This post is sponsored by Campbell's.
I've mentioned a time or two that Nate works a shift schedule in his role as an emergency first responder for the county. He's on for 12 hour blocks, three or four days per week, with overtime often adding up to 20 extra hours weekly.
He's usually leaving for work right around the time when the boys get home for school. If they're lucky, they're able to do a fun craft or project or some homework together and then he's scooting right out the door. We've all tried adjusting our dining schedules to match his, but having dinner together on a regular basis is tough. Having just about ANY sort of schedule on a regular basis is a little bit of a challenge, to be honest! The benefits are nice, though: his job provides our family with healthcare and he's able to get weeks off at a time without a ton of finagling. With my own work's demanding deadlines and frequent travel requirements, the two gigs actually pair up well.
I like to think that the rigorous hours have taught our family to be very flexible and as encouraging of each other as possible. After almost a decade of this, we're all extremely good at rolling with the punches.
6 Ways to Support a Shift Schedule Worker
Make Home a Place they want to Come Back to
When he's on graveyards, Nate gets home early in the morning. He unwinds by feeding the goats and sheep and tending to other stuff outdoors such as gathering wood for the fireplace or adjusting chemicals in our pool. Living in the mountainous, rural area of San Diego means that we have a strange smattering of farm-y tasks and beach house-y demands. I like to think this slow pace is a welcome change from his job, though! For my part, I take care of the inside of the house. I try to keep the clutter to a minimum so he doesn't have to stumble over any LEGOs after spending all night wrangling an angst-ridden society.
Have Food at the Ready
Nate frequently arrives home while I'm off running the boys to school, so I pull up to the welcome sight of his brawny figure chopping wood or swapping out tires or some other manly thing.
I bust out a batch of fresh-baked cookies to reward him for his toil.
HAHAHAHAHA. Wait, what? Hold on. This isn't the 1950's.
I actually have to work, too, and time is at a premium here. We've arranged our lives so that his days on are MY days on, so we get to enjoy a nice stretch of three or four days off in a row together every week. The computer and a slew of meetings are calling to me, but I can recognize that the poor guy would probably starve or hit up some super-unhealthy drive-through on his way home from work if I didn't have something prepared. I keep some hearty grab-and-go stuff like Campbell’s Chunky MAXX which has TONS of protein (40% more meat than a Chunky can) and comes in a heat-and-eat tub for tasty convenience. It has big, bold flavors like black angus beef, bison and smoked turkey so he can enjoy a real hunter-style meal even if he hasn't been able to hit the range for a LONG while.
With a full belly, he can sleep for awhile and I can work.
Schedule Time as a Family
Nate wakes up just as I'm bringing the kids home from school, and it's time for family time! They get an hour or so together to do a project, have a snack, or play video games. Nate and I also have a standing date night once per week, and we schedule a BIG family activity or trip all together every two weeks.
While the boys get back to the grind with their homework, Nate takes a few minutes to take stock of the never-ending renovation of our farm house. We learned quite awhile ago that we don't have time to manage the ins and outs of every task involved in modernizing our old fixer-upper, but we still have to set aside intentional time to check in on progress every afternoon. For example, we recently hired someone to tear down our old shed and help us paint the new one. We needed to peek in on them daily and make sure they were doing everything properly or else we could face the unfortunate reality of getting several days into it and realizing they weren't disposing of waste correctly or the paint sheen wasn't right (these are both things that have actually happened to us in the past!).
Make Sure they have Time for Independent Hobbies
With a quiet home and everything in order, Nate always makes it a priority to carve out some editing time. Photography is his first love, and it's a huge reason for the success of the blog. We all try to make sure that he has some time alone in between each shift to edit a personal shoot, address client needs or negotiate a contract. This man is ALWAYS hustling in one way or another!
Squeeze in some Exercise Every Single Day
Nate's shift schedule job CAN be really active, but it can also involve a whole lot of sitting around. Most shift schedule assignments are similar: a lot of go-go-go followed by a bunch of wait-wait-wait. We both try to set aside some time for a quick burst of exercise before he heads out. Some rapid interval training, a fast jog around the property or even a little playtime with the pups is all it takes to get that heart rate up and send him on his way in a positive mood.
He typically grabs dinner with his partners, but I'll usually set some snacks in his car on the way out JUST in case. A tub of Campbell’s Chunky MAXX is on the docket, and we're both pretty stoked that he can heat it up at work or it can keep in his locker for a later time if things get hectic right when he clocks in.
Back at home, I'm also pretty stoked that the kids like it as well. And I can serve it in its own bowl to minimize dishes and make the evening go a bit smoother. Because when Nate's night shift schedule gets going, MY night shift with the kids begins!
Do you have a shift schedule worker in your life?