Wife Life; Surviving night shift life with a toddler in Summer.

Hello dear friends!
How has your week been?
Our week has been quiet but busy… Trent has been on night shift this week, so our days are normally very quiet because he needs to rest. But after he leaves to work LuLu and I have been having some very busy afternoons.
So let’s talk about shift work, it is very common today – almost all my friends have had some experience with it. Either they do or have done it, their parents did or their partners work shift work. Thankfully the shifts my husband works are family friendly hours. He gets home at good & reasonable hours and also has a good amount of days off. We are very fortunate, but the days he works are still hard on our little girl who loves her Daddy very much and always wants to be close to him.
The way we deal with – “survive” the nightshift side of shift work at this season of our life is just to keep busy. LuLu misses her Daddy a lot when he is working, doesn’t matter if it’s day or night shift or even if he has just popped out to the store to grab milk, she misses him anytime he isn’t with her – so to help with that I try to keep our time together busy and with lots to do. 
Now Trent doesn’t do FIFO or live away from us, he comes home at the end of every shift and I am very thankful for that – so I am not an expert on dealing with extended time away from my husband and LuLu away from her Daddy, but I thought the way we run our life may encourage or inspire one of you, especially if you are in a similar stage of life & situation to us.
Trent leaves for his nightshift in the early afternoon and he returns home just after midnight – so that gives him a good chunk of time to sleep when he first gets home and he has a few extra hours in the morning after LuLu and I wake up, then he is awake and spends some time with LuLu – this week they have been in the pool every day. It’s been very hot here so the nice cool pool has been a real treat! 

Our little fish loves diving in the pool for her toys.

While they swim, I either pop out and do groceries, tidy up around the house, do laundry, catch up on my jobs, sometimes join them for a swim and then I make lunch. We have a big lunch when Trent is on nights and he takes leftovers for his dinner. 
LuLu has a nap after lunch and Trent sometimes does too and then he leaves for work… When LuLu wakes up we have afternoon tea (bowl of fruit) and she watches a small amount of TV.
After 3/3:30pm LuLu and I head outside. While Trent is on nightshift I use our afternoons to try and get lots of jobs done outside, especially when the weather is so nice & warm and the days are a bit longer.
I really enjoy getting a lot of jobs done in my day, it makes me feel good & satisfied knowing I did something today and chipped away at my always growing “to-do list”. I also feel I am helping Trent out a lot by taking away some of the jobs that he often does. He is off working hard, so if I can mow the lawn to save him doing it on his days off – that makes me happy & that time on his days off can be better spent as family time or he can relax after working hard. I know I don’t “need to do” these jobs, Trent would easily do them – but I like being helpful to him and that is also part of the calling of being a wife. (Genesis 2:18) 
LuLu loves outside time, so she thinks it is the best thing when we put on our sunscreen, hat & shoes and get ready to head outside.
This week we have so far; bathed the dogs, hosed the gardens & lawns everyday, pulled weeds out of the garden, washed the car, mowed the lawns, washed out the garbage bins – you know basic tidying up around the outside of the home and we also baked some cookies & painted our nails as a treat and the other afternoon my parents visited. So our afternoons have been jam packed & full of jobs but also fun. 

Pats for the freshly bathed doggies.

I always make sure that I when do a job I either try to include LuLu as much as possible or straight after I am finished we do something fun so LuLu feels involved and it is also enjoyable for her.
LuLu is now at the age where she can wander around the yard & play or follow and help me – she just loves being outside. Some jobs like washing out the bins, she obviously doesn’t help with – but I make sure she has something to do – like have a bike to ride while I quickly get the job done. I always make sure I can watch her as I work. With washing the car, mowing the lawn, watering the plants, baking – these are jobs LuLu loves to help me with. She washes her Little Tikes pink truck & bike, she has her little mower, her own watering can and loves to help hose and she’s a great little helper in the kitchen.

Our 2 little “big rigs” all washed.
Helping me out by hosing the plants.

While I mow the lawns LuLu has a ton of fun toys to play with outside, she has a trampoline, cubby, little climbing toy and I also set up her water table for her to play with. This week we have also been setting up the sprinkler with our tank water, LuLu has been having a ball running through it in the afternoon.

