Being a parent of several young children is a huge responsibility in itself. But when you add tending to aging parents in the mix, it introduces a whole new challenge.
The group of people who are now responsible for taking care of their children and their parents is often referred to as the “sandwich generation.” While the burden on their shoulders is already often pretty heavy, the pandemic has aggravated the physical, emotional, and mental pressures that come with being sandwiched in this situation.
Are you entering into a similar setup, or do you find yourself living in one right now? We understand the struggle! Still, there are ways to make the situation easier for everyone at home, including yourself, and to maintain a good handle on things.
Health and Safety Remain Top Priorities
When you have multiple generations living in the same home in the middle of a pandemic, one of your utmost concerns is the health and well-being of everyone in the family, especially senior citizens and the immunocompromised.
One practice to keep up is being a stickler for cleanliness. Whether it be groceries or delivery packages, disinfect your items before placing them in your cupboards and pantries, and make proper handwashing standard practice at home. If anyone comes from outside, make sure they have showered and safely discarded their clothes in the laundry before close interactions.
Senior citizens, in particular, may require more care due to their vulnerability to COVID-19. Try to avoid close contact with family members who regularly go out.
If your parents require therapy and regular consultations with their doctors, see if it is possible to do most, if not all, through telehealth. You may even opt to check with clinic equipment suppliers if it is possible to have these tools for home use instead.
Now that some schools are opening their doors, you can let your kids continue wearing masks to minimize the possibility of carrying the virus into your home. Vaccinations are also slowly expanding for younger children, so sign them up for vaccination when their turns come.
COVID-19 safety protocols can be hard to enforce with so many people at home. Post visual reminders on your fridge doors or home bulletin boards to help everyone stay on the same page.
How to Cope Healthily Amid the Responsibilities
Unfortunately, the stress of taking care of so many different people in one home also proves to be overwhelming at times. Here are ways to stay on top of your emotions and take care of yourself, too.
1. Tell concerns apart by urgency
With young kids and elderly adults living under one roof, different people will likely need different things at the same time. When these competing needs threaten to stress you out even further, take a moment to assess each one. Which one needs urgent attention, and which one can wait until a little later?
Taking time to consider the gravity of each concern thrown your way gives you a bit of respite to come up with an appropriate response—not a reaction—to what is happening around you.
2. Don’t be afraid to ask for and accept help—even from your kids
Being the guardian of a few different people tends to make you feel like you need to be everything for everyone all at once. But this may not be the case at all. You would be surprised at how willing people are to offer a hand once you ask for it!
Recognize when things are getting a tad too tough to handle on your own and seek assistance—from your spouse, siblings, friends, and even your kids. Now that you have more hands and feet to do chores and other tasks, delegate some to them. By letting go of bits of work, you can even build trust with the people at home.
3. Don’t neglect your relationships
An aspect of life that sandwich generation adults tend to overlook is their social life. This is not to say that this group tends to be unhappy because statistics say quite the opposite. It’s just that busy adults often neglect certain areas in favor of others.
Simply put, you need to socialize to stay sane! Take time for yourself and just have a good, honest conversation with your partner, a close friend, or a sibling. If you have friend groups or faith-based communities, stay connected with them, too.
If such activities don’t seem all that important, remember that you need to be physically and mentally healthy to manage all your work every day! Everyone needs a break, yourself included.