*This is a partnered post
Are you part of the sandwich generation? So called because they’re juggling raising children with caring for elderly relatives – parents, neighbors or friends – and still working too, this group have the weight of multi-generational responsibilities on their shoulders, and that is never easy. Being a caregiver to both aging loved ones and our children can be enormously stressful, and presents a whole new complex set of problems not faced by previous generations. Managing your life with so many pressures and responsibilities, it can be difficult to strike the right balance. These tips may help you with some of the common challenges you’re facing.
A Serious Dose Of Guilt
The concept of ‘mother guilt’ is well understood by working parents – the feeling that you’re neither doing the best by your employer or your children can be very strong sometimes. Add caring for elders into the mix and you have a potent recipe for feeling like you’re not giving one of those responsibilities your full attention and perhaps missing out. If you don’t have support from other family members, it can be especially hard to manage everything. The key is to be kind to yourself – accept that you aren’t superwoman and you simply won’t be able to do it all. You have to learn to prioritize, on a weekly or daily basis. Is that appointment for hearing aids more or less important than the school concert? Could you extend that report deadline for a week to allow you to be there for something else? Priorities will constantly be shifting, so talk it over with someone else who can understand and perhaps help you to get some perspective.
Don’t Shy Away From Hard Conversations
This can be a huge adjustment for your family, so don’t try to brush it off. Encourage an open dialogue between everyone about how the situation is making them feel. Acknowledge the shift in family dynamics which may have occurred and what it might mean – a change in after-school activities for the kids, or explaining the need to be patient to an older relative. Try and manage expectations as best as you can, and make it clear that everyone knows you have a lot to deal with and that you’re doing the best you can.
Get Kids and Elders Together
There is a silver lining in this experience, and that can be children getting to spend more quality time with their grandparents or older relatives. Try to find an activity that they can enjoy together and some common ground. If your elders are mobile enough, taking them for a Sunday stroll could be the perfect time for your kids to get involves. If not then perhaps something like rewatching old movies, baking together, or passing on a life skill can be enormously rewarding for both parties, help them come to a better understanding of each other, and really enhance the quality of life for both generations. This is turn will make your position in the middle so much easier.