By: Zara Lewis
Are you trying to look after your aging parents, and at the same time running a household and taking care of your own children and partner? Do you feel exhausted, constantly balancing work, chores and family time? Do you feel like the tables have turned between you and your parents, and that now you are the one who comforts, provides, and solves problems? Are you buying diapers for both children and the elderly? If the answer to any of these questions is yes, congratulations! You are part of the so-called sandwich generation.
The sandwich generation is the generation of people who are facing the challenges of raising their families and simultaneously taking care of their aging parents. Basically, if your children are under 21, and you have at least one living parent, you’re in the sandwich. Either one of these tasks provides plenty of challenges and problems, and when you face both – it can get a little overwhelming at times. Here are some of the most common concerns of the sandwich generation, but also, some advice on how to address them.
Plan Ahead and Deal With Finances
Some people dread to think about it, but it’s best to be prepared. Your parents will age one day, and it will be your responsibility to make their old age as comfortable as possible. It’s best to talk things out ahead of time. Have an open conversation with your parents, and ask them everything you need to know. Plan for every eventuality. Find out what they plan to do with their assets and whether they have any preferences regarding a change in living arrangements should the need arise. Do they have their own income, or will they be needing financial help from you? Talking out all of these issues ahead may seem overly pessimistic or unnecessary to you. Unfortunately,
Find out what they plan to do with their assets and whether they have any preferences regarding a change in living arrangements should the need arise. Do they have their own income, or will they be needing financial help from you? Talking out all of these issues ahead may seem overly pessimistic or unnecessary to you. Unfortunately, dementia is extremely common in seniors. Your parents might never be affected by it, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Think about your own affairs, too. Keep everything in order, and maybe even consider taking out a life insurance policy.
Watch Your Stress Levels
Taking care of both children and the elderly is tough to balance. If you are also running a household, and maybe even holding a job, stress levels can go through the roof. There’s surely no need to wax poetic about the effects of stress on both physical and mental health. Even if your children are angels, and your parents sweet and not too demanding, just the sheer amount of work you have can still make you spread yourself too thin.
With two young children and a mother in law who suffers from dementia, I sometimes struggle just to keep my head above the water. Of course, having her with us gives me peace of mind, because I know that she is safe and surrounded by her loved ones, but there are still days when it all seems too much.
The most important thing is to recognize when stress levels are running too high. If you are exhausted, reorganize things a bit so you can catch a breath. Do something nice for yourself, and whatever you do, don’t you dare feel guilty. You are only human. Ignoring long-term stress can see you slipping into depression, so be kind to yourself.
Delegate When Possible
A lot of people make the mistake of trying to do everything by themselves. Even if you are the biggest control freak in the world, there are times when you need to let go and admit that you need help. It can come in many shapes and forms. Maybe you and your partners, or even your children (depending on their age) can come up with a plan on how to divide chores. Maybe, if you can afford it, you can hire a babysitter occasionally, so that you can get some rest or do something fun.
When my mom in law moved in with us, I felt guilty even thinking about getting help. For months, both my husband and I tried to do everything and be everything to everybody. We both ended up completely exhausted and constantly ill (me). I struggled with anxiety and the fear that I was failing myself and everyone around me.
Finally, we caved in and started looking into home care in San Francisco. I can now honestly say that this was one of the best decisions I have ever made. We tend to be very harsh on ourselves. The truth is, the world won’t stop turning if we admit we need help from time to time.
No matter how hard it can be, having both your children and your parents in your life is a huge blessing. I feel incredibly lucky when I see how much my kids love grandma, and our lives are that much richer because we have her in our home. It just takes good organization and some teamwork to iron out the glitches.
Today’s post was written by Zara Lewis who is a regular here on T.D.A.C. She is a mom, fitness & yoga enthusiast, caregiver to her mother-in-law and a regular writer for High Style Life. She is devoted to implementing healthy life habits in every aspect of her life and that of her family and friends.
She loves to share her parenting tips and is always open to learning some new skills because she sees her parenthood as going to school forever. She enjoys traveling, hiking, cycling, and baking.