When you became an adult, you likely focused on your education, career, and starting a family. Being a new parent and learning how to manage a young family takes a while but in time things settle down and life finds a rhythm. Just when you think things are running smoothly, you may begin to see your parents needing more and more support. Before long, you are juggling work, sports, and your parent’s health care. In the blink of an eye, you are overwhelmed and start to lose yourself.
Amongst the stresses and strains of life, supporting kids and aging parents, there needs to be space to care for your physical and mental health. Here are some tips to keep from losing yourself while supporting your family.
Tip- Refuse to be a martyr: First and foremost, there will always be needs and you can’t possibly fulfill them all. Allowing yourself to feel as though your worth and value are tied to how much you support others will crush your spirit. Also, there are not enough thanks in the world for the amount of work that goes into raising children and caring for parents at the same time. Refuse to fall into the martyr trap and run yourself into the ground. Set reasonable limits and do the best you can within reason for your situation.
Tip- Get the right help: Every home has unique needs. There is no cookie-cutter type of support. What one household needs to support the ‘sandwich,’ another may not. Don’t compare or judge the support someone gets. You may need daycare for your kids or a day program for your mom, either one is perfect if it’s perfect for you. If you need a personal assistant so you can be the primary caregiver to your family, go for it. If you want in-home health care so you can work outside the home, that’s great too. Design the life you need without shame or guilt.
Tip- Getaway regularly: You may feel guilty leaving your children when they don’t see you that often or feel badly leaving a parent with dementia or other illness. Don’t! