Dear Diary,

The morning I went into labor, I felt like the luckiest woman in the world. My mom came to visit, and I knew I could count on her for moral support and assistance. Although she struggled with her own health and mobility issue, she traveled to Chicago to be by her baby’s side. When we arrived at the hospital, a nurse greeted us with a smile and brought a wheelchair out for my mother. I grimaced. It was at that moment that I realized my mom was a lot older than most grandmothers. Her daughter was forty and pregnant.

Not long after, I heard the term “Sandwich Generation.” I was now a part of this group—stuck in the middle of taking care of their children and their aging parents. I’m not alone. As more people marry and reproduce later in life, the experience this type of caregiving role. According to the Pew Research Center, about one in every eight Americans aged 40-60 is raising a child and caring for a parent at the same time.

Although my mom was extremely helpful after my daughter Camryn was born, during the six weeks she stayed with me, I felt like I was taking care of two children. She needed errands ran, meals made and chores done. This was my first taste of the sandwich generation. If your family experiences the same, here’s how you can easily digest your new role.

Buy a Planner

Prior to having my child, my organization system consisted of random Post-it notes stuck to my computer or bulletin board. However, it became pretty apparent that I needed a central place to keep track of doctor’s appointments and medications and that both my mom and daughter needed.

Plan for the Future

It can be tough to talk to our aging parents about health care issues or funeral arrangements, but you can’t avoid the conversations. It’s important to discuss important topics and create a game plan in advance. The answers will help you provide the best resources and assistance to your parents. I read a book by Susan Piver called The Hard Questions for Adult Children and their Aging Parents that helped start the conversation.

Ask for Help

You don’t have to be superwoman. Enlist the help of your siblings, spouse or family members. So often we feel we are the only one that can get the job done. But that’s not always true. If you don’t have a strong support sysmtem, look for a care giver. Care and SitterCity lists providers who do a variety of tasks, including light housekeeping and medication administration.

Make sure you get an emotional break as well. It’s not easy watching parents grow older, especially when their health is ailing. Add that to the hormonal changes you’re experiencing as a new mom, and we’re talking major mood swings. I remember getting upset with my mom when she wasn’t able to help me physically with my little one. Then I felt guilty. If you have a friend in sandwich generation with you, talk to them about your frustrations. There are also online support groups where people offer advice and encouragement. It was my friend that got me to value how my mom can assist me as I raise my daughter.

Take Care of Yourself

You’ve heard it a billion times before—If you’re not good to you, how can you be good to anyone else? And it’s true. When I ask clients how they take time for themselves, many say they take a relaxing bath or drink a glass of wine. And while I am not knocking bubble baths or bubbly, I advise them to step it up a notch by scheduling time for self-care. Use that planner and pencil in an hour or two every week for something just for you. Make it something to look forward to. Perhaps, there’s a movie you’re itching to see or a concert you want to attend. Aside from the big weekly date with yourself, schedule 10-15 minutes at the start and end of your day to just breathe and get centered. Meditate or write in your journal. I know it feels like there’s not a minute to spare, but you’ll rest easier if you take some quiet time for yourself.

By no means am I suggesting taking these steps is going to make this an easy process. Taking care of a baby and a parent is a hard, demanding and even frustrating job. However, it can be very rewarding.

Hey DFTM Fam—How are you lightening the load raising your child and caring for your parent?

About The Author

Pamela Brown
Mature Mom

Pamela is a single mom raising a 5-year-old daughter in Chicogo, IL. She writes about the joys and occasional challenges of being a mom later in life. She loves being a mom, because it fills her life with love. When not writing for DFTM, Pamela works as a Visiting Assistant Clinical Professor for the University of Illinois at Chicago.

One Response

  1. Elizabeth - savvy sandwicher

    I’ve lightened the load by prioritizing my own health so that I’m not a burden to my kids. We have to break the cycle and know that we aren’t doing our family any service by letting our health go. I schedule in morning workouts and set boundaries with my mom as to how much I can visit during our busy school/work weeks. Life is like a puzzle…


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.