Working Moms

Tips to Enjoy Quality Time with Your Family When Working the Night Shift

Night shift employment comes with many challenges but the hardest to tolerate is that it puts you on an entirely different schedule than most of the other people in your life. You sleep when your family is awake. You go to work at just about the exact moment they are settling in for family time.

That’s a hard burden to accept.

While no amount of creative thinking can entirely erase the hardships of working a night shift, there are steps you can take to lighten the load a little bit.

In this article, we take a look at what it takes to enjoy quality time with your family while working the night shift.


In this article, we take a look at what it takes to enjoy quality time with your family while working the night shift.

Focus on Making Memories

Everyone likes to think they are focused on making memories but not enough people pay serious thought to what that means. There is a recipe for creating an experience that lives in the minds of people the people who witnessed it forever.

The ingredients included below are great for making memories with ANYONE. You will note that some of the tips apply more directly to people with children.

However, you can apply this same strategy to connecting with your friends, your partner, your parents, etc.

  • Choose a sensory experience: Deeply sensory experiences tend to situate better into our long-term memories. They are extra details you can use to pull the memory back up in vivid clarity later on.
  • Get yourself moving: Motion, naturally, is a more active experience than sitting down for a movie, or some analogous experience. It also has the benefit of consistently refreshing your well of sensory experiences that can be drawn upon later.
  • Fully engage: This can be hard to do when you are doing something during the time you usually sleep. However, it is crucial to ensure that the experience is lasting for everyone involved. Participate in whatever you are doing.
  • Avoid screen time: Screen time tends to pull people out of the moment. If you are trying to make a memory with children, it can be equally disruptive for them. While kids are used to their parents looking at their phones they may wonder what is going on. They may worry that whatever has stolen your attention may disrupt the experience. They may simply feel hurt that you are choosing to dip out of the moment to check your email.

Outdoor experiences are particularly good at naturally facilitating all of these circumstances. Consider taking a hike with your family. Trying to learn tennis. Going on a bike ride. These are all great ways to bond in a lasting way.

Get Everyone Involved in the Process

You might not want your family to shoulder the burden of making the night shift work. It’s your job. Your responsibility, right?

Well. That concept doesn’t work well in family life. You’re all in this together and the night shift experience will unfold much more seamlessly if everyone is willing to act like it.

While you can’t expect your family to live like raccoons (nocturnally) you can encourage them to routinely set aside time where your schedules overlap.

For example, maybe you get home from work right around the time your kids are getting up to go to school. You can earmark that time as a great opportunity to sit down for dinner/breakfast together.

As you and your family members compare schedules, you’ll most likely be surprised by how much overlap there is.

Consider making a schedule map that is readily visible in a central location. The refrigerator is a pretty classic example, but find the option that works best for you.

It won’t always be easy. After working the night shift, you’re sure to come home tired, maybe grumpy. Turning “on,” from a social perspective, may feel unappealing. Make it work. You don’t have to come in at full energy. So much of family life is just about being present.

Make Good Use of Days Off

One of the challenges of working the night shift is that if you want to maximize your time off, you sometimes need to deprive yourself of sleep.

For example, if you have the weekend off work, you probably don’t want to get home Friday morning and go right to bed. It’s a natural temptation, but it will put your sleep cycle out of wack.

Instead, consider opting for a shorter nap so that you can sync up more naturally with your family’s schedule. It won’t be easy but it will pay off come Saturday when you get up bright and early for that hike we talked about earlier.

Tradition Isn’t Important

You hear constantly how important it is to sit down with your family every night for dinner. You know what else is important? Earning a living. Your job—be you a nurse or a hotel clerk—is meaningful. You’re doing what you need to in order to ensure that your family can pay the bills.

Don’t feel bad because it results in a lifestyle that subverts tradition. Instead, set your own traditions.

Nightly dinners won’t always work. Breakfast and lunch are still meals, right?

It’s important not to compare your experiences with those of parents or spouses who don’t work the night shift. It simply won’t compare well.

Chart your own course.


Working the night shift is hard. It would be insensitive to minimize that. However, you should try to keep in mind that the amount of time you wind up spending with your family will be approximately the same as someone who keeps conventional hours.

Maybe you do most of your sleeping during the day. What are you really missing? If you have kids, that’s when they will be in school. If you have a spouse, that’s when they will be at work.

You will miss things. That’s a compromise everyone with a job is forced to accept. People who work during the day often can’t see their kids off to school. Or they can’t pick them up.

Those are experiences you might have.

Millions of people all over the world enjoy a rich family life while working the night shift. Get strategic and find ways to make it work well for you.


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TWL Working Mom

Jennifer is the owner of TWL Working Moms. She is a full time teacher, a mom & step mom, and NBCT Facilitator. Jennifer lives in Washington State and is a born + raised New Yorker. In her spare time, she loves traveling, yoga, the beach, writing, listening to books and drinking coffee.

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