With more and more industries demanding 24/7 operational hours, and with more and more women being added to the workforce year on year, it makes sense to take the time to honor all the moms who get to work at night. Just as when the world is gearing up for bed to sleep, moms who work at night get to prep for transit and for an 8 or 9-hour work shift. I used to work nights myself for a collective number of 6 years and working now during the day for close to five years, I will have to say that I have enough years of experience to write about the joys and dips of working nights. Most moms who work nights would bend over backwards just to make sure the kids will never have to notice that mom went to work while I was sleeping. And so the vicious cycle of staying up to as much as 18 to 20 hours a day is sometimes required. Moms who work nights would get home and join breakfast, function auto pilot as if she also had 8-hour-sleep. Engage in conversation around news, how everyone will spend their days and plan for the weekends (where moms don’t get to sleep until Saturday night coming off work Saturday mornings).
Back when I used to work nights, my day hours would stretch to noon, just in time to ensure all kids have taken a bath and your ever reliable household help angel has prepped everything for lunch. Then it is finally time to sleep. Yes, just as the afternoon sun has kicked in, in all its hotness glory, it is time to sleep. Imagine following this rigor every summer. Thank God for air-conditioning units. Unless you leave your bedroom door open, one or two hours into sleep, you hear little knocks on the door, your toddler or any of your kids wanting to cuddle. This is where you can make things work by encouraging kids to have afternoon naps with you. I just hope that what they want is cuddle and not play time because if so, you can say goodbye to your planned 6 hours sleep and ease your way off bed for a 4-hour sleep instead.
Of course, the same cycle repeats itself because before you know it, evening news is on which signals you to get going and prep for work. So how did I make it work while working nights?
- God is my 24/7 God – bigger than any of the things I encounter – Working at nights did not have to change the way I see my season with God. Whether you wake up at 5pm or at 5am, you can go get your Bible, read up on God’s promises and believe Him for His perfect timeline and perfect control over things that may seem overwhelming for you. Learned how not to focus on anything that can be a source of worry, doubt, discouragement or tension just by believing who God is and what He can do over my season. Doing this overtime and you certainly realize that you wake up with a fresh supply of faith, strength and joy day on day (or night on night J). Because there are a lot of things I don’t get to do myself or be on top of while I work at night, all the more reasons that I clung on to God and have Him take care of the things I cannot control and take care of. I may not be able to keep an eye on my family at night but God can. I may not be present on everything during the day but God is present. This is the biggest assurance I had that allowed me to trust, depend and rely on God heavily.
- Communication Is Also Open at Night – ways to communicate may be different, thus, most moms would find communicating challenging. You can maintain normalcy by making ‘how are you doing’ phone calls to husband anytime. If your husband is like mine, he would also be up on my 4am break just so he can ask if I already had lunch. Otherwise, you can always wait until you get home in time for breakfast. It can get challenging only if husband would have a totally opposite schedule than you do. There was a season when I would work nights and husband would be on mid-shift, making it impossible for us to share a meal for 5 straight days. Other than using the phone real-time, this was when a Logbook came in handy. Husband and I agreed to write down our thoughts when we get home and before we leave home. This sustained us for half a year. We still sometimes get back to reading the logbook whenever we thank God for sustaining us through different seasons of our marriage and family life. Where other couples would take aligned work hours for granted, this season ultimately changed the way we view our time with each other count. We would never have discovered that we can arrange a child’s birthday party via a logbook update (that’s for another writing J).
- Do not be such a Darna – this is where you agree to have all the help you can get from your family and friends. Make your schedule work around what is important, knowing when to prioritize taking time off some nights to be there for kids’ milestones. It is an advantage that most school events are during the day, although the downside to it is having less hours of sleep before another worknight. Never commit the mistake of wearing the grouchy hat when you are home. Better ask help from family and friends when things get too taxing for you (e.g. after recreation activities for kids with extended family, afternoon playdate with friends, or even catch up afternoons with your kids’ ninongs and ninangs). Imagine it from your kids’ limited perspective. You never want to be the mom who is always asleep or the mom who is grouchy when awake.
Critical to making this work is being honest with your spouse. Develop a transparent relationship with your spouse, do not be afraid to seek help or discuss your options when needed.
I am taking my hats off to ALL moms who work nights, moms whose heart for family is just as big as those who work during the day. To all the moms who stay home, work from home or step out of the house to work, thanking you for all your labor and love for all the kids who make up today’s world. For the stay at home moms whose work is equal to those who work full time, thanks for being the kind of mom you are and for showing us all that mommyhood is both fun and fulfilling. Happy Mothers’ Day to all!
God’s promises whether you sleep at night or during the day:
In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8
When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24