How to Survive Family Life Around Shift Work

How to Survive Family Life Around Shift Work

Shift work is part and parcel of working in social care or healthcare – and there are many pros and cons to be aware of.

The team at Outt.com champions care worker flexibility, allowing every candidate freedom of choice over which shifts they’d like (and which they wouldn’t!). However, even with your ideal shift pattern, it can take some serious juggling to make sure you’re making time for family life, and of course, yourself.

Here we’ll explore a few ways to structure quality time around your shifts and to make the best of your holidays and days off.

The Pros and Cons of Social Care Shift Work

As we’ve mentioned, there are both advantages and disadvantages to working shifts, whether they are night shifts, bank holidays, long days, or weekends.

Benefits of Working Shifts:

  • Higher pay rates are available for shifts, especially nights or bank holidays.
  • Parents can schedule work around childcare and school runs.
  • Working outside of peak rush hour can make travelling faster, cheaper, and a lot less stressful.
  • Consecutive days off, usually with around three or four days following a batch of shifts – giving more time to spend at home than the typical two-day weekend.
  • Teamwork, with the ability to pass over ongoing tasks to the next shift at handover – rather than needing to work late or rush to meet a deadline before the office closes!
  • Better career advancement opportunities. Social care managers are always seeking experienced shift workers accustomed to this work format.
  • Flexibility, choosing shifts, switching between days and nights, or deciding which times of the year you’re happy to work less social shifts.

The Downside to Shift Work:

  • Many shifts are longer than the average eight-hour working day – often up to around 12 or 13 hours at a time, which takes a lot of energy and focus.
  • It can be challenging to spend time with a partner, spouse or friends if you are working when they are sleeping – or start work very early in the morning or finish late at night.
  • Sleep disruption can be harmful to physical and mental health.
  • Potential security issues, particularly if travelling alone on public transport in the early hours.
  • Pressure to cover shifts even if you’re not feeling up to it if there is a staff shortage and an urgent shift requirement.
  • Loneliness if you work in an isolated way and miss out on the rapport and camaraderie that makes work an enjoyable part of our lives.
  • Missing out on kids school events or sports days if your shifts coincide with these activities.

We can see that shift work requires a careful balance – to mitigate those potential pitfalls and take full advantages of all the benefits on offer!

Let’s look at how you can organise your shifts to ensure you still get the downtime you need and juggle work around valuable family time.

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Juggling Family Life and Social Care Shifts

First, we’d say that some shifts aren’t for everyone. You aren’t obliged to work nights if you find it very difficult to regulate your sleep, and working with Outt.com means you won’t ever be pressured to work on a family holiday if you have personal obligations that come first.

Next, it’s all about being organised and checking in now and then to ensure your shifts are still compatible with your lifestyle and personal wellbeing.

We recommend:

1. Making a big deal out of family time

Quality time, where everyone is engaged, is far more valuable than being disconnected.

When families are always together, it becomes the norm. If you’re working shifts, which means you spend more time away, make sure all electronics are turned off, and you organise activities that you will all enjoy doing together.

2. Taking care of your rest periods.

Shifts can be perfectly manageable when you’re rested, healthy and well – and cause no end of knock-on problems if you’re becoming run down. An exhausted parent isn’t a happy one, so this is crucial to family life and your health.

Get proper sleep, hydrate, eat well, use your lunch breaks, catch up with power naps, and make sure you have days off booked in so you can rest.

3. Prioritising your partner.

If it feels like you and your partner are like ships in the night, it can become problematic if you miss the companionship so vital to a successful relationship.

Making plans for a date night, booking days off together, and setting aside time to talk are essential to keeping your relationship alive.

4. Planning things to look forward to.

One of the plus points to working shifts is that you’ll usually have more time off on consecutive days. A great way to optimise that time is to schedule fun activities

That could be a family picnic or BBQ, visiting relatives, playdates or trips out – planning something the whole family can look forward to will ensure everybody recognises that you aren’t working 24/7 and that they remain of vital importance to you.

5. Sharing responsibilities.

A tricky part of working social care shifts is coping with all the demands of family life and childcare, usually with a minimal amount of time on those days when you’re working.

Here’s where teamwork matters. Things like batch cooking meals for quick dinners, sharing chores, asking older children to help out with simple tasks like feeding the dog, and having an understanding about what each person will contribute can all take away the pressure and make sure you’re all working as a team.

You can also look at things such as wrap-around school care, with breakfast or after school clubs, asking nearby friends or relatives to help out, or scheduling sleepovers, so the kids are always content and well, even if you’re catching up on some much-needed shut-eye.

The key is to ensure your shifts work for you, so you’re able to deliver great care, without causing damage to your family or personal life.

For any advice about managing shifts or to browse through social care shift work vacancies, please visit Outt.com.

Could You Work In Social Care?

Could You Work In Social Care?

Social carers are now considered ‘key workers’ in the UK, and more people than ever are considering roles to support others, as a result of a newfound respect for those helping our society function. Could you work in social care?

To work in social care isn’t to choose a career that will reward you hugely financially, or in status, but so much more. It is personally rewarding, hugely beneficial to those you work with and one of the most compassionate and impactful roles you could hope to work in.

What is Social Care?

Social care is a pretty broad term, but in short, refers to all of the personal care, protective care and practical assistance required for adults or children who need extra support in their day-to-day lives. This ‘extra support’ may be required for a variety of reasons: illness, disability, circumstance, family dynamic or living situation. Care may be provided by the state or obtained as needed privately.

Those who work in this sector may have one of several different job titles, including, but by no means limited to: social worker, social care worker, social carer, support worker, carer, family liaison officer and personal care worker.

Social care workers may work in a specific healthcare setting (or, in some occasions, a more formal specialist care centre) or in the homes of individuals. The exact responsibilities of the role depend on both the employer and the individual’s care needs.

Who Roles are there in Social Care?

Social care workers have a range of qualification levels: some just basic on-the-job healthcare training, and some full nursing training, depending on the requirements of the individual role. Social carers come from a variety of backgrounds, both professionally and personally, and are often dynamic and physically able people who are willing to work hard and always go the extra mile.

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What Traits are Required in this Sector?

Of course, there is no one character profile to suit social carers, but there are some traits that are especially beneficial for the role. These include:

  • Patience – Social care workers often work long-term with service users and the journey to a better quality of life and/or not requiring care any more can be far from linear. Social carers need a great degree of patience and understanding to help nurture those they’re caring for to a better path and progress.
  • Empathy – those requiring social care are often in difficult or stressful circumstances and it’s important for those providing care to be empathetic and understanding. Bonding with individuals is key to a healthy and happy relationship, and isn’t something everyone has the ability to do.
  • Resilience – Social care work isn’t easy, and there are as many ups as there are downs. Situations and people can be difficult, and this takes a strong, resilient nature to handle. Carers working in social care should remain determined; never giving up at the first hurdle or when the going gets tough.
  • Respect – the nature of social care work is that it is sometimes received begrudgingly, and may even be met by resistance. Being able to hold and maintain respect for others – for those receiving care, for those working with carers, and for other professionals – is key to maintaining professionalism throughout your social care career.
  • Compassion – there are truly few professions that deal with as varied a clientele base as social care workers; and perhaps none! Therefore social care workers must remain kind and compassionate with all those they deal with, as well as politically agile, and able to speak to and effectively communicate and work with people of all levels, backgrounds, abilities and ages.

Finally society seems to be sitting up and acknowledging – and respecting – the huge contribution that social care workers make to those they serve and the communities that they work within. If you’re a compassionate ‘people person’ and want to really make a difference in the lives of others, and particularly, some of the most vulnerable people in society, now is the time to step up and make the first move to a new, rewarding, role.

Registering with OUTT provides experienced social care candidates the opportunity to build an employer review base and take full control of where and when they work. It’s your life, live it! Register with us now!