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Balancing Career With Family Duties

Everywhere you look, there are articles and books being written about the generational workplace shakeup that has been taking place in recent years due to the introduction of Millenials and Generation Z into the workforce amidst Baby Boomers and Generation X. However, there is another generation of workers who are fighting different battles and they aren’t being talked about. In fact, perhaps you are a member of this generation without even knowing.

The Sandwich Generation is a term originally developed by Social Worker Dorothy Miller in the early 1980s to describe people in their 30s and 40s who were caught between caring for young children and aging parents. Due to the shift towards delayed parenting and increased life span, the standard age demographics for members of this generation has evolved. Fast forward to present day, and the members of this generation have morphed into adults in their 40s and 50s who are caring for aging parents and raising their children while trying to maintain a career for financial security. According to a 2016 statistic shared by the National Alliance for Caregiving, 9.3 million Americans are a part of the Sandwich Generation today, with Generation X and Millenials making up most of its members.

Two of the most significant challenges and profound roles adults will ever take on in their lifetime, are raising children and caring for aging parents. Sprinkle in the demands of a career which are typically at an all-time high as many working adults are approaching their peak level of responsibility and success in their 40s and 50s, and the risk of burnout is high. Tackling the responsibilities of work, home, family and eldercare is indeed grueling and can take its toll on those who are desperately trying to do it all. According to a 2015 survey conducted by Pew Research, the most common issues faced by members of the Sandwich Generation are stress, depression, negative impact on career and financial strain.

There are a limited number of hours in each day, yet the relentless pace of multitasking necessary to keep your nose above water while meeting these demands is exhausting. So, who cares for you? In many cases, nobody does. This is why it is critical to take a step back and reflect upon what you can do to maintain your sanity to avoid stressing yourself out to the point of a heart attack or stroke.

Here are some simple self-care tips for you to consider if you’re trying to do it all while feeling weighed down and hopeless with strain.

¯ Get off of your guilt trip — Guilt can consume your thoughts and chisel away at your self-esteem. When you’re trying to be everything for everyone, it’s easy to beat yourself up when you can’t be in two – or more – places at once. Your children and parents often need you at the same time; in many of the same ways. Your boss is depending on you to meet business needs amidst all of this and if you’re married, your spouse needs to know you’re there for them too. There is no such thing as perfection and the more you focus on believing you need to do something more, the more it will continue to bother you which interferes with what you’re trying to do.

¯ Identify your own needs — It may seem impossible to do, but it isn’t. In fact, once you begin to tackle guilt, you’ll be able to give yourself the permission to focus on you. You’re doing a great job of tending to the needs and boundaries of others, but you have needs and boundaries too. You have the right to protect your own emotional needs without feeling guilty about honoring what you can and can’t do, and what you need from others to stay sane.

¯ Practice mindfulness — The punishing pace you’re trying to maintain can scatter your thoughts and emotions, which will leave you feeling anxious, stressed and edgy with nervous energy.

While you probably don’t have time for a 30 minute meditation session, you can take an essential break of a few minutes to create some mental space and achieve a positive balance with your mind and body. Try to empty your mind and create a moment of calm by practicing mindful breathing. Simply be still and focus on your breath for a minute or two. Let go of your thoughts and let yourself be still. You’ll notice an immediate difference.

Most of all, be kind to yourself. You are doing the best you can under difficult circumstances. A small step towards self-care will go a long way. A healthy caregiver is the gift that keeps on giving.

Elizabeth P. Cipolla SPHR, SHRM-SCP is a leadership communications professional specializing in the areas of leadership training, creative recruitment strategies, employment branding, professional development and executive coaching for over 15 years. Her leadership experience comes from various industries including marketing, mass media, apparel, education, manufacturing, aerospace, nonprofit agencies and insurance. To contact Elizabeth, email her at elizabeth@catapultsuccess.com.

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