2nd Shift Wives Club

by Brittany on May 22, 2012

in Marriage, Parenting

Last week, due to a series of co-worker vacations, Andy was put on second shift for 7 days.

Now, before you go all, poor Brittany has to suffer through seven whole days with Andy working at night, whah whah- Imma stop you right there while I pull out my Second Shift Wives Club Rewards Card. You’ll notice it’s laminated.

I earned it while Andy worked second shift when we got married. And when we had our first kid…and the second…and the third. Everyday for five years, I was left alone with three babies, some so fresh they had just dropped out of me.

I’m actually just one punch away from the all inclusive male hooker 3 day cruise to Punta Cana, and by inclusive I mean, they supply the Valtrex and I don’t have to tip for Happy Endings.

Andy worked from 3pm-4am six days a week, and then came home and slept until 11am every day. That equaled about 3 hours of co-parenting infants, give or take the hour it took him to get ready or for me to eat my feelings in the hall closet.

It was hard on him, it was hard on me, and it was hard on our kids, but when he finally got word he would be taking over a first shift spot, I was obviously happy…but also a little sad. You see, second shift sucks. It’s hard and lonely and stressful, but it also had some surprising perks that I totally missed, and was happy to get a taste of reliving last week.

Recently, a few of my friends have had to make the change over to second shift families, and I was all too honored to spend some time getting them shit-faced, talking them off ledges, and sharing with them how I made 2nd shift not suck for us.

1. I bought a good vibrator. No, seriously, a good one. Not the baby pink Oriental Trading Company one you got 5 years ago at your cousin’s friend’s Sex & The City bachelorette party that you were completely mortified about. That one sucks and the batteries have probably expired into that weird liquidy goo stuff they make Skittles with. Throw that one away, go online, read reviews, order a pretty one. If it’s not more than a specialist co-pay, you’re doing it wrong. I wasn’t trying to replace sex with Andy, but there’s something lovely about spending sometime getting to know myself in the biblical sex after an evening in my bed, alone, reading trashy novels or watching Harry Potter (hello to you, Professor Snape.)

2. I had to make afternoons more delightful and less oh my God I’m naked in the daylight. Related to #1, I had to come to a workable sexual relationship with my husband, which, spoiler alert, obviously happened just fine because I have three kids listing him as their biological father. But, this meant that unless I wanted him to wake me up out of a dead sleep at 4am with a sharp jab to the side, we were going to have to have sex in the afternoon. This was a hard concept for me to get behind, because my body was not something I wanted to see, let alone show others in the light of day, no matter how pretty Andy told me I was. This was a mental hurdle I had to clear in my own head… between Judge Alex and nap time.

3. I had to sleep-train Andy. You know when you have a baby and you finally get them to sleep, and you are all, so help me God, if one fucking person rings that doorbell or shouts outside, I will take a wrench and smash their mother fucking throat in, but then your mom is all, you have to get the baby used to sleeping through noises, vacuum, keep the tv on, run the disposal, blah blah your house is a mess. She was right then, and she’s right now. Andy needed his sleep, but keeping three small children quiet in the house while he did it was near impossible, so I stopped trying. I mean, I didn’t let them scream or blow air horns, but we kept a reasonable volume throughout the day, careful not to be loud upstairs, and eventually Andy learned to sleep through the afternoon uninterrupted. Which leads me to…

4. We had the one person’s sleep is not more important that the other’s talk. This was a huge fight for us. Andy would come home from work wanting to collapse into 8-10 hours of sleep, which, news flash, parents aren’t allowed to get by law. Just because he works outside the house, he doesn’t get to sleep like he has mono, leaving me to work from home and care for three small terrorists running on 3-4 hours give or take a bout of baby diarrhea. Our lives had to suck equally, that’s what marriage is, so we came up with a workable sleep amount for him that made it safe enough to operate heavy machinery, but just shitty enough that he had eye bags and was always three seconds from bitching out the lady at the gas station.

5. I reinvented family time. I was lucky in the sense that our kids were young and at home, so since we had to do away with family game night because I’m a sucky loser and Andy hates to have fingers thrown in his face, we decided to take advantage of our days together. We loved going to matinee movies because they were way more affordable, plus less people to yell at you when your kid loses his shit in Madagascar 9. We also hit up the zoo, as there were less crowds during the week, save for school children. If we pulled into the parking lot and saw more than 3 school buses, we went back home. I like tigers, but I don’t put up with unsupervised kids that don’t belong to me love tigers.

6. I had Brittany time. From hair appointments to lunch with friends, I took advantage of having a daytime babysitter and met my friends on their lunch breaks. We’d chat and eat and even have an early cocktail, except for my doctor friend, she apparently can’t drink on lunch breaks. At first, Andy didn’t love this idea, until he tried it himself a day or so every week, but if I was going to have the kids for some of the toughest moments (homework, naps, dinner, bedtime), I needed my mental health.

