"Is it really that difficult to land a day shift position in nursing? "
Depending on the location, it can be, yes. My personal experience (MA and NC) has been that without specialising, you have to work either an off shift or even rotating shifts when you first start out.
Specialising is great, but you usually have to "do your time" on the floors first. I started out working the floors, then eventually moved into Case Management. The employers I've had have all required at least 3-5 years clinical experience before they would hire you as a CM.
Now, if you want to specilaise in a clinical area, like Pediatrics, or Oncology, you probably won't have to wait as long....depending on the staff turnover, you might be able to "score" a days only job within a a year or so. But, it's likely you'll have to still work weekends.
I was a single mom working as much as possible when my 2 were little. My husband and I split up when they were 2 1/2 yrs and 5 months (22 & 24 now). I already had my RN, so that wasn't an issue, but even with experience, I was expected to work an off shift for at least a few months. I worked 11-7 by choice (most employers loved that!). I hired a woman (several actually) to come to my home and sleep over. For a long time my kids didn't even realise I worked as I was there when they went to bed, and there when they woke up.
When my kids were older my mom was eventually able to watch them for me. That meant I had to be over her house by bedtime so they were able to get a good night's sleep. When my mom passed they became "latchkey kids", but they were older and the neighborhood was very safe....and we had security on the house and neighbors to keep an eye on them.
Hiring someone like this can be a problem. Going thru an agency is more expensive, but you can hire someone without one....kinda like hiring a babysitter. I did have family around, but they weren't able, for various reasons, to help me out. I also used the local Y for after school and summer programs (NOT a good idea in my area).
It's tough, but if this is something you really want, you can do it.
Low Carb and Paleo advocate
Palindromic Rheumatoid Arthritis diagnosed September 2007
Raleigh Low Carb Examiner