Working, Parenting, and Caregiving

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During menopause, more and more of us are gaining membership to the aptly named “Sandwich Generation,” a group marked by its responsibility to simultaneously care for both its children and parents. So if it seems like everybody wants (scratch that, needs) something from you these days, you’re not alone.

Here are 4 ways to care for yourself while balancing the responsibilities of work, parenting and caring for parents.

  1. Have a Preemptive Talk
    This is not THE “talk” that you are dreading having with your prepubescent children! This is the elder “talk”. It is best to have this “talk” earlier rather than while you are in the midst of a crisis.  Discussing living arrangements, homecare, financial resources, fears, and concerns, can help ease everyone’s minds. For example, many caretakers unnecessarily worry about their parents moving in with them, when the fact of the matter is that their parents don’t want to live with them either! They might prefer to move and begin to downsize, make plans to move to a retirement community, or assisted living facility. You will not fully understand your parents desires, until you have an open conversation with them.  Together, you can create a functional plan that works for all of you.  This should include getting all of the medical and legal paper work handled ahead of time.  Organizing beforehand will help you to set healthy boundaries and meet realistic caregiving goals. Make sure that all of your siblings feel included and share in the responsibilities as best they can.  Remember: No parent is perfect. You may have lingering emotions and anger issues with your parents which can impede your ability to cope with your newfound caregiving responsibilities. Try to find ways to forgive, not just for your parents’ sake, but for your own health and wellbeing as well.
  1. Don’t Try to Do It Alone
    You are amazing, but you can’t try to be Superwoman. Think: Who in your life can support you and your responsibilities? Your husband, siblings, children, and even professional caregivers can help.  Perhaps hiring outside help for just a few hours a week may be worth it. Working all day, taking care of your own family, and then adding your parents to the mix can be quite draining. You do need to have a break and to have some “me” time scheduled into the week.  The sisterhood is a wonderful support system. I know your days are jammed packed, but find time to schedule a walk/talk hour, chat on the phone, or meet for a cocktail.  The sisterhood will be there for you, but you need to be open and ask for the support you need and deserve!  My motto:  Suffering in silence is OUT!  Reaching out is IN!
  1. Determine Your Benefits
    If you are working and also caregiving, check to see if your employer has an eldercare program that includes referrals to caregiver resources in the community, on-site support groups for working caregivers, and discounted backup homecare for emergency needs.  Many companies offer these resources, according to the AARP Public Policy Institute. What’s more, your boss may be open to arranging a more flexible work schedule for you that allows you to deliver on all fronts.
  1. Put Yourself On Your To Do List
    We want to be there for the people we love—but it can be draining. When we are left drained and exhausted (physically, emotionally or financially), what can we possibly give to others? No matter what our caregiving responsibilities and roles may be, caring for ourselves—our financial, emotional, and hormonal health—has to come first.  Many women are in the midst of perimenopause and menopause when they find themselves in this new elder caregiving role. For tips on how to take care of your hormonal self, please download my free eBook, MENOPAUSE MONDAYS The Girlfriend’s Guide to Surviving and Thriving During Perimenopause and Menopause.

If you don’t take care of your health, you can’t truly take care of anyone else. After all, you and your family deserve the happiest, healthiest you!

My motto: Suffering in silence is OUT!  Reaching out is IN!

After struggling with her own severe menopause symptoms and doing years of research, Ellen resolved to share what she learned from experts and her own trial and error. Her goal was to replace the confusion, embarrassment, and symptoms millions of women go through–before, during, and after menopause–with the medically sound solutions she discovered. Her passion to become a “sister” and confidant to all women fueled Ellen’s first book, Shmirshky: the pursuit of hormone happiness. As a result of the overwhelming response from her burgeoning audiences and followers’ requests for empowering information they could trust, Ellen’s weekly blog, Menopause MondaysTM, was born.

  • You’re so right about taking care of yourself. Although I’m past the sandwich state – kids flown, parents gone, it takes a toll. The sisterhood is vital. Don’t isolate yourself. They will be there for you.

    • You are so right, Rebecca. The sisterhood is there….we just have to reach out to them for support!

  • Carol Graham

    So glad I never had to go through any of these symptoms/phases. Your tips are all valid and will help many women, I am sure. We should talk because as a health coach, this is exactly what I show my clients how to avoid.

    • So true, Carol. Communication is the key!

      • Carol Graham

        Not sure what you mean by this

        • You spoke about being a health coach. I was just saying how important communication is to successful, healthy living.

  • Such solid advice. Women, take notice!

    • Thx Debby. Happy the tips resonated with you.

  • Ellen, these are all terrific points in this week’s great post!

    • Thanks my dear. Great compliment coming from you. ❤️

  • sheryl

    Spot-on pointers for so many of us who are in the in-between phase of our lives. And you’re right…if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t be equipped to take care of anyone else.

    • So happy you found the info helpful. Please share with the sisterhood!

  • CathyLynchLawdanski

    Having come off a year of caring for both parents, I heartily agree with everything you said. One incident can change everything, so it’s important to have these conversations while everyone is in good health. I was blessed with a wonderful support system!

    • You are so right, Cathy. As much as we love our parents, it is both physically and emotionally exhausting. I hope you took some time for you to recharge along the way.

  • having “that” conversation with your parents is really difficult to get started, but once you get into the swing of it, there is a lot of time and pain saved when things are going wrong health-wise or living arrangement-wise. Great post 🙂

    • Agreed, Leanne. I think it is harder if you wait too long. My husband is 67 and I am 62- we have already had these detailed, honest, and tough conversations with our two adult children. The earlier the better!!

  • CathyLynchLawdanski

    Great post, Ellen. Will be posted on the MySideof50 Facebook page this week!