What does it mean to be in the Sandwich Generation? Simply put it means you’re right smack in the middle of two generations, your children and your parents. Being in the middle of these two generations can make you feel warm, secure and fuzzy because you have two groups of people to love and who love you but it can also mean feeling squeezed and pressed specially if you are the one taking care of these two generations, as is the case of someone with young children and aging parents.
Managing your Time
One thing that can take a toll on someone who belongs to the sandwich generation is the demands on one’s time. For someone who has young children, it is important that he or she sets aside quality time for the children during the formative years. Childhood comes only once and kids grow up so fast that if you fail to spend time with them when they are young, it is hard to make up for it once the kids have grown and begin to have other preoccupations.
Meanwhile, aging parents also need time and attention. Aging parents usually feel lonely, sickly and dependent. They need to be reassured that they have not been abandoned and that they still have a reason to be alive. Spending time with our aging parents is the least we can do to repay them for the many years they spent raising us, teaching us, guiding us and loving us.
One way to effectively manage one’s time amidst these demands is to schedule simple gatherings that bring these two generations together. Instead of splitting your time between the two, why not bring your children to your parent’s house for visits? Bringing your kids to your parents not only allows them to bond, it can sometimes even free your schedule up to do other things while the grandparents and the grandchildren keep each other entertained.
Phone calls are also valuable, where physical presence is too hard, phone calls are also a good substitute. Physical distance from one’s parents is not an excuse to cut ties. Frequent phone calls that don’t take that much effort will go a long way in reassuring aging parents that they are remembered and cared for. Short calls to your kids to check on them while you are at work can also mean a lot to them.
Managing your Finances
The financial demands of growing children and aging parents can make you feel like you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. The best advice I can give for this is saving and investing in financial products that can help you cover the needs of the children and parents in the future. It doesn’t have to be big. Investing and setting aside a little at a time, but done regularly, can go a long way towards building a fund for their future needs. Meanwhile, investing in a health plan is also important especially given the fact that medical treatments and emergencies can be expensive and cause a dent in one’s finances if one is unprepared. Remember, young children and aging parents are usually the ones who get sick more often.
Life insurance is also critical for those where the two generations are dependent on them financially. This allows one to make sure their loved ones are secure even if something happened to them.
Finally teaching your children to save at an early age helps ensure they can well prepare for their future needs. The sooner they can be financially independent, the less the financial burden you have to carry.
Managing your Sanity
Believe me, being in the sandwich generation can test one’s sanity. There will be dilemmas and there will be conflicts — expect that. Sometimes, your best will not seem good enough for your children and your parents. When this happens, take a deep breath and be kind to yourself. Do not beat yourself up with guilt nor reproach. You are only human and you cannot do everything. Sacrifice… where you can. Give…what you can. But leave some for yourself. If you give too much at your own expense, you may run dry and that too is not good.
When you feel the weight is to heavy, take a break. Go to a spa and get a massage. Take a vacation. Have a date with your partner. Pamper yourself. After all, you need to be “ok” to take care of your loved ones. Your sanity is key to fulfilling your role as a “sandwich.”
Managing your Graces
At the end of the day, acceptance of your situation is critical. In fact, the way I see it, being in the sandwich generation is a grace from God. It is a privilege given to you that gives you the opportunity to love and serve the most important people in your lives. It may be a huge responsibility but it is also a huge gift. The joys of seeing your children grow as God had wanted you to raise them and the grace of being able to thank your parents through service in their old age are too precious to forego. If you are given this opportunity, accept it as a challenge and trust that it is nothing but a grace from God to strengthen you and make you a more loving person.
Photo used under Creative Commons from PublicDomainPictures
Looking for ways to secure your family’s future?
Preparing for your family’s future is one of the best ways to show how much you love them.
Talk to an advisor today to know what steps can you take in protecting your loved ones.
Don’t have an advisor yet? Click here to find the best one for you.