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Juggling Work and Family

Danielle, aged 36, started railroad work in 1997 as a conductor, and later worked as a train master. In 2008 she became a locomotive engineer and provides passenger service.

I chose my current work schedule to give me most of Saturday and Sunday with my family. My children are 8-, 12-, and 16-years old. I like being able to take them to Girl Scout meetings, music lessons, and sports practice.

I work Monday, Thursday, and Friday, from 3:35 PM to 1:05 AM, Saturday from 4:30 PM to 2:56 AM, and Sunday, from 6:30 PM to 2:56 AM.

My husband, a mechanic, also often works nights. He has Saturday off. Our family spends most of Saturday together.

We always have a family member with our children at night. My brother lives with us. When he is away, my mother stays at our home.

When I get off work, I come home, and go right to sleep. I have trained myself to do this. I set my alarm for 6 AM to start waking my children one at a time. I make breakfast, and get them out the door. Each leaves at a different time. The last one is gone by 8:50 AM.

I then go back to sleep, and usually get up with just enough time to take a shower, dress, eat, and get to work. I occasionally miss sleep to attend events at my children's schools. It's hard to balance work, rest, and other responsibilities.

I get 20-minute breaks between round-trips on weekdays, and longer breaks on weekends. Our break room has recliners. I usually check on my kids by phone, take care of paperwork, and eat. I may close my eyes for 15 minutes.

If I hear the phone when I'm home sleeping, I may look at it. I don't answer, unless the call is from one of my children's schools. My friends know I'll call them on my days off.

I know I need to be well-rested. Running a train is a big responsibility. I don't want to be tired on the job.

-Danielle, Locomotive Engineer