One of the harships presented to military spouses is the dreaded shift work schedule. Whether a spouse performs in a job that requires regular shift work, or special duties like CQ on occasion, the struggle can often be too real. Many spouses have had to learn to take daily life in stride when dealing with schedules that present conflict and interfere with participating in activities. There are quite a few challenges military spouses have learned how to overcome…or have just grown used to.
1. Snow days and post closure do not apply. This is one I have had the pleasure of being affected by, as the wife of a soldier who is considered to be essential personnel. While those around me enjoyed the day off with their spouses, posting photos cuddling on the couch under their raggedy blankets, my husband was required to be at work. So I had to post selfies shoveling my own darn driveway.
2. Four day weekends? What are those? I have also learned to say goodbye to extended weekends with my husband, because they are incredibly rare. When they do happen, they are usually in blocks of 3 days during random days of the week. While this doesn’t affect our time together as a family now, it was quite troublesome when I worked a regular 9-5 job. We had to literally make the time to spend with one another and take care of the house in shifts. It was exhausting. Even if a spouse is simply on CQ during a 4 day weekend, it can put a wrench in plans.
3. When you also work full-time. This is quite possibly hell on earth. Well, maybe not that dramatic, but things can get challenging to say the least. Especially if you have children and school activities. While many military spouses stay home with the kids, or even work from home, those who retain employment outside of the home find that juggling schedules is like playing a game of tetris. Just when you think you finally have the perfect formula for success, BAM! His schedule changes again.
4. Sleeping alone is not ideal. Before you come for me, I know people with deployed spouses sleep alone every night…and it sucks. However, for those of us whose crusty baby daddies are not deployed, we are used to putting our cold feet on him on the regular. So when shifts fall overnight, it can leave us wondering what in the netflix marathon am I supposed to do with my life? Personally, I sleep on my husband’s side of the bed in his absence and it helps me fall asleep faster.
5. Attending unit functions or other activities alone makes you feel like a loser. Sure, there’s always that one friend who invites you to sit with her and her husband out of pity, but no one wants to be the third wheel. Of course, not everyone attends functions, but I enjoy making an appearance and partaking in the fun. I also feel a lot more comfortable when my husband is with me so I’m not navigating through a sea of strangers alone.
There are so many ways to look at shift work in a negative light, but there are also some perks. When my husband does get days off, we are able to get our shopping done during the week when stores are empty. We can also enjoy activities off post that are much less crowded than the weekends. It’s also fun to prance around having family time while everyone else is working. How bow dah!