As the age that parents have their first children slides later and later into adulthood, many individuals find themselves in the unique position of acting as caregivers for both their aging parents and their growing children.
Investopedia notes that 12% of parents are in such a situation, which has led to experts creating the term “The Sandwich Generation,” referring to their position of being “sandwiched” between their caregiving responsibilities toward two whole generations: their parents, who might need physical, emotional, and financial support as they age; and their children, who depend on them for basic necessities and development.
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As a result of their increased responsibilities, parents of the sandwich generation often find themselves stressed and spread too thin. However, difficult as their role may be, it is not impossible. There are many strategies parents can implement to manage the hectic nature of their day-to-day lives.
So if you’re a member of the sandwich generation that’s having difficulty balancing your responsibilities, we’ve provided a few tips you can use to stay on top of every task.
Tips For Caring For Parents And Children
Have A Financial Plan
Finances can be difficult for breadwinners of the sandwich generation, especially since having a few extra mouths to feed can easily increase monthly costs. Stay on top of your expenses by creating a household budget. Reduce your spending on things that are unnecessary so you can allocate more of your income towards your family’s needs, such as rent, mortgage, food, and health.
You can also look for affordable insurance plans to reduce costs during emergencies. If your parents are over 65, they will automatically get enrolled into the government-sponsored health insurance program, Medicare. You can also save on extra expenses by signing your parents up for a Medicare Advantage plan under a private insurer.
KelseyCare Advantage shows that Medicare Advantage plans can come with additional benefits, such as vision and dental coverage, prescription drugs, and fitness program memberships. By signing your family up for insurance, you can keep their lives protected while saving money.
Make Your Home Accessible
Keep your children and parents safe by removing any hazards in your house. Older children might be able to navigate trip hazards such as cords and edges, but toddlers and seniors may be vulnerable to falls due to their limited mobility.
Additionally, you might need to rearrange shelves and cupboards to make everyday items easier to reach. You can also make your home easier to navigate by installing smart devices.
Lights that include remote controls, voice control, or motion control, allow children and seniors with limited mobility to have more control over the house, reducing their need to rely on you.
Encourage Family Activities
Just because your parents and children rely on you for care doesn’t mean they’re incapable of taking care of each other. Greater Good Magazine even notes that engagement with younger generations can help older adults improve health, mood, and even longevity.
Studies showed that compared to older adults that had little contact with children, the former who invested time in the care and development of younger generations were thrice as likely to be happy.
You can help your parents and children connect by encouraging family activities. Sometimes the simple task of eating and making conversation as a family can help to strengthen the bond. If you want to take it a step further, you can even play board games or group sports together.
We at Pitter Patter of Baby Feet recommend classics like Jenga, Monopoly, Pictionary, and The Game of Life to help your kids bond with the family. When your parents and children are friends, they can help encourage each other’s growth and make your job as a caregiver easier.
There’s no shame in admitting that you need a hand. One way you can de-stress from caregiving responsibilities is to seek help from a counselor. According to our article about the ‘Top Seven Scientifically Proven Benefits of Counselling’, talking it out with a professional won’t just help you relax, it will also help you better deal with future conflict.
By discussing the past, you can better equip yourself with the tools you need to manage future stressors, making you a more effective parent and caregiver.
You can also seek assistance with household chores. Professional cleaners can keep your house tidy when you’re struggling to manage all your other obligations. Babysitters for children and nurses for seniors can also help you care for your loved ones when you need a break. You can even ask for help from your friends and family.
The bottom line is: make sure to never force yourself to handle things alone when you feel that you’re at your limit.
It can be difficult to have so many people relying on you. Fortunately, there are many ways you can mitigate the stress of having to balance your responsibilities toward your children, parents, and career.
Members of the sandwich generation can make their lives easier by carving out time to create a financial plan, encourage connections between family members, and seek assistance from professionals.