7. Netflix, Kindle, Showtime, Unlimited Texting. What’s that? You can’t sleep in your bed without your spouse? Oh, that’s adorable. Yeah, I have no experience with that because I’m what Andy calls, a “selfish sleeper.” But, I will admit that fighting insomnia when you are alone sucks, and even though your kids can stay awake for endless amounts of daytime hours, they are giant pussies when it comes to waking them up to keep you company at 2am. So I always made sure I had things to keep me busy, from B movies to sexting.

8. I dated Andy. We were so focused on him getting time with the kids, time with us went pear shaped. It began to feel like we were roommates who lived with three co-dependent midget junkies, and also, we sometimes screwed. When it got to the point when something important happened, and Andy wasn’t the first person I called…I knew things had to change. So on the weekends, we prioritized dates. We went out and tried really hard to talk about things other than the kids. I did my hair and put on jeans that button; talking about soccer schedules and gift wrapping fundraisers was not on the table.

In the end, we came out the other side of this the same way we come out of most things, married nymphos with happy kids, surprised as fuck we’re still alive.

 

 

LouisianaMeredith May 22, 2012 at 10:20 am

“Hello to you, Professor Snape!” Oh, Sistah, I *feel* you and totes agree….Sirius Black got me to the Promised Land more than one or two times, too.

However, since discovering the MAGIC of Twilight FanFic Literotica, Edward Cullen has been my geaux to guy on that front. Yeah, yeah, call him Christian Grey all you want to. My Fiddy will always be ChrisWard GreyCullen. (In the TMI department, I’ve cheated on Edward once or twice with Emmett and a few more times with Carlisle, but I’m pretty sure I’m a shield and he’ll never know…LOL!)

Your blog makes my day! Proud of you for all of your BIG Curvy activities lately, Rosalie. You are an inspiration.

tena May 22, 2012 at 10:28 am

Nail on the head. I didn’t get this 3 hours of co-parenting you speak of, but I did enjoy my bed all to myself without snoring or having to turn off the tv!

Bree May 22, 2012 at 10:28 am

Awesome post. My hubs worked 2nd shift when we first got married. Luckily, it ended by the time I had the kid. I’m so glad I didn’t have to deal with that AND a baby.

Alida Ryder May 22, 2012 at 10:28 am

Oh Brittany..you make me so deliriously happy! Who needs stupid crunches when I have you ?(not that I HAVE you, but you know what I mean!) x

Katie May 22, 2012 at 10:54 am

Yep.Yep.Yep. oh and Yep! My husband worked 4 weeks of midnights, but 7-12′s so he was gone from 5pm until 6:45 am with the commute included…and it sucked b/c I had the 3 kids, the dinners, the lunch making, homework, bedtime, baths, etc. But, when he was put back on days this week I found I missed my nightly ritual of watching all the Glee episodes I’ve ever missed on Netflix and reading smut books for hours on end without someone wanted me to pay attention to them (which means not read while he just watched the sports channel anyways). Ahhh….vicious cycle. Either way, I’m now glad he’s back and we are getting back into the routine of 1st shift life. But all of the things you mention are amazing tips for making it work if 2nd shift is a long-term or permanent part of anyone’s life and marriage.

Jana Frerichs May 22, 2012 at 11:12 am

My husband works second shift too… it used to be 7pm-7am, and it was fabulous. It even gets BETTER as your kids get older. We have a 15 year old, so you know, he does his own thing and is pretty self sufficient. I had all the FREE time, to watch whatever I wanted, run to the craft store, I could stuff my face with whatever I wanted, and I had the bed ALL to MYSELF!! He now works 11pm-7am and it has put a damper on the watching whatever I wanted, etc. but I still get the bed all to myself, well, and Mr. Rabbit. ;o) I think it’s very healthy to our marriage. Except the nights he’s home and he’s snoring in my face and I want to stab him in the eye. Lucky for him I only have to endure this a couple times a week, so he still has both eyes. Let’s raise a glass to second and third shifts!

Becci May 28, 2012 at 8:38 am

Lmao! I work third and my fiance works first. As much as I love him, the weekends are hell

Roll over! Stop breathing on me! Share the blanket! Omg, what is that smell? Do you have to Snoozed the alarm 500 times?

Jeniece May 22, 2012 at 11:14 am

Lives having to suck equally is relevant in every relationship and I must print that section out for my guy. He is still in school and I’ve been out for a while with my big girl job. You might have finals but I have cranky people calling for 8 hours a day. We BOTH have to clean you jerk!

