Your kids are something you’ve always wanted and probably planned carefully. However, what you didn’t take into account is that you might find yourself in a situation where you’re raising your children, but also have to take care of your aging parents, or some relatives.
There’s even a name for it – the ‘sandwich generation’, which basically means that your job is to juggle between two completely different generations of people depending on you. Since this can be a very difficult task, here are some things you can do to make it easier.
If you make a good schedule and stick to it, it will be easier to organize your life. You, your children and your parents will benefit from following a routine. Knowing who does what, when, and how will relieve you all of unnecessary stress and make it less likely to make mistakes, like forgetting an important event. Explain the schedule both to your children and the parents, and tell them it’s vital not to change it unless you have to. Things that should be in the schedule include the medications and doctor appointments for your parents, as well as school projects, field trips, sports practices, and other activities your children participate in. You need to know what time your children leave the house, so that you can wake them up on time and have their lunches ready; the situation is similar with your parents. If they have to go somewhere, you need to put it into the plan in advance, so as to ensure they aren’t late.
Seek information and support
If you see that you’re struggling with your job and tasks at home, it’s perfectly OK to ask for help from other members of your family, close friends or even neighbors. Maybe you can find a support group to exchange experiences with, or learn if there are any resources available to caregivers in your area. You could also visit some local assisted living communities for free consultations they offer, since this is a great way to gather information and ideas to help you plan things in the long term. Use these visits to observe and assess the various retirement living options for your parents, too. These retirement homes offer wonderful living spaces with round the clock medical care, so when the time comes, you shouldn’t feel guilty for sending your parents where they will receive all the help they need. Also, hiring a part-time nanny doesn’t make you’re a bad mother. It simply means you have too many obligations for one person to deal with.
Take care of yourself
If you want to be a good mother and caregiver, you definitely can’t allow yourself to have a meltdown. You need to be healthy and feel fine to be able to care for others. Avoid getting too caught up in your duties which makes you neglect self-care. Just like you make sure your children and parents eat regularly, do the same for yourself and keep your diet balanced. Try to work out a couple of times a week, and check in with your doctor regularly. If you need some time for yourself, take it without any guilt, and do whatever you need to feel relaxed. Nobody will judge you for going to the cinema once in a while, or having a glass of wine with your friends. You are more than just a caregiver. You are a person that has feelings and needs, so tend to them in order to stay fresh and ready for your daily tasks.
Assign tasks to your children
Even if you have younger children who don’t fully realize what’s going on, they will sense some of what’s happening around them. If you have teenagers, even better. Of course, you won’t burden your children too much, nor will you ask them to do anything that’s not age appropriate, but the least they can do is keep your parents company and have a conversation with them from time to time. They can also take over some of the housework, so that you have more time for the more difficult tasks. Getting their grandparents a glass of water, or covering them with a blanket when they’re cold are small tasks, but they will make your children feel helpful and give them an opportunity to bond with their elders.
Just being a parent can sometimes be challenging, and balancing between the needs of your children and your parents might seem impossible to achieve. However, you go through it day by day, learning from each experience, success and mistake, and you’re getting better at it as time goes by. Be patient and maintain a positive attitude, bearing in mind that, although they all depend on you, people who surround you are the ones that love you most.
Article provided by Tracey Clayton.
Tracey is a full time mum of three girls. She’s passionate about fashion, home décor and healthy living. Her motto is: “Live the life you love, love the life you live.”