The Young Sandwich Generation: Tips For Coping

In Parenting by Jen30 Comments

If at times in the last few weeks it has felt as if the force behind JENerally Informed, me Jen, has been less than present it is because I was. Several weeks ago my immediate family and I made the difficult decision to place my elderly mother into an assisted living facility. I have shared before how I am a member of the sandwich generation. This is someone who is sandwiched in between two generations. They are busily raising their own children while at the same time caring for elderly parents.

It’s a hard role and in my case I am the mother to 4 children ranging in age from toddlers to teens. You might think the teen would need me less than the toddler, but that isn’t the case and so my days and nights are a perpetual juggling session full of who needs me most. That is pretty standard as a parent, but add in the care of an elderly parent and it all starts to add up faster than you can sometimes juggle.

The decision to place my mother into an assisted living facility was not one that was done recklessly or thoughtlessly. It was born from the necessity that the current care in her home we had been trying so hard to maintain for her just wasn’t working.

Over the past several years as I have researched and looked for other “sandwichers” like me, I have had a hard time finding them. I don’t think I am alone. I just think that as young parents who are trying to build careers and care for our families there is little time to share with a wider audience our experience, but we need to. Because I think that there are quite of a few of us out there right now and I know that there will be more as the parenting age averages around 40 years old.

So to all of my fellow young “sandwichers” out there I first want you to know that you are not alone on this difficult journey. I may not have walked your same path, but I bet we can share similar feelings of worry, sadness and even feeling useless and unable to deal with it all sometimes. I have had worrisome nights spent in ER rooms, middle of the night wake up calls from paramedics and return visits home in between all of this to nurse and care for a newborn baby.

It can be very difficult, but I also want to share a few tips that I wish someone had shared with me at the beginning of my journey.

Set Boundaries

This is so very important. Although we may wish to do and be everything for everyone, we can’t. And trying to do so will leave you feeling helpless and exhausted. Trust me on this one. Be aware of your schedule when scheduling doctors appointments for your parent and be realistic of your time and capabilities and schedule your time doing those things that are most important.

Enlist Help

There are two ways you can do this. First share your experience with others. You don’t have to get into the nitty gritty of what is going on, but do let others know a little about what is going on in your life. This well help them to see that your plate is full and in general not try to add more to it. I found people a lot more supportive when I started sharing what was going on rather than just trying to “grin and bear it” This can be a great help to you as you try to care for all of the family members in your charge.

The second way to enlist help is to ask. I have asked for help with smaller and menial tasks I was having a difficult time accomplishing. Perhaps a neighbor could help to drive your parent to an appointment for a routine test or Dr.’s appointment that you do not need to attend. Or you could ask a church group to help with some small weeding or household chores. I always try to be mindful of other people’s resources, but I know that sometimes people are just waiting for you to ask them to help because they are afraid to, and they don’t want to interject themselves into your routine.

Take Time For You

This is a big one. At the end of last week after my mother had been moved, I felt terrible. I was exhausted mentally, emotionally and physically. I needed time to decompress and because I knew my mother was somewhere safe I finally could. It doesn’t matter what you do during your me time, just make it happen. Because your children and your elderly parents need a healthy and well centered you, and truthfully it needs to happen whether they like it or not.

I think this conversation is so important and there is much more sharing that needs to take place for those of us who are living and breathing this experience every day, but if you have found your way here to this post somehow, hugs. Know that you are not alone and if you need someone to talk to I am here.

To all of my other JENerally Informed readers thank you for the love and compassion you have shown me in the past several weeks. Many of you have reached out to me in various ways to show you care and it really mattered to me that you did. I know this may not be something you are currently going through, but I would appreciate it if you could share this post. You just don’t know who it might help.

Stay Happy! Stay Informed!



Go ahead and share this post, you know you want to!


  1. Hubby and I went through this last year and we’re in our sixties. Mother didn’t want to be in a home as she called it and we did everything possible to see that she didn’t have to go either. When she was 94 (last year) we could no longer let her stay at home. We have her in the best place in our county and she loves it. She is thriving at 95. We don’t worry about her all the time anymore.

    Great advice here. I know you’re visiting her often. It’s just they way you are.

