The ‘sandwich generation’ is a term used to describe the current reality for those who find themselves caring for their children, grandchildren and their parents at the same time.
One slice of the sandwich is the grown-up kids who have supposedly left home. Young adults now live in a very different world to that of 30 years ago. They are opting for informal relationships rather than marriage and spending more years in study, training and obtaining qualifications. Hence the widespread phenomenon of adult children still hovering around the parental nest – cost-effective for kids but maybe not so for the parents.
And once the grandchildren arrive there is that expectation that grandparents will help because both parents need to work to pay off the mortgage that you have maybe gone guarantor for.
The other slice of the sandwich is the generation on the other side of the fence – parents who are now well advanced in years. Increased life expectancy has seen a jump in the number of sandwiched couples becoming more and more involved in the lives of up to four older people for an indefinite period. Supporting an aged or ailing parent, whether they are in their own home or in an aged care facility, can be demanding and time consuming.
Little wonder that the sandwiched generation feel like they cop it coming and going. Being strong for the generations both above and below can be very demanding physically, emotionally and financially.
Women are especially feeling the pressure of being sandwiched, often needing to re-arrange working hours or sacrificing careers to care for elderly parents or children and grandchildren
So, what can you do? Your most essential survival skill is the ability to set firm and fair boundaries and not feel guilty about it. Keep some quality time for yourself, whether that means keeping in touch with friends or indulging in those quiet meditative moments which renew you from within.
It is also important that you are financially well organised, have planned for your own financial needs plus be ready to help financially support generations above and below you if its required.