Are You a Member of the Sandwich Generation?

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?

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About Heather Long

Heather Long is 35 years old and currently lives in Wylie, Texas. She has been a freelance writer for six years. Her husband and she met while working together at America Online over ten years ago. They have a beautiful daughter who just turned five years old. She is learning to read and preparing for kindergarten in the fall. An author of more than 300 articles and 500+ web copy pieces, Heather has also written three books as a ghostwriter. Empty Canoe Publishing accepted a novel of her own. A former horse breeder, Heather used to get most of her exercise outside. In late 2004, early 2005 Heather started studying fitness full time in order to get herself back into shape. Heather worked with a personal trainer for six months and works out regularly. She enjoys shaking up her routine and checking out new exercises. Her current favorites are the treadmill (she walks up to 90 minutes daily) and doing yoga for stretching. She also performs strength training two to three times a week. Her goals include performing in a marathon such as the Walk for Breast Cancer Awareness or Team in Training for Lymphoma research. She enjoys sharing her knowledge and experience through the fitness and marriage blogs.