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I want a social life


I'm lucky enough (I guess) to work day shift but I still have to work every other weekend. I work 12's, which I mostly like, but after work, I go home, shower, eat, then sleep, and then do it again the next day. I mostly like it, but am finding that I'm really out of sync with friends and family and it's wearing on me. I know it's got to be worse for nurses who work nights or evenings but how do we work any king if a social life into our crazy schedules ? One of my New Years resolutions was to achieve some kind of work-life balance and I'm failing miserably. Any suggestions?

Well-planned days off, PTO? Full fledged week or two week vacations, if enough time accrued? Short term, trade shifts with others and be available for them for in-kind, when you plan family/friend events?

NicuGal, MSN, RN

Specializes in NICU, PICU, PACU. Has 30 years experience.

You just have to find a balance. And yes, you miss out on stuff, but it come with territory. Make plans for your weekends off and remind friends and family you have work weekends, so if they are planning something to try to keep you in mind :)

I can empathize. Trying to find this balance myself!

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 10 years experience.

Everyone in every profession has to miss out on things at one time or another. The first step in work/life balance is to get good with the fact that you cannot be at every social event every single time and then to truly savor those times you do get to be present. This is harder when you are young than when you get a bit older and the urge to go-go-go settles down a little bit. Here are my suggestions:

Be willing to go do things after you get off work, even if you have to work the next day. Just let everyone know you need to leave by 10ish (as an example).

Ask your friends/family to let you know stuff as far in advance as possible so you can plan days off, switch with another nurse (be sure to return the favor though!) or rearrange your schedule.

Adjust your expectations. You aren't going to get to do everything. Arrange to be off for the super important stuff but recognize some of your super important stuff is also your coworkers super important stuff (ie: holidays) and you will still have to compromise. Same with Friday/Saturday/Sunday off.

Initiate social gatherings on week days. You don't have to stay out late to reconnect, so be willing to meet your friends/family halfway. Have dinner together and be done by 10 if they have to work the next day. Ask them to give you the same courtesy when YOU have to work the next day. Meet your bestie/Mom/Dad/boyfriend/girlfriend for lunch at his/her favorite place near her office on a day you are off and she isn't.

Go to your parents (or aunt's or cousin's or brother's or whoever) for dinner on an ordinary week day.

Take up meditation or other activities that will help you get out of the inner mind space of "But I am missing oouuutttt!" Because the realities of nursing will not change, changing your mindset is going to be just as important as finding ways to connect during the time you do get off work. Remember, it isn't just your schedule getting in the way. It is also everyone else's.

Work/life balance isn't just about getting more social time and minimizing work's interruptions on the rest of your life. It is adjusting your mindset, identifying what is most important in life and making those things a priority on the days you DO have off. It is also making time for solitude, eating right, exercising....all things that can be done ANY day of the week. If you are working 12 hour shifts, you are off four days a week. If you are working every other weekend, then you are off every other weekend. It sounds more like a mind adjustment is needed than anything else. Work on not worrying about being left behind, forgotten about, left out, etc. Your family will always be there and so will those who are your real friends. You were likely raised in a world in which having weekends off was considered "normal". You see now there is an entire subsection of society in which this is not the case and these are not small numbers of people. Stop thinking of not being off every single weekend as "abnormal". It isn't. If all your friends are, you will either find out who your real friends are or start making new ones yourself.

I am operating under the assumption that you are a pretty young nurse. If I am wrong, forgive me.

Edited by not.done.yet

Meriwhen, ASN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psych ICU, addictions.

I have to admit that this is one reason I like 8s: I still have enough of my day left to do other things. 12s can be draining because they're rarely just 12 hours, but more often 13-14 hours. Then factor in commuting time, time to sleep, time for household responsibilities, and there's precious little free time left.

You may have to accept that on the days you work, you may not really have the time for the social life, or what social life you have on those days may be severely limited. You can't really change it, so accept and plan for that. Schedule the more involved events for your days off.

joanna73, BSN, RN

Specializes in geriatrics.

I work 8s and I find I don't want to do much of anything with the few hours I have off. Sometimes I hit the gym and run a few errands, but more often I just want to be home. My mindset was much different in my 20's though and I was out all the time.

I've learned that appreciating where you are in life, and valuing the little things makes a huge difference. Enjoy your off days and plan social time within that.

Sometimes having a special event to look forward to can make a difference. I'm bored.....so I decided that next spring I'm going to Asia. Time off is approved. Just knowing I'm getting away has improved my mood.

mmc51264, ADN, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in orthopedic; Informatics, diabetes. Has 9 years experience.

If you are working 12s, I assume that is 3 days a week, which means you have 4 days off and you get every other weekend off. Plenty of time for a social life.

