It has been a while since I have posted a new blog. My life has done a 180 the past four weeks! I have been working now for four weeks and time has sure gone by quickly. I took a job as a Patient Care Tech (PCT) at a hospital in the same company that my husband works for. I work nights, 12 hour shifts, 3 nights a week. It’s not that bad if you look at it that I only work (on average) 12 days out of the month!
My job, for the most part, requires me to be one on one with a patient my entire shift. Most of the time, as a tech, you can have up to 10 patients, but my job is a little more unique. I am what you would call a “sitter” in the hospital. I sit with patients who are flight risks, in danger of hurting themselves, or are a major fall risk. The job has been amazing. The patients I have been with (I float to different departments and usually have a different patient each shift), have all been people who have attempted suicide. My job is to keep them safe, talk with them, helps with any ADL’s (activities of daily living), and at night, encourage them to sleep. It is tough some nights, trying to stay awake while my patient is sleeping, but I’m learning ways to combat my heavy eyes. The hospital I work for is a level one trauma center, so patients are being flown in from the surrounding states to be treated at our hospital. I have seen the good and the bad of humanity, in a small amount of time. I’ve seen gun shot wounds to the head, septic patients, marijuana induced psychosis, many people coming down from alcohol, and the list goes on. I’ve also seen families gather around patients, their loved ones, in support and in love.
I am also never allowed to leave my patient, also a difference when working the floor as a tech. I would be lying if I said being around people who have made an attempt to end their life doesn’t get to me. The many different ways I have seen people try, the stories that I have heard, hearts that I’ve seen broken is real tough. But I’m doing it, working and trying to take care of patients and their families, and I’m loving every minute of it. And I have never been more tired in my life 🙂
Now, going back to work has been a huge adjustment for me and my family. My first night shift was probably the most difficult thus far, as I didn’t know what time I would actually be getting home the next morning and Levi was later to work than he was expecting. But we are figuring it out, and I really feel like we’ve got a handle on our new life….and it only took 4 weeks! My husband and I have worked together to make this transition as easy as possible for us, from chores, to taking care of the kids and sleep, all something we’ve had to navigate thru and find what works for us. My husband is a pretty important guy at the hospital he works for, as he oversees all the maintenance projects, security, biomed and safety for the hospital, not to mention he’s the director of plant operations. So interrupting his work schedule was not an option for us. Which is why working nights and weekends was the perfect solution. I would really love to share with you what adjustments we’ve made as a family, and what has and hasn’t worked for us as we navigate through this change in our lives.
Note: I find that it is also important to learn how to work the night shift, from how to stay awake to nourishment and these sites (along with tips from colleagues) have helped me figure out life on the night shift Surviving the night shift and How to eat clean while working nights
Now, I’m very much a type-A personality, and really thrive in situations where I have to be organized and life is chaotic. And what I’m about to share with you about my life and how we are adjusting to a 2 working parent household may not work for everyone, but can act as a guideline or starting point for any busy family or a family who is looking for tips to balance a full schedule. These are just a few areas of our life we’ve adjusted to make the day flow more smoothly for us, and to help ease us from feeling overwhelmed by this new change:
The Hubby: why would I list my marriage first? Because it is and always should be my number one priority. I learned a long time ago, while watching my parents, that a husband and wife who both work is hard on their relationship. Working opposite shifts, is even harder. I’m not sure how personal I’m ready to be with you yet, but you need to put your marriage first, over raising your kids, over your house work, over your job…and this transition has caused a few tiffs between Levi and me. Not because there is any resentment or that he wants me to not work, but because this is new for us, for our relationship. I’m gone 36+ hours a week, I sleep on the weekends, and I have missed out on Saturday library days. The best solution we’ve come up with is to keep the communication open about how this is working for us, and what each of us needs from the other. And if life is just too crazy, and you find you are not spending the time together that your relationship needs, then schedule nights during the week where you can have that uninterrupted time together. Make it a point to be together, romantically and intimately, even if your exhausted. I can’t stress enough the importance of putting your spouse first.
Food: oh food…My arch nemesis! When I knew I was going to start working again, I began putting together freezer meals, and meal planning when to use them. I was able to put almost 30 meals in my freezer before I started my job! I love freezer meals, as they make my life so much easier. Most of the time, I pull them out for days I know are going to be the most chaotic, days like church or nights I’m working. Freezer meals not only take away the question of “what’s for dinner on this crazy night?” but it also provides me and my family a healthy meal option, instead of eating out. I also make a point to help out with school lunches and snacks on days the kids have school. It helps Levi out to already have the kids’ meals made, so he can only concentrate on getting them ready for school in the wee hours of the morning. I also take the time before my shift to prepare my “lunch” , which happens around 2 a.m. I cut veggies or cook some kale with quinoa, in hopes that I can avoid the inevitable junk food frenzy that is the staff lounge on the night shift. It’s on every floor, where I ever I float, goodies are there.
Chores: I made a chore list and stuck it right on my fridge, where I look at it several times a day. Spreading the daily chores out throughout the week is extremely helpful! When we lived in our condo in Denver, oh so many years ago, cleaning happened all in one day….ya I can no longer do that. Every day I have one chore to do, and two days a week I have one chore and laundry. It’s less stress for me, and I manage to get all of my house chores done during the week, so when the weekend arrives and I have to work, Levi has a clean house and no chores responsibility.
Lists have been my life saver lately. Planning ahead is my forte. My life is in my planner, which is labeled “Perfectly Disorganized”, and it’s no coincidence. I have a list for almost everything in my life: groceries, meals, prepping for company, chores, my to do, Levi’s to do, kids to do, meal ideas, work deadlines…yes PCTs have deadlines. There is something calming about a list and personal accomplishment when an item is checked off.
Sleep: this is last on the list, but it’s almost as important as marriage. This has taken some learning, some trial and error. When I first started working the night shift, I thought I could go to church on Sunday mornings after getting off of work, then grab some quick zzz’s, before heading back to work. As it turns out, that was a horrible idea!! Luckily, I have the luxury of picking my shifts, so I can stop working Sunday evenings once the current schedule is thru. My sleep routine, ROUTINE, is the one thing I cannot change. In order for me to be able to stay up 12 hours, be effective and stay healthy, I have to sleep, at least 6 hours before my shift. I cannot bend on that, and Levi knows and understands that. Not only does sleep matter for my job, it matters for the rest of the week. I can’t be tired and catching up on sleep during the week, when I’m supposed to be taking care of my kids, my house, and my man. So I stay on my sleep schedule in between shifts, and that has actually turned into going to be a little bit earlier during the week.
In a way, this job, working the night shift, has helped me be more mindful of my health, because I can’t be a wife, a mom, a homemaker, and now a working woman, who is exhausted. Making clean food choices, staying hydrated, exercising and getting enough sleep is crucial to surviving life when you work nights. I’m grateful for this incredible opportunity, and I’m extremely grateful to my husband, for supporting me through this next chapter of my life.
Have a fabulous day!