How to Actually Enjoy the Night Shift in a Military or First Responder Relationship

A woman outside writing in a journal.

Night shift: two words that send shivers down any spouse’s spine. Although it’s expected and you know it’s coming, it’s still hard to hear and wrap your head around. Of course, it’s harder than day shift, or even weekend shifts because you’re preoccupied during the day. It’s when the sun goes down, the other side of the kitchen table is empty, and the house is quiet that you start to miss your better half. But what if I told you night shift doesn’t have to be a horrible thing? Here are a few ways you can actually enjoy night shift when you’re married to a serviceman or first responder.

Schedule a Delivery for Dinner Meal Kits

Dinner is tricky when you’re cooking for one, or when you even just lose a person at the table. A prepackaged dinner plan can help you during these times. There are plenty of brands out there to choose from that offer a variety of options like vegan, gluten-free, etc. Most also offer an option to start and stop deliveries for the weeks or months you’re back on a normal schedule. Save the leftovers for the next day’s lunch or for you first responder to eat when they get home. Using a meal kit delivery service will also keep you from wasting groceries, as well as allow you to try new foods that your spouse may not like.

Work on a Project or Hobby

A woman exercising outdoors.

Night shift means that your spouse will need a quiet house during the day to sleep. During this time, get yourself out of the house and go do something you love! Join a book club, a glass blowing class, or a running group. Get yourself into something new, or start learning more about what you already love. A hobby or project is a great way to unwind from your day in general, and to socialize or relax. It can also keep your mind busy, instead of thinking about what you may be missing out on with an untraditional schedule. If you do have to stay home, sit down with your puzzle, turn on your favorite movie, and lose track of time.

Include Special Activities for the Kids

If you have kids, you know it’s a hard transition from having both parents at home for dinner and bedtime to having only one parent available for those activities. Night shift affects the whole family—not just the person who has to work it. The kids have to be quieter during the day and they don’t get to see the other parent as much, so think of something that will make this period a little easier for them, too. Maybe that means letting them choose dinner one night a week, even if its peanut butter and jelly or pancakes. On the weekends while one parent is sleeping, a day at the park or zoo when they can run and be loud for a few hours will let off steam. Even something as simple as reading an extra book on nights a parent is missing at bedtime could be special. Even though they will still miss their Mommy or Daddy, this might make them look forward to some part of those night shift schedules, knowing something special will take place.

Make Plans with Friends and Family

A woman greeting her friend with a bottle of wine.

Being in a relationship with someone in the military or a first responder can be isolating and lonely as it is, so don’t isolate yourself during night shifts. This is important. Just because your other half can’t be with you doesn’t mean you have to be a shut-in. You might not even notice it at first until night shift is a part of your schedule and you realize how much you depend on the other person for entertainment, but friends and family are a perfect go-to for a night shift hang out session. Have friends and family over, plan a game night, or even an evening out! It doesn’t have to be fancy or something out of The Hangover, but just get yourself around people.

Night shift will never be easy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the best of it. Off-duty days will come and you can still have fun as a couple or family. Make the most of this time you have to yourself, and be flexible! If you don’t have work the next day, drink a cup of coffee after dinner and spend a night awake with your spouse. Remember that the night shift doesn’t last forever, and it will make you stronger as a couple and as an individual.

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