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Shift work families... When do you homeschool? What daily schedule do your kiddos keep?

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Up till now I haven't had too much trouble getting it to work, at least mostly... But I find now that we're doing more "real school" as opposed to kindie stuff that I am really needing to figure out how to do this... Scrounging around for a bit of time in the morning before papa wakes up, and a bit of time in the afternoon befor I am so tired I just don't care anymore isn't cutting it anymore... I need inspiration!

 

I don't work outside the home (which I am grateful for! You families who both work different shifts amaze me!) but I do upkeep the farm mostly myself and have some work I need to do at home... And I have pretty severe adrenal fatigue and evenings are super hard to have the energy to do school then...

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I find this so hard (it's been an on and off situation for us). For us, we've had to agree that I stick to the homeschool routine no matter whether my husband is home or not and he stays on the edges. I have to do school in the morning or I burn out by late afternoon. The kids have gotten used to this and don't expect a holiday every time Daddy is around. He gets rest as needed and then if he is free he asks me if there's anything he can do to help... often hanging out with the toddler or running errands. With the occasional exception, I stick to the same routine each day, with or without him. We do at times take advantage of his schedule for field trips, etc... which is a benefit of shifts. :)

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We have a school routine, but do take days off with or without DH for field trips.

 

I am very lucky because DH helps out with the cooking, cleaning, and schooling when he us around. We get more done vs. less when he is home. I know not everyone is this fortunate.

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My DH has always worked odd shifts. Right now he works evening shift and has rotating days off. The past few weeks his days off have been mid week. For a while I tried doing school when he was at work. That simply didn't work out. We were all too tired in the afternoon and evening and we have other commitments several days a week. I also tried matching up our weekends with his so that we only did school on days he worked. That plain also failed.

 

Eventually, we decided that the best plan was for the kids and I to stick to a morning school schedule Monday through Friday whether DH was home or not. It isn't always easy but we do the best we can. Sometimes I will plan a lighter school day if DH has the day off so that we can spend the afternoon doing something fun. We've also started doing a 4 weeks on one week off school schedule. The extra week off gives us a chance to have extra family time.

 

Shift work is hard! Hope you figure out something that works for you!

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Thank you all! It is very hard... I think I am going back to a more "traditional" schedule for me and the kids.. Hopefully starting late enough that we can all be together for an hour at least first thing in the morning... When I did this before it got me down a bit because I felt like a single parent.. but that was when he got off later ( and slept later) and was working 7 days a week... So I will try again...

 

Thanks again! I was thinking about trying afternoons/ evenings again and this helped me remember how impossible that is when I try...

 

The positive is that if my kids were in school they would only see dad 2 mornings a week pretty much... Which would break my heart... We have basically had that kind of schedule before and it was so sad...

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My dh works a rotating roster (1 week morning shift, 1 week night shift, 1 week afternoon shift).

We have more of a daily routine rather than schedule. We just shift the routine an hour or so earlier/later as needed.

 

It is tough. He used to work all nights and if we had sent the kids to school he would never have seen them, he was asleep by 3 and not home from work until 9 or so...

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Dh works the same schedule every week, but he works some days and some nights. The child and I keep a normal schedule and we do most school during the day while dh is asleep or at work, dh has trouble not interrupting school. We take dh's days off as our days off.

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DH does not work "shift" per se, but has a very odd/constantly-changing-throughout-the-year work schedule. Much of it is based on weather, nature, and daylight / dark hours.  In some ways he is on-call, depending on what comes up.  His work can be extremely early, late/after bedtime, during dinner, long days, short days, overnight travel, travel where I can't reach him (no cell service or electricity), etc.  My expectations of building my schedule around his basically drove me nuts for a few years.  I've now made peace with it.

 

Here are some things that help us: 

 

- DH and I sit down each weekend with our calendars and go over what he *thinks* his schedule will be for the coming week.  All of it is subject to change, but even a guess, an estimation or knowing about solid times / dates (meetings and such) is helpful.  Everything is in pencil and I now forge ahead with my/kids schedule vs. trying to build activities around his.  I put his schedule at the bottom of each day on my schedule so I can see how it will affect the rest of us.  I ask for any upcoming solid dates on the calendar he is aware of--no matter how many months in advance--and put those in.

 

- I started re-framing my expectations.  I choose to go ahead with my own plans and am happy when he can pitch in or help out in an unexpected way.  I take advantage of those unexpected opportunities when they're there (ex., he can unexpectedly take the kids for a day, giving me free time, even though I had something different planned), because who knows when they will come around again?  It could be weeks.  

 

- DH used to underestimate the amount of time or energy required for work / tasks / meetings / out-of-town travel.  I used to get so angry when he did not "deliver" on what he promised schedule/time-wise because I was desperate for him to rescue me.  (Our kids' increasing ages have helped; the newborn stage with babies was very difficult.)  I began to re-frame his estimates with him and stopped trying to hold him accountable for things that were out of his control that would explode his estimates.  Over a period of years I consistently asked him to overestimate and under-promise and to set better boundaries with people and time.  His time management skills have increased and my grace has increased.  He's learned to set better boundaries with his boss and others.  I've learned to focus on all the ways he does contribute outside of work, which is a lot when he can.  Like a PP said, I know this is not true for all marriages.

