Working Opposite Schedules as Your Chef/Husband

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Working the Opposite ScheduleChefs work constantly!

Just stating the obvious here, right?

However, if we’re being totally honest here, they do actually come home and sleep and rest at some point.

The problem is, this time they are home to sleep and rest is usually when we are at work.



There is really nothing positive to say about it. (Except maybe that week night dates are great because places are less crowded!!!)

Before we had kids, I worked full time as an elementary school teacher.  I left for work around 7:30 am and got home around dinner time (or later some days).  For many of those years, my chef/husband was working from 1 pm – 2 am with a half hour commute each way.  So I would leave for work when he was still sleeping or just getting up and he would come home when I was sleeping.  Not exactly ideal!!

Being home, night after night by myself was very lonely (OK it still is, even with 3 kids at home with me.)

Eating by yourself (and cooking for yourself) gets old really fast!

It’s hard to find time to talk, let alone go out on a date together!

At times it really felt like we were living separate lives.

So what’s the answer?  How do we get past this different schedule thing as a couple?

I wish I had a magical answer for you today.  I really wish I did.

But I don’t.

It just stinks!!

If you work a 9-5 job and are married to or dating a chef, I’m sorry.  I feel your pain.  I really do!  I’ve lived it for many years.

I wish I could change it somehow, for you and I both.  But I can’t. 

Chef’s need to work with others need to eat.  I get that.  If people would just stop eating dinner . . .

Over the years, my chef/husband and I have fit in many lunch dates (and my lunch as a teacher was only 45 minutes long so that didn’t give us much time to go out somewhere).

Sometimes he would get up early so we could have breakfast together and then go back to sleep after I left.

We really cherished our mutual day off (Sunday) and made sure not to fill it too full so we could enjoy spending time together.

I know it’s hard.  I’m sorry!  If you want to send me an email to vent, feel free!  I know most people don’t really understand how hard it is because they haven’t lived it.  But I can relate!  I feel your pain! 

Sometimes you just want to scream!  (At least I have!)  Hang in there!!!!

From one chefwife to another,




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  1. Rups

    Oh Jennifer, how did you manage to read my mind? As you know my husband is a hotel chef and often gets evenings and weekends off. But at the moment one of his sous chefs is on holiday and the other one has left. So he is doing three people’s jobs on his own and working 14 hours a day, 7 days a week. He is exhausted; I am exhausted with managing my own 9-5 job and my toddler on my own. And we are communicating by text message. This is no life at all.

    • Jennifer

      Oh I’m so sorry!! It’s so hard when they have to fill in for someone else on top of their own job. (Or two others in the case of your husband right now!!) It definitely doesn’t sound like much of a life, or at least not an easy one. I hope he’s able to find a replacement sous chef soon and that you all are able to get a little rest and see each other. 🙁

      • Rebecca

        I’ve been dating a chef for two years. When we first started seeing each other I was really upset because I couldn’t understand why he could never make time for me. Oh, and he’s also in a band, which is a whole other can of worms. We were together for less than 6 months when he asked me if I would move in with him because it would raise the chances of us seeing each other. I’ve had a really tough week~ one of my dear friends from college got married last Sunday and my boyfriend couldn’t make it as my date. He’s opening a restaurant in a hotel as the Sous chef tomorrow and our sleep schedule this week has been the worst. I’ve barely seen him while he’s awake and if I do, he falls asleep within an hour. Then he wakes up at 4:30 am to do breakfast and I wake up with him then can’t fall asleep for another couple of hours. I’ve contemplated staying at a friends for a night just to get a good night of sleep. This blog is comforting but also makes me really sad because I feel like there isn’t much hope for things to change. I love him so much and I’m so proud of him for all he’s accomplished in his career but I really hate his job sometimes. I find myself resenting his boss and the customers, and I feel like such a compartment of his life. I used to think that he was hiding me from the rest of his life but I’m starting to realize that it’s not personal. Anyway, thank you for writing this blog~ as I stand at my counter cooking pasta for one as my boyfriend sleeps soundly in the next room, I feel so much less alone.

        • Jennifer

          Oh Rebecca, I know how hard it is! Even after 24 years, I still struggle with not taking some things personally and worrying that I did something to upset him…when in fact, he’s just stressed from work. Hang in there.

