Working in Emergency Medicine I work a LOT of night shifts. In fact I seem to mainly be on permanent nights or weekends. It’s not as bad as it sounds. Before we entered the world of school runs it was pretty great because we had loads of weekday time together, but that’s not quite as perfect now our weekends have become precious.
Despite years and years now of night shifts I still haven’t quite got used to them. I’m not sure how best to prepare myself for them. Everybody seems to deal with them differently and I have tried most things. Currently my routine is to take it easy the day before starting, the day I’m on now. I’ve walked my daughter to school, then gone shopping to get some nice food to take on nights. Come home and gathered myself a little feast and headed up to bed, with my blackout blinds down.
On nights I crave carbs, carbs and cheese. I went dairy and gluten free for months while I was on maternity leave, and was loving it, until I went back on nights and then I just couldn’t survive without cheesy pasta. So here I am with my feast of cheesy pasta, chocolate, and a few healthier bits. I’ve got my bottle of cider, before lunchtime, to just help me chill out, and maybe, just maybe get some sleep.
I kind of look forwards to starting nights these days. I give myself most of the day in bed, by myself, to just relax. I have some time to write the blog (I have a few in my head that I’ve been planning for a while now, so we’ll see if I manage to get them down today). Time to watch guilty pleasure TV that my husband hates. Today I’m enjoying a little One Born Every Minute. Then I’ve brought up my new magazine, The Fourth Trimester to have a quiet little read. I try not to have too much fun for too long because at some point I need to lie down and try to actually get some sleep, even if it’s just a little doze. I find listening to an audiobook really helps, it distracts me enough to just switch off for a while.
If I manage to sleep that’s great. If not I’ll probably head back downstairs when I hear the commotion that accompanies my daughter arriving home from school. I like to spend some time with them at least when I’m on nights. I used to always do bedtime, but I’d find that really stressful, desperate for them to fall asleep in time for me to get ready and off in time and then having to escape the sleeping baby without waking them up. So now it’s Daddy’s turn for bedtime while I get a couple more hours of downtime. It almost makes me look forward to being on night shifts.
When I get home in the morning I usually head straight to bed, with a glass of port, and usually asleep really quickly. I tend not to sleep more than a few, broken hours though, and then back up for some time with the kids.
My general insomnia definitely carries through into my night shifts. I look forward to the days when I start being able to sleep again, soon maybe, fingers crossed for soon. And until then, days or nights or lates or days off I will attempt to keep smiling, stay patient, appreciate the benefits that my work brings to our lives, and get the coffee brewing.