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Thursday, April 7, 2011

Outage. What IS it?

Okay, here and my personal blog, you've probably heard me mention several times now about Outage going on at Kevin's work.  And I've also probably given a brief description, but I thought I'd explain a little bit better...

Kevin works at a power plant.  So when you hear "outage", think "power outage".  Every year and a half the plant hits the OFF switch and they completely shut down for routine maintenance while other plant(s) provide the power for our area in replacement.  Additional temporary workers come in from out of state, and locally, and there's a whole big list of maintenance to-do's and the goal is to complete it all in about a month and half (years ago it used to be like 4 or 5 MONTHS!!), but we all know it's probably going to take a little bit longer.  Not sure yet at this point if they'll be done by Easter or not, but here's hoping...

During that month and a half ALL the workers maintain a pretty grueling schedule:  12-hr days (which for Kevin is his usual shift anyway) but they work 4 days on, then get 1 day off, and repeat for the entire duration of outage.  Some of the head-honchos (supervisors and engineers, etc) end up working almost 15-hr days at times and they're paid salary so  they don't get overtime pay for all those hours.  Kevin got put on the night shift this outage AND last, and since his day off is, well, just that, one day off, he still sleeps the day away and then has a night up by himself.  We do get a little afternoon/evening time and that's still a blessing but errands, projects, and phone calls also have to fit into that time too, and the day is gone before we know it.

Outage means... 
* The kids and I have to stay fairly quiet during the day while daddy's sleeping.  (he gets home around 6:30am, sleeps til about 3:30pm, and leaves at 5pm) He's a pretty heavy sleeper and our bedrooms are upstairs so that is helpful, but still we have to be relatively quiet with our play (nothing rowdy, no piano, no upstairs playing, and we REALLY have to avoid crying fits!)
* I hardly get the laundry put away, because Kevin's sleeping in there.  And the bed rarely gets made because for most hours of the day SOMEONE is sleeping there (me obviously at night, and Kevin during day)
* Except for the fabulous hot-cooked breakfasts Kevin has been making for us (yes, he's amazing), we don't eat meals together.  Definitely not dinner, so the kids and I scrap big-time and our fridge is often completely empty, though I DID just stock up on tons of fresh veggies!
* I go to church alone with the kids every Sunday. I go everywhere alone with the kids, unless it's a short enough errand I can slip out during nap time while everyone's sleeping. But that would mean another trip to town which I try to avoid unless necessary.
* I plan as many fun things for the kids as possible.  Yes to play dates (though I try not to host), yes to park days (though we're STILL waiting for some good weather!), yes to children's museum, zoo trips, the circus, Omaha trips, walks at the pond etc. Anything to pass the time when the days get long.
* We get a little extra snuggling in.  The kids occasionally take turns laying for nap next to daddy, or even less often sleeping in my bed with me at night.

But we're all getting along quite well. Really.  It helps so much that it's the beginning of spring and we can get outside on the nice days.  It helps that there are a hundred other wives and moms going through the exact same thing.  It helps to have been through this before and know what to expect.  It helps to just expect NOT to see Kevin and when we do, it's just bonus. 

And still, we count the days til it's done so we can resume normal life and togetherness once again!


Angela said...

GREAT explanation, Sarah!! I don't think people understand how tough it is not only on the spouse working but the one staying home and the changes the kids notice too!! My hubby starts his outage in 2 weeks which means I will be traveling back to Iowa for Easter alone with the kids. :( You are such an amazing, mom! Keep up the good work!!

Servant Becca said...

It is very tough when spouse has a schedule too filled to be very active in the daily routine. I agree with Angela -- you are an AMAZING Mom!