The Shift Working Mom and The Child Care Conundrum

The Shift Working Mom

I have recently returned to the work force after spending the year caring for my newborn son and three year old daughter. I am a shift working mom and have a hate-hate relationship with child-care.

I love my job, my co-workers, the patients and their families, as well as the sense of accomplishment and the compensation my position provides. However, working in the hospital inevitably means working a 12 hour schedule with a mix of days and nights.

Basically, a child care providers worst nightmare.

Thankfully our parents live nearby and are willing to take their grandchildren for entire days and overnighters. We try not to burden them too much with care giving obligations, as we know that they have their own goals and aspirations now that they are retired. I am forever thankful for their help because without it I would have had to put my career on hold.

I am hoping to start a temporary full-time position this summer, which has its pros and cons. As a shift working mom, I needed to find a quality child care provider with extended hours.

shift working mom, hand, mom, baby

The Child Care Conundrum

It would be an understatement to say that we have struggled to find consistent child care that works with our schedules, ever since our first child was born:

  • Both daycares we started reduced their hours. The other one has a waiting list.
  • There are no options for infants under the age of 16 months, especially for the hours we need.
  • Home daycares are full or are only open 7-5.

 

While I can’t fault a child care provider for wanting their evenings to spend with their family, I have to ask myself: What does everyone else do? I can’t be the only shift working mom out there with this problem!

It is as simple as this:

  1. Most nurses are shift workers.
  2. Nursing is still a female dominated profession.
  3. Women have babies.
  4. Women are frequently the ones to arrange child care and sacrifice their jobs if there are conflicts.

Why, as a shift working mom, do I have to have this child care conundrum? Why aren’t there more supports available to families like mine, so that women can stay in the profession that they chose before having kids?

shift working mom, child care, baby, child, family, mom

There Are More of Us Than We Know

While I can understand why I’m having so much trouble in a small town, another nurse I know who lives in a large city centre (with two, well-established hospitals) also struggles with child care. The only child care with extended hours on her side of the city recently closed down, so she now has to drive the opposite direction from the hospital where she works to drop her daughter off. This more than doubles her commute time.

In addition, because overnight child care is next to impossible, she drives an hour and half to drop her daughter off at grandma’s house in between her day and night shift rotation, and her daughter stays there for the following two days. While she is very appreciative of this bonding time with grandma, no mom in her right mind would envy her position.

I am positive that she is not alone in her daily struggle to have her child cared for so that she can look after other people’s family members in the ICU.

time, shift working, mom, family, children

We Have Rights

In the 2010 human rights case Johnstone vs Canada, a ground-breaking decision was made buy kamagra in the us that Canadian employers must trying to accommodate parents trying to balance work with family life. Fiona Johnstone, had asked her employer, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) for a change in her schedule to help with her care-giving responsibilities. She was quickly denied any accommodation. She then filed a discrimination complaint with the Canadian Human Rights Commission, and won her case.

…it is difficult to have regard to family without giving thought to children in the family and the relationship between parents and children. The singular most important aspect of that relationship is the parents’ care for children. It seems to me that if Parliament intended to exclude parental childcare obligations, it would have chosen language that clearly said so.

Honourable Mr. Justice Mandamin, dismissing the Attorney General’s application for judicial review in Canada v. Johnstone, January 31, 2013

According to an article about this case by The Star, Fiona had stated, “The ruling is important to me and other families who will be increasingly faced by this in the workplace,” since for more than two-thirds of Canadian families with young children, both parents work outside the home. In this day and age with raised living expenses and a hold on wage increases, having one parent stay home is more of a dream than a possibility.

This ruling proves that our rights as both employees and parents continue past employer’s requirements during maternity leave. We as parents, should be accommodated by employers when the care of your child and your work schedule does not mix.

shift working mom

What Can We Do About It?

This is always the most difficult but also most important question to answer. What can I do as a shift working mom to fix my child care conundrum?

If you live in a large urban centre and work in a position that has many young families and shift workers, you could try to round up other parents that are having difficulty finding child care. Once you get enough people on board, approach your management to see if there could be a potential solution, such a contract with a nearby child care provider or to start one up in-house.

Regardless of where you live, bring this up with your local government, whether through an email, letter or at a public forum. In Alberta, parents can receive up to $100/month in an extended hours child care subsidy. The more we talk about our extended child care needs with our own government, the more likely we will be heard.

Know another shift working mom in your area? Work together. Find a friend that works opposite to your schedule, and take turns minding each others children. You could save a lot of money this way and your kids will love having a new playmate.

If no other option works for you and you’re thinking of quitting or reducing your work week, ask your employer to help you find a solution. If they don’t want to hear you out… Well, perhaps they need to be reminded about your rights enforced by the Canadian Human Rights Commission.

