As shift workers we all know and understand how hard it is to work irregular hours. Let’s face it, working a 24/7 roster when you’re single is hard enough, particularly when you’re trying to have a relatively normal social life.
And when we start comparing ourselves to our “9 – 5 cousins” who are out partying Friday and Saturday nights – it can be a pretty hard thing to swallow. For most shift workers, tucking themselves into bed at a ridiculously early hour to gain a few hours of good quality sleep is more like the norm.
Good quality sleep. Hmmm. What is that?
Now, where were we? That’s right – shift work and marriage.
I’d have to say these two things can be pretty tricky to navigate. Throw in the kids and it’s even harder again. Shift work, a happy marriage and a happy household that is.
So what exactly happens when we get married? Does it make it easier? Does having someone share your life help to ease the physical, emotional and psychological strain evident amongst shift workers around the world?
For many, the answer to that question would be a ‘yes’. But certainly not for everyone.
Lack of sleep combined with challenges in the workplace combined with poor eating habits combined with little exercise can be the precursor to a ticking time bomb ready to explode. And if you live with someone (married or not) – the person who you most care about may end up being on the receiving end of your mental and physical exhaustion.
And this is when things can turn a little nasty.
Nasty that is, when we say and do things that we would not ordinarily do when we’re feeling well rested and without stress.
Sleep as we know is incredibly important – it really is.
But for most shift workers we are not getting enough sleep (and probably never will). So lack of sleep plus having to endure day to day stresses like work and having to drop the kids off to childcare or school every day can be pretty tough.
Tough that is, on everyone.
And it’s during this repetitive routine – cracks can start to form in a marriage. Cracks which are often not seen until it’s too late.
So how can you juggle shift work, marriage and kids?
By showing gratitude.
Actively look for things to be grateful for every single day because if you’re employed and you’re married and you have kids then you’re pretty darn lucky. Really lucky. Thousands of people would love to have what you have right now, but for whatever reason it just hasn’t happened for them.
Gratitude is a great distraction for when things aren’t going right. It takes the focus away from all of the not-so-good things that might be happening in your life right now. Eg; feeling tired, stressed and moody. Because when you’re feeling tired, stressed and moody (yep that covers just about all shift workers) – you may say and do things that you wouldn’t ordinarily do resulting in a rift in the marriage, not to mention the impact a strained marriage has on the younger members of the family.
So the secret to a harmonious shift work, marriage and kids combination is simple.
Be grateful and show gratitude because when you do, your actions change into more positive ones, your mood changes into less heated and unpredictable ones, and your general health and well-being improves for the better. A win-win situation for all three: Shift work, marriage and the kids.