One of the best things about being a nurse is the number of options you have when seeking employment. No longer are nurses tied to facilities, working at the bedside for 12-hour shifts. If this works for you – go for it, but if you have kids or are pregnant in nursing school, you might find that seeking opportunities that allow you to work from home or offer more flexible hours offer the best work-life balance.
This article will discuss how to juggle work obligations as a nurse with responsibilities at home, various job options if you already have little ones at home, and what to expect when you’re expecting in nursing school.
My Experience Being a Nurse and Mom
I didn’t go to nursing school until I was 21. I spent much time floundering, not sure what I wanted to do. Finally, I applied to nursing school at the behest of my mother and father, both Registered Nurses. I remember my dad telling me, “No matter what happens in your life, if you become a nurse, you’ll always be able to work.” I figured I didn’t have much to lose, so I heeded his advice and spent the next few years earning my BSN.
As a mom of 3 young children, it was hands-down the best decision I ever made. Not only am I financially independent, but I know that no matter what happens with the economy or any other external event, I will always be able to work and provide for my family.
The beauty of nursing, aside from the meaningful impact of providing care to the sick, is that you always have options. Of course, our first obligation is always to our children, but our professional commitments matter too. So figure out your dream schedule, factor in salary requirements, and start searching for the nursing job that fits your lifestyle.
Nursing Jobs that Work for Parents
My nursing experience runs the gamut from school nursing to hospital nursing, home care, and case management. I’ve worked in hospitals, group homes, office buildings, nursing homes, and, presently, my own home office. Depending on your needs, whether you have kids or are planning to, let’s break down how to find a nursing job that is best for being a nurse and a parent.
Find an employer that values you
Aside from salary and benefit package requirements, there are other things to consider when you are a nurse and a parent. Employers should actively promote a workplace culture that values parenthood and recognizes the inherent difficulty of juggling responsibilities at work and home.
Employers that recognize the worthiness of their workforce encourage them to use their earned paid time off, offer robust paid family leave packages, and allow for flexibility during the work day.
Location, location, location
Think carefully about where you want to work. This is, perhaps, one of the most significant factors that could make or break the success of being both a nurse and a parent. Distance matters when your children are young and you feel that you still want to be available for them if they need you. The closer you work to their school or to your home, the easier it will be to juggle both responsibilities.
I can’t count how many times I’ve walked into the house after dropping my children off at school just to turn right back around and bring them the lunchbox or homework that was hastily left behind in the morning rush. Luckily, there are many opportunities to work from home or in field-based nursing, like home care and hospice, that offer great freedom and autonomy.
Consider what hours work best for your family
Depending on how many hours you desire to work while being a nurse and a parent, you have virtually unlimited options of how many hours to work as a nurse and how to structure your week.
Non-traditional day shift
As a school nurse, I worked from 7:30–3:30, had the weekends and all major holidays off, and was never on call.
It was a great schedule, even for a child-free twenty-something that I was at the time. Whether your children are toddlers, school-aged, or older, this could be a great schedule for you as a working parent. You and your kids will be on the same schedule, and if they are too young for school, you won’t be gone for long. The trade-off is often that the pay is much lower than you would find in the private sector or hospital-based positions.
When I worked for hospice, I was scheduled for 24 hours over the weekend and was paid at an enhanced rate. It was nice being home with my children Monday-Friday, only working two days per week and getting paid as though I was working full-time. This was an excellent schedule for my family when my youngest child was an infant. The downside to working weekends is that you miss out on sporting events, family get-togethers, and birthday parties. Once my youngest daughter started preschool, I returned to full-time work and accepted my first work-from-home nursing position.
Per diem or part-time
If you’re not quite ready for a full-time nursing position, consider per diem nursing jobs, so you can call the shots (sometimes, literally) on when and where you work while prioritizing parenthood and time spent at home with your children.
Being Pregnant in Nursing School
Nursing school is hard enough without worrying about how you’ll be able to work as a nurse and be a parent to a newborn simultaneously. However, it is possible, and likely not as difficult as one would imagine. Deciding the best way to work as a nurse and juggle a newborn is totally up to your individual circumstance; however, based on my experience, working from home or finding a field-based home care job close to where you live is probably your best bet. If you are nursing your infant or need to pump and easily store milk, you can stop at home, take care of the baby during your breaks, and then head back out on the road to your next patient’s house. Working from home allows you to take care of the baby in the comfort of your own home and bring the baby into the office. In contrast, you work and even set up shop in the baby’s nursery for a short time if you want easy access to a changing table, crib, swing, or glider.
There are undoubtedly many options for working as a nurse and caring for a newborn. But first things first: focus on school and acing your NCLEX. Only then will you be able to scour the job market for a great first job that empowers you to be the best nurse and parent you can be.
Being a Nurse and a Parent: You Can Do It
Parenthood is the most challenging job on the planet. The only problem with it is that it doesn’t pay. A stellar career choice for parents and parents-to-be is nursing. Not only can you provide care to the most vulnerable around us, but you have a wide breadth of options and unlimited demand that other career choices do not offer.
A few things to consider when you are looking for a nursing job while being a parent are the work culture of a potential employer, the flexibility of your work schedule, where the position is located, and whether there are non-traditional schedules that might work best for you and your little ones.
Being pregnant in nursing school may generate anxiety, but rest assured that there are ways to work post-graduation and post-pregnancy, so you can enjoy a steady income stream while also soaking in the snuggles with your new bundle of joy.
Knowing the possibilities of various nursing careers and the alternative schedules that a career in nursing can offer you is the first step toward determining your future as a nurse and a parent.