I am going to attempt to write an article for the families of nurses. I will try to tastefully and tactfully explain how nurses are drained after a hard day. Nurses are the caregivers while working. Sometimes when we are at home we would just like to receive care. Working day shift as I do when I walk in to see my family I may already be completely empty of emotional responses. I just want to shut down and relax and not have to tend to the needs of anyone but myself.
If you have a family as I do, a spouse (mine is also a nurse) and two teenage daughters ages 13 and 15. When you get home more than likely you are going to have some emotional upheavals to tend to. These could include but are not limited to such things as siblings being mean to each other, what to have for supper, trouble at school (anything from bad grades to hating classmates to insults over clothing) and any number of things that may come up.
Nurses are by nature very caring and nurturing. We seem to automatically jump in to try to fix things. We want to make people feel better and intervene when we see suffering. We take care of others so readily. As nurses we have many obligations and concerns. We also have to be very aware of every word and every action. We do give much of ourselves to show compassion and consideration to people who are complete strangers. Naturally on occasion we have very little leftover for the people we truly love. This is my attempt to explain this phenomenon to those we do love and care deeply for.
The point is that we are human and we do have flaws. We also need to recharge sometimes. Being caring and nurturing does come natural for most of us but that does not mean it comes free. Yes we will be short with our loved ones sometimes. We will make mistakes. We are not perfect but the job we do requires us to be very precise in our working life and this may result in the need for some tolerance in our home life. We like to be able to let our guard down. We would like to not have to answer any difficult questions or make important decisions after we have already put in a twelve-hour workday. Relaxing for a few hours prior to going to bed and preparing to work a full twelve hours again the next day.
When your nurse comes home tired be sympathetic and offer a smile. If your nurse never seems to have time to just relax, pitch in and lend a hand. Children assist your nurse (mother/father) in a single cause to be civil and courteous to each other and keep name-calling to a minimum. Spouses (men or women) lend your nurse a hand as needed and stay close to the nurse you love. Brothers, sisters, nieces, cousins where ever you fit in the life of your nurse take that extra moment to give something back to them. Parents you owe us nothing, you are the beginning of the cycle. At your knee we learned to care. From your caring and proper teaching and undying, unconditional love we are who we are today.
Allow your nurse the time to decompress before barraging them with questions and problems or even showing your nurse your latest masterpiece. The best policy would probably be to give your nurse a half-hour or so to do nothing but unwind in their chosen manner. That may be an immediate shower followed by a short nap, or immediately going to the study and checking email and current affairs. We all have something that helps us unwind and relieve the tensions of the day. As our families and loved ones you can help us greatly by allowing us that time to naturally adjust to normal atmospheric conditions.
I am certain that most nurses most of the time have plenty of kindness and tenderness left for their families at the end of the day. I am also certain that on occasion we are drained and just need a little time to recuperate. Sometimes we really have to give so much that we need just a little time to take care of ourselves. Unfortunately this is one of the few things nurses are not obsessive-compulsive about.