Quick Exit

Work and home transitions: Exit and recovery

Topics: Couples, Family, Mental Health

Work and home transitions: Exit and recovery time

Effects of exit and recovery time on families

Relationships

Without proper exit and recovery time, PSP may be physically present but not able to actively participate in family life. Families and couples can also experience conflict and tension. However, these types of routines can take time away from the family and add to an already long shift. Being aware of the value of this time is important. Families who create and manage exit and recovery time can enhance the quality of their time together.

Wellbeing

Family members may worry about how a PSP might feel or act when they get home (see anticipatory vigilance). This ongoing uncertainty causes stress and can threaten family wellbeing. No one is ever sure how PSP family members are going to be when they walk in the door after a shift. If the PSP family member is irritable or withdrawn, it affects everyone in the household. Conflict can arise and other family members can be upset and hurt.

Good exit and recovery time

When couples and families work together to manage exit and recovery time, everyone benefits. When PSP have downtime to unwind after a shift, they can return home ready to take on family roles. Families who talk about the why, when, and how of exit and recovery time reduce the risk of conflict and family tension. Being aware of the challenges of exit and recovery time and the impact on all family members is a first step in this process.

Preparing for re-entry

Research shows that, when exit and recovery time is not considered, PSP can spend their time at home thinking about the next shift. This may mean that they neglect family responsibilities and miss out on quality family time. Healthy exit and recovery time allows PSP to come home ready to engage in family activities. Active involvement benefits both PSP and their families.

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References for this page (click to expand)

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Carleton, R. N., Afifi, T. O., Taillieu, T., Turner, S., Krakauer, R., Anderson, G. S., MacPhee, R. S., Ricciardelli, R., Cramm, H. A., Groll, D., & McCreary, D. R. (2019). Exposures to potentially traumatic events among public safety personnel in Canada. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science / Revue canadienne des sciences du comportement, 51(1), 37-52. https://doi.org/10.1037/cbs0000115 

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Porter, K. L., & Henriksen, R. C. (2016). The phenomenological experience of first responder spouses. The Family Journal (Alexandria, Va.), 24(1), 44-51. https://doi.org/10.1177/1066480715615651  

Regehr, C., Dimitropoulos, G., Bright, E., George, S., & Henderson, J. (2005). Behind the brotherhood: Rewards and challenges for wives of firefighters. Family Relations, 54(3), 423-435. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3729.2005.00328.x 

Ricciardelli, R., Carleton, R. N., Groll, D., & Cramm, H. (2018). Qualitatively unpacking Canadian public safety personnel experiences of trauma and their well-being. Canadian Journal of Criminology and Criminal Justice, 60(4), 566-577. https://doi.org/10.3138/cjccj.2017-0053.r2  

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