Sleep, Sanity, and Success: Night Shift Tips for Busy Moms

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Being a busy mom is already a juggling act, but add in working the night shift and it can feel like a recipe for burnout. As a night shift mom, it can be tough to balance your work schedule, your family obligations, and taking care of yourself. But the good news is, you can stay sane, healthy, and productive with a bit of help and reprioritization.

Night shift working moms must first set realistic expectations for themselves as to what’s physically possible. Asking for help, establishing routines and brutal honesty with your support network can help. So too can being cautious with extra shifts, clever rostering and healthy meal and exercise choices.

In this article, we’ll explore eight actionable tips to help you thrive on the night shift. From prioritizing your sleep to being smart with your roster allocation, we’ll cover it all. So, whether you’re a new mom, a seasoned pro, or just curious about how to make the most of your night shift, let’s dive in!

If you’re interested in the best eye masks we use to sleep during the day, you can find them on the Manta Sleep hereOpens in a new tab..

1. Be Honest With Your Support Team

One key aspect of being a night shift mom is having a strong support system in place, who believes in you. Choose these people carefully.

Being honest with them about how you are feeling and what you need can go a long way in helping you maintain your sanity, productivity, and balance with the kids.

Your partner, family, friends, mothers/partners groups and even coworkers can all play a role in supporting you during this challenging time. Whether it’s asking for help with household chores, arranging for childcare whilst you investigate the cause of sudden hair loss, or simply having someone to talk to when you need to vent, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask for what you need.

People love you but they are not mindreaders.

As moms, we want to be everything to everyone. For most of us though, this is simply not possible whether we are working the night shift or not. It’s time to really prioritize what’s important, not sweat the small stuff, and do the best you can without beating yourself up over what you don’t achieve.

It’s important to remember that you don’t have to do everything on your own (For single moms this is a little tricker but there is help out there – see this post for more information).

2. Remind Yourself – You’re Important Too

Remember, taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of your family, and asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

  • Be active within your mothers/partners group. If there isn’t one, set it up, What’s App works great but any tech communications platform will do the trick. Be proactive in making friends with other parents where you can.
  • Use other coworkers who are also night shift parents, they may have helpful tips or be able to cover for you when needed.
  • Utilize sleep aids to maximize possible sleep time (blue light blocking glasses – pictured below, is one example, and here are a few more we use)
  • Self-care before/after a shift. Ideas include applying a face mask (DIY or sheet), massaging the sore bits with a massage gun, listening to an audiobook in bed with the lights off, lighting a candle and creating a calm atmosphere at home, and buying new bedding including a pillow – we do spend a lot of time in there so we are allowed to make it a comfortable experience!

3. Be Mindful of Picking Up Extra Night Shifts and Overtime

It’s understandable to want to pick up extra shifts or work overtime for financial reasons or to impress your employer in the hope of future leniency or career progression. However, being a night shift mom already comes with its own set of challenges. Do you need more stress if you can help it?

This is easy for me to say without looking at your bank account as often it can feel like you don’t have a choice. If you find yourself struggling to keep up with your current schedule or you’re on the brink of burnout, it may be time to reassess and make changes to your work schedule.

Talk to your supervisor about your concerns and see if there are any alternatives, such as part-time or flexible scheduling, that could work better for you.

If you’re feeling the financial burden right now, here are some money-savings to consider;

  • Purchasing second-hand clothing baby/children’s clothing instead of something new
  • Reaching out to your local council to see what free or discounted services are available such as cleaning and childcare
  • Search and join mothers support groups on Facebook in your local area
  • Visit the local library as this is often a hub for community support
  • Utilise food discount coupons, cash-back apps and weekly specials at your local grocery store
  • Freeze extra food wherever you can
  • Limit the amount of money spent on coffee and food/take out and make at home
  • Shop online for groceries as you won’t be tempted to add unnecessary items to your cart
  • Try a clothes-buying ban (set a realistic goal for yourself)
  • Set a budget for non-essentials
  • Enjoy free activities
  • Cut your subscriptions
  • Ditch the gym and utilize YouTube for fitness
  • Use health and fitness employer benefits

4. Get Out in the Sun Between Night Shifts

Being a night shift mom can be a challenging task, both physically and mentally. However, there are ways to boost your mood and energy during those long hours. One simple and effective way is to get out in the sun and embrace the vitamin D around your shifts.

Yes, this is arguably much harder for night workers as we are asleep when the sun is shinning, but there may be a few precious hours where we can still enjoy it – it may just take some planning.

Exposure to sunlight triggers the brain to produce serotonin, a hormone that affects mood and helps you feel more alert and focused. Taking a few minutes to soak up some natural light can make a big difference in how you feel during your shift.

If you work in a windowless environment, try to take a walk when you wake up in the afternoon or eat dinner outside. Even a short exposure to natural light can help reset your circadian rhythm, making it easier for you to fall asleep when you get home.

Consider a vitamin D supplement if all of that is not achievable. I get it.

If you’re working multiple nights in a row, this video below will be very helpful!

5. Be Smart With Your Roster Allocation

As a night shift mom, you know as well as I do, time is precious. One way to maximize it is by being smart with your roster allocation wherever you can.

Now, not all workplaces allow for roster flexibility. But if you do have this option – make the most of it.

Consider your personal responsibilities, such as childcare or household chores, and find a balance that allows you to fulfill these commitments without sacrificing quality sleep. It may take some trial and error so be kind to yourself.

