Picture the scene…. You’ve spent the last 10 hours doing the complete opposite of what your body is craving. Battling the overwhelming need to close your eyes and doze off is enough to drive anyone round the bend. Matchsticks between eyelids anyone? Ice cold water in the face? Probably less risk of going blind with the latter. So once the sweet hour of clocking off time arrives, you’re close to peeing in your pants with joy at the idea of heading home and straight to bed. But wait, you have to drive home first. Excellent.
Driving should not be undertaken whilst tired. There are adverts everywhere which back up my statement. Unfortunately, in order to get rested, I have to bloody drive. Yes, I’ve been known to pull over if I feel I’m a danger to others, or I feel the lead-weight eyelids setting in. However, the majority of the time, it’s a case of windows down and music blasting. Backstreet Boys are the number one choice; who can resist the melodic harmonies those boys can create? The original and best boy band to date. Truth be told though, I’d settle for the worlds heaviest death metal compilation if it helped me stay awake (sadly my husband does own some)
Multiple stop/starts, every traffic light red, and you’re following a car with Captain Brakepad as the driver all the way home. I shit you not, a tractor and a horse and cart have also made an appearance over the years of my homeward travels. After battling through all of this, you finally arrive home. Hurrah! You’ve made in it through your front door.
“Why, hello little one” I say as I’m greeted by this little face staring back at me… My heart cocoons his soul and I remember the exact reason I punish myself to work silly hours. To help his Daddy financially provide for him. To set a good, working example. Believe me when I say that I realise how very fortunate I am to be in a supportive relationship, where I have the option to go out and earn. I also realise how especially lucky I am to be a night shift worker that often has the option of heading straight to bed! Which then leads me to my internal conflict… The overriding guilt I have looking at his excited, angelic face, knowing I’ll be off upstairs for slumber time soon. His only focus is to guide me to his toy box for fun times.
“Mummy will play for a bit Rupert, but I must go to sleep very soon”; A toy gets shoved into my lap. He’s too young to understand. In his world, it was clearly time for the train to get shoved under a sofa cushion, followed by the careful process of tipping his building blocks everywhere.
There have been times where I’m unable to have childcare on the day following a night shift. I call these ‘hell on earth’ days. The only way to survive is to eat your body weight in crap, sugary foods and have a constant supply of caffeine entering your system. These particular days are when the diet goes out the frigging window. Not great when my clothes are already testing the limits of elasticity. I wouldn’t even entertain the thought of wearing jeans.
By his nap time, I’m so overtired that going to sleep is a risky business. You simply don’t get long enough to appreciate the rest, and the few times I have drifted off for an hour, I’ve awoken to the feeling that my entire body has been run over by a truck. The feeling of jet lag doesn’t even compare! Snooze or no snooze, by 3pm I’m a mega state of exhaustion and weirdness. I barely make sense and revert back to a childlike state of mind. A word of warning – don’t make any important decisions during this time. Do not open the door to charity canvassers as you’ll end up giving them all the money you’ve just earned on your night shift. Being rational is not an option right now, so just focus on which CBeebies programme you’ll put on to aid you in entertaining your child. ‘In the Night Garden’ will blow your mind. By the time my husband returns home from work, I look like this…
An emotional, snappy, confused post night shift monster. I usually haven’t even brushed my teeth since coming home in the morning so to top it off, my breath smells awful. Sometimes I know I’m being an utter twat to him, unreasonable/short tempered/confrontational, but I literally can’t stop myself.
These are the days were sanity is pushed to the limit and quite frankly, I’m a pretty shit mum and wife in comparison to my usual style. And I’m pretty feral.
This brings me back to when the sleep time guilt sets in on a return home from my shift. I must appreciate the fact that my husband/mother/mother-in-law are so kind to provide childcare. So many people don’t have the privilege of family on hand to help. I must take comfort in knowing that they love spending time with him too, and he equally loves being with them. I must remember that by getting a few hours sleep, I will get back on track and will be ready to cope with life again! A better wife, mother, friend and member of the general public. So no more guilt. Until I next arrive home and go through the mind battle once again.
By the way, it’s important to state that it’s still ok to eat a load of rubbish after a post night shift snooze too… Hell, I’ve been eating chocolate whilst writing this.