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8 or 12 hour shifts (single mom)

by sunyata sunyata (New) New

I'm a single mom with two kids--one is in elementary school, one is a toddler. I'm driving myself crazy trying to decide whether 8 hour shifts or 12 hour shifts would work better for us. My family has helped with childcare in the past. For various reasons, that will probably no longer be an option starting this fall.

I need day shift, unless they're going to spend the night at a babysitter's house--and I don't think it's really good for them to be moving around and sleeping in different beds all the time (complete lack of routine, etc). Plus I would still need childcare for the little one during the day.

Any other single moms have experience to share? I like only working three days a week with 12s, but on those days I barely see my kids. When school starts again in the fall, I won't be able to see my older child during the day on weekdays, either, which doesn't leave a lot of time. But if I work 8s, we will have to go to bed early and get up early every day, which I hate and which cuts down on time spent with them too. Yes, I'm probably over thinking this, but I don't want to switch jobs then realize it was a mistake.



Specializes in ER/Acute Care.

12 hour shifts are awesome in a two parent household, because it can almost eliminate the need for child care. If one parent works M-F and the other works 12 hour weekend nights (like so many of my co-workers with children), you rarely need to arrange for child care. My husband works out of town, so I'm often a single parent. I shifted to a M-F 8 hour position so that I can use a childcare center and be available to pick my son up. We have no family in the city we live in, so our childcare options are limited. 8 hour shifts, in my opinion, work bettter for the single parent because the hours are conducive to you being able to drop your child and pick-up. I feel guilty having such limited time in the evening too, but it's the quality time that counts more than anything. You can make those evenings count by sitting at the dinner table with your children while you have dinner and ask them how their day was. I wish you the best of luck with your decision, I know how hard that transition is because I recently did the same thing.


Specializes in ER/Acute Care.

Also, keep in mind that most childcare facilities have after school programs where they will pick your child up from school, so you can keep both children in the same facility. You may also qualify for a subsidy program depending on your income. Childcare gets ridiculously expensive. Good luck!

nurse.j., ADN, BSN

Specializes in Med-Tele, PCU, Home Health Case Manager. Has 8 years experience.

8's all the way! I'm a single mom of my 3.5 year old and I started out on 12 hour day shift and it nearly killed me. I was dead from working the long shifts...was gone about 14+ hours a day with commuting and dropping/picking him up...he was going to daycare and then whoever could get him (usually my mom or dad), then I'd have to go to their house after work to get him and drive back home...only enough time to change and go to bed. It was awful...my son was acting out and sad all the time. We both got sick a lot due to the stress and exhaustion...just wasn't worth it anymore.

Kids need routine and schedule...and I think in a 2 parent household 12s would work...or if you had family to watch them...but 12 hours is 12 hours...and those days of your life don't even exist when you work them. Its so nice to be able to take my son to daycare in the morning, pick him up after work and be able to have time to have dinner, play, bath and snuggle before bed. I still have to work every other weekend at my current job but my parents watch him those weekends bc they are off but I know there is daycare available on weekends too. It sucks working more days a week but its 9 hours instead of 14-15 you're gone and you can still have a normal schedule.

tntrn, ASN, RN

Specializes in L & D; Postpartum. Has 34 years experience.

I did 3:50p to 12:20a 8-hour shifts when my kids were young, as a single parent. And I loved it. I found responsible teens to babysit some of the time, and then found a woman with teens of her own, and I took them to her house, picked them up at 1 am....it worked.

Then the hospital changed to 3-11. Then when my daughhter started school the evening shift meant I saw her about 20 minutes a day on the way to the sitter's house. That did not work. It sounds cold, but a day shift co-worker died and I was next in line for day shift. Nobody started on day shift back then. Late 1970's.

Good luck.


Specializes in LTC, med/surg, hospice. Has 7 years experience.

8hrs if you don't have family back up.

I did 12hr nights as a single parent but had my mother as an overnight sitter and she could do school drop off.

I personally would prefer 8 hour day shift if I were a single mom. I don't know how night shift would work because you would need childcare at night when you work and during the day when you sleep.