Are you in the sandwich generation? Discover what it is and how to find balance - Hindustan Times

Are you part of the sandwich generation? Uncover its meaning and strategies for achieving balance

Jun 05, 2023 12:15 PM IST

Are you caught in the sandwich generation, caring for both parents and children? Discover how to find balance amidst the unique challenges and responsibilities.

In today's fast-paced world, many individuals find themselves caught in the "sandwich generation," simultaneously caring for their ageing parents while raising their own children. This unique generation faces numerous challenges in finding a delicate balance between fulfilling their familial responsibilities and maintaining their personal well-being. A study by the Pew Research Center found that around one in seven Americans aged 40 to 60 provide financial assistance to both their children and parents. This places significant financial and emotional stress on individuals in the sandwich generation as they juggle careers, personal matters, and retirement planning. Finding a balance between these responsibilities becomes a complex challenge, emphasizing the importance of effective financial management and emotional support. (Also read: 8 positive things you can do for your parents' mental well-being )

Balancing the financial obligations while ensuring their own financial stability becomes a complex challenge for the sandwich generation. (Freepik )
Balancing the financial obligations while ensuring their own financial stability becomes a complex challenge for the sandwich generation. (Freepik )

What is sandwich generation and how to find the balance?

"I received an interesting Instagram DM the other day. I am usually asked how I make time at work while being there for my 2 daughters (the usual work-life balance question that ONLY women are asked!) I also get asked about starting one’s own business, what it takes to leave a 9-to-5 job to follow your passion etc. But this DM was different. The person who was a follower on Instagram wanted to know how I carved out time to spend with my parents. In a way, they feel happy and not being pushed down the priority list, a mistake that we all make," says Mansi Zaveri, Parenting Expert and Founder and CEO of Kidsstoppress.

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She further shared with HT Lifestyle, "It has come down to branding our generation as “a sandwich generation” that finds themselves between the responsibilities of raising their own children while simultaneously caring for ageing parents. While we often focus more on our children, the joys and struggles of parenting etc, we slowly realise that our parents guiding us, and being the strong forces behind us, often need the care and attention like our children too."

"From watching “Never Have I Ever” with my teen girls to accompanying my mom to Gujarati plays, from ophthalmologist visits for first glasses to cataract surgeries, from planning 1st birthday parties to 50th-anniversary parties with the same vigour, from enquiring about stroller access to requesting wheelchair assistance at airports, from getting excited about birth certificates to painfully coordinating on death certificates, we are the sandwich generation, that is doing our best to give it our all. Like I always say in my Instagram stories, the call from parents or my children is the one call I never cut. Even amidst my meetings. They have earned the right to it," says Mansi.

Undoubtedly, the sandwich generation experiences significant stress due to the constant concern of meeting the needs and expectations of the three generations. Striving for a balance where neither end of the sandwich feels neglected becomes crucial. Here are four valuable tips suggested by Mansi that have helped her in her journey of maintaining equilibrium while also pursuing her passion for running a business.

1. Just talk: Carve out time, like using transit time, or waiting time to say a quick hello, to check if they had their meals (and medicines) on time, and if they are safe. Both with kids and with parents, this works. Sometimes, all they want is to hear your voice even if it’s for just a minute.

2. Establish routines: The small things often leave a huge impact. Sunday lunches at mom’s is something I have been following and now my girls look forward to it as well. The anticipated calls from my mom on what we would like to have, and ensuring we get a good siesta to prepare us for the week ahead, she gives her all in and looks forward to the routine. Similarly, Friday night's movie time with my girls is non-negotiable. From choosing the documentary or movie to preparing the popcorn, they arrange everything just to enjoy a fun time with us.

3. Be present when you’re present: I know we all love to multi-task and blame the endless list of chores for the same. Ordering on Amazon when talking to parents or checking reels when spending with kids- look to avoid these rookie mistakes. Give your 100% attention when spending time with either- you’ll enjoy and learn so much in the process.

4. Don’t forget you in the process: Yes, there are sunny days and rainy days. There are days when you have to attend to sick parents or children while shuttling between work and chores. It is very easy to get overwhelmed. To avoid that, take time out every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes and focus on self-care and growth. The returns will be more than you imagine!

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