Have a think about when and how you can block out small pockets of time. This may be the two hours before you leave for a shift, the time you allocate for sleep and the hours you have before you rest again. Though these moments seem small, routine will help you feel healthier, more balanced and a better mom.

If you need a calendar to manage your shifts, this one will help – 10 Best Shift Work Calendar Apps to Stop You Missing Out

6. Choose Sleep

This is much easier said than done but I must mention it as a mom and fellow night shift worker myself.

I know the feeling of being pulled in a thousand directions. I know the feeling of wanting to have a clean house, washing folded and put away, dinner cooked and ready, children happy and social engagements in order. But all of this is not possible if we are running on vapor. We must ensure we are sleeping enough to be able to function and think clearly.

We talk about needing 7-9 hours of sleep, but in reality, for most working moms, this amount is not possible, but we can’t be happy with 2 hours either. We need to find a happy middle ground where the world makes sense.

When it comes to staying healthy, getting enough sleep should be at the top of your list. As a busy mom, it can be tempting to sacrifice your own sleep to get things done, but this is ultimately counterproductive when you think about it.

Do you know your chronotype? Do the aminals; dolphin, lion, bear or wolf mean anything to you? These animals discate your body’s natural sleep schedule which can be handy in understanding when you’re most productive. Find out which animal you are here and how to embrace them as a shift worker.

Just on sleep, I found sleeping during the day tough because of the light. Our blinds were never really any good so I looked at a cheaper option to help me get the desired amount of rest – an eye mask. Below are the ones we use and love. Click on each photo to explore them some more.

7. Fuel Your Body with Healthy Meals and Snacks

It’s worth noting that your sleep is only one part of your overall health. To truly thrive (and not just survive) we need to think about what’s going in.

As a busy mom, it can be difficult to prioritize healthy eating when you’re constantly on the go. However, by making small changes to your diet, you can set yourself up for success and feel more energized throughout the day and night.

  • To save time and reduce stress, meal prep on your days off (can the kids help?). This can help you stay on track with your eating habits, even when you’re busy.
  • Avoid processed and packaged foods as much as possible. They are full of nasties and will make you feel sluggish and drained.
  • Opt for fresh fruits and vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. As a reminder, delivery groceries could work well here! For more info check out – Shift Work Nutrition Advice Most Are Afraid to Talk About
  • Lastly, don’t forget to stay hydrated throughout the day. Drinking plenty of water can help keep you feeling full and satisfied, while also giving you the energy you need to tackle whatever tasks come your way. We use the BEAST tumbler, here is our review to see if it’s right for you.

By prioritizing healthy eating habits, you’ll be better equipped to handle the demands of your day and stay on top of your game.

Time-saving tip – If meal prep seems impossible for you personally, try consuming a green-powered supplement. We drink SuperGreen TONIK and couldn’t recommend it higher after trying a bunch of different types. Just a spoonful in some water, give it a shake, and drink. It’s no delicious cocktail but it’s not terrible either. They have green and berry flavors. Check it out here.

Containers of food | 12 Valuable Meal Prep Tips for Busy Shift Workers

8. Stay Active Throughout the Day

Now this point may not be relevant to you as you’re probably running around constantly for your little ones. The issue though may be the lack of vigorous exercise which challenges your heart and lungs. When was the last time you broke into a sweat or was out of breath on purpose?

Along with healthy eating habits, staying active throughout the day can help you feel energized and ready to tackle your night shift. Even if you have a desk job, there are ways to sneak in some physical activity.

Here are some ways to incorporate more vigorous exercise

  • Try taking brisk walks during your breaks or doing quick stretches at your desk or while waiting for the kettle to boil
  • If you have a job that requires standing or moving around, make sure to wear comfortable shoes and take breaks when you can.
  • Take the stairs instead of the elevator
  • Park farther away from your destination to get in some extra steps
  • Sign up for a yoga/pilates class while you are already utilizing a babysitter

By staying active throughout the day, you’ll be better equipped to handle the demands of your night shift and feel more productive overall.

In conclusion, working the night shift as a mom doesn’t have to lead to burnout. By practicing self-care, being honest with your support team, mindful of overtime, spending time in the sun, prioritizing sleep, eating healthy, and staying active, you can set yourself up for success.

Remember, it’s essential to take care of yourself first, so you can take care of your family and work responsibilities. As the saying goes, “You can’t pour from an empty cup.” So go ahead, implement these night shift hacks, and watch yourself thrive.

If you liked this post, you’ll enjoy these too; 7 Tips for Surviving Night Shifts Whilst Pregnant, Tactful Tips for Pregnant and Postpartum Night Shift Nurses and Does Shift Work Affect Fertility? What You Need to Know

Disclosure: This page may contain affiliate links, meaning we receive a commission if you decide to make a purchase through our links, but this is at no additional cost to you. Please read our disclosure and privacy statement for more info.

Women working in factory at night

Emma @ The Other Shift

Hey there! I'm Emma Smith a passionate, Registered Nurse from Australia. Together with my husband Daniel, we run The Other Shift. Our sole aim is to help shift workers and those on unusual schedules find balance between work and life. I understand the challenges of fitting in exercise, maintaining relationships and getting enough quality sleep, but I'm excited to show you that it’s possible to do shift work and still thrive. Read more about us and our story here.

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