With people living longer, and often delaying having children until later life, it’s becoming common for middle-aged people to have both elderly parents and children to worry about.
That’s why they’re often called the ‘sandwich generation’, as they can be under a great deal of pressure from both sides, meaning they have little time to themselves. If you feel like you’re stuck in the middle trying to juggle everyone else’s needs, then here are a few tips to help you cope.
Keep yourself well
When you have caring responsibilities, it’s very hard to also take care of your own needs. The problem is, if you neglect your own health and well-being, you won’t be able to mentally or physically care for others, so you need to look at ways to reduce stress. Some ways you could make more time in your schedule include:
- Getting your partner to spend more time with the kids
- Finding clubs and activities that get the kids out the house for a few hours
- Finding a carer for your elderly parent, if only for a few hours a week
- Hiring help for cleaning, gardening or other chores, even if it’s just occasionally
Speak to your employers about your situation
If work is contributing to the stress of your caring responsibilities, then it’s worth being honest with your employers and seeing if they’ll offer some flexibility. Not many people can afford to cut down their hours, but you may be able to request flexible working to fit in with appointments, or maybe work from home on occasion.
While there’s no legal requirement for employers to offer you flexibility, they have to deal with the request in a reasonable manner.
It’s easy to fall into a pattern of doing things for people over and over again, but it’s better for your health and wellbeing if you encourage independence in both your parents and children.
When it comes to your elderly parents, help them get organised. They should have wills and power of attorney documents set up, and you may need to consult with mental capacity lawyers if they’re suffering from dementia or a similar condition. Help them set up direct debits for bills, set up a weekly grocery delivery, and leave post-it notes around the house for things they might find confusing.
You can also get your children to do more around the house as they get older, so you’re not running around doing the same tasks all day. From cleaning their own rooms to getting themselves organised for school, give them daily tasks to do in exchange for their pocket money.
Talk to your kids
It’s quite common for kids to notice when you’re stressed, and for them to misbehave as a result. They may not understand that their grandparent needs your help and may wonder why they’re not getting as much of your attention.
Juggling the needs of both the older and younger generations at the same time can be hard work. That’s why it’s important not to lurch from crisis to crisis, but rather to take a step back, get as much help as you can, and be honest about how much you can take on.