The most stressful part of working was always wondering how I was going to manage my childcare situation. This is universal to every working mom on the planet…but for me it was more of a crises situation in my mind, at least. I have come to believe there are four important things to know and to employ when you are a working mom and especially if you are a working NURSE mom.
Pray. Nothing more or less, here. Just Pray.
Kids get sick and kids have accidents
You must be a friend to have a friend
Kids grow up, to take the time to enjoy the moment
Working 12 hour shifts are hard on EVERYONE in the family. If you are blessed to find a child care provider that opens up early enough to ensure that you can get to work on time. You then have to find a childcare that allows you to pick up your kids after normal business hours. This takes a lot of coordination…not to mention, it takes major money. How I wanted a sweet, stereotypical grandmother or great aunt who just wanted to keep my kids for me so that they never had to leave our home where they would be safe and secure. That was not my luck. I did have a great partner husband who took on all the parenting in my absence, but it’s very stressful to the working nurse to have a kid at home with a fever or throwing up or whatever the ailment…it is hard!
I wish I had some magic formula for lessening the tension of a working mother with small kids or ever school age kids. There is nothing, other than prayer, that can release that tension. There was not a week that went by without a call from the school nurse or teacher telling me that my kid was stung by a bee, had a fever, threw up, fell on the playground or ran into a wall head first and needed to be picked up. I can tell you that we as nurses need to be supportive of those working moms who have this happen to them. These are just the day shift woes.
Night shift nurses have a ton of other issues that always seem to be present that end in no sleep for them. I have been on both sides of the time clock and whether you work days or nights, being a working mother is HARD. So pray. When you pray the focus shifts off of you and onto a much higher power. You are in the right position to see what is before you when you pray and all of a sudden your problems are not as colossal as they seemed.
KIDS GET SICK AND HAVE ACCIDENTS
I mentioned that prayer is the only way to lessen the stress of juggling work with kids and truly mean what I say. If you let this stress overwhelm you, you will not stay employed very long. You, the mom and you the nurse need to have a little meeting and remind yourself that all kids puke, all kids run fevers and get sick from time to time. This means that you have a plan and instructions ready for any time sickness sweeps your home.
I had a bag of medicines that were labeled with the kids names (by age) and by symptom, for instance, “FEVER”. I had Tylenol suppositories if the baby was febrile with vomiting and liquid Tylenol if the baby wasn’t vomiting…etc. I also had a bag for sniffles, cough, etc. Puking was the recurrent problem that made my day shifts very long as when one kids start to puking, it doesn’t take long for others to join in. Sadly, we know that when one kid gets the bug….its only a matter of time before all of them get it. The good news is that it may take a day or so for this to happen, so it gives you time to let someone switch a shift with you. This brings me to my next point…
BE A FRIEND TO HAVE A FRIEND
It is so important to have work buddies. I am not saying you have to have best friend relationships with your crew, but it’s a great idea (not just a good one) to find out who has small kids, who has an empty nest and who likes to work extra so that when this stuff goes down and you need to switch, you have options. Also, my friends, it takes an effort to help others out when you can so that you can have the same returned to you when you are in a bind. I will tell you that occasionally someone may take advantage of your good nature but don’t hesitate to do good when you can because that will come back to bless you in the end. Again, pray about it and let God direct your path as it pertains to blessing others when you can so that others will want to bless you back. Also…be good to your boss and supervisors…which you would think would just be a given. It is not. You would be shocked to learn that a lot of nurses treat their bosses as if they are the customer service complaint department. This is not the case. Do not be a whiner and complainer at work and then expect compassion from your boss.
KIDS GROW UP SO ENJOY THE MOMENT
There is a sense of panic, at times, when you have a bunch of little kids and you haven’t had a good night’s sleep in months that this is the only reality you are ever going to know. This is not the case. Non-sleeping babies grow up and learn to sleep and toddlers do learn to use the potty so the diapers will be a distant memory before you know it. This is an overwhelming stage and for those who work during these years it is very hard to enjoy the moment but just go with me, here.
We had five kids when our son, Evan, took a brand-new orange sharpie marker to both of our large white couches. Yes, we had two large white upholstered couches and we may have needed a psych evaluation for it, but in our defense, they were really pretty. When this happened if someone had told me to enjoy the moment, they would have ended up with a throat punch. However, looking back ten years later I am laughing and wish I had given him the rest of the rainbow colors and just let him create on his canvas. When you are a nurse, because of the nature of our business, we miss holiday gatherings, birthdays and sports and school events. This happens. It does stink not to have business hours Monday through Friday and never a holiday or weekend, but this is what we all signed up for, here. My fellow nurses, I am telling you that we have an amazing career and missing or delaying some of our family events is just part of being flexible and it teaches your children that mommy has purpose outside of just what she does at home. Kids who are loved are not damaged because an occasional event was missed or you were a little late to a game.
I hope this has been an encouragement to those of you who are working moms and working nurses. I am so delighted to be a small part of your day.
Christi Bulluck, MSN, RN, CRNI