The sandwich generation is nothing to do with tasty savory snacks. In fact it’s a term that describes the people who are at an age where they have caring responsibilities for their children on the one hand, and their parents on the other, so they’re sandwiched between the two generations.
This scenario is becoming more and more common, especially as couples have their children later in life. Many people in their forties and fifties have children who are still at home, often very young children, while their parents are heading into their eighties and nineties, and needing help themselves.
Being a caregiver for your kids is hard work, stressful, and time-consuming, and being a caregiver for one or both of your parents likewise; so if you have both to cope with it can become somewhat overwhelming. If you’re trying to juggle working as well as your caring responsibilities, your life can become a non-stop whirl of activity and stress from the moment you wake in the morning to when you drop into bed exhausted at the end of the day.
The problem is, what choice do you have? You can’t stop caring for your kids, but most people who have loving parents that cared for them and supported them when they were growing up feel they have a duty to return that care when their folks become infirm or need assistance.
First of all, remember that you must put yourself first, and that to do so is in no way a selfish act. If you push yourself so hard that you become too exhausted or unwell to care for your kids and your parents, they’ll have to manage without you altogether, at least for a little while. Making sure you get sufficient rest and relaxation, and the opportunity to lead a healthy lifestyle that supports your own health is the best way to stay fit and well and maintain your caring roles.
There’s also plenty of support out there for you as a caregiver. For example there are some very helpful resources published online at sites like www.inhomecare.com that have valuable advice and information for about in-home care and people who are caring for their elderly parents. There’s an abundance of online resources, but you’ll find support and information that can help at doctor’s surgeries, libraries, and other community facilities as well.
You might find there are groups your parents could attend that would enrich their lives, childcare resources for the holidays, and volunteer organizations who can lend a hand when you need it. You should also make sure you’re accessing any local or national support you’re entitled to, for example, caregiver’s respite schemes. There are caregivers organizations who can help you with all these, as well as giving you some much needed personal support.
Sometimes all you need is a little extra help, so it’s worth looking at the options for in-home care for your parents, or childcare for your children. An hour a day where your kids can play at an afterschool club, or a caregiver can come in and cook your parents a meal could be invaluable in helping you to manage.