If you’re just starting out in the law enforcement life, you may be wondering what shift will work best with your schedule. You may have the advantage of your LEO being able to pick their shift. Or, you may be at the disadvantage of having the shift chosen for your family.
If you’re part of the latter group, you may be nervous that your significant other will be put on night shift while you work a day shift. Or, you may be stuck in a training phase where they are switching back and forth between day and night, and you might be dreading the thought of them always being on the night shift.
Well, if your significant other gets put on night shift, you need to embrace it! It definitely has cons: alone most nights, asleep during the day, hard to plan around, etc. However, it really does have its benefits and you need to take advantage of those!
Mr. Troop has been on night shift for five years. The first couple of years, I really let it get to me. I let it dictate my schedule and was a roller coaster of emotions thinking about how many meals we missed together and how I couldn’t really plan anything while he was sleeping or away. Wow, was I mistaken!
So, let me explain the five best reasons you need to embrace that night shift!
- Meals (specifically dinner).
Does it suck eating alone? Yes. Does it suck eating dinner at 4:00 in the afternoon? Yes. But, two dinners sounds like a great idea, and, you get to eat whatever you want for your second dinner!
On days that Mr. Troop works, we usually eat dinner around 4pm. I let him choose whatever dinner he wants because we don’t always have the same taste in food. I like to think of it as an appetizer to second dinner. (Pro tip: make enough of your first dinner so that your LEO can have leftovers for “lunch” at 10pm.)
If you don’t have time to eat a dinner together, that’s fine too. That just means that the dinner you make later will be all for your and you can make as much or as little as you want because no one is there to ask if you’re really going back for a fourth or fifth taco!
Sure, eating alone gets boring after a while, but it’s not every night, so embrace the nights you get to go hog wild with nachos or enjoy an entire bag of cheese curds without the judgement coming from the other side of your plate.
If you really get tired of eating alone, add some kids into the mix. That’ll really liven up your dinners!
If you’re anything like Mr. Troop and myself, you two are not always interested in the same television shows. Sure, you put up with it when you have to, but you know all you want to do is binge watch your guilty pleasure and it’s hard to do when you’ve got someone asking a hundred questions every episode.
Or, here’s a more likely situation for you: you’ve settled in after dinner and decided you’re going to watch a movie together. You scroll through Netflix or Hulu or whatever other movie channel you prefer for half an hour and can’t agree on a movie that you both haven’t seen or both want to see. So, you decide on a movie you’ve seen, or a movie you know they’ve been dying to watch, or they let you pick, and then you play it in the background while you sit next to each other and catch up on emails and social media. It’s the modern day version of what people like to call “quality time”.
In this line of work, there’s no time for this terrible rendition of “quality time”, so knock of the nonsense and do something else together. Your time is limited if you work opposite schedules.
Instead, you could spend some of your alone nights searching for and creating a list of movies that the two of you could watch the next time you’re in this predicament.
Instead of wasting your time, wait until you’re on your alone night and once you’ve finished shoveling three plates of pasta in your face, grab that remote, snuggle into the couch, and enjoy that uninterrupted show you’ve been wanting to watch all day long. (Grey’s Anatomy is my current obsession. So cheesy, but so good!)
3. The whole bed
Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing I love more than sharing a bed and knowing that Mr. Troop is home and safe. But, on those nights when he’s working, I certainly do enjoy the feeling of that king size bed to myself.
If you get the chance to sleep (it’s totally normal to stay up worrying all night long if you’ve read a news article, heard about a terrible call from the previous night, or made the mistake of watching a horror movie on their work night), you get the entire bed to yourself. You can sleep without interruption. You can hog the blankets and the pillows. There’s no worry about waking someone else up if you crawl into bed late, and you won’t be woken up if they crawl into bed late.
Shoot, you can even do numbers 1 and 2 in bed. Embrace it!
4. Interruption-free morning
Are you a morning person? I’m not. I like to get to work at least an hour early so that I can sit in my room and get prepared for the day without having to see or talk to anyone.
You can wake up at your own pace. Shower without sharing the bathroom. The only person that is rushing you is yourself if you decided to sleep in. No one is counting down the minutes until you’re going to be late.
Talking? Unless you’re talking to yourself, you don’t have to worry about those morning conversations happening any earlier than you’d like them to. You can sip your coffee or tea or hot chocolate at your own pace while you read the paper or get caught up on whatever needs to be done.
This is one of my personal favorites. I’m not sure why I didn’t embrace this one earlier. Because, in the five years I’ve had to appreciate this morning time, I’ve wasted it! I spent time sulking over it for the first year. Then, I started to embrace it. And then, I had D. Bring on the kids and this time is lost again very quickly due to your solo-parenting status. Add more than one kid and you’ve really lost it!
If you’ve managed to build that support system I mentioned in this post, these night shifts are a great time to catch up with them!
You know what your schedule looks like, so you should be able to plan time with your friends. There’s no reason to hang out by yourself every night. That’s enough to drive a person mad! Take time for yourself by scheduling get together once in a while so that you have someone to talk with.
It’s especially important so that you aren’t always thinking about what could be happening or what kinds of calls they could be going on. Trust me, I know what it’s like to send a text and be left on ‘read’ in the middle of a shift. The results aren’t pretty. We tend to be ‘worst case scenario’ type people in this line of work.
Plus if you schedule time with your friends on nights your LEO works, that leaves more time for the two of you on nights when they aren’t working.
So, if you’re worried that the night shift life isn’t for you, remember to embrace the suck. No one likes to be alone at night, but you can make the best out of it. It will make your relationship that much stronger because your LEO knows it’s not an ideal situation for everyone. And, if your LEO is anything like mine, they love night shift and aren’t thinking of switching anytime soon. So, you might as well show your support by loving your night shift as well!
- As a side note: If you’re anything like me, you hate being alone at night because of the thought of something happening while you’re home by yourself. As soon as we learned Mr. Troop was going to be on night shift, we purchased Simplisafe and it was one of our best decisions. We recommend it to all family and friends (and, both of our families use it). You can google search it, or, if you click here to visit SimpliSafe and find a system for your home, we get a free month of monitoring.