Working a different shift than your spouse

After getting laid off last July, my husband got a good job offer yesterday. Needless to say, we are thrilled and relieved. The downside is that he has to start on second shift, 2pm to midnight. This will probably be for 7 months to a year before he is put on days.

Back when we were first married, he worked third shift, 5pm to 5am. That really sucked, but we were both young and didn’t have kids so it was just us and we could miss sleep to see each other, and it was only for a few months. Plus I worked retail hours and we sometimes had time off together. Now we have a 2 year old and he’s not going to see him at dinner or bedtime anymore, and I work a regular day job 3 days a week.

We will work in time on the days I am home, but I know this is going to be a big adjustment for our family.

I guess I am just looking for stories or advice from people who work different shifts than their S.O. How difficult is it for you, and how do you work in time to see each other? If you have kids, how did they cope with it? I admit I am not looking forward to being alone with our son every night and doing the whole dinner, play, bath, bed routine all by myself, plus being the only one who can pick him up from daycare. Popping out for an evening with my friends isn’t going to happen as easily anymore.

Tips? Advice? Horror stories?

I worked a 3X12 shift for about 4 months. 8 to 8 on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Then my “supervisor” figured out I had a pretty good thing goin on, and shifted me from that to Friday, Saturday and Monday, which royally sucked. Plus the ball bag compelled me to drive into the office on Saturdays, instead of letting me work from home (we were doing remote Infrastructure support so our actual location didn’t matter one iota). When it was T, F, S it wasn’t tto bad - I’d only see the kids for a few minutes in the morning those three days, and I’d recuperate on Sundays. But after the switch to F, S, M, I’d recuperate on Sunday but have another marathon shift on Monday so often had to recuperate Tuesdays, as well.

I’m in that situation now and have been for the past 5 months. I work 7am-5pm and my partner works 1:30am-11am.
We see each other for about 1/2 an hour when I get home from work before she heads off to bed. She works 6 days a week.
It has put a serious strain on our relationship. It feels more like having a roommate that I rarely see than a partner. Sometimes when she gets out of work she will come have lunch with me (we work only a mile apart) but unfortunately that quick lunch break usually leads to some bickering because we have no time at all to discuss bills, work, life, us.
It’s been horrible and there’s a slight chance at the end of December of her hours changing but it’s not definite.
My advice to you is to spend as much time toghether as you can when you are able too. Since July my partner and I have only spent 2 or 3 whole days together where it was just us. This has also put a huge strain on things and it’s almost impossible to talk about even that because of time constraints.
I, like you, eagerly await advice on how to deal with this.

Not my spouse, but Hamish works a day job and goes to bed very early, and I usually stay up all night translating and go to bed about a half-hour before he gets up. We’ve gone for days without seeing each other except in the three hours between 6 and 9.

My parents have lived with awkward shifts for 30 years.

For the first couple years, there were no kids, mom worked somewhere, dad at the factory. Then when us 2 kids were born, mom stayed home until I was uhm…8. For a while she just worked like 11-2, and by the time we were in middle school, she was working 7-4.

Dad has worked every shift possible.

Now they’re in their 50’s and we’re grown and he still changes shifts occasionally.

As far as I can tell, they just dealt with it the best they could, realizing that the shifts were never permanent and the odd shifts meant more money. Dad would even work weekends a lot so spending time together on weekends were out.

After 20 years or so of this, I think my mom started enjoying her alone time more (hard to imagine, I know :wink: ) She got into her routine of doing stuff on her own and so did dad. Both of them enjoyed whatever time they had together, even if it was just a cup of coffee before/after work.

The one thing I remember as a CHILD of opposite shifts, was missing my dad. I think I spent most of 2nd grade pretending to be sick so I could stay home and watch TV with him in the afternoons.

Also, when he was on afternoons, we had “weekends with dad” where he made time to take my brother and I out alone, because we did miss being able to see him during the week.

Oh, and if you have grandparents or other relatives who can watch the kids don’t be afraid to lean on them every so often so you can have some time off. I remember getting to stay with my grandparents sometimes while dad was on afternoons - it was fun!

I’ve never worked totally separate shifts from my husband, but we went through a lousy phase last year where I was working nights and weekends in addition to my 9-to-5. He usually had evening classes on the nights I wasn’t working.

Some things that helped us:

Whenever you get the chance, spend time together without talking about chores or household stuff.

Don’t let other people impinge on your time together. You should feel no guilt about saying, “Sorry, Mom, you can’t come visit this weekend. It’s the one day all month that Spouse and I have off together.”

This sounds so cheesy, but leave kind and loving notes for one another.

Leave homemade food in the fridge or on the stove for him. It sucks to get home late at night and face a dinner of crackers or leftover pizza.

:frowning: I am hoping that our son is too young to really miss him, but my husband has been around so much lately being unemployed and all, that I know he will notice the difference. Luckily, he will have weekends off now - at his last job he often worked Saturdays so at least we have some regular time together. He has “pancake morning” on Saturdays with our son and they both look forward to that.

I am home on Wednesdays and Fridays, so depending on what kind of sleep schedule he gets on, hopefully we will have at least 2 mornings a week together. We will have to get used to going lunch or breakfast instead of dinner.

Sometimes at his last job he was working so much overtime we hardly saw him anyway. At least here the schedule is only temporary and it is more structured.

Thanks for all the input. It sounds like we are in for a bit of a hard time, but at least now we have the relief of regular income. Things were getting worrisome around here so I guess we will be changing one stress for another.

That’s a good suggestion about the home cooked food. He likes leftovers and I do worry about him eating right on a shift like this. It’s easy to just grab junk food when you eat by yourself, that’s something I will have to watch when I cook for myself now too.

That’s a good idea about notes, too. And I can call him on my lunch hour before he leaves for work each day. Maybe we can meet for lunch sometimes before he leaves for work. This job really is a good opportunity for him, so hopefully we won’t all be too miserable the first year.

Well, ever since I met my wife we have worked opposite shifts. I work traditional office job and she works in the restaraunt industry so just about as I get home she heads into work. I’m almost always asleep by the time she rolls home, except for sometimes “are you still alive?” comment.

It does suck sometimes, because we normally go 4-9 days depending on schedules when were are finally both awake in the same room together. What usually ends up happening is that we spend most of the day after one of those stretches “syncing” back up with happenings (who’s paid what bill, what needs done around the house, shopping etc). It really sucks if you only have one day before you head into another stretch.

Social events require much more planning than normal. Days need scheduled off for her, etc. It can work, but things just need to be thought of well in advance.

One thing we do is make sure we touch base with each other frequently if it’s not in person, i.e. phne calls, text messages, etc. seems to keep things smoother.

Overall, I guess I’d just say that it does force a significantly higher level of planning and forethought on everyone’s part, but it can be done.

I’ve done it. (Girlfiend, not spouse.) It does suck. There is one thing that I find helps, but it requires organization. Don’t wait until you both have time off to discuss whether bills have been paid, what needs to be done around the house, etc. Set up a chart with a checklist of the bills and whatnot. When you do that thing, check it off. You have to be vigilant about remembering to do it, but it does cut down on the amount of time you spend talking about that stuff.

Good luck.

I’ts a pain, but you can do it, especially if you know it is only temporary. My husband works 3 12-hour days followed by 4 12-hour nights, then is off 7 days, assuming the base is fully staffed (a rarity - more often he’ll work another one or two shifts a week) I’ve always worked a standard 8-5 day job. Mostly, we call when we can, send e-mails when possible, and try to do our alone stuff when we can’t be together. It works, and I’m just happy we are living in the same state now so I can at least see him most days.