Circle of Moms member Varda S. calls herself a "squashed bologna," while Gerri R. feels like "the middle piece of bread" in a double decker. What both moms mean is that they're part of the "sandwich generation," a generation of parents who are caring for both their elderly parents and their kids.
"I am a mother, a daughter, a wife and a writer," shares Varda S. "I have an elderly, recently widowed mother and a set of 9-year-old twin boys, one of whom is on the Autism Spectrum, and the other of whom has some ADD (as do I). This keeps life interesting. Exhausting, but interesting."
Similarly, mother-of-three Krysia B. is also taking care of her mother: “I am finishing a second Masters degree, have a traveling husband, and also take care of my 78-year-old mother who has some dementia.”
While each family's specific situation is unique, most women in the "sandwich generation" admit to feeling torn in many directions. Jessica M., for instance, talks about how difficult it is to juggle children, job, a relationship with her husband, and her parents: "I am finding myself very stressed out trying to balance everyone’s needs. I just don't know how I am supposed to be a good wife, mother, daughter, employee all at once. I love all of these people so much and I just want to make them all happy. But some days it feels like I can't make anybody happy and everything I do is wrong or not enough.”
If you're facing this type of stress, consider these four tips from Circle of Moms members on taking care of your parents and kids simultaneously — without losing yourself in the process.
1. Enlist Adult Family Members
It’s common for the care giving of elderly parents to fall on the shoulders of one family member — and as Circle of Moms members relay, it's often one who is a busy mom herself. "I definitely think most responsibilities end up on the shoulders of one child...and his/her family,” says Elizabeth M. “Try finding a way to empty your plates a little. If the other relatives can’t help, ask them to help pay for some care. They will either change their tune and help, or you can hire someone to help.”
Suzanne P. agrees: "You just have to get everyone in your family involved in helping out. My mother-in-law has Parkinson's. We moved to be closer to her and help take care of her five years ago...My husband's nephew moved in with her last summer, which is a blessing. But everyone helps out."
2. Get Your Kids Involved, Too
If your extended family isn't able to help, make care-taking a team effort within your immediate household. As Adella C. shares, “I moved my kids (age 17, 16 and 14) into my mom's school district so they [now] come to her house after school, they do their homework and projects while I cook dinner. I take my mom to her appointments, kids to their after-school stuff and what ever else needs to be done, then after dinner we head home."
3. Try to Find Time for Yourself
It sounds so cliché, but it really is important to give yourself breaks. As Sandy E. counsels a peer in this situation, “You need to take some time for yourself on the weekend when your husband is not working. Just go have a cup of coffee, get a pedicure, see a matinee, just be yourself for about two to three hours. It will refresh your outlook and make you a better caretaker also."
4. Be Easier on Yourself
Above all, don’t beat yourself up, says Jane M., who cares for her 82-year-old mom as well as her kids and husband. “Frustration with all of it is completely justified," she reminds us. "What you have to do is express your feelings and know it is okay to feel them."
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, POPSUGAR.