3 ways to make being stuck in the Sandwich Generation more palatable
What is the Sandwich Generation? Well, it’s not named for a love of a gourmet grilled cheese. The official definition is a generation made up of mostly women who are stuck smack in the middle of two high-needs generations: Their own young children and their aging parents. Gen X and older Millennials, we’re talkin’ ‘bout you.
Simultaneously caring for kids and elderly parents puts massive time, energy and financial pressures on moms, regardless of whether they are part-time or full-time employees, or and stay-at-home. COVID-19 has only made the squeeze tighter.
The unbearable weight of daughter-mother double-duty
According to a 2019 article from the Canadian Medical Association Journal, a whopping 93 per cent of older Canadians live at home—either in their own home or with a family member—and depend on unpaid or informal caregivers like family members to provide up to 75 per cent of their care. And by family member, we mostly mean the women of the family.
“Women are the great shoulders of everything”
-Dr. Anna Garnett, School of Nursing at University of Western Ontario
Rising rates of mental health struggles among Canadian youth means the Sandwich Generation is facing even more isolation and pressure than usual over the last few years. As Dr. Anna Garnett, assistant professor at the School of Nursing at University of Western Ontario recently told the Globe and Mail, many stressed out women have or are about to reach a critical tipping point trying to manage everyone else’s needs before their own.
“Women are the great shoulders of everything,” she told the Globe. “They take it on.” And that weight comes with its own set of consequences, like stress-related physical and mental health challenges. Because while Canadians have made significant strides in beginning to balance childcare responsibilities among parents, we are still generally poorly-equipped and disproportionately burdened by elder care.
To do or not to do, that is the question for you, Sandwich Generation
Ever feel like the easy-access internet advice that’s intended to make you feel better, in fact, just makes you feel worse? Like, more overwhelmed. More burdened by all the things you should be doing to make yourself feel better, but somehow only highlights the ways in which you feel you are faltering.
Advice like “take a deep breath” or “have the talks” with your older kids to get them to chip in more just … those generic tidbits don’t don’t cut it. The problem is, these are still all time- and energy-consuming things you have to do. Even worse, when those things don’t relieve the pressure as you’d hoped, you kinduv feel like it’s your fault it didn’t work (insert emphatic head-nod here).
But, what if not doing something is actually what you need?
3 ways to lessen your workload (and feel good about it)
If your aging parent was in an assisted living residence, you’d be paying quite a lot per month for their care, required medical equipment, and 24-7 accommodations which includes daily cleaning their living space. If they are living at your home with you, you are doing everything a care home or assisted living facility would normally take care of. So, it’s more than reasonable—and logical—to pay someone else to come in and handle the bulk of the cleaning around your home so you can conserve some energy.
It’s a job you just don’t have to do.
The more household tasks you can simplify, the better it will feel to come home. It doesn’t stop at home cleaning services, either. Try out a meal kit plan that anyone in your house can follow the instructions for, and cut out some of the meal-planning and shopping. For the shopping you do have to do, explore home delivery options through your local supermarket chain. Order online and get those groceries delivered right to your doorstep! Set up these services once and let ‘em run so you can actually shorten your daily to-do list.
Quick recap for skimmers (all praise, no shade to multi-taskers!)
The more household tasks you can simplify
- Invest in a reputable house cleaning service for weekly, biweekly or monthly cleaning
- Sign up for a weekly, biweekly or monthly meal kit subscription (here’s a list of top-rated companies serving Canada)
- Opt-in to daily or weekly grocery home delivery services from your local supermarket
These aren’t short cuts. Saying yes to these services isn’t lazy. Call these options for caregiver benefits that allow you to run your house with max efficiency and take the best care of everyone in it … including you.
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