We got married in 2012. That summer, Theo worked at a data analysis company. His hours were 8 am to 5 pm. He hated the job and it was not the job for him (although he did an excellent job at it!). After a few months of working there, the company actually shut down, and he began back at school to become an EMT. Once he finished his EMT courses, he got hired by a company in Columbus. He was part time, so he usually picked up whatever shifts would work with our schedule. These shifts were always 16 hour shifts or 24 hour shifts. So, since January of 2013, Theo has not worked a 9-4 daily job.
When I tell most people that Theo works a 24 hour shift, and then has 48 hours off, they usually exclaim, “Wow! You are so LUCKY! Theo gets to be home all the time!!!”
Uh, not sure what part of 24 hours they didn’t understand.
Anyways, Theo worked at that same company until this past summer, when he was hired by the Dayton Fire Department. When he got hired, he had to go through a 6 week training course. His course was from 7-4 every day.
Now that we have gone through 6 weeks of that schedule, and I’ve experienced several years of 24 hour shifts, I thought I would hash out some of the pros and cons of each (at least from my perspective!).
24 Hour Shifts:
- My schedule is flexible! I can work a couple days a week because Theo is home a couple days a week to watch Tera. I can volunteer at places (as long as the whole rotating thing doesn’t get in the way) and I can have chances to meet up with people without having tote Tera around.
- I get chances to watch all my own shows and eat all the types of food that Theo hates (mushrooms!) because he is gone at least two dinners and two evenings a week!
- Theo is home quiet frequently, which allows for family time!
- We get a two day weekend every three days! woop woop!
- He only works two days a week
- Every three weeks, Theo has five days off! This is like our weekend after a three week long drag of 24 hour shifts. It’s amazing!
- 24 hours is a long time to be alone
- 24 hours is a long time to take care of a child/children without a break
- Being alone at night is always a little scary (although after three years I have to say you get used to it)
- Cooking dinner for just myself is kinda a drag
- Showing up at events by myself is often very uncomfortable and difficult. Especially with a squirmy baby. And trust me…I show up to A LOT of events by myself.
- Working 24 on, 48 off means that Theo’s schedule rotates. He might be gone Tuesday one week, but not the next. It makes scheduling sometimes difficult. We can’t meet with a mentor every Tuesday, because we aren’t free or even remotely free every Tuesday.
- It’s hard for me to have a schedule. One day Theo is gone. The next day Theo is home but sleeping. The following day Theo is home and able to be alive and “with it”. It’s hard because I want a schedule that wakes up at the same time each day, exercises, has breakfast, puts the baby down for a nap, then works on my blog, etc. etc. It’s not only hard for me, but (obviously) very hard for Theo! And sometimes that trickles on down to Tera.
- He always works a weekend. He either works Friday through the night (until 8 am on Saturday), Saturday or Sunday. It’s hard to plan things with other people when our weekends just don’t happen like a regular weekend.
- After working 24 hours, he has pulled an all-nighter and takes the next 48 hours to recover from that looong shift. Usually that involves sleeping for most of the first day that he is home. Which means I have to be quiet and pretend like he is not home.
8 hour shifts
- Theo is gone every single day of the week
- Theo is not home any mornings or afternoons and I have to plan my schedule accordingly
- I am not available to do things Tera-free any day of the week
- the weekend exists! And it corresponds with everyone else’s weekend! Woohoo for socializing!
- Theo is home for dinner and bedtime routine every day (that’s the part I struggle with the most)
- We can have the same routine every day. Wake up at the same time, eat breakfast at the same, have nap time at the same time, have a consistent bedtime at the same time, etc.
Perhaps someone else will have an entirely different opinion on this matter, but I just thought I would share with you some of the struggles and benefits of the 24 hour shift. I have found that a lot of it is about my attitude. If I choose to have a good attitude about it, it usually goes a little bit better. If I set my expectations low on the days when Theo is gone, it really helps me. It also really helps to communicate with Theo about the things that I have planned in a day. He is not too happy if he arrives home expecting to recover from pulling an all-nighter, but I announce that today is the day that we have a doctor’s appointment instead.
So what about you? Do you love having a spouse gone for an 8 hour shift, or do you think you would love having the 24 hours and then having him home far more often (even if he has to sleep most of that time?).
Check back tomorrow when I will post some of my tips for getting through a 24 hour shift!