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If you’re in the generation “sandwiched” in between kids and your aging parents, you are probably experiencing a special kind of stress, namely sandwich generation stress.
This is you experience while trying to help your aging parents stay independent and healthy, while at the same time trying to raise happy, well-adjusted children. The stress that comes along with this era of your life can often feel insurmountable.
Here’s how to conquer sandwich generation stress quickly:
- Learn to be flexible. The reason you feel so much stress during this time of your life is because you are so invested in trying to maintain the status quo. You want your parents to be able to take care of themselves, and you want your children to still be your children, even as they are growing into independent adults. You need to be flexible, to deal with what comes, when it comes. If you are too rigid, any change to your status quo will break you. If you are flexible, you will be able to quickly bounce back.
- Forget perfection. The social media age makes it easy for us to see what a perfect life looks like. We all have those friends whose lives seem to be perfect. This is a fallacy. You cannot raise children and help your parents around their house while at the same have your own career, keep a perfectly clean house, and cook perfect meals. It is humanly impossible. But some women expect themselves to be perfect, no matter how much they have on their plate. If you cut out the unrealistic expectation of perfection, you’ll experience much less of that sandwich generation stress.
- Talk to your boss. Sandwich generation stress often starts with your career. You have to put in just as many hours as you did before you had a child or before your parents needed your assistance. You don’t want to bring your life into your work, but the two things are connected. If you talk to your employer about your needs, whether it be an adjustment to your schedule, some time off to help your parents, or maybe a special accommodation, most employers are willing to help. Talk to your boss about the events going on in your life. They may help you adjust your schedule or mold your career around your new demands.
- Set your priorities. Everything cannot be a priority. Somethings in your life are more important than others. Decide what is important and then give the majority of your time and energy to them. Some of the lower priority things may fall by the wayside. For example, organizing a social for the ladies in your book club is less important than visiting your parents every day. There are not enough hours in the day to do everything. Eventually, you are going to have to pick and choose. If you make a list of which things in your life are the most important and then devote yourself to those things, you won’t stress as much about your schedule.
- Ask for help. Most women are programmed to be caregivers. Asking for help, can feel like a failure. Asking for help is not a failure. You have limitations. You can only do so much with the time you’ve been given. If you are experiencing sandwich generation stress, you need to start asking for help. Get a babysitter for your kids, so you have a few extra hours during the day to get your work done. Think about a long-term or assisted living situation for parents that are no longer able to care for themselves. Look for the resources you need to get some your tasks off of your plate.
- Invest in respite care. Not ready to talk to your parents about an assisted living situation quite yet? Then think about respite care once in a while. Respite care calls on a professional, either a nurse or an aide, to stay with an adult parent overnight. Alternatively, you can arrange for your parent to stay overnight in a care facility, giving you a night off from your duties. You need some relief. Just a little bit of time to recharge and to collect yourself. You cannot be firing on all cylinders all of the time. Respite care is a great-short term solution. It will allow you to decompress from the sandwich generation stress you are be feeling.
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