If you look up the definition of “sandwich generation,” you’ll find it is traditionally defined as someone caring for a living parent and a child under the age of 18. Hence, you are sandwiched together in your caregiving responsibilities, ensuring the care and safety for two very different people with two very distinct needs.
In reality, if this sounds like you, your “sandwich” is probably a lot “thicker” than what you care to admit. Maybe you are caring for both of your parents. Or your parents and your in-laws. Maybe you still have grandparents alive and in need of a little TLC. Maybe you have two or three kids going in all different ways. Maybe your job requires 110 percent, including overtime. And your spouse? Yep, they need a little attention too.
And unfortunately, something has to give. You simply can’t keep up with it all. What can you do?
Ever laugh at New Year’s resolutions, wishing you could set a few priorities once a year and work on them all year through? Do you update your to-do list weekly with demands changing all the time? That’s the reality of many in a sandwich situation. Certain items require more commitment at certain times. And sometimes it’s a battle between which priority you work on first. Realize your priority list will never be completely checked off. You’ll never fit everything in. That means focusing in on doing only the things that are most important. That means letting many things go that don’t fit that bill.
There are only so many hours in the day. And there are only so many things you can fit into each of those hours. Create an organization system that works for you. Whether paper or technology, trust in calendar and task based systems that allow you to list out exactly what needs to be done. Seek out the help of an organizer for tips and planning advice.
This one seems to be the most difficult on the list. We think we can do it all. And in a lot of circumstances, the ones we love expect us to do it all. Have the words “but I don’t want anyone to do it but you” ever popped up into your life? Of course, that makes the guilt pop off the charts when you have to say no. Use NO frequently. Protect yourself by asking for help. Ask your family, your siblings, your friends, people in your community, resources recommended by others around you. And don’t stop with the care you provide for others, get help by hiring a maid, a personal assistant, etc.
We often forget we have priorities and a life too. When you’re so busy saying YES to others, you forget to say YES to you. Who are you? What makes you tick? What brings you joy? What nurtures your soul? That’s what you need to prioritize. That’s what you need to say YES to. That’s what you need to nurture at all costs. Never, ever, give that part of you up.
Give More To You
While it’s important to keep the things you love in your life, even those can begin to wane when you’re crazy busy. Now is the time when you need to recharge with new things too. This is what keeps you going. And more importantly, it’s what gives you excitement in your life. It gives you things to look forward to. Take up new classes. Invest in a new hobby. Create time to spend with your spouse or your kids. Have fun doing the things you love. It’ll help you become a better you.