What is the sandwich generation?
If you are raising children while caring for aging parents, you are part of the sandwich generation.
In order to continue to care for others, it is really important to first take care of yourself.
Balancing your commitments to both of these generations and your paid work life can leave you wondering when you’ll ever have time for yourself. There are many unique challenges that come with being a part of the sandwich generation.
In this Elizz article we’ll offer some practical tips for family caregivers living in the sandwich generation.
Set realistic expectations for yourself
As hard as you try, you will never be able to add hours (or even minutes!) to the day. It is important to have realistic goals as part of your expectations. Complete only the necessary tasks during the work week when you have limited time.
For example, on a weeknight you may plan to prepare supper, clean up the kitchen, make lunches for the following day, and pay a household bill. However, do not expect yourself to also clean the bathroom(s) and do all of the laundry in the same evening.
Keeping your expectations realistic will allow you to celebrate the accomplished tasks and feel good about what got done instead of stressing about the tasks that were not completed.
Plan “me time”
“Me time” is essential for overall health and wellbeing. We all need to recharge our batteries because at some point, they run out of power. Just because there is time for another task or chore in the evening, does not mean you should tackle it on top of everything else.
You may want to consider taking at least a half hour (just 30 minutes!) for yourself in the evening to unwind and let go of the day’s stress. You may choose to take a bath, pick up that book you have been planning to read, or start that Netflix series that everyone is talking about. It may even be helpful to schedule this “me time” ahead of time in a day planner or calendar. Remember that you must be the one to plan your own “me” time. Others are not responsible for setting aside this time. You might also like our Elizz article entitled Advocating for Yourself As a Family Caregiver.
Ask for help
Unexpected challenges will happen. You will never be able to anticipate or plan for all of the obstacles that lie ahead. This is a harsh reality for many family caregivers, especially members of the sandwich generation.
Children will get sick at school and parents will have unexpected appointments. However, it’s okay to call for backup and ask for help from friends and family members. In many cases, they want to help.
Perhaps you can join a car pool group for your children or have a volunteer organization assist with driving a parent to an appointment. Older children may also be able to help with small tasks such as folding laundry or putting away groceries.
You have been sandwiched between two generations that depend on your care. However, in order to continue to care for others, it is really important to first take care of yourself.
Take our Elizz quiz How Good Are You at Asking for Help? Also, see our Elizz article entitled Caregivers Asking for Help – Recognizing When You Need It.
At Elizz, we provide caregiver support for you and home care services for those who depend on you. Elizz is a Canadian company powered by Saint Elizabeth, a national not-for-profit health care organization that has been caring for Canadians since 1908.
You might also like our Elizz article entitled Are You Eligible for Caregiver Compassionate Care Benefits?