The Sandwich Generation: Take Time For You

As a member of the “sandwich generation,” caring for both adult loved ones and children, you may feel that there just isn’t enough time in the day to get everything done. You do your best to make sure that your elder receives great care; that medications are taken on schedule, that they eat balanced meals, and that their personal hygiene needs are met. On top of caring for your elder, you balance your family life, the care of your children, and perhaps a career.

One area that many busy people overlook is scheduling in downtime. You may feel that you have too much to do, and if you’re lucky you may get a few minutes to have fun and relax later. The experts agree that setting aside time for yourself and time to enjoy your family is just as important as the other types of care and activities you schedule into your busy day. You likely have a daily schedule or set routine, but if you don’t have time for yourself and time for fun scheduled in, now is the time to make time.

Why do you need this time? Juggling family and work is hard, add in a senior citizen who relies on you and life can get stressful. If you’re overworked and pulled in a million directions, you have a higher chance of having a meltdown, snapping at those you love, getting ill or injured, or suffering from depression. You need to take care of yourself first, both mentally and physically, so that you can in turn care for those around you.

Why is downtime important? Believe it or not, these future events can make your life more enjoyable this minute. You and your family will know that the event is coming up, and having something positive to look forward to can make repetitive or tedious tasks tolerable.  Just knowing that you have thirty minutes set aside later for a relaxing bath, yoga, or reading can make all the difference in a stressful day. Schedule in a daily block of time for yourself, and don’t be surprised when you find yourself less stressed and able to concentrate more throughout the day.

Why do I need family activities scheduled in? Just as you do, your kiddos and elder can get tired of the same daily routine. Having an upcoming family event, like a trip to a baseball game or afternoon walk is exciting and can mix up a repetitive routine. Many times, you are unable to do the things that your kids want to, because you care for a parent, grandparent, or other adult loved one. Having time where the work is forgotten and you can all play is important in keeping family life balanced.

For example, your kiddos may be begging to go to the park, but you’re busy prepping daytime meals and snacks for your elder for the week. Saying, “We can’t right now, but tomorrow morning we are all going to the park,” let’s your kiddos know that special fun time is in their future. Everyone will look forward to it, and having that block of time set aside just for the park can lessen the guilt you may feel about not being able to take them when they ask.

Don’t forget about activities for your senior too! While a day at the water park in the sun is a great way to get vitamin D, it may not be the best activity for someone with mobility issues. Make sure you schedule in many activities that your elder can participate in and will enjoy.

Consider outdoor gardening as a family if your elder is able to or starting an indoor herb garden. Setting aside blocks of time to work on a collection can be a lot of fun too. There are so many different things to start collecting, or you can expand on a collection you may already have. A few examples of things to collect are sports cards, stamps, wildflowers, or souvenir spoons. Family crafts are another activity to consider. Kids as well as adults can enjoy painting together, knitting, building models, and so much more. It doesn’t really matter what activity you pick, just that you schedule one in for your family. It can be daily, weekly, or even monthly.

Do you think that downtime is important for those that care for loved ones? What activities do you schedule in for you and your family? If you have a tip that can help others or a comment about this article, let us know. We LOVE comments!

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