Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Making It Work

Ahh!  A whole six days since my last blog post!  Sorry, blog friends. :)  I'm baaaaaaack.  And I'm loaded with questions for my fellow police wives!

Hubby Blue and I have been working out an issue over the last few days, and I'm curious to hear how other people handle this.  When HB works the night shift, his internal clock is (naturally) all kinds of messed up.  A lot of the time, even on his days off, he stays up all night and goes to bed right around the time I'm waking up.  I hate this, but I also understand how hard it is to be flip-flopping his sleep schedule all the time.  On the other hand, when Hubby Blue sleeps through most of the daylight hours of a weekend, that leaves very little time for us to spend together.  He says he misses me, and I miss him.  I don't want him to be exhausted when he has to go back to work because of the safety factor, but I also want to do things together.  I am definitely not looking forward to the inevitable point when he's on nights for 6 months at a time and I'll essentially go 6 months without sleeping at the same time as my husband.  So that is the first part of my question to all of you: when your spouse is working the night shift, how does he handle his days off?

Part two: Hubby Blue works an 8-hour shift.  We live about 45 minutes from his department, so by the time you add in the travel time in each direction, the time to get dressed and ready at the department, and the actual work time, he works at least 10 hours...and that's probably conservative.  Being "on" for that long is understandably draining.  So it's felt to me like HB pretty much works and sleeps, and he agrees.  However, who wants to live like that?  I have been trying to handle most of the household chores myself, but I also work full-time.  It's starting to burn me out.  For as much time as I spend by myself, I do an awful lot of housework and very little of anything for myself.  While other police wives have given me the advice to find things I enjoy doing on my own, it's really not been much of an issue because I'm so busy cleaning and cooking and making lunches and doing laundry.  In the past, I've asked Hubby Blue to pitch in, and while he always swore he would, it rarely happened.  So, finally, the other day, we got the idea to make him a list.  Actually, it was HB's idea.  And it worked!  Between the time I went to bed and the next night when I got home from work, everything on his list was crossed off, and it was glorious!  Later that night, when HB left for his shift, I cleaned bathrooms with absolutely no resentment because HB had already taken care of watering the Christmas tree, paying a bill that was almost late, vacuumed the first floor of our house, unloaded and loaded the dishwasher, and made dinner.  Little things really do add up.  We did the same thing--made him a list--this morning with the same results.  Thank goodness.

This all sort of came about because I finally got the copy of "I Love a Cop" by Ellen Kirschman that I requested from the library.  She writes that police spouses can't take on all the responsibilities of running a household or they start feeling like martyrs.  Maybe that's common knowledge to a lot of people, but I had been feeling like my hubby is under so much pressure all day long at work that it was my job as his wife to just do it all.  Kirschman writes that you have to stand up for yourself and demand that you deserve to have your needs be met.

So that leads me to part two of my question to all of you police wives: is this something you struggle with too?  Does your cop help out with the housework, and was it ever an issue?  If it was, how did you resolve it?  And if it wasn't, why?

...which leads me to part three.  Do we live too far from Hubby Blue's department?  We live where we live because our jobs are in opposite directions from each other and we split the difference by living in the middle.  This is definitely a bigger issue that really deserves a blog post all its own, but I'll just briefly bring it can look forward to this at a later date. :)  Anyway, we live about 45 minutes from HB's work, and I fear that is just too far.  Like I said, he's "on" for his shift and then has that long ride to get home.  After a slow night, HB sometimes comes home pretty sleepy.  Also, I am fully aware of how driving can wipe you out.  After all, I commuted an hour each way to work for two years myself.  Finally, and this is the thing I most dislike talking about, what would I think of living this far if anything tragic ever happened to Hubby Blue while he was working?  He has told me how I would be notified, but if I was at work, I think it could take a good hour and a half for me to get to him.

I know these questions all seem pretty disjointed (and that I started this post by saying we had AN if there's ever only ONE issue, ha.  Guess not. :)), but I guess that's just how life is going at this point.  Adjusting to being a law enforcement family has me feeling like I'm pulled in ten different directions at once, and it's causing me to reexamine a lot of my priorities.  That's probably a good thing, but I never expected that being a cop's wife would be so complicated...I hope someone can tell me it's rewarding too!


  1. PoPo has always worked graveyard, he bids for it every time. He works 12 hour shifts 3 days one week, 4 days the next. Thursday-Saturday night, every other Wednesday on, 6am-6pm. Sunday morning, when he gets home, he sleeps for about 4-5 hours and is pretty sleepy the rest of the day, but mostly human. This means he's tired by the time 11pm rolls around so he sleeps with me and wakes Monday morning to be a day walker. When he goes back on Wednesday (on his short weekend) or Thursday (on his long weekend), I let him sleep in a bit extra and maybe take an afternoon nap so he's refreshed for his shift that night. he's usually pretty wiped when he gets home the next morning, but nothing a good day's sleep won't fix. One just gets used to sleeping like that after years doing it. We spend his days off together, he helps around the house a LOT and with out 10 month old son and 11 year old son, even the couple hours between waking up and heading out to work during his week, no martyrs in this house! You get used to sleeping alone, you find really fun things to do when he's gone at nights like watching shows he'd never like or pinning on pinterest. It's not EASY, but it stops being lonely and unbearable.

