Back to School – Sandwich Generation – taking care of kids and parents
I am starting to feel that the sandwich metaphor is getting a bit stale. Caregiving for one’s children and one’s parents at the same time is not always a squeeze. It can feel routine and ordinary. Lots of driving to practices and appointments. Lots of discussions concerning food and drinking enough water. Maintaining relationships and handling responsibilities with the people in your life is a lifelong activity. Life turns into a Panini press when a crisis erupts or multiple issues arise at the same time. The larger discussion that needs attention is how to respond to the added stress of mid-life and coordinating care of those who require assistance.
Mid-life weaponizes your anxiety and thrusts you into challenges that are unexpected. Generally speaking, the spontaneity and flexibility of early adulthood allows for changes in relationships and career paths that do not significantly impact your upward trajectory. Adding marriage, children, and a mortgage cements certain financial and familial obligations that cannot be ignored. Responsibility may start to feel like the enemy of fun. Life becomes a giant checklist. Prioritizing one element may unintentionally cause you to neglect other elements, leading to frustration and resentment. An aging parent starting to falter could be the thing that makes you feel like you are losing control.
The ability to persevere is strengthened by supportive family and friends, as well as financial stability. A shortage in either component will lead to an increase in stress. Caring for children and aging parents simultaneously requires delegation. If you are financially stable, but lack a solid support system, utilizing resources to pay for some form of care may be necessary. If money is in short supply, but a strong family dynamic exists, you may be able to lean on them for caregiving help. Once children are under a regular school schedule, the school hours can be an opportunity to give attention to an aging parent’s needs while balancing work requirements. New hybrid and virtual work arrangements save commuting time which can be realigned and set aside for caregiving duties.
Relieving the intensity of mid-life stress is necessary to avoid letting down the people who need you to stay strong. Being middle-aged is being experienced. You can analyze the successful and unsuccessful family situations that you have observed and personally apply the best practices. Having a network of able professionals to ensure that your financial life is secure and home maintenance is up-to-date can be a huge stress relief. Personal relationships may be harder to manage, but so much stress can be tied up in how you and you partner get along or do not get along. Mid-life is not the time to keep everything inside, remain stoic and let life’s difficulties overwhelm. Creating a family calendar and setting aside at least one day a week to go over issues and possible resolutions are easy steps. With so much going on, a series of small victories or positive outcomes can be sustaining. For some, mid-life’s stress requires more active treatment. There are many therapeutic options for a person in need. Before taking action that will cripple a family’s ability to function, self-care is an intelligent first step.
Contact the professionals at Sloan and Feller today to find out more about caring for the people in your life and setting up a successful plan.