Nurses Juggling Family and Career

Nurses who have families are often caught in a difficult place. They need to work to help support the family which, of course, cuts into time spent with that family. More time with family, however, means less paid time. For many it is a circle that never ends; every day is a struggle to keep a balance between work and family.

Jill Jones, second president of the Saskatchewan Union of Nurses (SUN), remembers,

“…a lot of the work was done in your own time.  I know I would do full time work at the hospital and then on my days off I'd go up to the office and work for a couple of days.  Eventually, as the union progressed, we managed to negotiate time off for the president, and also leaves of absence for board members.  So it did improve after awhile.  I remember I took a three month leave of absence to go and work in the office whilst I was president because it was so time consuming, and I just couldn't do it all. 

If I had to go away for a week I would have a week's worth of meals in the freezer.  But I had packaged meals, I had lists on the fridge.  The children remember their father doing a meal, and every meal he ever had was beans on toast.  That's how they remember their father, giving them beans on toast every meal.  Never touching my meals in the freezer.  And the children remember -- they don't sort of regret the days I worked.  I think they were pretty proud of me because I was ending up on television and things like this, and they just thought this was great.  How I managed I don't know.  I never, ever emptied a suitcase. I'd have one toilet bag that always stayed in the suitcase, and certain things that always stayed there, never even came out”

Rosalee Longmoore, current SUN president, also comments on juggling her career and family. If she had to be away, she often took her children and her husband with her, reminiscing that those times away with her family are some of the best she has had. One memory that Longmoore has is that of having her youngest daughter with her while she worked:

"I was still with Long Term care at that time, so it was the strike of '88 was the hospital sector. But our youngest child was born on September the 1 st and in my job in SUN, I was on the provincial strike steering committee and in charge of essential services. And so on September the 8 th one week later, Savannah and I traveled to Saskatoon to attend a strike steering committee meeting. And once the strike was called, Savannah and I moved into the office. We had her bassinet in a corner in the office" (Interview: Rosalie Longmore)