cross your fingers and hope they will get a break and be available to spend Christmas with you, which unfortunately doesn’t always happen.
10. You’re heartbroken every time you see those bags under their eyes.
When he or she comes back home or walks in the room and you notice that major sleep face and those fierce bags under their eyes, it just breaks your heart. And you never mention how tired you are yourself to them because you know they’ve been up working the shift since 1 in the morning!
Featured photo credit: Healthy Morning Snack with a Tea/VIKTOR HANACEK via picjumbo.com