I hope this helps and I wish you all the best!

xo, The Mama Nurse

The (4)

 

Are you a shift working mom having a child care conundrum? Do you have a solution or live in an area that has supports available for the shift working mom? Please share your story, thoughts and suggestions in the comment section below!

 

TheMamaNurse

Hi! I am a Registered Nurse on a unit that encompasses labour and delivery, postpartum, medical, surgical and palliative care in a rural hospital in Ontario, Canada. I am a mom of two and am passionate about women's rights, mom and infant care, parenting and nursing. I hope to create an educational, entertaining and highly relatable resource for women around the world. Thanks for stopping by! Xo, The Mama Nurse

37 thoughts on “The Shift Working Mom and The Child Care Conundrum

  • April 5, 2016 at 10:12 am
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    Brilliant post Tori! Finding adequate child care that fits our schedules and needs should NOT be so hard!! Looking forward to sharing this on my blog tomorrow as well 🙂
    Julie S. recently posted…Springtime Messy Moments are FunMy Profile

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  • April 5, 2016 at 3:30 pm
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    I think a lot of us have had to weigh this…going back to work and childcare costs vs staying home and taking care of the kids ourselves. I felt like Australia took better care of families than the US did (having lived in both places), but we didn’t qualify for benefits in Australia because we weren’t residents.
    lana recently posted…Field Notes doodle downloadMy Profile

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  • April 5, 2016 at 4:56 pm
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    Wow, that is crazy! I’m really upset on your behalf. I don’t understand daycare business hours. How does that work for any parent, much less those working overnight. I’m so glad you have family close by that can help.
    Samantha recently posted…Celebrating Our HousiversaryMy Profile

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  • April 5, 2016 at 11:44 pm
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    I know so many moms who are nurses that struggle with this. I work on an 8hr unit which is good and bad I guess. Now that I have 3 kids childcare, especially since I don’t need full time because of all the weekends, is SO expensive. I lucked out and got a small evening line so that my mom can cover the gap between me leaving and my husband getting home. It’s hard to miss so many dinner’s and bedtimes but what I save in childcare makes it possible for me to work less.

    I totally lucked out though because very small, part time, permanent lines are incredibly hard to come by in my region. I’m holding onto it for dear life! I have so much anxiety over childcare.
    Jenn recently posted…The Colour of my SkinMy Profile

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    • April 7, 2016 at 11:52 pm
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      Wow, 3 in child care! Even with the 8 hour shifts, I don’t envy you! So glad the evenings are working for you though. I currently have a permanent part-time line which is fantastic, but I just couldn’t pass up a FT. Too tempting!
      TheMamaNurse recently posted…The Shift Working Mom and The Child Care ConundrumMy Profile

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  • April 6, 2016 at 7:05 am
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    I honestly feel for parents that have to work shift hours. My dream is to open my own child care facility and I really want to provide late hours or even 24 hour care for families. Back home we had a chain of daycares that were open 24 hours. The parents were so grateful for that facility.
    Healing Mama recently posted…Overweight and Pregnant:How To Have A Healthy PregnancyMy Profile

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  • April 6, 2016 at 10:23 am
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    We never had family where we lived back in the day we needed childcare but I’ll forever remember the stress of finding childcare. I worked nights to face off with my husband. For overlap times I paid more than the market average to obtain & maintain childcare-post at high schools, colleges,churches etc. When our kids were very young I paid for childcare person to come to my house while I slept as I’d be right there if need be and lessen stress of worrying about child abuse, etc

    Reply
    • April 7, 2016 at 11:49 pm
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      Aw, Susan it is so hard as a mom to trust someone to take care of your children! When you don’t have family available or a registered child care provider, it makes things much more difficult! Glad you found a way to make ends meet.
      TheMamaNurse recently posted…The Shift Working Mom and The Child Care ConundrumMy Profile

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  • April 7, 2016 at 5:49 pm
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    It really is such a dilemma! I think daycare centers with non traditional hours would be so wonderful, not just for healthcare workers but other industries as well like retail! All of the nurses I know are lucky enough to have local family available to help.
    Erin @ Stay At Home Yogi recently posted…How Rich Are Your Habits?My Profile

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  • April 9, 2016 at 4:55 pm
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    Great post! The childcare struggle is real!I really hope it works out for you! #KCACOLS

    Reply
  • April 9, 2016 at 6:14 pm
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    This must be so difficult. I think it’s hard enough to balance childcare with work, without the added difficulties posed by shift work. Brilliant advice on what people faced with this problem can do – hope the situation improves. Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday
    Silly Mummy recently posted…Toddler Interior Design TipsMy Profile