    1. WOW! How long has your hubby been a cop? I'm not sure what I would do if my hubby worked in a department where he never switched shifts. Here, they change every 6 months but can't bid for the same shift more than twice in a row. But if he ends up finding that he loves one shift...I guess that's where you are coming from! Thanks for your advice. :)

    2. My husband also works 12 hour shifts, 2-3 days a week. So for one week he works only Wed-Thurs., is off Fri-Sun, starts the next week working Mon-Tues, is off Wed-Thurs. and works Fri-Sun. I plan his schedule 2 weeks at a time, with a "short" week and a "long" week. Because he only works 3 days consecutively at any time, we get more time together than I'd think. He's usually the most tired on his first day off, but he can survive on surprisingly little sleep lol.

      I agree with Victoria, I'm getting used to my alone time. I miss him like crazy when he's gone, but we both like to have our own space. I work full time, so I don't have time during the day to get my things done at home that I'd like to. When he's gone I'm free to do my girlie stuff...even if that only means eating icing straight from the can and texting him every time I laughed out loud watching How I Met Your Mother :) hahaha

  2. My hubby was on graveyard for 5 years and it was rough. During that time we had 3 daughters (a singleton followed by a set of twins) and I was new at being a police wife. It was rough. I was definitely a martyr. I felt like I had no time for me and honestly, I was angry and resentful of him so I didn't particularly want couple time. It was bad. That being said, the girls are older now and we've figured things out a little better, I can honestly say it's so much better.
    Lists are huge for us. He actually has a chore chart. He has different tasks he should do each day. I do laundry, bathrooms, bills. He does floors, dishes, trash. We trade on the kitty litter (blech!). If he has a lists, he knows what needs to be done, when it needs to be done and then he knows when he's actually done. There's less resentment for sure.
    As for the days off, he would stay up for almost 24hrs the first day, try to sleep normally that night, be awake with us on his 2nd day off and then stay up all night so he could sleep before work. It was weird and he was exhausted all the time. When the girls would itty bitty and not sleeping, he'd sometimes stay up later so I could get some sleep, but then he'd miss dinner. It sucked and I'm waiting for him to head back to graveyard. I think he bid for it this time around.
    We live about 15-20min from Hubby's department. We used to live a bit closer, but then we bought a house. I'm still a SAHM so I don't need to worry about my commute yet. I know there's definitely been some nights with my hubby has almost fallen asleep at the wheel, especially when they bump his schedule all over the place or he's forced into long overtimes. 45min seems insanely long to me, but it really depends where you live. Around here, things are pretty compact.
    I've been reading I Love a Cop too. I can only handle small bits and pieces at a time, but it has really good info in it. I wish I had known about it years ago!
    And be selfish sometimes. It's something I've had a hard time learning. You NEED time for yourself. Sometimes the dishes or laundry or bathrooms can and need to wait. Yes, they'll still be there (and that sucks), but it's ok. And TELL HIM if you're upset. Guys are NOT mind readers. They really do think differently.

    1. Thank you so much for your comment. I love reading that other people have been through the same emotions and issues as me. Not that I want anyone to feel as crazy as I do, but it's nice to know people understand. :)

  3. Can't wait to see the comments on this. My sweet cop boyfriend is a new cop, and we are also doing long distance, so at this time I don't have to worry about these things. But I know they're going to come up in the future. I wish you luck and I hope you're able to figure it out. I know for me, it always helps to just write things out, too. Good luck, and I love following your blog.

  4. Thanks for the comments so far! Keep 'em coming! These have been so helpful for me to read!

  5. Night shift... I don't know how Dan makes the switch back and forth, but he does it for me. So Dan works 6 days on then has 3 days off. Me being the selfish spouse I am I make him switch to day shift on his days off so he can be with me. :) So after he is coming home from 6 nights on... he will sleep in the morning until 1:00 in the afternoon. He then gets up and stays up for the rest of the day... and by day two he is back on a daytime schedule. When he is getting ready to start up again... he will take a late nap starting around 3:00 in the afternoon and sleep as long as possible so he is ready to work his night shift.

    Housework...There are times when I felt like I did all the housework and it drove me over the edge. What we do to solve it is on Dan's days off he gets a huge list of "To Do's" and I expect them to be done. These things are often chores or projects I think about during the week. He makes sure to do them so I don't freak out on him later :)

    Distance... Dan works about 30 minutes away from his department. My thought to you is... he could be injured in just daily life and you would still have a awhile until you could get to him. You can't plan your life around the what ifs. You will drive yourself crazy if you do this.

    1. Thank you for answering my questions! I'm the queen of what can get to be a problem. :) Every time you comment it makes me think you've been doing this awhile! Thanks for reading this!


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