Parenting Through Shift Work

Being a parent is tough and ever so rewarding, in sometimes not so equal measure, throw in a shift working parent(s) or a parent who feels like they are parenting alone into the mix and things get a whole lot more interesting.

Many of you know and for those that don’t, I have been married to a shift working husband for the last 12.5 years and together for a lot longer than that!

I have parented through his Emergency Service shift patterns for 11.5 years, there have been highs and lows for us all as a family, although, I would be fibbing if I said I don’t enjoy a late shift when I get the TV remote all to myself!

In my experience, it is not easy parenting when you don’t know if your husband will finish work on time and be home to help with the morning or bed time routine. It is not easy to parent when your partner works 2 weekends out of 3. It is not easy to parent when you have to creep around the house so they can sleep off a night shift or your daughter doesn’t see her Dad for 4 days as the shift pattern collides with the school week.

For me to be able to get to the end of the week with my sanity in tact what with balancing motherhood, house responsibilities and running my own business, my super power is organisation and routine. Read on to find a couple of things we do in our home to ensure everyone knows that is going on no matter what.


My daughter and I, regardless of what my husband is doing, have a predictable morning routine that sees us get up, dressed, fed and watered, lunch prepared and out the door on time. I work from home so I don’t have to go anywhere but you get the idea!

The afternoon routine I have to be honest needs a bit of work but heyho, no one is perfect!

Something that really helps us, is that everything my daughter needs for the next day at school or if I am working out of the house or running an event, is all packed up and by the front door the night before.

We also don’t have TV in the morning so this seriously helps me get her out on time.


One thing I really, ok really, really struggle with as a parent is cooking! My husband is the one that loves cooking, is passionate about and takes pride in it. He is also the one that does that lion’s share of the cooking in our house. I cook to survive and feed my child! There is nothing wrong with my cooking, I just don’t enjoy it.

With the Hubster working weekends and late shifts mid week, it stresses me out having to think of what to cook once I have finished my work day at 6.30/7pm, 4 nights a week and being a mum taxi the other evening.

What has helped me feel more in control of this and ensure my daughter has some sort of presentable meal put in front of her is to meal plan and yes, I do think fish fingers are a good meal!

We have a white board on our fridge where we put the meals for the week. We decide generally as a family what we are going to eat for the week around commitments, shifts and events and write it up on the board for all to see. If we can cook in bulk we do, if we can cook a meal that forms the basis of a few other meals across the week we do! It all helps.

Do you have any great ideas to help me through meal time stress?


I am grateful most weeks that we have systems in our home that allow life to continue on automatic pilot. Systems such as a good morning routine, meal planning and bags ready for school the night before.

Our command centre, ok this is a somewhat grand title for what we actually have! We have a whiteboard (am a bit of a fan of whiteboards!) in our kitchen with the goings-on of our week on it. It means that ‘at a glance’ everyone knows what’s going on. We put on here anything that the rest of the family needs to know about: my husband’s shifts, events that I am running that impact the family, activities my daughter does after school, etc.

What do you do in your homes to ensure that everyone knows what is going on across the week?

Watch out for more blogs from me around parenting through shift work as I have many thoughts on the subject as I have parented through them for the last 11.5 years!

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