Monday, June 24, 2013

Nontraditional Schedules and Family Life

Stacy at Catholic & Crunchy wrote a blog post this morning that struck particular tone with me: family relationships with nontraditional working schedules.

I completely relate to this topic as Horn and I have been there and do that on a regular basis (as do a surprisingly large number of my co-workers).

Our first job (after preventing shoplifters at a particularly noxious mall store whose only redeeming quality was introducing me to a new genre of music) was with a 24x7/364 legal research company (more than happy to do a referral for my small but true blog following.  Just shoot me your email address BEFORE you apply and I can get it to the right internal department).

Our training schedule had us working from 8am to 5pm and then we got our "regular shifts."  For medical reasons, Horn had to immediately take a leave of absence but my shift was from 1:30pm to 10pm T-Sa. Horn eventually returned to a 9 to 6 M to F schedule. Eventually we ended up on a selected schedule or 2:30 to 11pm.

This schedule worked extremely well for us for about 5 years.  For our family members, it was entirely confusing and I think that there was a general feeling that we were "lazy."  While I understand the "not waking up to noon everyday" thought, most family seemed to neglect to remember that while working full-time jobs, we also worked part-time jobs, teaching college level courses 2 to 3 days a week.  In fact, while I was pregnant will Hannabert, I averaged 60 hrs between both employers up until I literally went to the hospital to be induced (as in I hadn't even packed a bag because I was working on a major project and Horn had to physically pull me out of my office). The prevailing thoughts from both of our families was that we were lazy because we didn't arrive at our main employer until 2:30pm.

Our families felt that we were disorganized and that Hannabert didn't have a schedule. We heard a lot about him not having a schedule. For the record, he did have a very set schedule, it was just very different than most toddlers but it was extremely frustrating to hear how he didn't have a schedule and how kids need schedules....

This was our schedule until Horn got a fabulous new position which now required him to leave our house by 6:30am to make for an 8am start time. HUGE FAMILY CHANGE.  Now, on days that I teach (still 2 to 3x a week), he and Hannabert are out the door and on the way to daycare by 6:30 with a pick up time somewhere after 4pm (depending on case load, equity court status, traffic, baseball games, etc). On these days, I work until 10 or 11pm (depending on the circumstances).

This schedule caused a lot of problems for us.  1) This was the first time in TEN YEARS that we didn't see each other all day, every day or at least be in the same building together for most of the day. 2) See #1! 3) We now had a toddler who didn't understand that his schedule was dramatically changing from being a late night owl to an early morning dove.

Horn needed to adjust his schedule because of his new, earlier hours. I still was awake late at night but couldn't do things that involved noise because of the needs of sleep. Horn now had primary parenting responsibilities at night while I only have primary responsibilities on  the mornings when I didn't teach. This was a big change for all of us. I would come home, wired from my 14+ hours of work and want to relax and read or watch TV. Horn was exhausted from keeping up with toddler and want to spend time with me while he was falling asleep. Toddler just didn't want to sleep so "early." I would be cranky on the days when I came home early and frustrated with the state of the house, what I saw as failures to get things done, and feeling like I was going from one pressure cooker to the next.

I was tired on the weekends, he was tired on the weekends, the toddler hadn't seen me all week and only wanted to be with me. We really started to get cranky at each other. I would yell and be grumpy and tense as soon as I opened the door. We started to doubt ourselves, marriage, relationship.

Luckily, I hit rock bottom and poured out everything on my heart to him. He was shocked, scared, and upset. We knew we needed changes in our lives.

First, we established that we needed better communication. We talked about how I was frustrated with my long hours and the fact that he couldn't get things done while Hannabert was awake (and if you have ever read one of my blog posts, it is a well known fact Hannabert does not sleep when he is with us). He said he was frustrated and upset when I would not talk to him at night and that I be passive-aggressive angry when I did come to bed.

Second, I switched my hours (for the most part) so that I would have more nights at a "normal" time than note. While this really hasn't happened as I still teach 2 to 3 days a week which required me to work late (but only to 10pm rather than 11pm), the days that I don't teach, I am usually home by 7:30pm.

We are working on using the slow cooker more and doing a calendar of meals to help us avoid the "what's for dinner discussion." I try to fully encourage my husband to cook and make supper. He makes incredible spaghetti (which, along with boiled eggs, is something that is just I cannot do). We are also working on putting Hannabert on a task while we are working around the house to help encourage him as family member to do his part to share in the responsibilities.

The other day he helped make cookies and just this weekend he told me that "bad water, bad glass. Juice please for dada" and helped make a glass of emergen-c for Horn who was working very hard at packing up the living room in preparation for our move. He carried both cups into the living room . His face was beaming with pride as he handed it over for his dada. It was the same look I see when we ask him to help us.

As we prepare to move into "our" house, I know that we will still have struggles. I will be teaching 3 morning a week next term and Horn is teaching 1 night class that will have him gone until 11pm or later. I know that communication and prayer will help us get through the tough times...any maybe some toddler sleepy dust.


  1. I hate that you went through that, but I love the example you both set on how to put each other, your marriage, and your family first to get it all figured out!