This new “Sandwich” generation covers the growing group of people who are responsible for looking after their children and their parents at the same time. This is compounded by the fact that children are often living at home longer than they used to and parents are living a lot longer than they used to. I have a twenty-something daughter who works full time but with a debt load that doesn’t allow her to move out of the family home at this time. I also have a seventy-something mother who has mobility issues and is legally deaf and blind. Combine this with a house, two dogs, and a full–time job, at times, life can get stressful. The group of others like me is growing at an exponential rate. We need to start being pro-active and taking back some control. Here are several ways I use to help me cope.
I can be selfish and work hard to take time for myself. It is ok to say “No. I just can’t swing that”. In the past, I would never turn down an opportunity to head out and have fun with friends. I was always the go to for movies, dinner out, strolls on the boardwalk. Don’t get me wrong, these are all great things and I still live for that stuff. I am just generally more aware of how I am feeling and know when comfy couch time in pjs and Netflix is the more suitable choice. I try to mix up my days so I alternate home nights and out nights and try to coordinate visits with Mom accordingly. She lives on my way home so I can often drop by on my way to/from work or even on lunch breaks.
Slow but sure, I am engaging in social media. Something my boss reconsiders every day. I post family pics so that everyone I want has access to them. My family also uses Face Book to coordinate family gatherings. It really comes in handy when someone shows up and says they thought dinner was at 6pm. Simply open up the invite, reintroduce them to the correct hour and let the fun begin! We split the big events up amongst family so that not one person has to host for every event. My daughter sends me grocery lists via text which is a big time saver and also gives me a laugh….For the 18th time, pepperettes are not a healthy source of protein and that is just the start of her attempts to direct my shopping.
I am also starting to ask for help. It is hard for me as I have always prided myself on being very independent. Another place for email and social media I have found very handy. My drier broke last week and I sent an email to my coworkers asking if anyone knew of anyone and guess what? Thanks to Katherine and her lovely husband Merv…I can wait a couple of weeks to use the line outside. I now have a functioning drier.
The Sudbury District Nurse Practitioner Clinics (SDNPC) allows staff to work flex time. I can create a list of items to take care of and can run all my errands on my days off. SDNPC also offers its employees free access to an Employee Assistance Program. They can be contacted for advice on many of the issues listed above and are there just to listen when you feel stressed and just need to vent.
I have a great life and I am so lucky to have my family and friends so close to me both physically and emotionally. As you hear often enough, balance is everything. Make sure you look after you so that you are in a good place to look after all the others you care about.