 

- I try to take advantage of opportunities to do school and keep a pretty consistent school schedule year-round so that when we can get away with DH or he offers to take the kids during normal school time, we're not stressed and trying to play catch-up with school afterwards.  Working hard when it's possible allows us the freedom to take advantage of opportunities when they come up vs. being behind the 8-ball.  

 

- We try to do the same with housework.  Our house is by no means perfect, but I try to keep up on laundry, dishes, chores, cleaning, etc. on a daily basis so we don't have to use family time to do that.  It doesn't always work out this way, but gives us more freedom when we can be together.  If I can't get to everything, I don't stress. 

 

- I shifted my rigid expectations of things like having dinner every night together as a family to...what if we can all have breakfast together instead?  Isn't that time just as valuable for connecting?  When Dad's gone at dinnertime, we light a candle and put it at his place and pray for his safe return.  Those symbolic shifts help us instead of negatively focusing on "missing Dad" when he's gone.  I try to stay positive because I see how it affects my kids.

 

OP said: "The positive is that if my kids were in school they would only see dad 2 mornings a week pretty much... Which would break my heart... We have basically had that kind of schedule before and it was so sad."

 

- I try to remind myself of how much less my kids and DH would have together if we had to adhere to someone else's rigid schedule.  

 

- I've had enough of a taste of what it would be like to be a single parent.  I marvel at single parents, respect them so much more than I did before having kids, try to be aware of how I might pitch in to help others that do not have the sort of husband/dad we have, and pray for them.  When I get really down about not having help or when he's gone, I try to remember that we have a really present, helpful, engaged husband/dad when we do have him. 

 

- For a few years, we paid for 1-3 days per month for a trusted daycare option so I could have a full day here and there to get some solitude, get a haircut in peace, exercise alone, or just take a breather.  Those few days a month equaled sanity sometimes.  Now I'm trying to trade a day or half-day with a friend/her kiddos.  Sometimes I think the hardest thing about shift work/weird schedules might be never having any "protected" time you can count on to re-charge.  It helps mentally to know there is a day in the future where I can "park" ideas/needs.
 

- I challenge myself (mostly imperfectly; I am selfish) to ask DH how I can help him with his load.  Usually there is nothing I can do to change his work or pace, but it re-frames it from "How can you help me?" (being served) to "How can I help you?" (servant-minded.)  [Mark 10:45, Matt 20:28 for anyone so inclined]  

 

This got long.  Hope it helps.

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Vonbon that definitely helps... Thank you... We had 1-2 years where our schedule was so challenging and we almost never saw him... It gave me such an extreme respect for single parents, or parents who have a spouse serving overseas or something... When mine are older I hope to find some way to help... Most of us don't have th community or family that people had back in the day and it is so hard...

 

We are trying to focus on having a late breakfast time (later for us anyway) then give kiddos an hour to do some farm chores and play daddy games... Then I take it from there... It has allowed me also to consistently brush my teeth and get dressed in the morning for the first time in 5 years at least! :) I was worried that I would feel tired trying to squeeze our afternoons tighter but just that bit of self care seems to be helping... We also struggle with dinner time... I had images of lovely family dinners when I imagined having a family... The candle is a lovely idea...

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My DH works 12 hours shifts.  We take days off when he's off, and work when he works, most of the time.  This week as an example, DH was off Wednesday and Thursday, but works the weekend, so we will do the same.  

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YOu have to just play aorund with it till you find something that works for you.  Most years that I lived in South Florida, we did chores/breakast/morning routine, then went to the park, followed by the pool while the day was still cool (and the pool wasn't filled with adults trying to sleep) and then after almost 3 hours of exercise and sun, we would do one school subject, lunch, and then 2-4 school subjects, and then they were done school around 4pm.  It was weird but it worked for us!

 

One year, my dh was constantly traveling to England and I did a similar schedule except I added in visits to elderly neighbors and grandparents during the day several days per week, to break up the loneliness for me AND the kids.  (They also had activities and we had church stuff but I needed a little more)...so the schedule changed a bit that year too.

 

We moved to a more normal climate, my kids are older, my dh is home and we have two cars so now we follow a fairly typical school schedule, but EVEN THEN we had to figure out what worked for us.  I thought I would have both my kids doing school by 8:30 but that is totally not realistic. I am not a fun person till about 9:30 even though I am up at 7, and my daughter sleeps later and is also not a morning person so we found her ideal school start time is around 9:15 give or take....we had to adjust here and there till it went smoothly.  

 

So I would say, look at your life, your kids, figure out who is the morning person, who is not... figure out when dh is home and when you can school best, and make a plan, and then you'll still need to adjust it...

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My dh used to be on a three shift rotation - a week each of day, afternoon and night shift. When he was on day shift, the days were, obviously, just normal. On night shift we operated pretty much the same because he would be sleeping during the day. I had to try to keep the kids up one end of the house, no piano prac etc while he was sleeping. When he was on afternoon shift we operated differently. After breakfast, while dh was still sleeping because he ended late night before, we did a bit of school - like maybe till morning tea. Then we stopped, had time with Daddy across thd middle of the day until he left for afternoon work. We had our main meal at lunch then too. After he left, we would then school again until dinner which would be light and easy because we ate big at lunch. It worked pretty well really. It was really important that Dad and kids got to spend time together so we just did what we had to do.

 

He's back on permanent days now, so life as normal :)

Edited by LindaOz

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