Back to School!

September is synonymous with back-to-school time. Long after you’ve graduated, it’s hard not to feel the appeal of the fresh new school year that starts each September. The back-to-school advertisements start (far too early!) in the summer and remind everyone—even those who are not students—that the new school year is fast approaching.

 

With all the anticipation over new school supplies, different classes, reconnecting with old friends, and meeting new teachers, September is tinged with excitement.

 

the back of a yellow school bus

 

For some people though, September comes with a whole new set of challenges.  Those who are squeezed into the sandwich generation can feel the extra pressure that the school year brings.

 

The sandwich generation includes those who are caught between caring for their children, while simultaneously providing care to their ageing parents.  Those feeling the crunch in September are likely even members of the club-sandwich generation: mothers who have young children at home who are providing help to their parents and their grandparents at the same time.

 

Club sandwich members are lucky enough to be in families who have four living generations at the same time.  Their young children are the youngest generation, the hectic mother is the second youngest.  The grandmother may be in her 60’s or 70’s and the great-grandmother in her 80’s or 90’s.

 

The young mother is caught between raising her young children, getting them out the door on the first day of school and being there for them when they step off the bus at the end of the day and also helping her mother to care for the elderly great-grandmother whose needs have suddenly increased.

 

September may represent a time of excitement and fresh beginnings for many people, but for this sandwich generation young mother, it may mean increased stress and an even more hectic schedule as she’s attempting to ferry children to after school activities, help with homework, and also deliver meals to her nanna across town.

 

Those in the throes of the club sandwich generation need support to manage the needs of so many generations at once.  The help can take many different forms—extended family and friends, a nanny for childcare, a driver to chauffer children to all their activities, or a caregiver to support great-grandmother Nanna.

 

A professional caregiver can provide the support that Nanna needs, while also alleviating pressure off the young mother who is hoping to get her children’s school year off to a good start. September can be a time of exciting new beginnings for Nanna too!  She can look forward to meeting friendly caregivers who will become new friends. 

 

Who in your family or circle of friends might benefit from the back-to-school excitement of September by engaging the support of a professional caregiver?

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You know the saying: jack of all trades…master of none?

 

It’s usually one of those funny ironies that everyone recognizes when someone else is trying to do too much and spread themselves too thin….but somehow, we never recognize when we’re doing it ourselves! But…you just can’t be everything to everyone.

 

When it comes to what we expect from ourselves, we always think we can do just a little bit more, say “yes” to just one more commitment, or fit yet another meeting into the day. 

 

When it comes to caring for elderly parents, the same pattern shows up again—figuring we can add yet another commitment.  In many cases, it isn’t necessarily an active decision to take on another commitment; it is borne out of necessity. Your parent experiences a health crisis and you step up to help out, but when they don’t rebound as quickly as expected, your short-term assistance suddenly doesn’t have an end date.

 

someone writing a to do list

 

You now have a new role added to your growing list.  You might have already been an active wife and mother, maybe even a new grandmother. You’re the general manager of your household overseeing all the household tasks as well as cooking and grocery shopping. You’ve been a dedicated employee and you’re a manager with numerous people reporting to you.  You’re the organizer of your book club—the one remaining thing you try to do for yourself, to keep your sanity.

 

And now, you have the huge new role of being a family caregiver. While you’ve always been a daughter and you helped out here and there as needed, that’s very different than being a primary caregiver.

 

Being a primary family caregiver can be all-consuming.

 

Often, the things your parent needs help with are not things that can wait until the next time you happen to visit. Now, there are constant medical appointments in the middle of the workday, and unpredictable personal needs at all hours of the day and night.

 

The role of the primary family caregiver can start to encroach on all your other roles.  It can be difficult to be the active and involved grandmother you want to be if you can’t babysit when you had hoped to.  Your husband is patient and understanding, but when you haven’t had dinner together in a week, he can’t help but notice. 

 

At work, your boss tries to be understanding about the amount of time off you’ve been taking, but it’s not the boss you’re worried about. It’s everyone reporting to you who are noticing your absence as well.  Juggling these roles and the responsibilities that each entail can be quite stressful.

 

The good news is that you don’t have to do it alone.  You can’t be everything to everyone.  You can’t possibly juggle so many roles and fulfill each of them to the extent that you would like with only 24 hours in a day. Something has to give.

 

Latin caregiver helping an elderly woman

 

At the end of the day, you need to either get assistance with one or more roles by outsourcing or acknowledge that something is going to slide and you’re willing to accept that. Such a decision is deeply personal and there is no single answer that matches every family.  

 

For some, it means they won’t get to be as involved with grandparenting.  For others, their marriage and friendships may end up on rocky ground when they can’t invest any time or energy into those relationships.  Still, others scale back at work, reducing to part-time hours or stepping down from management, despite the significant financial implications. Others recognize that accepting assistance with family caregiving can help to maintain all of the other roles.

 

Here at Warm Embrace, we don’t take care of the grandchildren, or strengthen your marriage, or alleviate your work responsibilities. What we can do is provide all the assistance your parents need so that you are able to maintain all of your other roles.

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