Here are some tips on how I survive working nightshift as a nurse in a busy ER and caring for my family during the day.
So this one may seen obvious, but I have to put it in here because I feel like sometimes this is a hard one, especially as a parent. The goal is to get as much sleep before your nightshift starts. There are a couple ways you can try to do this, you really just have to do what fits for your situation.
- Wake up at normal time, take care of the kids and take a nap. Either when your kids are napping, when they are at school, or when you have someone to watch them so you can catch some Zzzzz.
- Sleep in. If you have a spouse, family member, or friend who will come get your kids ready for the day and let you sleep in, this could be another option.
As a parent sleep is already limited, but you really put yourself at risk (and your patients) by not getting some sleep before your shift!
Plan, plan, plan
Something that helps me deal with my string of night shifts with kids is planning. I LOVE planners so I have them everywhere. There is a dry erase planner in my office and bedroom, and a Happy planner that goes everywhere with me (I suck at electronic calendars). I try to plan everything. Son has a cross-country meet, it is written down. Party at school Monday that I need cupcakes for, it is written down. Dinners for the week, its wrote down. Here are some of the things I plan to help make my life easier for the week.
- I make a meal plan that is simple and something I will stick to. Nothing complicated as I will not make complicated when I am tired. (Would you be interested in a quick and easy meal plan for the family?)
- Get all my grocery shopping done and I prep veggies by cutting them so I can just throw them in the pan.
- I meal prep things that I don’t mind having made beforehand (I’m super weird about like reheated chicken sometimes so I try to stick to what I know I don’t mind reheated).
- Laundry. There is nothing like getting up for your third 12-hour shift and you don’t have clean pants to wear! Or my personal favorite, come Monday morning when your kids are getting ready for school and you hear, “I don’t have any clean clothes mom!”
Yep, you read that right. I love to have a playlist for some music that gives me energy and makes me want to dance. I blast it on my way to work and it really does help set the mood for my shift. Make yourself a bomb playlist on Spotify (http://spotify.com/us) or iTunes.com and rock out on the way to work!
Only if it is your thing. Not everyone drinks coffee or drinks caffeine and I am okay with that, do you! I drink coffee but it seriously does not help me stay awake. I personally drink my pre-workout to help give me just a little pep. Although this is getting expensive and I may need to find an alternative route. Make sure if you are using caffeine to help you get through your shift that you’re stopping approximately 4-6 hours before you plan on going to bed. Otherwise, you will never go to sleep and life will SUCK!
Good ole H2O!
I can’t say enough good things about water! But drinking water can help you fight fatigue and brain fog. Dehydration can leave you feeling drained and fatigued. I like to take my large Starbucks cup with a straw to sip on as I am running by. There is something about a straw that helps me drink just a little bit more, maybe it’s skipping the step of removing a cap ( I really don’t know). The only downside to this is that we don’t get to go to the bathroom as often as we may like, so keep that in mind!
I always try to take something healthy that I can grab and shove in my mouth during the few seconds I may get sometimes between patients. I like to choose healthy snacks because they keep me energized and not bogged down. Try to skip carb-heavy snacks (likes cakes and such). Here are a few of my favorite snacks to take to work.
- Cut veggies/fruit
- Nuts or homemade trail mix (because I hate raisins!)
- Boiled eggs (One of my favorites)
- RTD Protein shake
After your shift
I find that sometimes you need to unwind after a crazy shift in the ER. I personally like to stretch for a couple minutes when I get home. Yoga is a great option as well. I want to start meditating soon, but this will take some practice because I have a hard time shutting my mind down to a blank space. Getting good rest is one of the best things you can do for yourself, below are some things I use to help me get good sleep after a night shift.
- I use Melatonin (Make sure to talk to your doctor before starting any meds or supplements to make sure they will not interact with anything.)
- Blackout curtains. As a nightshift nurse, it is hard for me to sleep with the sun out, so blackout curtains are a must. Now they are not perfect. If I had it my way I would put up black thick plastic to keep the light out but then people start suspecting stuff!! That is why my next option is important.
- An eye mask. Mine is not fancy, it simply keeps my eyes covered so the light doesn’t bother me. Some girls I know have the cushioned ones to help with puffiness, I am seriously not this fancy.
- Ear plugs for noisy households or neighbors. These can be a lifesaver for me, especially in summer if my neighbor is mowing his grass early in the morning or if my three-year-old is having a bad day (toddler moms, you know what I am talking about!)
Nightshift is not easy as we get older, especially with kids and life. I try to keep things as normal as possible for my family on non-working days and these tips help me get through.
New to nursing check out my post-http://simplybarbaracasey.com/nursing-working-through-the-self-doubt-after-nursing-school/
What tips do you have for surviving nightshift with a family?