I work what’s called a 5/6 schedule.
A tour consists of 5 shifts, worked over 10 days. So I work 24 hours, then I’m off 24 hours etc. At the end of my fifth shift, I’m off for six days in a row. By the end of that fifth shift, I’m more than ready for my six! (confusing i know)
By the nature of our work, I’m up at odd hours. This really messes with sleep and with scheduling in general. For starters, I’m pretty much always tired. When I go home on my in-between days, I’m often in a daze. When I go to bed at home I wake up 5-10 times a night either expecting tones to drop for a call, or some horrible dream (which is a whole separate post). Many nights at the station I don’t sleep at all. I just lay there all night, like Chuck Norris.
I’ve done some asking around and apparently this is very common in the fire service.
God bless the six! Unfortunately, I’m usually pretty useless the first couple days of my six (ask my wife) and then the third day is a whirlwind of productivity. I get done pretty much everything I’ve neglected for the last two weeks around the house. I feel pretty good by then. On the fourth day I’m usually itching to get back to work.
Another side-effect of this schedule is that I absolutely never know what day of the week it is! I’m constantly referring to my calendar, my phone, or my kids to be sure what day it is. I’m much more methodical about planning now, as *everything* goes into my google calendar (with reminders). This drives my wife crazy. God bless her, she’s a saint.
This reminds me of something the great philosopher Les Claypool said:
Funny thing about weekends when you’re unemployed.
They don’t mean quite so much, except you get to hang out with your working friends. (Spegetti Western)
Same kind of feeling.
Sometimes it drags on me, but in other ways it’s a lot of fun. I get to be the only Dad that goes on field trips. I get to plan things that don’t revolve around weekends. Unfortunately the rest of my family still operates on muggle time. It’s a bit of a juggling act, and when you’re sleep deprived that can get weird. I wouldn’t have it any other way though.
I mentioned it earlier, but my wife and kids are so gracious. They know that Daddy is confused, and sometimes Daddy needs a timeout. I thank God for them every day.