How to be a Great Parent and a Great Nurse at the Same Time

If you’re both a parent and a nurse, congratulations, you probably have two of the toughest jobs on the planet! It takes a special kind of person to be able to handle the responsibilities of being a parent and taking care of patients every day, especially if you’re on your own. However, a lot of it is about knowing how to manage your time and workload. Let’s take a look at a few tips to help you balance your professional life as a nurse and your life at home.

Establish Your Priorities

The first thing you’ll have to assess right now is what your true priorities are. If you’re a nurse and also raising kids, you’re responsible for both their lives and the lives of your patients. You cannot make both a priority. You have to see what comes first.

If your children are still growing and you’re handling most parental responsibilities alone, then they will need most of your attention. This is why you will need to look at ways in which you can alleviate the workload, or arrange your schedule so you can find caregivers for your children within your close circle.

You not only have to be physically present, but mentally present as well. Your children will need you to be there to attend to their emotional needs and you can’t do that if you’re constantly drained or exhausted. Likewise, your patients need your undivided attention and you have to be alert at all times to avoid errors.

You have to be open about the situation to both your family and supervisors. The more they know, the more they will be able to understand and be ready to make compromises. Let your kids know that you won’t be able to attend every event and don’t be afraid to let your higher-ups know that you can’t do overtime. Being open also helps other nurses understand your situation and they won’t see it as a form of favoritism.

medical stethoscope and mask composed with red foiled chocolate hearts
Photo by Karolina Grabowska on

Learn How to Manage Your Time

You also have to work on your time management and that’s both as a nurse and as a parent. Time management in nursing is extremely important for any nurse, and nurses who know how to manage their time better always stand out on the floor. They’re also the ones who put themselves in a prime position to move into leadership roles. More importantly, it reduces the amount of stress in your life and allows you to be more productive on both ends.

As a parent, proper time management starts with talking with your family and seeing what can be done so that everyone can work together. You will need to start delegating tasks and making sure everyone follows through. You will also need to start writing things down and making a clear schedule/to-do list. Also, make sure that you consult your partners and see what their schedule and to-do lists look like so it doesn’t clash with yours.

Don’t Assume Your Children Don’t Need You Because They’re Older

Some parents will make the mistake of assuming that their teenager or pre-teen doesn’t need them because they’re older and getting more autonomous, but that could be the time they need you the most. This is especially true if you have many children that are going to middle-school and high-school.

This is a time when they will start getting more emotionally unstable and you don’t want to feel like you’re neglecting them. Some nurses have even stopped working completely when their children reached that age. So, this is something you may have to consider as well.

Consider Getting a Specialization

Being a parent and a nurse doesn’t mean you can’t try to find ways to specialize yourself. However, doing so might mean you land a more demanding role, but you can also find one that has a more predictable schedule.

If you think it’s impossible to manage your student, work, and personal life, know that there are ways that you can make things easier for yourself. One could be to take online classes. You have classes that require you to attend lectures at set times and others that you can take at your own leisure as long as you follow a schedule. Both could allow you to get your degree at night or part-time over the weekend.

Know that you also have the option of cutting your work schedule instead and focusing most of your time on your students. You could look for a nice bridge program that would allow you to fast-track your way to higher qualifications. This is a good option if you feel like your other partner can cover for lost income.

Look for Non-Hospital Work

Another thing you could do if you want to get a more predictable schedule would be to work outside of a hospital setting. You could work in industry, for instance, or as a school nurse. While you’re at it, why not check if your children’s school is looking for a nurse? This would be a great way to both have a better schedule and be able to be closer to your kids, which will make logistics that much easier. Not only that, but you’ll also be able to spend tons of time with them when the school year is off.

Stay Healthy, but Don’t be too Harsh

Staying healthy as a nurse is very important, but you shouldn’t be too tough on yourself if you can’t keep a steady working routine. It’s understandable with everything you are dealing with.

If there are two things you cannot neglect, however, it’s nutrition and sleep. Sleeping issues are a real problem with nurses, and you can’t be as efficient, motivated, or mentally stable when you don’t get enough sleep. This is also one of the common reasons why nurses end up burning out.

So, you have to make sure that you make sleep a priority for you and that everyone in your house keeps the same sleep schedule.

As far as nutrition goes, you have to learn how to eat in order to be more performant and focused. Proteins are very important for any nurse, as they will give your muscles the support they need and help with mental clarity. They’re also very important if you want to control mood swings.

You have to be careful with things like sugar and coffee as well. Coffee can be a great pick me up from time to time, but caffeine and stress don’t mix well. Not only that, but if you drink coffee to make up for a poor night’s sleep, the end of your shifts will be absolute torture. So, if you can, try to get your energy from food instead.

Don’t be Afraid to Move Holiday Celebrations

You shouldn’t expect your kids to be heartbroken if you’re going to be celebrating their birthday a few days later, or if you have Christmas a day earlier because you need to cover for a shift. Children are much more understanding than many give them credit for. You also have to let them know that mommy or daddy needs to work in order to afford the nice things around the house. This will make things easier to accept for them, and you can also expect them to start volunteering ways they can help.

Always Have Some Spare Clothes with You

We’ve heard stories of nurses who always carry a spare set of clothes with hand sanitizer and perfume. This is so they can quickly transition from the hospital world to the outside world and back. Lots of things can go wrong during a shift, so this could be a lifesaver if you need to pick up your kid from school or have somewhere else to attend after your shift.

Try to Keep Some of Your Sensitivity

After a while, nurses start to get used to trauma. That is part of the job, and you can’t be overly sensitive or squeamish at the sight of blood, even in extreme cases. However, you can’t be too cold with your children. Don’t dismiss them because you’ve seen way worse at work. Remember that they still need to be comforted and that a small deal for you might be a big one for them.

Consider the Night Shift

Working the night shift can be a great option for parents with small children. This way, you’ll be able to sleep while they’re at school and still be able to attend plenty of their activities. You’ll also have the time to get home just at the right time to take them to school. So, if you haven’t thought of working nights because you assume it would be too difficult, you should definitely at least consider it.

Being a nurse and raising kids at the same time is a challenge, but with the right strategy in place, it’s one you can get over. If you want it to work, however, you have to make sure that everyone in the house is on the same page and understands the situation.

Rob Gorski

Full time, work from home single Dad to my 3 amazing boys. Oh...and creator fo this blog. :-)
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