“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power.” —Maya Angelou
Mother’s Day has become more than a simple celebration.If you have earned the honors of this title, then you are an amazing superwoman! In the 21st century Motherhood has become more than raising children.
Many mothers today are part of the “Sandwich Generation.” This is a rising group of adults, mainly in their 40s, 50s and early 60s, who are responsible for their adult children as well as caring for their elderly parents. 30% of 25 to 34 year old adults still reside with their parents! And 47% of this generation is caring for aging parents. Imagine being responsible for both at the same time! Being a dual-caregiver is becoming all too common, creating both a financial and emotional drain as you navigate to maintain sanity and survival. This is true especially for mothers who carry the majority of the burden as they fulfill the role of parent, daughter, caregiver and wife. Sometimes this also means stepping it up as a daughter-in-law too.
To be Supermom is an understatement if you are in the Sandwich Generation. With so many stressors, it is difficult to stay balanced. The result can be depression, guilt and isolation. It is nearly impossible to carve time to be a good spouse, parent and child simultaneously because, more often than not, the caregiver mom is more concerned about the health of others and sacrifices her own needs in the process.
The question becomes, “How do you stay present for everyone while preserving your own values, wellbeing, joy and self-worth?” Proper management of your own needs is critical for you to stay healthy, avoid care-giver burnout, and still be present for your parents and your children Here are some helpful thoughts to guide you as you do your best during these challenging times.
If your financially dependent adult children are unemployed or underemployed, how do you provide guidance in their job search? This may mean a conversation on ways to interview, build a successful resume and network. I often partner with clients on how to conduct an informational interview to develop and grow connections.
If you are supporting your child’s rent, maybe it’s time to set rules for them to move back home and set up a practical budget. Setting healthy monetary boundaries may be just what your adult child needs to establish their financial independence.
To further cut expenses, what lifestyle changes could your elderly parents consider that may well provide them greater value and allow you more financial freedom? What would this conversation look like for you and your parents?
The key is communication and conversation. Create time for discussion and exchange with your parents and your adult children. Whoever you are in charge of financially, set boundaries on the amount you will provide for monthly expenses. For the children, that conversation should include the plan for when they will be financially independent.
Keeping the doors for communication open for family members is an opportunity to avoid built-up stress and caregiver burnout. Allow for an open dialogue of expectations while recognizing each family member’s feelings and their boundaries. Encourage respect and cooperation for everyone involved.
As you consider everyone’s needs, be kind to yourself. Eat healthy, get rest, exercise, and spend time with friends that rejuvenate you. Remember, laughter is the best medicine to relieve stress. Most importantly, don’t hesitate to ask for help when you are overwhelmed. If you lack a support system, a life coach can partner with you to rediscover your inner power. Keep in mind:
A peanut butter and jelly sandwich describes those caregivers that are stuck between aging parents and children. If you are a sandwich of any kind…let’s talk. I would love to help you to explore who you want to be in this next phase of your life.
By Christina Dalton, MS, PPS, PCC, EYH Life Coach
Christina Dalton is the Principal of EYH Life Coach. She applies her own personal and career transitions along with several degrees and credentials to provide insight and knowledge into the coaching experience. Christina handpicks her staff, all of whom are ICF credentialed and have unique experiences to create invaluable coaching sessions.