We already know that being a mom is a full-time job, but nurses who take care of their kids have it even harder. Not only do you have to worry about your responsibilities as a parent, but you also have to deal with the possibility of having to work double shifts when your children need you the most. It seems like you’re facing two simultaneously impossible sets of demands. However, it is possible to do it all of this without burning out from overload or somehow living without sleep. Here are a few tips on how to juggle your duties as a nurse with your family life that are an option for any nurse mom.
Don’t Try to Do It Alone
They say it takes a village to raise a child, but this is especially true when it comes to nurse moms. After all, you’ll need someone to cover for you if you have to work a night shift to cover for a friend or are unable to take off work when your own child is sick.
The solution is to build up a good, flexible support system around you. This includes other nurses with whom you can swap shifts. It should ideally also include friends and family who can watch the kids when you can’t, including when they’re sick.
You want help when you can’t be there when the kids get off the bus or are off school. Don’t have a large network that is hard to track. Instead, focus on a half dozen or so close people who can fill in for you in almost any situation. This ensures that your kids know who is supposed to pick them up from school or who is walking the dogs for you.
And if you have a significant other, don’t be afraid to ask for help. But don’t get mad at them if they don’t do it as well as you would. Make sure that they understand that their help is appreciated while teaching them how to do it right next time.
Leave Work at Work
It is easy to get stressed out by work as a nurse. Patients may be rude, stressed or upset. That’s understandable given how many are sick or suffering. Then there are frustrations with insurance companies, co-workers and bosses. That’s on top of the tragedies you may see regularly as a medical professional.
All of this can weigh heavily on nurses since they tend to enter the profession because of their high levels of empathy. This also leaves them prone to burnout from emotional overload. One coping mechanism, for better and for worse, is to tell the family about your trials and complaints you have about a patient’s care in an effort to unburden yourself.
Unfortunately, your family will eventually have to deal with this burden, which will only make matters worse. It also undermines the family time you do have, as it can destroy the mood when you’re trying to reconnect. This means you should try to leave your work at work, keep discussions about work with the family to a minimum, including your partner. That is unless they specifically ask you if they feel there’s something wrong with you.
If you’re having concerns about work, it’s better to discuss them with someone who can actually understand you. Other nurses will be better able to give you advice and maybe even recommendations to career paths that could be more beneficial to you.
Opt for Online Education
You only have so much time as a mom/nurse, but that doesn’t mean advancement and continuing your education is out of the question. One option would be to go for online education.
If you’d like to work in a less demanding field like family nursing, for instance, you could get your ASN to FNP online from wherever you are and at your own pace. You may be able to review lectures on your lunch break or while the kids are asleep. You still can advance your career, eventually letting you earn more while working fewer hours and regaining your work-life balance.
Take Advantage of Any Resource You Can
You shouldn’t be afraid to ask for advice on how you can do it all better. Let other nurses mentor you, whether you want their professional advice or personal advice. Seek out other nurse moms to find out how they do it. You may even be able to extend your support network with other people in the same situation you are in.
Don’t Compare Yourself to Others
Humans are a social species, and we instinctively compare ourselves to others. We may do this to gauge how well we’re doing or try to learn what we can do better. The problem is that the way others present themselves may not be reality. And we may compound things by focusing on what they seem to be doing better while ignoring the problems.
For example, you may focus on another co-worker who’s in the same situation as you, who seems to have it all together but ignore the chaos in their personal life. Or you think they’re doing better because they earn a little more or have a coveted title, but you ignore their chronic stress and exhaustion.
Another mistake is comparing your life juggling work and kids with non-parents who seem to be doing everything you’re not. In short, don’t compare yourself to what others are doing. Instead, focus on the progress you’re making in life like raising good kids or pursuing your own education. You can gain perspective by comparing yourself to where you’ve been in life.
Also, know that you may be an example to others. Others may wonder how you juggle kids and your job. And you are certainly serving as a role model to your own children.
Don’t Fall Victim to Working Mom Guilt
There’s this belief that you’re hurting your kids if you aren’t with them 24×7 when they’re little. In reality, they would have been taken care of by their other parent, older sibling and other relatives. You aren’t hurting your kids by working. On the flip side, you won’t suddenly turn around and find your kids don’t need you anymore. In fact, your kids will appreciate the time you make for them even more.
Multi-Task the Right Way
It can be hard to find time to do everything you want to get done. One solution is to prioritize. Hit the books instead of watching television. Play with the kids instead of catching up with social media. However, you can find ways to get multiple things done at once. Don’t agonize about not getting to the gym and take your kids for a long walk instead. Or go for walks on your breaks, something that will also help lower your stress level.
Engage your family in almost everything you do when you’re at home. Get the kids to help with chores so that it becomes family time. Have the kids learn how to cook by helping you make dinner. If you’re attending one of their games, work out while on the sidelines. Study while the kids are in bed or use that time to rebuild your relationship with your partner. With older kids, you could ask them to make flashcards for you, or you could both study at the same time.
You can get a lot more done than you think if you plan for it and ensure that family things come first.
Nurses have to be flexible. It comes with the job. However, that should extend to your personal life, as well. Make celebrating holidays on different days no big deal or even exciting in its own right. For example, you could celebrate birthdays and Christmas early. Then you’re not missing the fun for work, and they don’t feel deprived.
Get Mileage Out of Your Uniform
Another tactic is learning how to dress up or down in scrubs. Then you don’t have to deal with as much laundry or worry as much about maintaining a professional appearance. And what’s great about a nice relaxed pair of scrubs is that it can double as maternity wear as well.
Keep a spare pair of scrubs in the car (at a minimum) so you always have a change of clothes. Your scrubs will be your first line of defense whether your child had an accident while you were nursing them before work, or if you or someone at work spilled something on them. Always having one or two clean pairs of scrubs at work or in your car will make sure that you feel your best at all times.
While there is no one way to balance life as a mom and nurse, there are many things you can do to make the juggling act easier. Find what works best for you and remember to take it easy on yourself. After all, you’re doing two of the hardest jobs in the world at once, so always make sure to take time for yourself as well.