      • Andres Sepulveda

        Hi Jen,

        I’ve been with my girlfriend for a little over 4 years and I plan on proposing soon. She’s a pastry chef who’s amazing at her craft but there are so many days where I barely hear from her and the times I see her after work, she’s asleep within 2-3 hours. And of course I work a 9-5 job. There are even times where she’s nearly falling asleep driving home. I guess I just wanted to know some sort of way to deal with her career choice before we start the next chapter. I’m just totally lonely and feel forgotten sometimes. I don’t know if it’s cause I’m too needy or what.

  2. Alisa

    This is something I deal with as well. We try to do lunch one day during the week. If not every week, at least every other week. And he just informed me this morning that the days we usually do that, they changed his time in and lunches might not be possible anymore. It really upset me today. 🙁

    • Jennifer

      Bummer!!! GRRR!!! What about a 6 am breakfast or an earlier lunch break for you? 🙁

  3. Kim

    I work 8.30 to to 5 weekdays with an hour lunch. So, on his days off in the week we meet for lunch. Sometimes he’ll get up with me and we’ll eat breakfast together etc. I understand where you’re coming from – not always easy.

    • Jennifer

      How nice that you can meet for lunch at least a couple times a week. Sometimes it’s really hard to find time to see each other! 🙁

  4. L.Chiasson

    Honestly I am so glad I found your blog! I can relate to so much of this (plus I’m also an elementary school teacher, crazy!)

    My day: Awake at 6:30am, commuting/at work from 7:30am – 4:00pm, asleep at 11:00pm.
    His day: Awake at 11:00am, commuting/at work from 4:30pm – 12:00am or 1:00am, asleep at 3:00am.

    We barely cross paths but between 4:00 and 4:30 every day, we watch one episode of Friends or something on Netflix. It gets us through! I’m off on weekends, but on Saturdays he works from 11:30 am to usually at least 10 pm. Sundays we at least have our morning and afternoon together before he starts work at 5 pm! We try to make the most of those few hours!

    • Jennifer

      I remember that schedule well!! 🙂 Ours was very similar to that for many years!

  5. C

    I can do you one better, I’m an early am prep cook and my husband is a sous, we work in the same restaurant. I go to work early in the morning, 8 am or earlier and I work until 5 pm. My husband works the 5 pm to close shift. We usually see one another at shift change for about five minutes. And since our restaurant doesn’t close until midnight or 1 am (depending on the day of the week) I’m asleep when he gets home and he’s asleep when I wake up. We do not have any days off together, I am always off on Thursday and Sunday and his days off are Mondays and Tuesdays. We generally do not go out on our few mutual evenings off together (aka his actual days off) because I’ve worked all day and I’m too exhausted, and he’s worked all week so he’s exhausted. On my two days off his schedule is in at 7 am to place the week’s truck order (Thursday) and then he takes my place in prep and gets home after 6 pm and the Sunday’s are his double, 10 am till volume. This is probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever dealt with in any relationship. I’m miserable, he’s miserable; but the bills don’t stop because we are unhappy. So, we muddle through, hoping that sometime our schedules might change. Maybe… Sometime….

    • Jennifer

      That does sound really hard!! Silly bills . . . if only we didn’t need money!! 🙁

  6. Lynn

    He is an executive chef…i am an executive assistant to a managing director and general manager working for production college and im a freelance talent scout. He lives in the northern suburbs and i live in the southern suburbs. We both single parents he has a son and so do i. Its very hard we both work long hard hours and its been 6 months since the last time i saw him or even fell asleep in his arms. At times the most i get out of him is a hello babes miss you 3 weeks after i sent him a message. How do we make more time for each other since we both have demanding jobs. I dont want him to give up his career for me as i would not sacrifice my career. Please how can we make it work i love him.

    • Jennifer

      Hi Lynn. It sounds like you just need to be able to spend time together. I know it’s hard with very demanding jobs. I wish I had some great advice for you, but I’m not sure what to suggest. 🙁

  7. B

    I don’t know when this was written, but it is kind of amazing. We are working on raising our two-year old daughter. I work full time (9-5 style) and have multiple chronic illnesses as well. He does so much to help make up for his absence at home but life is still super exhausting and challenging.
    I’m working on a slow plan to learn the ropes of managing a restaurant so in the future when he open a his own I can manage and at least see him there. Haha

    Now, onto the “how to clean a chef’s coat article” I can’t wait!

    • Jennifer

      Hi there. This was written a few years ago, but still applicable today! It’s definitely exhausting, isn’t it?


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