Robbyn May 22, 2012 at 11:28 am

Oh, I so feel you. My husband works 2nd shift about half the year. He works in schools and can’t start until the kids leave. Something to do with the potential for kid-touching, I think.
It’s rough. Really rough. Our newest baby is 8 weeks. He was on day shift for months until the baby was born and, of course, had to start 2nd shift immediately after his whopping 4 days of paternity leave.
Most days here are just about survival. “only 6 more hours until I get to throw one of these kids in bed!” etc.

Catherine May 22, 2012 at 11:32 am

I love grown ups who can adjust. Really really love them. The world needs more adjustable grown ups and less dysfunctional maniacs.

Jenee May 22, 2012 at 12:57 pm

is there a ‘like’ button on this thing? Catherine is a smart, smart woman!

Kristen @ The Chronicles of Dutch May 22, 2012 at 11:46 am

You are hilarious. Probably not the point but you made it sound pretty cool ( hello vibrators!) & now kinda want my husband to go on second shift. He actually doesn’t do shift work so that might be a bit tricky to pull off though. I’ll keep you posted.

Linda S. May 22, 2012 at 11:59 am

My husband is starting his 6pm to 6 am shift at work. We have a 5 yo and 1 yo twins. I stumbled on this via Pinterest and was literally giggling the entire time. Thanks for the laugh!

Susie May 22, 2012 at 12:13 pm

2nd shift family or not, this is FANTASTIC marriage advice! Love it :D

MommyNamedApril May 22, 2012 at 12:21 pm

this is so good, brittany. so good. we’re not night shifters, but we are school + full time job + work from home + BABIES… so a lot of these things have applied (and still do) to us. great post.

AMY May 22, 2012 at 2:26 pm

My husband doesnt have “shifts” exactly – he works on the Railroad, so he goes to work for about 30 hours and then comes home for about 30 hours… so he could leave at any time of day and get home at any time of day… sleep is hard for him, and its hard for us to stay quiet when he is trying to sleep, but we somehow make it work.
But I do love that every other day (ish) he is home so we can do stuff that other 9-5er’s can’t do, like banking, appointments, shopping, etc.
But, we havent had dinner as a family two nights in a row for, I don’t know, like, 8 months or something….

Jennifer May 22, 2012 at 2:33 pm

I’m so fucking lucky. David has never had to work nights. I’m scared of the dark, but I can’t sleep with the lights on. I have no idea how that would work.

Wife May 22, 2012 at 3:13 pm

Jennifer,
You learn to sleep with the lights on but a pillow over your head, the monsters can’t get you if the light is on but your eyes are covered with darkness so you can sleep. Trust me, years and years of my hubby being gone days at a time and a ridiculous and terrifying fear of the dark.

moooommmmmma May 22, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Thank you! Thank you! We are just looking at my husband possibly switching to 2nd shift(7 pm to 5 am)-making a whole lot more money than he is now- he’ll actually see the kids more than he does now (he’ll be there to get the older ones on the bus in the morning, and then bring the littlest to daycare so he can sleep for a few, then he’ll pick the littlest up from daycare when the oldest get off the bus at 3:15)…right now, he teaches some classes after work to make extra money, and usually isn’t home until 7:30 or so… I work FT too, and get home about 5ish, so I’ll have less time with him, and have to sleep by myself… (I like snuggling, what can I say) –but you make it sound doable! Also, we’ll have full weekends together-right now, he has one day off in the middle of the week, and then Sundays-and if he takes this position, he’ll be home about 5:30 Friday morning, and not have to go back until Sunday around 7pm- I was a little skepitcal, but I think we can do it :)

Kutusha May 22, 2012 at 4:51 pm

Great post, as always. I giggled the entire time. My husband works long hours too, no less than 12 everyday including weekends, so when we had our baby I thought I was going insane. I liked your suggestions and I think I´ll be using more than one to start feeling human again, my little girl is only five months old but she being born had the effect of a hand granade on my marriage. Thanks again for the laughs and the useful tips. Greetings from México

Keidi May 22, 2012 at 4:53 pm

You nailed it. It’s so nice to be absolutely understood: I thank you!

Credence@Toddlerisms May 22, 2012 at 5:17 pm

This is not just good advice for second-shifters, but also for families where one spouse just plain works long hours, like the kind that equal 1 1/2 or two shifts every day. Back when I did that it seemed like we would never come through the other side!

Kana Lee May 22, 2012 at 7:55 pm

In the past 15 years my husband has worked graveyard shift 13 years of it… the past 2 years he worked day shift and I lalalala loved it.

But sadly he is back on a grave yard shift that runs 1100pm to 900am UGH

We have three children 18, 14, and 8 years old…. It has worked for us I guess. But I still love day shift *smile*

I never ever had a problem sleeping while he was working until this year. Our dog died and I just can’t sleep without him (the dog) here to protect us *sigh*

Hugs to you and all of the other wives of the day sleepers ;-)

TDM80 May 22, 2012 at 9:57 pm

I kinda wish my husband would work second shift. Because nothing pisses me off more than having him here, doing fuck all and “relaxing” while I run around after the kids doing dinner, baths, bedtimes, lunches, etc. At least if he was on second shift, he’d be doing something productive and I’d be doing the same amount of work – but without the fury of having to look at his lazy ass! And without starting fights about his lazy ass! WIN! (Really, the anger is what makes things all that more difficult.)

