Graveyard shift - aka the "night shift." Most often seen when children are under the age of two and require night feedings and diaper changes, but can stretch in to the toddler years if a child is prone to night terrors or has other special needs. Can be revisited multiple times during childhood colds and fevers.
Swing shift - Can be employed during the same time as the graveyard shift if a child's parent is lucky enough to have a partner who is willing to help out on a regular basis. Stretches from birth through adolescence.
Split shift - Welcome to my world.
It has taken me the first month of the school year to work this out. Well, the first month of the school year plus the previous four years of school where I occasionally found myself with several "free" hours during the day while the girls went to school. This is another "re-inventing the wheel" moment for me as a parent.
Since I left my part-time job in June, after getting the girls off to school in the mornings, I am most often faced with six or more hours that stretch in front of me where I can do pretty much whatever I want. My plan was to use the bulk of these hours to write and work on selling my book, knowing full well that I would also go grocery shopping, do laundry, take the dog to the vet, prepare meals, exercise, garden...you get the idea.
Since September 1st, my days start at 6:00 AM in the way millions of other parents begin their day: waking children, getting breakfast, packing lunches and locating desired items before we run out the door. I figured out a system last year to do most of these things without losing my mind and more often than not, I pat myself on the back for a job well done when nobody leaves in tears or tells me they hate me.
Several times in the past few weeks, I have hit the mid-day mark and realized that, even though I could probably find other household things to do, I don't want to. What I really want to do is sit down on the couch with a handful of dark chocolate covered raisins and a book and read for an hour or so. Last week, I finally succumbed to that temptation, but I kept wondering when I was going to get busted. I was paranoid that a neighbor would stop by, Bubba would come home to get something he forgot, or someone would call and ask what I was doing and I would have to admit that I wasn't. Doing. Anything.
Yesterday it hit me. I work a split shift. I don't get the opportunity to sit on the couch with a book at night like some other people. I don't usually have hours of free time on the weekends to indulge myself in relaxing. The first part of my workday starts at 6AM and ends around 9:30, and the second part begins at 3PM when I leave to get the girls from school and help with homework, shuttle to after school activities, talk about difficult issues, cook our main meal, clean up the kitchen, and shepherd the girls through their bedtime routine.
So maybe it is okay to take a couple of hours in the middle of the day to do "nothing." Even if there is laundry or shopping to do or the dog "ought" to be walked, I need to start treating my mid-day free time as a much needed break. A way to recharge before I ramp up again at 3:00.
This may be a total "DUH" moment for most of you, but for me, it's one of those things that I needed to be hit over the head with before I realized it. For now, I'm working the split shift. It may not always be like this, but I made it through the graveyard shift and I'm lucky enough to have the swing shift when Bubba is in town. I'm taking my breaks when they come so don't be surprised if one day you walk past my house and see me lounging on the couch with a smile and a book. And if I'm under a blanket taking a wee nap, leave a note and I'll call you when I'm up.