Parenting Two Generations
Most modern parents strive to have it all: juggling a career and a family along with maintaining a vibrant social life. However, a lot of moms and dads nowadays have to handle even more than they bargained for. Many are stuck in the middle, having to not only chase after young toddlers but also caring for their elderly parents. People who fall into this life category are known as the Oreo or Sandwich Generation, and spend a huge chunk of their lives sandwiched between two generations that need your help at the same time.
The Toll It Takes
Running around after little kids is tiring in and of itself, as is trying to manage to daily routines of aging parents, but the combined effort of tackling both can take a person to the edge of madness and exhaustion or even illness. Most parents in the Sandwich Generation stay torn between the needs of those both younger and older, leaving minimal time if any to properly take care of themselves. While your kids and parents may need you frequently throughout the day, you’re no good to them if you let yourself get run down and sick in the process.
How to Cope
• Prioritize – Schedule equally-important events and appointments that you attend on a first come, first serve basis. If your child tells you about their soccer game on Saturday after your Dad asks you to be his date for an American Legion dinner on the same day, you’ll have to let your child down easy or get your spouse to attend the game in your stead. The principle works both ways, so you should explain this rule to both your parents and children so they know what’s going on.
• Get Organized – Keep a running calendar with important dates and activities so no one falls through the cracks of poor planning. Also keep a Filofax with you during the day or update your smartphone with key events and appointments as well as when to re-order medications. Always try to have a contingency plan should emergencies crop up that throw off your schedule.
• Delegate – Most Sandwich or Oreo adults refuse to take a breath or ask for help as a matter of pride. Don’t let your pride make your family dynamic suffer. Ask your spouse or partner for help as well as trust your kids’ abilities to be independent with certain chores. Don’t automatically accept every request that comes your way and try to say “no” politely but firmly.
• Know Your Limits – Even with the best of intentions, no one can do it all and it’s important to know when you’re being stretched too thin. Not only do you risk getting sick but you also risk having a quality relationship with your children and parents. Remember: It’s about quality of time, not quantity.
Ultimately, if you feel that you can’t take the stress of caring for two generations at once, there’s only one generation that can leave the nest: your parents. It may seem unfair to you at first, but our advisor at a senior’s assisted living Alpharetta GA community tells us that many seniors are relieved to move to assisted living communities where they can receive a continuous range of care in addition to medical support and free-range independent living once again.
Your parents have spent their lives taking care of you and often allowing professionals to look after them in their golden years is the best way to take care of them in return. Also, you’ll then have more time to taking care of your own children as well as spending quality time you’re your parents which will make all three generations happier in the end.
Shelby Warden is a senior living researcher that contributes articles for Dogwood Forest, an assisted living Alpharetta GA community known throughout the area for the excellent lifestyle and environment they provide for their residents. At Dogwood Forest, their life activities and programs are designed to inspire the mind, body and spirit. They offer a variety of programs and services for seniors at all levels of activeness.
Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/misstakesyo