My husband is a police officer. He would correct me and say, “Police Sergeant.”
If you’ve ever known a police officer, you know their schedules can be pretty unpredictable. After being in a Monday through Friday, 7am – 4pm unit for the past two years, he recently transitioned back to the streets with a rotating schedule. Switching from a “normal” work schedule to twelve hour shifts, which rotate every six-weeks between days and nights is tough. Tough for him (where the focus should be, I know), but also tough for me.
Luckily the kids are not impacted by the shift change, since our custody schedule was intentionally designed to fit around the departments rotating schedule. This means now, every day that my husband is not working, we have the kids.
In theory, this is great! But for me, especially when he is on the night shift, it means half the time I have a full house, and half the time I am home alone. I go from wife-and-[step]mom to bachelorette with the flip of a switch, and with the many work and life responsibilities I have, it’s been important for me to maintain efficiency and keep my sights on the end goals.
Having my husband home every night for the past two years has made me a pretty spoiled police wife, but I knew that time would come to an end at some point. Now that the time is here, I have had to adjust my schedule and develop a new routine, all while keeping in mind “I am not actually a bachelorette.”
One thing that has been hard to adjust to is the line of work my husband transitioned to. He went from one dangerous field (inside of a high school), to another dangerous field (the streets). It’s hard to lay in bed and try to fall asleep not knowing what circumstances your husband is being faced with in that very moment.
Another thing that’s been hard to adjust to is my parenting mindset. Moms are considered full-time moms, even if their kids are not with them all the time. In the right crowd, dads are considered full-time dads as well. But a Stepmom? Nope. I am a part-time stepmom to the world. So to the world, I shouldn’t think about or worry about the kids when they’re not living in my home.
Can you see why we are working so hard to break stepmom stigmas here at Stepmomming?!
5 Foolproof Tips for Adjusting to a Quiet House
Anyway, now that I’m getting into my new groove, I wanted to share my Top Tips for Success when Adjusting to Alone Time.
Get a Dog. Seems drastic, but it’s what we did. The week before my husband switched units and went to night shift, we brought home a 6-week old puppy. The downside is that I was completely unaware of how much work a puppy would be. My husband said the dog would be good “to protect me,” but I really think it was his way of trying to get me off the couch. Anyway, our now 3-month old German Shepherd puppy has been great for our family, and has given me a sense of purpose when I’m home alone.
Find a Hobby. Lucky for me, I already have a great side-gig as the Content Manager for Stepmomming.com. This more-than-a-hobby side-business has really kept me busy and distracted from worrying about my husband, and from missing the kids. Also as a real[ly boring] hobby, I’ve been able to get outside more with the dog taking regular strolls through the neighborhood.
Professional Development. What about your career? Is there anything you can do to further it? Is there an area you could use personal or professional development in? I recently started something I never planned to do, which is start a terminal degree. The bad news is, now my work, side-hustle, and professional development are all computer-based. The good news is, the Lasik I got last year is really being put to the test, so I’m getting my money’s worth.
Reconnect with Friends. When my husband was working a regular schedule, our life didn’t mesh well with my police wife friends whose husbands were still on a rotating schedule. Now that schedules have adjusted for many officers, I’ve been able to reconnect with friends who I haven’t spent quality time with in years. As a police wife, no one understands what my marriage is like better than another police wife.
Prioritize your Time. I try to do all cleaning and laundry while my husband is working so that when he and the kids are all here, I can focus on the family. I also stay on top of the kids schooling and organization, even when they are not here. I look at the calendar, troubleshoot any foreseeable issues, consider what needs to be passed back and forth like backpacks, daycare items, etc. and keep our shared parenting Google Drive folder up to date. Although it’s easy to ignore responsibility when it’s not literally staring you in the face, it’s critical to keep priorities in line and pull your weight every day.
I know my list may seem extreme to some, so for those who need different forms of encouragement, I’ve started creating your Alone Time Bucket List. Download and print this free template, then complete it by writing in things you want to achieve while you have nothing but time.
Let me know in the comments what you have added to your Alone Time Bucket List! I can’t wait to see what you come up with.
PS: For you, is the hardest part about having a quiet house missing your child? We have tips for that too!