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At first glance, working overnight shifts at a full-time job outside the home might not seem like the easiest way to raise children.

But some moms, including Julie Hadley, a nurse with four kids at home, say that working at night works out just fine.

"I started out on the day shift, but I went to night shifts because I have three teenagers and an 11-year-old. So it gives me more time with the kids," Hadley said. "I miss a lot less working the night shift."

Hadley, 42, of Wikiup, works as lead orthopedic and trauma nurse from 7 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. three or four days a week at Santa Rosa's Memorial Hospital.

She's one of the many invisible workers among us, with an upside-down schedule that has them doing their jobs while the rest of us sleep.

"Everyone thought I was crazy when I switched over to this shift, but I'm able to sleep when they're at school, then pick them up, do their homework with them and eat dinner with them," Hadley said.

She and her fiance, Kevin Quider, a commercial diver, are raising their four children from previous marriages, so she has some backup at home.

Hadley gets home in time for breakfast with Kevin and their youngest, Sophia, and takes her to school. And since Hadley's working on her master's degree in nursing, she sometimes does homework before she goes to bed.

Night workers often tackle the tough jobs, nursing the injured or fighting fires. But some of them also help entertain the night owls who choose to stay up late having fun.

Jodi Cohen, a card dealer working from 2 to 10 a.m. at the Graton Resort & Casino in Rohnert Park, and Giulietta Miller, a Santa Rosa Fire Department captain, tell similar stories, using their daytime hours off as family time.

"In the beginning, it was really hard to get used to sleeping during the day," said Cohen, 38, who lives in Santa Rosa and co-owns the Sonoma Cutlery store in Petaluma with her husband, Dylan.

"We have two kids that are 10 and 11, so it was a little difficult in the beginning, but now we're in a really good routine," Cohen said.

"I get a little sleep during the day, they come home from school, we eat dinner together, I take a nap and then I go back to work," she added. "I talked to a lot of people work the graveyard shift, and that's what they do — take their sleep in short naps."

A former pre-kindergarten teacher, Cohen said she enjoys her job at the casino.

"I get to play with cards and I love it. I love blackjack and I've gotten into three-card poker, four-card poker and Ultimate Texas Hold-'em," she said. "And I get to use my brain, and talk with the customers and engage people."

For Hadley the nurse and Miller the firefighter, work can be a bit more harrowing.

"We're very busy on night shift at the hospital. We work with trauma, so that can mean car accidents, shootings, stabbings," Hadley said.

"Sometimes I'm in a fog for a day," she said.

"My daughter plays varsity basketball for Windsor High School, so sometimes I'll work one day on and one day off so I can make her games."

As a firefighter with a 16-year-old son, Miller, 43, who lives in Napa, faces some different challenges, because she stays at her fire station around the clock for two or three days in a row every week.

Firefighters can get some sleep at the station during quiet spells between emergency calls, she said.

"But that's broken sleep sometimes, and sometimes we work all night," Miller said.

Her husband, Michael, works weekday shifts as a senior safety engineer for the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health, so he's home in the evenings, she explained.

"But I'm the one my son comes to with homework questions, so I do a lot of parenting by phone and Skype," she said.

Miller said her husband is sympathetic to the demands of her job.

"We originally met at the volunteer fire department in Napa, so he understands," Miller said. "My son misses me. I was out with a back injury for awhile and he was glad to have me at home."

You can reach Staff Writer Dan Taylor at 521-5243 or dan.taylor@pressdemocrat.com.