Do you wake up every morning tired and filled with dread? Do your days seem to get longer, always filled with the unexpected? Have you ever wished you could simply walk away from it all?
While we’ve all wished for that occasionally, to have that experience again and again is a sign of something deeper. And unfortunately, many of us in the sandwich generation feel that consistently in our lives. The constant demands of raising kids and taking care of our parents are stressful at best. How do you fit all of their demands in, and still have time to live your life too? Working a forty hour a week job and trying to have a relationship with your spouse should never feel like backburner activities, yet sometimes they do.
Have you ever set up a daily plan? Not just a calendar to keep track of meetings, but an actual 24 hour of the day guide to help you get through your days a little more smoothly? You may find it helps to put a few more stress-free hours into your day.
Organizing Your Day
Start by writing down all of the things that have to be accomplished each day. Skip the things that aren’t mandatory, and only include the things that top the list. Your work schedule is mandatory. Getting kids to and from school is mandatory. What else is compulsory in your life?
Now begin sorting your tasks into different categories. What is mandatory for you to do? What could you release to others?
Some will be obvious; only you can spend forty hours at your place of employment. But others may be more difficult to see.
Is it truly necessary for you to bring your kids to soccer practice twice a week? Or could someone else do it for you?
The same holds true for your caregiving skills. Checking in on your parents each day may be mandatory, but could someone else do it for you equally well?
This is also a time for you. Chances are as you begin sorting your daily tasks into categories, you’ll see gaping holes. You’ll find very few of the tasks allow you to do things just for you. Or in some cases, time to build a stronger relationship with those around you that don’t need constant care – like your spouse. Create a category for these items too. Include things that should be on your list, even if they aren’t. How about a bubble bath at the end of the day? Or date night with your spouse? Put these on your list too.
Establish Your Goals
Now it’s time to lay out your plan. To create a schedule with everything you need to do, you will need to lay out your day in calendar fashion. If you have different needs on different days, you’ll need to create different daily schedules.
Use the task list you created from above. Sort the tasks into your day, creating a 24 hour schedule that makes sense to you. You might create a schedule based on morning, afternoon, and evening activities. Or you might break it down based on before work, during work, after school, evening. Make this realistic for your needs and expectations.
Then fill in your days with the most important tasks you must do each day. This list should be things you need to do.
As you find things that are task driven, and not in need of your personal touch, consider outsourcing the task to someone else.
You may find a friend can take your kids to soccer practice, giving you an extra hour in your busy day before you need to reciprocate and pick everyone up. You may even find that your kids no longer like soccer, and eliminate the activity from your schedule altogether.