Let me tell you, I’ve heard of some interesting terms before but ‘sandwich’ generation makes me think of ham and cheese or peanut butter and jelly, not marriage stress. However, being a part of the sandwich generation actually means you are dealing with being a parent, possibly considering retirement while also dealing with your own aging parents and their needs.
Some estimates show that about two-thirds of the baby boom generation will be taking care of an elderly parent alongside their own parenting. About 16 years ago, Newsweek estimated that women spend an average 17 years raising their own children and another 18 years caring for an elderly parent.
While there is nothing unreasonable about caring for family on both ends of the spectrum, a couple can find themselves emotionally, financially and mentally stressed by the challenge. They can have their own dreams for retirement, travel and more disrupted. This doesn’t have to lead to major problems, however, more often than not when you have a multi-generation household and a good sense of communication families actually benefit from not only the experience, but also extra helping hands for everything from chores to childcare to guidance for teenagers.
Suggestions to Help Ease Transitions
When you have a multi-generational household, here are some tips to help protect and nurture your relationship as well as keeping the household stable and the family happy:
- Stay healthy – this means doing what you need to do such as exercising, having fun and living you life – you can live with a multi-generational family without living in limbo
- Your marriage needs your nurturing care, don’t become so preoccupied with looking after the rest of the family that you forget each other
- If you have older children returning home, be sure to share your expectations with them so they understand they have adult responsibilities and they can do their fair share
- If you are moving in an aging parent, talk about your expectations with everyone involved, your parent likely wants responsibilities and likely to not be perceived or made to feel as if they are a burden
- Privacy needs to be made important – all members of the household should be respectful of each other’s privacy
- If you have unfulfilled dreams, talk about them – an aging parent and children at home may allow you opportunities you may not be aware of
- Ask for help from government and other sources, if you need it
- If you aren’t a part of the sandwich generation now, consider what it might be like someday to be in that position – make plans for how you may handle it then
Are you a part of a multigenerational household and if so, how do you and your spouse handle it?