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Family Story: ‘Here’s what I do to help with the social isolation that comes with shift work’

My partner’s shifts are all over the place, and it’s very difficult to manage from a social perspective. 

It can feel quite isolating. You find that the close network that you had before the police force and the shift work, seems to slowly disappear. 

I guess a big part of relationships is time, and if you can’t give the time that people are inviting you to things – you become a matter of out of sight out of mind. People invite you to things and, when you don’t all come, or you say no, they stop inviting you. 

For example, we had some close friends, who we used to do everything with, but since the shift work started we only see them every now and then.

With shift work, there are lots of times you have to go out by yourself. This consideration even came into our family planning: we contemplated having a third child and I said no – I said I’ve got two hands and two children, I don’t know what I’d do going out alone with three kids.

One of the most common questions I get asked is, ‘Do you actually have a husband?’ I could meet someone new and in a year they’ve not met him and they’re asking if he even exists. I have to promise them that haven’t made him up, he’s not imaginary! 

HERE’S WHAT I DO TO HELP WITH THE SOCIAL ISOLATION THAT COMES WITH A PARTNER DOING SHIFT WORK:

  • It’s important to keep trying. Keep trying to find times that will work to catch up with the people that matter to you.
  • And it’s best to have some really good close friends rather than try and have a lot of friends, because it’s hard to maintain too many friendships.
  • I’ve had to find friends who are supportive of the policing career. When you go out with people who are anti-police, it brings you down and it’s hard work, because you don’t want to be having to defend what he does all the time. So, make sure you have solid, trustworthy friends.
  • Nurture the really good friendships, the ones that can bloom. 

As told to Fortem Australia

Thanks to the author of The Police Wife Chronicles for sharing your story.