Water table fun… If LuLu is getting bored with the toys that come with the table, I just bring out some toys from inside. This Kewpie doll was mine when I was younger, and its the perfect dolly for her to bath.
Running through the sprinkler.
Bouncing on the bounce with Ninna… Grandparents, friends & family make great distractions too for little kids when a parent is off working…

One afternoon I got the hose out while we were playing on the trampoline – “The bouncy bouncy” – our wild & fearless little girl thought it was the best thing in the world. In no time at all she had worked out how to run & slide with her feet and she was having a ball! 

We often are outside until about 6pm’ish – then we go inside dirty & exhausted from our big afternoon of playing and doing some jobs. Our night routine is to have showers, eat dinner – which is often leftovers from lunch, tidy up and then read books while LuLu drinks her milk, clean our teeth and get ready for bed. 
Once LuLu is asleep I finish tidying up the house for the night, put the dishwasher on and then I either read, check my social media, text friends or watch a movie (often I am doing more than one of these at once – LOL) 
But that is how I survive night shift with a toddler in Summer. Every season of life and the year is different and brings new challenges – but I think at this stage of our life when LuLu is an active, outdoor loving little toddler and the weather is so nice & warm – having a busy afternoon is the best, for us. Your idea of a busy afternoon maybe visiting friends or family, doing crafts, heading out to do some shopping or heading to a local park or library. You have to make your time with your child, your own. I really like showing my daughter that it is great to get outside, help out, be active, enjoy nature, take care of our home, have fun & it’s ok to get a bit dirty & messy when we are working. I also like having LuLu help when it’s appropriate for her to help, I believe it is creating a good foundation for her to grow up knowing that it is important to help others & help with jobs around the house. (She is very good with her little jobs, if you would like a post on that let me know!)
The other thing I want to note here, is when we are outside in the afternoon my phone is inside. The photos included in this blog post are taken quickly on my little point & shoot underwater camera, mainly at the end of the afternoon… I try to make a conscious effort every day, especially when it is just the 2 of us to spend time with LuLu with no phone. I use the time after she is asleep to check & update my social media. I really do encourage you to try the same, even just 1 hour – leave the phone on charge. 
Our afternoons together have been really beautiful & wonderful this week. I especially love the time when we are just holding hands walking around hosing the plants and the grass, we have little chats, water fights, we laugh – it is just lovely. I love motherhood I really do and it’s moments like that I will treasure forever. 
I know night shift/shift work can be stressful and overwhelming at times & it is hard on children when they miss their Dad/Mum, but I hope this posts encourages you. Even if you don’t have to worry about shift work, I hope this post motivates you to at least just go outside this afternoon – set up the sprinkler and run through it! It doesn’t matter how old you are, it’s always fun!

Get outside and dance under the sprinkler, do it! I highly recommend doing it at sunset, even quickly set a timer on your camera and take a quick photo to remember the fun.

But in all seriousness, I truly hope this post helps someone. Last year our season of life was different, LuLu was younger and I couldn’t get as much done – but now she’s older and wants to help & would be outside every second of the day if I let her. So you have to do what you can at your season of life, but my biggest suggestion & tip for you if your partner does shift work – especially nights – is to stay busy. It can get lonely and boring and the hours can drag on if you let it – but I really find staying busy or having plans makes it so, so much easier. Make a plan, say “this afternoon, I am going to hose the garden” or mow the lawn, paint a picture, have a play date, do a messy craft outside, bake a treat, call my friend or watch a movie after the kids are asleep etc. 
I think getting outside with kids & having water play instantly makes them happier, so if you can do that – do it, especially if they are cranky! Also make life easier on yourself, make enough food at lunch so you can eat leftovers for dinner, it’s easier to have leftovers than cook a whole new meal. 
I find having lots to do makes the time go faster and it makes the whole experience a lot easier on our daughter and also myself. We have night shift weeks that aren’t so busy, fun & successful and I often find they drag on and aren’t enjoyable and then I find myself getting down. But the days we plan to do something or even just get outside and play or do a small job, makes it a lot more enjoyable and pleasant. Having a very busy & active afternoon also makes us both tired and helps us sleep – so that is also a bonus. (I don’t know about you but I don’t sleep that great without my husband!)
Does your partner do shift work? How do you handle it? Do you have any tips? I would love to hear them, leave me a comment below or on my social media! Please also let me know if you would like to hear our week works when my husband is on day shift.
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Have a lovely afternoon, we are on our final night shift for this run, so I am off to wash down the outside windows & my brother is coming to visit and take LuLu swimming.
Enjoy your weekend…

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