The sandwich generation – are you one of them?

Sandwich generation - are you one of them?

The sandwich generation – are you one of them?

I won’t answer you – I’ll let you decide for yourself by reading this article.

Let’s start with a parable that I will retell to you in my own words.

A parable about happiness and our children

A wise man met a man in the field who could barely stand on his feet, worn out from work.

The sage was delicate. He didn’t tell him how bad he looked, just invited him to talk in the shade for a bit, with the idea of resting.

The man categorically refused: “I can’t! Have to work!”

The sage asked why he worked so much, advised him to enjoy the sunny day, the freshness of nature…

The man was firm again: “I can’t! I don’t have time to enjoy anything.”

The sage was amazed: “But that’s how you miss happiness! Why are you doing this to yourself? Why do you vow to be miserable?’

“I don’t have time for my happiness. – replied the man gloomily. – I have to ensure happiness for my children and grandchildren. My grandfather did that, my great-grandfather did that, and his did that, too.”

“Heh! Has anyone of your kind ever been happy?” asked the wise man.

“Not yet, but my children will surely be, and I will be as grateful to me as I am to my father and my grandfather.”

“Man! Let me share something with you. An illiterate cannot teach anyone to read. A hen cannot raise an eagle. Listen to me: it is best for you to learn to be happy so that you can teach your children to be happy too.”

Great, right? I’m getting chills reading this…

However, only one half of the sandwich is affected in the parable.

The generational theory does not describe the “sandwich generation” in detail, because it covers the majority of people of several generations, and relatively geographically (rather based on folk psychology and in countries with a shortage of social services).

The sandwich generation is burning in two fires and has almost no time left to think about itself.

Which people can be called “sandwiches”?

This generation was first mentioned in the early 1990s. It is about people who are caught in the trap of caring for their growing children on the one hand and their infirm parents on the other. Both need financial and any other support, often urgently needed.

At that time, they were mostly 30-40 year old women. But as life expectancy increases, both women and men from 30 to 65 years of age can find themselves in the “sandwich” position.

Until recently, the “sandwiches” were mainly “baby boomers” (see the picture with generations), but now the next generations are also affected.

I have heard a joke that in Bulgaria childhood lasts until the age of Christ (33 years), but for some families this is not a joke.

The people themselves should not always be blamed for this, more often the cause is inadequate social policy of the state.

Recently, sociologists also talk about the so-called “Club Sandwich” generation. It is about the people who take care not only of children and elderly parents – but also of grandchildren.

From personal impressions, I can share that I have encountered even more serious cases – of “club sandwiches with a side dish”. They also include pets, and in this group there are people who, in addition to children, parents and grandchildren, take great care of a dog, a cat or others, even several.

You must be asking yourself why I pay so much attention to these “sandwiches”?

Maybe now is the time to answer the question I started with: are you one of them?

In my work as a nutrition coach, I encounter such people on a daily basis.

I won’t say who they are, they know. They are a lot! Certainly much more than half.

The happy thing is that most of them try to break away from this “vicious circle” and learn to be happy.

For their children to be happy!

This is also part of our history. We decided to pay serious attention to ourselves, our health and our lifestyle, so that we don’t lie down one day on the arms of our children.

That was even our main motivation.

We have decided to age healthy, slowly and gracefully, with minimal help and involvement from our children. And so far we are succeeding.

It’s not an easy decision. Especially for people like us baby boomers who were raised that selfishness is a vice.

Yes, it is a vice, but this behavior is not selfishness. Thinking about your health and lifestyle is not selfishness, on the contrary – this is how you think about the future of your loved ones and their happiness. Remember the parable. It was no accident that I started with her.

You are one of the “sandwiches” if some (sometimes all) of these things are true:

  • You give all your resources to your children and elderly parents (or almost all);
  • No one cancels you from work, household and other duties;
  • There is not enough time, money and/or energy left for you (for your health, for your hobby, for your dreams and desired trips);
  • You are constantly harassed by housing or other life problems, often accompanied by quarrels, scandals and dissatisfaction with people close to you, leading to emotional and mental exhaustion;
  • You are forced to give up your job in order to take up another one that is not suitable for you, but provides the time you need or resources for your loved ones;
  • You are constantly stressed about how to organize your day to cope with caring for your children and parents;
  • You are proud of not paying attention to yourself and you have already decided that this is normal, that this is your fate and there is no way out.

