Missing the holidays, not able to show up for time with friends, empty seats at family dinners.... the sacrifice of a non-traditional work schedule is exhausting, and not just for the person working the job, but for their loved ones too. Whether you or your spouse is a nurse, police officer, in the military, the service industry, working in a factory setting, or maybe even traveling for business... the toll it takes on all of us from having varying, extended and/or changing shifts is real.
What is “traditional” anyway? It seems rare these days to find individuals who work a set Monday through Friday “nine to five”, but it feels as if our world revolves around this. My husband works in a steel mill. His shifts change weekly. Scheduled overtime? You guessed it. Getting stuck at work occasionally? You betcha. We are grateful, so grateful, for the way it provides for our family, but we are tired, so tired, of never finding a reliable or consistent routine.
I’m sure you can relate. You or your spouse probably even love their job, or you find you NEED your job and possibly feel stuck. If you have children, forget about it. You feel less flexibility if you want to make a change, and more pressure if you truly love where you are working.
Spouses? It’s lonely. I’m cranky. I tell myself...be understanding, show your support...and most of the time I can. But on weeks where we consistently miss time together, someone is always touching me or yelling at me (even when momma just wants to go to the bathroom)....the extra outside of work work and honestly even the fun relational stuff, feels draining.
So how does everyone keep up? We just do, because we have to. For my family, it’s all we have ever known. I did leave my job to stay at home this past several months, and that has filled in some of the gaps, but still, all I can say is that we just... do. We schedule everything and write down every piece of our life in a planner, even things people with traditional schedules probably don’t “plan”, in efforts to make room for everything and everyone. We have a lot of relationships with people who are incredibly understanding and really truly help us feel “normal”, in fitting things in to life on “our time”.
It makes things manageable. It makes things work, but I guess what I am trying to say is both thank you, and I’m sorry. Thank you to my spouse and all of those busting their butts to bring home a pay check. We know you are tired and that you miss us back, and we know that you hate missing out too. Thank you to all of the spouses for picking up the slack. I see you tired and smiling. I see you trying to do more, and I see you trying to explain the schedule that is your life all over again to others. Thank you to our loved ones. You still let them know every single time when they are gone and can’t make it that they are missed. You still listen and plan with us as we map out our schedules like we are the FBI solving a complicated case. You show grace and support and you hang in there.
Also, I am sorry. If you work the job, I’m sorry you feel like you have to apologize for just doing your job. I’m sorry when spouses like myself can’t smile anymore, and have a breakdown. I’m sorry when you want so bad to be at Thanksgiving or Christmas or that school event, and you just can’t do it. I’m sorry to the loved ones that feel like you keep hearing excuses or being pushed out or forgotten, because I promise you aren’t.
This is life with a non-traditional work schedule.
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