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Family Life

Challenges & Benefits of Shift Work for Families

father holds sleeping baby at night father holds sleeping baby at night

​​​Many families are feeling the stress of overscheduled lives, especially when parents work at different times of the day. When parents work different shifts and are not home together very often, it can put a strain on their relationship and the family.

When parents work rotating shifts

Even more difficult are jobs that have rotating shifts—firefighting and nursing, for instance—in which parents work different hours each week; those schedules can make it harder for families to establish routines and rhythms. 

In these families, partners often have little or no time together. If they are lucky, they have a day or two during the week when they are both off. But their sleep schedules may be so different that they still spend very little time with each other. These parents need to pass messages to each other, like ships passing in the night. 

Making the most of weekends & vacations

Parents in these situations often work especially hard at giving their children the feeling that their family really is a unit, despite the challenging schedules. They need to make the most of weekends and vacations and support each other in areas like household responsibilities and discipline.

For some families, shift work is a solution to providing good child care and supervision for children who would otherwise be left in the care of another adult or on their own. Such arrangements may provide a financial benefit to the family and a sense of comfort to the child.

More Information

Last Updated
Adapted from Caring for Your School-Age Child: Ages 5 to 12, 3rd edition (Copyright © 2018 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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