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Is single mom's rotating work schedule bad for 5 year old?

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Dr. Laura
I am a single mom and have a daughter who will be 5 in february. She starts pre school this next week. I work rotating hours anywhere from 5:30-2:30, 10:00-7, 2-11, 9-6, 8-5 or 12-9. Would it be better for me to find a job with more of a set schedule to help my daughter or is a rotating schedule ok?
thank you!


Dear Carla,
It's great that you're thinking about this issue. It's challenging to be a single mom, to have sole responsibility for providing economically, emotionally and physically for your child.

The most important factor is who cares for your daughter when you are gone. In other words, when she gets out of preschool, who picks her up? When you are gone at dinner time and in the evening, who feeds her and puts her to bed? It needs to be someone who really loves her and who she really trusts. It also needs to be the same person every day, so she knows what to expect.

The next consideration is that kids do need structure and they thrive on routine. It helps them a lot to have the same schedule every day, or they feel like things are out of control and they never know what to expect. Especially when they have the stress of starting school, it helps them to be able to completely relax afterwards. Most kids don't completely relax unless they are with their parents.

It also occurs to me that you must be a very flexible person to live with a schedule like this, but that it would be good for you also to have a set schedule. It's hard to be a good mom when your sleep schedule is always changing.

Finally, kids are remarkably resilient, so if you didn't have a choice, your daughter would probably be ok. In other words, if she doesn't have any other risk factors, and she is a normally resilient kid rather than a super-sensitive kid who requires routine, she can adjust to a schedule like this if absolutely necessary, if you are really there for her emotionally, and if her caregiver in your absence is a close family member who adores her.

But my view is that as parents we can't control all the risk factors in our kids' lives, so we should at least eliminate any that we do have control over. So if you can change to regular hours, I think you both would be happier.

I wish you much luck in figuring out a good situation to balance your work and home. I honor you for taking good care of your daughter as a single mom.

Blessings to you and your daughter.
Dr. Laura

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