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  • April 9, 2016 at 9:18 pm
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    This is such an important issue to raise! My other half works irregular hours and so I definitely understand the challenges. I work regular hours and we rely on grandparents as well to fill in the gaps when we need to. But it is the same situation here. There has been a call for more childcare centres to have extended hours but will there be? I don’t know. There definitely should be more extended and flexible care.
    Agent Spitback recently posted…The 10 Commandments of Surviving Toddler Swimming Lesson HellMy Profile

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    • April 22, 2016 at 8:59 pm
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      Yes there should be! We all know what it comes down to though… Money 🙁

      Reply
  • April 10, 2016 at 6:18 am
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    We totally feel you here! Both my husband and I are NHS nurses and although we love our NICU jobs the hours are horrendous. We don’t have family close enough to help out and no childcare, other than a nanny (no one can afford that on an NHS wage), could cover our hours. Our only solution is to work our shifts around each other – a logistical nightmare!

    Reply
    • April 22, 2016 at 8:58 pm
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      Aw man, the struggle is real! Nanny’s are also super hard to come by, unless you have a room for them to stay in – we definitely don’t! Very expensive as well. I hear you about working opposite to your partner – my husband and I haven’t been off at the same time in over a month! I hope your situation gets easier for you 🙁

      Reply
  • April 10, 2016 at 7:32 am
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    Childcare really needs a big overhaul to make it work for parents – especially those who don’t have grandparents to fall back on.

    Thanks so much for linking up at #KCACOLS. Hope you come back again next Sunday x
    Jess Powell (Babi a Fi) recently posted…This Week #30My Profile

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    • April 22, 2016 at 8:56 pm
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      Yes! We are so lucky to have grandparents willing to help out – unfortunately we are the exception not the rule!

      Reply
  • April 10, 2016 at 3:02 pm
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    You know, until reading this post I’ve never thought about what a struggle childcare and shift work must be! I don’t work shifts and I’m a teacher so my day usually fits with childcare easily. It just be incredibly stressful trying to sort it, relying on others and ferrying the kids about all the time. #KCACOLS
    Becky @ Educating Roversi recently posted…Incognito TeacherMy Profile

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    • April 22, 2016 at 8:55 pm
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      Well, I’m glad that my post provided some insight into the childcare conundrum shift workers face. However, I also can understand your struggle as well. Shuttling kids around 5 days a week would be extremely expensive and exhausting! I feel for you!

      Reply
  • April 10, 2016 at 3:12 pm
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    I always wonder what people who work shifts do! I know my childminder accommodates shift workers and will do nights if needs be but they are few and far between #KCACOLS

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    • April 22, 2016 at 8:53 pm
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      Yes, that option is few and far between! Everyone seems to have a different way to deal with child care, but I also know a lot of moms that ended up having to switch to a 9-5 job or put their career on hold because finding childcare was too much of a struggle. Really unfortunate 🙁

      Reply
  • April 11, 2016 at 3:29 am
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    What a well written post on a very important topic, one not enough people are talking about! Finding childcare if you work second shift, or heaven forbid 3rd shift is impossible. If you don’t have family who can cover you, it seems you are stuck! Good luck in your hunt, maybe you are starting a Mom-revolution! #KCACOLS
    Allyson Greene recently posted…Dear Baby Boy: Why I Write my Son LettersMy Profile

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    • April 22, 2016 at 8:51 pm
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      Thanks Allyson! I really hope things turn around for us shift-working moms!

      Reply
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  • August 13, 2016 at 5:43 pm
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    Hi all,

    Sounds like you need a nanny share set up. Find a qualified nanny, that is willing to cover full 12-14 hour shifts, at your home. Then find a friend from work, that works the same shifts, get the kiddos together and share the cost of the nanny. Keep in mind, you’ll have to pay more monthly for the nanny, do to the nature of overnights and shift work, but splitting the costs makes it manageable for parents, and great fun for the kids. I am a nanny in Ontario, and offering this service has certainly worked for me and the families I care for 🙂

    Reply
    • August 14, 2016 at 9:52 pm
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      Thanks so much for your comment Hannah! I have heard of people doing this but didn’t realise it would be a possibility so close to home. It’s a little trickier for me in a rural area, but for parents in a larger centre this would work fantastic!

      Reply
  • September 23, 2016 at 3:47 pm
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    I totally agree with you. It’s crucial that you do preliminary research and ask for recommendations before choosing what childcare option is right for you and your family. It’s definitely a red flag if the staff at a childcare center or program are rough and impatient with children. You want to feel confident that your children are safe with the people you choose to leave them with, so it’s important to observe these things before. Thanks so much for sharing your input and advice!
    Morgan recently posted…Evaluate, Practice Fire Prevention and Safety PlanMy Profile

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  • May 16, 2017 at 7:17 am
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    As being a working mom is not an easy task to take care of your child. I am very happy for you that you have managed all the thing altogether and living a happy and wonderful life with your child.

    Reply

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