    Have a terrific day. ☺
    Comedy Plus recently posted…The Lord is my ShepherdMy Profile

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      We were hoping to hold off on this day for as long as possible, but it just all built up so fast. I hope my Mom thrives.I really do. It is a rocky transition so far, but at least for my peace of mind I know she is safe and has people around her 24/7 to help!
      Jen recently posted…The Young Sandwich Generation: Tips For CopingMy Profile

  2. Hi. I found this post over at the Shine blog hop. Happy that I did. I, too, am sandwiched. It can be a lonely place. The days I spend helping to care for my Mom with advanced Parkinson’s disease (she still lives at home with my Dad–not willing to go anywhere else) are filled with tasks I never imagined having to help my mother with. It’s an honor to have some flexibility in my day to help my Mom, a beautiful, gracious woman, a mother of nine, grandmother of 25, once an English teacher and a poet who now speaks in a whisper and can no longer walk or write. But my own goals and attempts at building a second career and the needs of my three children do get put on the back burner, that’s for sure. Needless to say, connecting with others, such as yourself, who are going through this difficult time as well, does help.
    Julie Jo Severson recently posted…Charles Schulz And I Might’ve Drunk From The Same Water FountainMy Profile

    1. Julie, it is so nice to meet you! Your Mom sounds like an amazing person. What a challenge this must be for her, your father, you and all who love her. Each deals with it in a different way I am sure.

      I hear you though our goals as individuals sometimes get put on that back burner. Mine have been there for too long and I am trying to help the most important ones come to fruition. Baby steps…but I am trying.

      I am so glad we connected and I am heading over to your blog now. Thank you for stopping in and sharing a portion of your story. I look forward to hearing more.
      Jen recently posted…The Young Sandwich Generation: Tips For CopingMy Profile

  3. I was just there last year. I was taking care of my parents and my family. We just relocated (due to my husband’s job) and I miss them so much. They chose to stay in the area that we were in because of their doctors. It was hard scheduling everything and making sure everything was handled from doctors appointments to school activities and everything in between.
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  4. I NEED to send this to my mom. Even though she’s no longer in the sandwich, I think it could have helped her. We were the two middle sandwichers, surrounded by my young kids and my 100-year-old grandparents. They passed away, but there are so many things we can all say about their last year(s).
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  5. Hi Jen, I’m sorry to hear that you have been having a tough time recently. Having to put your Mum into an assisted living facility couldn’t have been easy, but you know it’s the best thing for everyone concerned. Taking a step back to recharge your batteries every now and again is sound advice, a battery is never any good when empty.

    I am lucky that my parents are totally able to take care of themselves at the moment, but the time will come when they may not be able too.

    I am sure your post will touch a chord with people in a similar situation as yourself and if there is one thing I’ve learned in life, it’s that there is comfort to be taken from knowing you aren’t alone.

    Big hugs and take care.

    Debbie recently posted…Lagana Beach At SunsetMy Profile

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      Thank you Debbie! Your kind words really mean a lot. It has been very difficult for everyone, but every day we are trying to stay positive and help her get the help she needs.

      I hope your parents stay healthy for a long time, it’s a hard role to become a parent for 2 generations. But I guess we are given what we can handle. Hugs back!
      Jen recently posted…Mistaken Identity: Mother Bruce Plus A Disney Books Giveaway!My Profile

  6. Oh Jen, I feel you. My parents are really young – so I haven’t experienced this yet. They just turned 60 and they’re totally independent, in good health and act like they’re in the thirties! lol

    You’ve shared some wonderful, wise, tips here. I’m definitely pinning this to my Required Reading board.

    Thanks so much for sharing.
    Jennifer | The Deliberate Mom recently posted…5 Reasons for Christian Bloggers to Take This CourseMy Profile

  7. Thankfully the Husband and I aren’t sandwiched yet, but I see it coming. His parent are in their 70s and still caring for his grandmother. I can see the strain it’s put on their relationship (assisted living care isn’t an option, and she can’t be left alone in the home). You’re so right that it’s important to enlist help and to take time for yourself. I’m sorry you’ve had to go through the emotional turmoil associated with putting a parent in assisted living. I wish her and your family the best in your situation!
    Leslie recently posted…{Roundup} Thanksgiving PrintablesMy Profile

  8. HI. You are so courageous to write about your journey. Doing it is one thing, sharing is another. I;m sure it will be helpful for others. I’m so sorry that you have had to go through this. Sending you lots of love and positive vibes. xoxo
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