The Night Shift

As a working mom with a day job, most weeknights involve taking the "night shift" of childcare—which means you're sometimes stuck with a cranky kid.

Ever since I went back to work, I’ve been moonlighting as a mom on the night shift. Once my day job ends, I come home and take over for my husband, who’s been working out of our home while simultaneously caring for our daughter.

While he unwinds after another stressful day working two jobs at once, I feed Cassie dinner. Change her diapers. Give her a bath. Play with her. Read her books. All the usual mommy stuff.

But lately it’s been bumming me out that she’s so cranky and tired when I get home. He tells me about all the smiles and giggles she gave him earlier. It feels like all I get are the “leftovers” of emotion: full-body arches off the lap, ear-piercing screeches as I try to put on her jammies, and sobs when I have to take a bathroom break.

As a working mom with a day job, most weeknights involve taking the "night shift" of childcare—which means you're sometimes stuck with a cranky kid.

Lately, our weeknight quality time has mainly been a struggle to make it to bedtime—not the sweet, laughter-filled bonding I truly crave after a long day at work.

Then, there’s the overnight shift. When Cassie wakes up (which is at least two or three times a night), I’m the one who gets out of bed and soothes her back to sleep. We’re lucky she can quickly fall asleep again (not all kids can, I hear). But it’s rough having such an interrupted sleep, night after night, with the early alarm clock looming each morning.

My reward for punching in as the night-shift parent is the weekend. While it’s never easy, at least on Saturdays and Sundays I get to catch her happier, less cranky moments that I miss during the week.

But sometimes, like tonight, I’m sad that I can’t enjoy more of her smiley sweet face all week long. Anybody else feel this way? I could use a little shoutout of support.

6 thoughts on “The Night Shift

  1. I feel the same way. My boys are with my mother during the day. Throughout the day she sends me emails about them with photos of all the fun they are having (she is tech savvy).

    It makes me a little envious. Envious that I can’t be there spending as much time with them during the day as she does.

    I sat down and figured it out and on average I am with them a little more than 4 hours a day (1 hour in the morning and a little over 3 at night) while she has them for 9.5.

    It is hard to accept. To not feel guilty about not being there. It makes me sad because I feel like I am missing out on all that goes on during the day.

    In a way though, I think it makes me a better mother. I know it sounds weird but I think, because we do have a limited amount of time each day, that it makes me appreciate them more.

    I dont know. It is hard.

  2. My husband works part time, and my father helps out, and I try to avoid bedtime since it makes my kids go nutty. I don’t always see my kids much. But I don’t go to work until 10am, so I get my time in then for the most part.

    We spend as much time with our kids as possible, and they’re always with one of us, so I guess I don’t worry about it. I’ve never made a big deal about seeing them, and I think in some way that’s kept them from getting too loopy with me at night when I am home.

    Or I’m lucky.

    I stopped feeling guilty cause there’s nothing I can do about it, and they know I love them. I appreciate the moments I do have-not much else I can do really.

  3. I am soooooo with you on this! My daughter is only 4 months old, but her “witching hours” have always been from just before I get home from work until she goes to bed. It’s better than it used to be, but for a while there I almost dreaded going home (my mother-in-law watches her at my house). I’d pull in the garage and listen for a minute to hear if she (baby, not m-i-l!) was crying or not. I’d just feel so defeated if she was already crying, and feel guilty (there it is!) that I wasn’t particularly looking forward to my only time with her that day.

    It’s a bummer that I miss out on the rest of the day when she’s more likely to be cheerful, but like you, I also have the weekends and then I see what a pleasant, happy baby she can be.

    I’ve heard from lots of other moms and it seems like most kids have meltdowns to one degree or another at night, at least up to a certain age. Hang in there. We’ll get through it.

  4. Yes, my kids are often cranky on weekday evenings. And sometimes if Jonah doesn’t take a nap, he’ll fall asleep in the car ride home from Grandma’s and then is out for the rest of the night. I used to feel bad about it. But then I remember reading something that said just as parents unwind after a full day of work, kids and babies need to unwind, which usually means they’re cranky. So you just have to remember it’s nothing personal. It’s just your little one saying she’s had a good full day of playing and she’s beat. It can bum me out too that I’m not there when they’re in better moods. But at least I know that they had a good day regardless if I was there or not.

  5. I know exactly how you feel. On a typical day my work schedule leaves me just enough time to come home and see O right before he goes to bed. Often Tela is just finishing his dinner and the only job left is putting him to sleep. So…I take what I can get. I’ve learned to enjoy the ritual and try to make the most of those last moments before the sandman takes over.

    I never thought I could enjoy watching someone sleep in my arms as much as I do with him. I dream about what my little man will be doing when he’s my age, or what his life will be like as he grows up.

    Thank God for the weekends is really where it goes for me. I get all the awake time I want, and then some. Nonetheless, I just want you to know that you’re not alone.

  6. I understand puting them in care, BUT, anyone who has family to mind their kids is so much more fortunate, they need to understand the difference. it’s huge!!

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