What are you bringing home with you?
Understand how the experiences you have as an EMS provider can shape your relationships with your family
Do you bring home more than what you left with? Paychecks aside, the experiences that we encounter in EMS add to our take-home substance in many different ways … and, of course, in different ways for each individual.
Check your ego at the door
As a pretty confident provider, instructor and writer, I’ll be open and transparent with you for a moment ... my ego can sometimes get the best of me.
What originates as success at work can sometimes transfer over to a sense of over-confidence at home, when you forget that the two are not the same. Finding a solution while working in the healthcare or emergency services setting, or with an adult population of workers, does not always equate to managing the bills or playing dress-up with a toddler.
And, in some of these situations, taking your work ego (or over-confidence) home can get the best of you.
Don’t let ‘what if’ lead to hover-parenting
“Don’t do that ... ”
“Wait, wait, wait ... ”
I’ve been guilty of these cautions a million times as a parent. Why?
Because I’ve seen what can go wrong when “this” happens or when “that” occurs. This sense of fear can easily translate over to parenting behavior of hovering, limiting exploration or acute isolation, all in fear of the “what if?”
Loss and coping with EMS stress
Unless your partner or spouse has some sense of what working in the emergency services or healthcare field can be like, your jagged sense of humor, blunt approach or closed-door attitude can easily affect your home life relationships.
While we may not see death, dying or trauma every day, we certainly see it enough to affect our personality. While the cold exterior that you present may work as a coping mechanism for you at work, it may not be the best approach for your relationships at home.
Besides “dark humor,” how else can we deal with kind of stress in a healthy way? Talk. Walk. Write. Rest. Do something productive, rather than destructive. Find (or create) a support network that can help you cope with this type of stress – this type of loss – and overcome it so that you can maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Shift work and being absent
Working a 24-hour shift can be a great thing, just as much as it can be a bad thing. Speaking from experience, I really enjoyed my “me time” by being away from home for days on end. Coming back home, however, I was often presented with an “unloading” of lists, tasks, updates and needs, all from just one or two days of being away. We make ourselves absent physically, which can easily spiral into emotionally.
There’s something to be said about working 9-5. Yes, it equates to more calendar days worked, but it also equates to being home every single night. In a household that relies on being present, being absent can certainly take its toll.
Having said all of that, make time to talk with your partner, spouse, children; to actually converse with them. Pet your dogs, play with your kids, and don’t lose sight of the fact that they are more important than your work, even if work consumes more of your time.
Managing coming home after an EMS shift
Every home situation, relationship and family dynamic is going to present with its own set of challenges, as well as opportunities.
When we come home from a shift, however long it is, we need to find healthy ways to de-stress before we walk in the door. We also need to find healthy and productive ways to talk with our partners and spouses about work (without all of the blood and body fluids).
In some situations, seeking professional help may also be the best path. Whether it’s in the form of church groups, counselors or other help groups, we cannot continue to fight our battles alone, especially if we’re on the losing end.
Trust me, I’ve been there. Many of us have been there. It’s how we manage, persevere and maintain our own resiliency that unlocks the key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle ... especially once we get home.