Guest Post by Liv Rancourt: That Ol’ Work-Life Balance

To round out my semi-hiatus, I’m excited to welcome Liv Rancourt. Liv is a kick-ass woman who writes about kick-ass women in a paranormal and/or romance setting (and she also has a shiny new author website that you might want to go look at because it’s so pretty). She’s here to share how she turns a common complaint on its head…

Thanks, Siri, for the chance to share a post with your readers. I hope the move is going well!

I was leaving work one morning at the end of a twenty-four hour call shift. It’s not as bad as it sounds – in fact, I think it’s a great gig, but we’ll get more into that later. I work as a nurse practitioner at a major academic medical center that boasts a top-level pediatric residency program and arguably one of the best nursing schools in the country.

But then I do have a  bias.

To get to my bus I have to cut through the school, and on this particular morning I was following a bunch of young nurses, shiny copper pennies with trim size-Small scrub pants and bouncing ponytails.  They made me feel every one of my years. Down to the hour. In fact, it occurs to me that I might have started working in hospitals before some of these girls were born.
I wasn’t exactly eavesdropping, but I couldn’t help overhear the following conversation. One of the new nurses  leaned over to another and asked about her schedule. The answer?

“Well, as long as I get Fridays and Saturdays off, it’ll be okay.”

I think to myself, “Yeah, because they so regularly close the hospital on Fridays and Saturdays. Not.”

They chat some more, and then one asked the other this question.

“Are you going to have to work night shifts?”

I think, “Um, yes, you ninny. The hospital is a 24-hour operation and you’ll be at the bottom of the seniority shuffle.”

She says, “I’m trying not to worry about it. It scares me.”

Well what did you go into nursing for?

Sorry, that was my out-loud voice, wasn’t it?

No, really, I didn’t say anything, but they did make me shake my head, and not because of their overwhelming naiveté.  (I did send up a quick prayer to whichever nurse manager was going to have to teach them to wear big-girl panties.) It seems to me that by locking themselves into a day-shift-only, weekday-only mentality, they’re missing one of the biggest bonuses their profession provides.

Flexibility.

In the over twenty-five years I’ve been at this, I only had one three-year patch that was anything close to a “regular” schedule, and it was while I was the manager of a program. I don’t really count it, though, because part of my job was still clinical, mostly 24-hour shifts, and the rest basically required 24/7 availability.

Therefore the three-year expiration date.

When my kids were little, I had a job where I worked three 24-hour shifts in a two-week period. I used to call myself a stay-at-home Mom with a full-time job. I don’t know if you’ve got Costco in Canada, but I NEVER have to go there on the weekends when it’s so busy you have to take a number just to get a shopping cart.

My work schedule leaves time for the rest of my life.

In fact, when I was the same age as the girls I overheard, I worked swing shift, 3pm – 11pm, because I figured the clubs didn’t close till 2am or sometimes 4am, so I could still get some dancing and maybe a cocktail in after work, and then sleep in as late as I wanted.

To use some old-school slang, it was pretty sweet.

At the end of the day, it’s all about the tradeoffs. You’re giving up hours of your short time on this earth in return for some level of financial reward. If you’re as lucky as I am, you’re giving up those hours to do something challenging and meaningful. Or if the work’s not all that great, hopefully the return is substantial enough to make it a worthwhile trade.

I didn’t start off to write an advertisement for nursing – although it is a pretty awesome way to make a living . Listening to those girls, so new to the profession, on the cusp of an experience that will likely shape their personalities, regardless of how long they stay with it, made me think about the trades I’ve made to balance my life. I wanted to stop them in the hall and encourage them to be thoughtful in their approach and to keep an open mind.

Flexibility is a huge benefit, and something I hope they learn to appreciate.

I’ll allow I miss the occasional weekend barbeque. On the other hand, I generally get at least one six or seven day stretch off every month. Which leaves me time to write, and to be the kind of Mom who helps put on the Halloween party at the kid’s school.

How cool is that?

So what about you? How do you balance your work with the rest of your life? I’d love to see your ideas in the comments below. And however you go about it, I hope you’re spending your hours in the best possible way.

Peace,

Liv

A Vampire's Deadly Delight by Liv RancourtLiv Rancourt writes paranormal and romance, often at the same time. She lives with her husband, two teenagers, two cats and one wayward puppy. She likes to create stories that have happy endings, and finds it is a good way to balance her other job in the neonatal intensive care unit. Liv can be found on-line at her website (www.livrancourt.com), her blog (www.liv-rancourt.blogspot.com), on Facebook (www.facebook.com/liv.rancourt), or on Twitter (www.twitter.com/LivRancourt).

8 responses to “Guest Post by Liv Rancourt: That Ol’ Work-Life Balance

  1. livrancourt

    Thanks for the chance to visit your blog, Siri. I saw that “The Eagle Has Landed” on FB, and I hope things are going well in your new home. Thanks again,
    Liv

  2. Hi Liv,
    Good post. My sister is a nurse and I know many other moms in the profession. Their complaint is the 12 hrs shifts are killers and since this is primarily women dominated field, they have families to take care of. I see your point of flexibility, but it is all different when you come home after 12 hrs + shift and all you want is crush in bed, but your kids want you to go places and do things.

    Yes, we do have Costco in Canada, but I don’t really shop there. I always wondered who needs the Costco’s size jar of relish, unless you run a restaurant or are buying it for some special bbq event.

  3. livrancourt

    Thanks for checking in, Zrinka. I will say that my schedule totally wouldn’t work if my husband wasn’t willing to pick up the slack. And there are days when I run on 4 hours of sleep. Again, it’s about what you’re willing to trade…
    Thanks again!

  4. Liv, I have the greatest respect and admiration for nurses. You guys work so hard and you’re always smiling and cheerful for your patients at the end of those 12-hr shifts! I couldn’t hack it–I’m not very patient with sick people, I’m afraid. Thank you for doing this job and I’m glad that it suits your personality and your schedule.

    Me, I’m a homeschooling mom. Theoretically, I get afternoons to write but I am not very good at making productive use of them. The summer has been hard because of the constant change in routine to accommodate early-morning swim lessons in July and various weeklong camps elsewhere. I need routine to keep me focused, and this summer has been very distracting so far!

  5. livrancourt

    All bets are off in summer, Rabia. It’s a little easier now that the kids are older because I can sleep during the day when I need to and they can make their own lunches and stuff, but on the other hand, there’s a whole lot more competition for computer time so I don’t get as much writing done. I bought myself an AlphaSmart 2000 (portable word processor) for $20 from eBay. If I can get it to talk to my laptop, I might be able to work from the beach or wherever I happen to be.
    Thanks for checking in!

  6. Oh, let me know who the AlphaSmart works for you. I’ve toyed with the idea of getting one (and being rid of the Internet Distraction Monster).

  7. Hey Liv – thanks for a great post. In another lifetime, I was a nurse, and I agree about the flexibility. I loved the 3 to 11 because of the after-hour activities. But lots of times, I traded my 3 to 11 for a night shift so I could take evening classes. And mostly, I loved the work, except when people died.
    I’m still in touch with ole nursing school buddies. In fact, we’ve got another reunion coming up in September. Those were the days my friend.

  8. Thanks, everyone, for a great discussion, and thanks to Liv for starting it!

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