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Are you part of the “sandwich generation”? Sure, the name implies that I am talking about PBJs and BLTs, but it really means having your grandkids on one side and your aging parents on the other and trying to balance the two without neglecting the other. It’s a balancing act for sure, as you are the mayonnaise – the most vital ingredient – trying to hold everything together.
Let’s acknowledge something important: you’re not just making a simple turkey sandwich but crafting a multi-layered club sandwich with all the fixings. It’s complex and occasionally messy but always flavorful.
If you are in survival and long for a balance – or if you are sick of all of my sandwich puns – read on as we address ways to survive this stressful time:
1. Embrace the chaos (as best you can)
It’s a trying time, but for better or worse, it won’t last forever, so try to embrace this transitional period as best you can. Some days, your kitchen might look like a tornado met a hurricane during a bake sale, and that’s alright. One day, you’ll look back and miss these days, as hard as they can be.
2. Schedule “me” time
Between your grandkids’ soccer games and transporting your aging parents to their doctor appointments, you must carve out time for yourself—even if it’s just a brisk walk or five uninterrupted minutes with a cup of coffee. Trust me, you’ve earned it!
3. Stay connected
Your grandkids are your life, and your parents mean the world to you. Though you are rarely alone, you need to stay connected with others who can occasionally offer adult conversation and a good distraction. Call a friend, join a club, or start an underground grandma fight club. (Okay, maybe not that last one, but you get the idea.) Do something for you.
4. Set boundaries
Just because you’re in the middle doesn’t mean you should be pulled in every direction. Let family members know when you need a break. Remember, even superheroes have weaknesses, so don’t feel bad when you need to lie low for a few hours or days.
5. Laugh – a lot.
The next time your dad insists on telling your grandkid the story of his five-mile walks to school (uphill both ways, of course) for the umpteenth time, chuckle. Laughter is your best ally, and if you look hard enough, you can almost always find humor in even the most mundane of situations.
6. Seek support
You may feel like the only one in this situation (it is incredibly isolating), but there’s an entire community of sandwiched grandmas out there. Attend local support groups or online forums. There’s strength in numbers, especially when those numbers share hilarious stories about their families.
There will be days when you can’t do it all, so decide what’s urgent, what can wait, and what can be handed off to another family member or friend. When these days pop up, remember you are human and do not feel guilty.
8. Celebrate the little wins
Got both the grandkids and your parents to bed before 9 p.m.? That deserves a toast with your fanciest mug filled with chamomile tea—or perhaps a more adult beverage (wink, wink).
9. Accept help
This isn’t a one-woman show, so when someone offers support, take it! If no one is around to help, you can also look into local drop-in services that will hold down the fort while you take a break.
At the end of the day, being the mayo isn’t easy, but just like any good sandwich, things would fall apart without you. Wear your Sandwich Generation badge with pride, laugh at the absurdity, and know you’re doing an incredible job. Cheers to you, the hero of the hectic but heartfelt club sandwich of life!