Mommy May 23, 2012 at 11:38 am

Ha ha ha, yes!!!!

SwingCheese May 22, 2012 at 11:49 pm

I used to have a problem sleeping without my husband here. Then he took a new job which has many perks, but is third shift (8 pm – 7 am). It has been an adjustment BUT: I LOVE sleeping by myself sometimes!! The bed seems so vast and inviting….

Also, oddly, he does more to help out around the house, cleaning wise, than he did when he worked double weekends and was a stay at home dad during the week.

On the sucky side, we don’t get to spend as much time together as we used to. I took on an extra class, so now I have to leave very early in the morning, but last night we stayed up until 1 am talking and I was loathe to go to sleep, but I knew I had to get up, etc., etc. But it’s only for 6 weeks, then I have summer break. At that point, things will get back to normal.

Vanessalillian May 23, 2012 at 1:49 am

No kids yet and no night shift, but my mister does work a 3:1 FIFO roster – that’s 3 weeks on, 1 week off, fly in and out. We behave like a pair of dirty teenagers during that week off, but haven’t found the balance of each person’s life sucking equally during the week we’re together. What he’s still understanding is that even though his week off is basically four weekends back-to-back, he’s still supposed to help do what **I** do EVERY weekend, which is washing, cleaning, gardening, cooking. Mafia Wars 24/7 (minus nookie time) = NOT okay!!!

Marge May 23, 2012 at 1:32 pm

OMG how have I not found your blog before now? I love your honest and clever approach to writing. I will be back for sure!

make it a great day!

Nicki May 24, 2012 at 3:15 pm

All awesomely put!!!! So many people will benefit from this post! You are so right on all of this except the only good vibrators I find cost the same as a car payment. My doctor’s copays are way cheaper!! Am I doing this wrong? Is there some groupon for vibrators that I can get in on?

tamara May 25, 2012 at 10:16 am

Oh my gosh Brittany, I just love your posts so much! I have four kids, and that – ’2nd shift’ is my husbands work schedule ( with a little 1st shift mixed in).
When ever I get the “how do you do it?” …… well, you just described how we do it! Adjust, enjoy … attempt to stay sane … …. ish !
Thanks for this, made my day :)

Sarah May 26, 2012 at 5:36 am

Love this! I have been a night shift worker (7p-7a) for years and my husband and I have gone through similar struggles, trying to date and day sex not excluded!

designhermomma May 27, 2012 at 10:11 pm

Great perspective! I’m trying to figure out what my family looks like, as Michael leaves the house around 6am and doesn’t get back till 7pm, which is pretty much the kids wake hours. It sucks huge on so many levels…

Britt W May 30, 2012 at 1:10 am

Ugh, I wished my hubby worked 2nd shift. Mine’s an over the road truck driver…gotta pay the bills. So he’s gone for like a month or two at a time, and if we’re lucky, we get 3 entire days home. And seriously, I wish he would learn about the whole, equal sleeping! He gets a solid 10 hours down all the time, I’m lucky to get 5 hours, but of course he “has” to take a 3 hour nap before he leaves. Rawr. Sorry. I’m totally ranting. Just sayin, I’m a little jealous y’all get to see your hubby’s so much. :)

Una May 31, 2012 at 11:30 pm

“Our lives had to suck equally, that’s what marriage is.”

I love you. This perfectly expresses what I have been feeling for the past 8 months since I had my son. The whose life sucks more/who deserves more sleep fight is truly punishing, but as usual you have made something awkward and stressful hilarious and true.

Melissa June 3, 2012 at 11:59 am

My hub has worked 2nd shift for almost 20 years; we have 3 boys (22, 19, 10) and have been married 25 years. I hear ya on all accounts. (He says we’ve made it this far because we do NOT sleep together and he gets to see me naked in daylight.) Oh, and might I suggest that the vibrator be waterproof? ;) Second shift parenting is a challenge, but I am testimony to the fact it IS doable…and enjoyable!

Mali June 19, 2012 at 11:42 pm

Your article made me howl with laughter:) I almost peed myself.
My husband just started 2nd shift from 4pm-1:30 am, which translates into 3:30pm-2am. I am going to college during the day. We have three kids ages 18 months, 3.5 years,and 5 years. This is our first experience with it and I was feeling, well…you know…sucky. Thanks for the lift:)

Mali June 19, 2012 at 11:43 pm

Oh and we have never really slept together. He snores and I hog the bed. Not good for anyone involved lol.

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