As a member of the sandwich generation, you are surely feeling the squeeze of responsibility closing in from all sides. Both your children and parents may regularly require your attention, love, time and financial support. As you provide care for your parents and children, the time you have to care for yourself quickly evaporates. You may even find yourself spending your free time thinking about how you could be providing better care for your elderly parents and avoiding mistakes in the childrearing process. Unfortunately, wholeheartedly diving into the caregiving process without reprieve can quickly lead to burnout. If you are not feeling your best, it becomes difficult to care for the loved ones who are counting on you.
Apply the following tips to keep yourself happy and healthy while providing care for your loved ones.
Take a Timeout
You must give yourself regular breaks from caring for your kids and parents in order to recuperate and reenergize. If you have family and friends available, work together to establish a schedule of several hour long visits with your parents and evening or overnight trips for your kids. Your parents and children will also feel reinvigorated by visits with friends and family they do not see very often.
Provide Self Care
When you finally have a moment for yourself, take some time to actively heal your tired mind and body. Take a long bath, exercise, meditate and eat healthy meals. Find a way to pamper yourself— go see a movie, go window shopping at the mall, read a good book or take a trip to the spa. Even a brisk walk around a local park or waterway can help recharge your batteries and prepare you for another round of caregiving support.
Schedule Regular Checkups
Members of the sandwich generation tend to burn their candle at both ends. This ongoing stress can cause health problems to crop up. You may even neglect to acknowledge and treat the symptoms due to your full schedule. You should check in with your doctor quarterly to keep your health in check. By monitoring your health status, you can remain at your best.
Join a Support Group
Sharing your worries, troubles, or fears with other members of the sandwich generation can help you cope with the increasing demands of providing care for your loved ones. To find likeminded individuals, you can participate in talks on online forum or mail list support groups targeted at caregivers, including the Caregiver-Online mailing list and several specialized forums offered through Caring.com. The website Caregiver.org also provides a list of local support groups in communities throughout the United States for each stage of the caregiving process.
Value Your Time Together
A close look at the silver lining can often help you to cope with the stress caused by providing care and support to so many different people. During normal senior care activities, you can give yourself a chance to reflect on how you are giving back to your parents. You are providing them with the same loving care they offered throughout your childhood. You can extend these reflections to your children and appreciate the way this lifelong chain of giving develops.
In addition to the tips above, strive to spend as much time as a family as you can to enjoy your time together. The activities you share and enjoy will become lasting memories and fun tales to tell generations to come. The time you spend in the sandwich generation, providing senior care and childcare, will not last forever, so it is wise to strive to make the best of it while maintaining a healthy level of self-care.