And is there a way out of the “sandwich”?

Of course there is. As someone once said: “And from the most hopeless situation there are at least two roads that do not lead to the graveyard…” Don’t think of the graveyard, think of the roads! Pay attention: not one, at least two ways!

12 ways to get out of the “sandwich”

  1. There is no quick and easy solution. Yes, you know that without me. But you have resigned yourself and are not looking for him. In an ideal world, the state would provide decent conditions for the elderly and everyone would be able to make a safe investment in their old age while they have the opportunity to do so. Well, we don’t live in an ideal world, we live in Bulgaria. But let’s not forget that this is one of the most beautiful countries and has enormous resources, let everyone work on their own thinking and on the thinking of their trusted circle of people that they could influence in some way.
  2. Take care of yourself. It’s not a fad – it’s a necessity! This will allow you not only to live better, but also to have the resources, energy and motivation to help others. Think that at some point you won’t be able to do it anymore if you haven’t helped yourself by now. Determine and arrange your priorities by putting yourself first.
  3. Get at least the bare minimum of what you need. Arrange your priorities according to this goal. Eat properly, balanced and healthy. Don’t sacrifice your sleep. Or at least minimize those casualties. Do not neglect preventive medical examinations. If you are not healthy, happy and emotionally stable, how do you expect your children to be?
  4. Take time for yourself. Teach your loved ones that this time belongs only to you, you need it for rest and recovery, and ask them not to disturb you then. Always plan this time in advance – rest is complete when it is filled with an activity that brings you joy, pleasure and restores your strength and energy.
  5. Go outside. Get out of your comfort zone. If some people don’t allow or won’t let you take care of yourself, break up with them. Change your social environment and surround yourself with positive people who believe in you and your abilities. How long has it been since you went to the cinema or theatre? And on an excursion, even to nearby sights and beautiful places? Don’t tell me you can’t afford it or don’t have time – your true loved ones will understand and provide you with that time. And for a walk nearby you often don’t need any money.
  6. Keep a diary. Take this minute for yourself. Do not neglect not only your physical, but also your personal emotional state. Look for the sources of stress, anxiety, insomnia, headaches, bad thoughts and other such things. You can overcome them, I believe it and I myself have witnessed many such success stories! Sometimes it happens indirectly, even just by changing your own thinking.
  7. Consider seeking help. Trust professionals. In some cases, it is better to entrust the care of your elderly parents to them, at home or in a private institution. Yes, in our country this is not accepted and there is an expressed mistrust in them. But recently, private institutions have been “approving”, thanks to European and other programs. Elderly people still live with the thought that “the country owes them” and will take care of them, instead of “getting down to earth” and taking care of themselves in a timely manner. If professional care seems expensive to you, you most likely do not value your own time and qualifications. But yes, I forgot that you don’t think about yourself yet…
  8. Talk to your employer. Take advantage of all the benefits that the company has to offer – they are usually not publicly disclosed, but often exist. There is nothing shameful in this, on the contrary – it is possible that the authority among colleagues and the employer will increase.
  9. Delegate! Hardly the person who needs your care is with only one close person and that is you. You are most likely the victim yourself. You are so used to giving your time, caring for him, entertaining him, comforting him that you have accepted it as your only duty. But that person has other loved ones—husband, wife, brothers, sisters, children, grandchildren—any of whom could take on some of that commitment. And there is nothing unfair about that, on the contrary – the people to whom you delegated something will one day be grateful to you for the moments with the person who needed care and they were shared in the family. To delegate, you must first sort out your priorities and delegate everything that you don’t necessarily have to do yourself. My astonishment is endless when I see parents carrying their children’s school bags or making room for them on public transport. I don’t know where the world is going…
  10. Plan as much time as necessary in advance so that care can be successfully shared by all involved in this activity. Make a calendar that is accessible to everyone at any time. Don’t be afraid to talk to your loved ones about assignments, especially when you’re all together. Come up with colors to mark which duty is whose.
  11. Use technology. Use online calendars. A group chat can be extremely useful in a crisis situation. And not only that – why shouldn’t something good be reported to everyone as soon as someone learns about it?
  12. Set up an emergency fund to be used only when things go horribly wrong. Don’t count on credits and quick earnings by scraping tickets. Life is difficult and surprises us, often at the most inopportune moment. And you have to be prepared for that.

Well? Are you one of the “sandwiches”? And can you get out of there?



Share in the comments please.

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