I work weekends and I have an hour commute each way. I have 2 kids, and, up until recently, was in school (just finished BSN) I just use what time I DO have off wisely.

I hated working 8s because I felt like the 2 days I had off were not enough to do anything but rest.

Jules A, MSN

Specializes in Family Nurse Practitioner.

I'm guessing the OP is really young? I processed this rite of passage as a teenager when I was working at a fast food restaurant on weekends. While my friends were out partying, having fun and often coming through the drive through I was stuck standing there in a hideous polyester uniform. It sucked but I needed the money and had to accept it. I think it is mostly a matter of maturity and acceptance which will come.


Specializes in Hospice + Palliative. Has 4 years experience.

adjust your expectations of "social life=weekend" and make plans to meet friends on weekday evenings when you're off, or meet for lunch on their lunch break, etc. There's plenty of time in a week for socializing besides friday and saturday nights

RNperdiem, RN

Has 14 years experience.

I don't know if you are young, but social life changes when most of your peers work full time jobs. Things change even more when you have household chores, yard work and need to pay babysitters to go out. Social life will never be like it was in college.

There are a lot of factors in creating a social life. Are you introverted or really outgoing? Will going to mingle-and-greet people events be actually fun, or not?

My sister joined a running group and they arrange their outings well in advance then go out to lunch. This fits in with a full-time job. Some friends volunteer with events that are meaningful to them. Social life in real life often looks different than the Saturday night at the club image.

martymoose, BSN, RN

Specializes in PCCN. Has 18 years experience.

accept there is no social life when you are a nurse. :(

Of course you can have a social life, and SHOULD. But that doesn't mean that you are always available at all times to all people for all things.

Working every other weekend means you are OFF every other weekend, too. Plan social events for those times. When it absolutely positively HAS GOT to be on a weekend (as in your cousin's wedding), then you request the time off or trade the weekend with someone. It works out.

Working 12's means you have two weekend days and two weekdays OR four weekdays off EVERY WEEK. Organize your social calendar around that.

Working a full-time job means just that: socializing becomes a part-time venture, and just HOW part-time depends on how much work you do, and how much socializng is important to you. Part of growing up (unfortunately!!) is finding that balance between playtime and work time.

You'll manage, if you want to stay employed! :)

Orca, ASN, RN

Specializes in Corrections, psychiatry, rehab, LTC. Has 26 years experience.

I just came to accept that not everything would be observed on the day when it actually occurred. Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and pretty much everything else might be celebrated early or late.

Certifiable, BSN, RN

Specializes in Oncology/hematology. Has 5 years experience.

Misery loves company:

I totally get the loneliness behind this post! I'm more alone now than i've ever been in my 20+ yrs of life, curtesy of 8hr hospital shifts (i do them all-morn/noon/night). My close group of friends have broken up and moved to different cities, i live with roomates that are not my social cup of tea (but good and normal apts are rare and i am not moving), and the few friends that i still have can never hang out because of my crappy schedule. The nurses at work are great but have families of their own and are not exactly in my age group for sitting at a bar.

Being single like this sucks. I'm halfheartedly inclined to take my patients up on their offers for blind dates of someone they know who will be ""perfect" for me. Very lonely.

cardiacfreak, ADN

Specializes in Hospice.

WHAT? I am entitled to a social life? Says who? I thought I would socialize after retiring!


Specializes in burn ICU, SICU, ER, Traum Rapid Response. Has 16 years experience.

I'm lucky enough (I guess) to work day shift but I still have to work every other weekend. I work 12's, which I mostly like, but after work, I go home, shower, eat, then sleep, and then do it again the next day. I mostly like it, but am finding that I'm really out of sync with friends and family and it's wearing on me. I know it's got to be worse for nurses who work nights or evenings but how do we work any king if a social life into our crazy schedules ? One of my New Years resolutions was to achieve some kind of work-life balance and I'm failing miserably. Any suggestions?

I guess I don't really understand. You are working a better than usual schedual (day shift) for a nurse. You are working a perfectly normal, regular type nurse's schedual. You had to have known you would be doing so before you chose nursing?

My advice is to put your time in, learn your skills and critical thinking and set yourself up for one of the many, many nursing jobs with "regular" hours.

joanna73, BSN, RN

Specializes in geriatrics.

The grass is not always greener. I have "regular" hours: Mon-Fri days. I'm also working in an administrative role. Although I do enjoy certain aspects, I dearly miss the long stretches of time off. Many of my friends work weekends and evenings, so we don't see each other.

Shifts are not unique to nursing either. When I worked in hotels staff had similar complaints. Just try to make the best out of your situation, at least for now.