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Ask for Support at Home

Getting Family Support (1:17)

Michael Coplen, former Federal Railroad Administration human factors researcher and former locomotive engineer, tells how important family is to railroaders getting good sleep.

You work hard to contribute to giving your family a good life. Take time to enjoy the benefits of your work with those you love most. Communicate your needs to them and make an effort to understand their needs, too.

Participate in as many family events as you can. Enjoy birthday cake at breakfast, if that's the only time that day you're available.

If you have to work on a holiday, try to celebrate with your friends and family on a day that you’re free instead. 

If you can’t attend children's sports activities or other school events, ask your spouse or partner to snap photos or take videos you can look at with the kids later.

Keep lines of communication open. Put a family calendar and bulletin board in the kitchen, with a box nearby for items that can’t be hung on the wall. Encourage everyone to post notes, drawings, homework, newsletters, cartoons, and other family-interest items here. Refresh the bulletin board once a week, if you can, so it remains a “go to” spot. 

Try to distribute household chores fairly, so neither partner feels unduly burdened. Keep a job list by the bulletin board, so it’s clear who’s responsible for taking in the car for a tune up, or repairing a broken screen. Expect children to take on suitable family chores at various ages, too.

Encourage your spouse or partner to attend parties and other social events with friends and family, even if you have to work or sleep, and can't go along. 

Make time for "dates" with your spouse or partner, even if it’s just to watch a favorite TV show, or share a pizza. Put those events on the calendar, too. 

Spend time with each child separately on days off. You may be surprised at all you learn on a ten-minute walk, or over a dish of ice cream. Ask children which activities they’d like to do with you. Tell children about what you do at work.

Plan for a family vacation. It’s nice to have a long-term goal. Talking about the trip in advance can build excitement.

Tell your family you appreciate their support. Having your family’s understanding and support can help you get the sleep you need to stay alert at work. It’s hard for you to miss family events, and hard for them to enjoy those activities fully without you there. Let your family know you appreciate the difficulties they experience in helping you do your job.