The Stages of Work: The Sandwich Generation

By Jo Pilon
Image by silviarita from Pixabay

This is the 7th in the “The Stages of Work” series where we are talking about how some people’s lives seem to have distinct stages which give them opportunities to reflect and pivot to suit their lives. 

I don’t know about you but sometimes I feel I am being pulled in all directions. You would think life would get less complicated once your children are grown and hypothetically are off your hands but reality is something different.

As a member of “The Sandwich Generation ” people, usually women, are often sandwiched between the other generations in their life. This means caring for parents and also caring for their children and/or grandchildren. Then throw in a partner and work or in my case a business and you can see how busy life can get for us.

I have friends who have had to give up their jobs to care for a parent with dementia, or others who have taken on the parental role of grandchildren.  I also have friends who are either the sole bread winner or are single and need to work until they are of pension age. Yet with all these responsibilities they are still sandwiched between the needs of children and parents or older siblings. 

Many “middle generation” people are so stressed from trying to do their best for everyone, and don’t feel they succeed with anyone, even themselves.

This is a world wide (western world) phenomenon. Some people love the involvement and contribution this time of life brings but for many it causes a lot of stress and hardship, as it can impact on their work, relationships and income as well as lifestyle. Some of the reasons that the “Sandwich Generation are so stressed” and growing in numbers is explained by the BBC. In Australia there are similar stories of Boomers and GenX people caring for multiple generations.

Trying to fit everything into your life can be tiring, it can make you rethink your work and your priorities. I have a few strategies to help you find a balance between all the people in your life and also looking after yourself.    

  • Start with You – Know the priorities you have for your life 
  • Draw a circle and break it up into the amount of time you would ideally like to spend on each of  your priorities
  • Then think about how much time you actually spend on your priorities
  • What is the difference? If it is not how you want it to be how can you change it?
  • It is helpful to also understand your finances and where you are at in your retirement plan
  • Brainstorm solutions and alternatives that might work
  • Then plan how you can implement improvements

Sometimes you can’t work it out just the way you would like but you might be able to make small changes that make you feel much better and that is still a win

This is not an easy task, in fact it can be very hard because you have to be honest about where you spend your time and you have to decide if you are going to make any changes.  Changes that may affect the other important people in your life. 

I hope these tips have helped you navigate what is possibly one of the most complex stages in your life. 

The next article in this series will focus on the start of your career what I have called the Adventure and Exploration stage, which most young people go through.

 

 

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