The sandwich generation is the lesser-known generational category. It doesn’t refer to the birth year but instead, middle-aged individuals who support their parents as well as their own children.
People within this generation are usually women in their mid to late 40’s who are also employed and caring for ageing parents as well as children while juggling work and relationships.
It is estimated that Australian carers spend an average of 35 hours a week as carers. In addition to the possibility of caring for two generations, the hours as a carer on top of full-time work would increase significantly.
Stressors of the Sandwich Generation
Nearly 50% of adults within this generation find themselves caring for ageing parents and their children while balancing work and social lives.
These demands can cause mental, emotional, financial and physical stress. When this continues for long periods of time, it can lead to chronic stress.
An additional stressor was the COVID-19 outbreak because it changed the way each individual lives their life. It resulted in working from home, limiting socialising and home-schooling children which were balanced with caring for elderly parents.
Further, these variations in stress can result in:
- Burn out
- Sleep issues
- Bad eating habits
- Weaker immunity
- Limited exercise
How to Find a Balance
Finding a balance between the demands of caring for parents, children, providing financial support and maintaining household duties can be a lot to navigate. Sometimes extra support is required to help take the weight off your shoulders.
- Acknowledge your role as a carer – People within this role don’t often recognise the extent of their caregiving. Acknowledging your role will allow you to access support systems and services.
- Ask for help – It can be as simple as asking your partner, family or friends to drop the kids off at school or grab a few groceries. Psychological support by talking to a mental health professional can be a great step for mental and emotional support. Access support systems that are available to you.
- Self-care – Take time to organise and set boundaries for yourself. Plan time to do something you love, go for a walk, read a book and slow down. Realise that you can’t help others when you aren’t helping yourself.
- Communication – Let people know when you are struggling. You can’t do everything on your own.
- Talk with your family – Sharing the responsibilities with family members provides a network of support and allows each person to do little tasks which doesn’t put too much pressure on one person.
- Realise you can’t control everything – Some things are out of your control and that’s okay. Acknowledge what you have done instead of stressing over the things that are out of your reach.