While most parents would rather spend their nights and evenings tucking in their children, many parents do not have this option because they are forced to spend these hours at work. If you are both a night shift worker and a parent, consider how this arrangement may impact your children. By being aware of the impact that your work schedule has upon your child, you may be able to reduce any ill effects.
One obvious challenge associated with a parent working the night shift is the difficulty of arranging supervision. If only one parent works this schedule, the other parent commonly stays at home with the child. If both parents work, or if the parent is a single parent, he may have to arrange for a babysitter to watch the kids during evening hours, as daycare centers rarely run during off-peak times. Parents should avoid whenever possible leaving younger children in the care of older siblings, as doing so puts all the children at risk.
Depending upon the nature of the parent’s work schedule, night shift work may cut down upon the amount of quality time that the parent is able to spend with her children. If the parent works during dinner hours or after school, she will likely get to spend little time with her kids on work days, making it more difficult for her to build and maintain a relationship with her children, and potentially making the children feel as if they are not getting the attention they require.
Lower Academic Performance
Children of night shift workers are more likely to struggle in school, reports a Harvard University study. The reason for this academic difficulty has been attributed to the fact that these children do not have the evening homework help that children of parents who work traditional hours receive. Parents who work the night shift also often don’t have the same opportunities to be involved in the child’s schooling, as many school events take place during evening hours when the parent is at work.
Parents who work the night shift may find that their children are more likely to engage in delinquent behavior, reports a Princeton University study. This increase in delinquency is particularly acute in teens whose parents work the night shift, as these older children are left unsupervised more often than their younger counterparts.
Few people spend time away from their children by choice. If you are forced to work the night shift, you can take steps to reduce the impact that this arrangement has upon your child. To do so, partner with a trusted family member or friend, and ask this individual to serve as your eyes and ears when you must be away from home. Ask this person to attend the school functions that you would visit if you had time, and stay with, or check up on, your child while you are at work.