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Go Ask Mom

Amanda Lamb: Third shift

Posted March 6, 2011

When women first entered the workforce in droves in the seventies, the phrase called "second shift" was coined. It referred to the fact that after a long day at work, mothers came home and started their second job - cleaning the house, making dinner, and basically tending to all of their family's needs.

Three decades later. we are still taking on the second shift and, in most cases, after an even longer workday than women who originally "wanted to have it all" did. Lately, I've realized more and more mothers are also now taking on a "third shift." This involves home-based businesses and side projects that help us earn a little more in an unstable and quickly diversifying economy.

Let's face it - job security is a thing of the past, so more and more women are going back to school, starting businesses and picking up extra work outside their regular jobs. Most of this is done late at night after the kids are in bed, prompting the obvious question, "When do you sleep?"

The "third shift" is also a place where women who have no intention of traditional retirement plan their escape from their nine to five lives. It is a time to hone those skills that will keep us all working in an uncertain economy that demands we be a jack of many trades in order to survive.

So sleep will have to be put on the back burner for the time being. Thank goodness for coffee...

Amanda is the mom of two, a reporter for WRAL-TV and the author of several books including two on motherhood. Find her here on Mondays.


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  • whyalltheproblems Mar 7, 2011

    I can relate to the 3rd shift. I teach preschool, work a small part time job from home and have started my own cookie business. All with being a mom of two and a wife. I started the cookie business pretty much out of despearation. Funds were tight and something needed to be done. It's not easy for sure.

  • mrsbowen Mar 7, 2011

    Moms who try to be everything to everyone are usually the one's who aren't half what they should be to themselves. We have got to let the world run itself, and realize that we do not control or contain it by our own efforts.

  • SouthernChick Mar 7, 2011

    The unfortunate part to this is how important sleep is to not only our physical health, but also our mental health. We cannot run on "almost empty" for long lengths of time. My therapist has been talking about this recently... My heart goes out to women who have jumped into this "third shift" situation. Desperate times call for desperate measures. While my family struggles to make ends meet, I'm no where near that desperation line. My mental stability is too important.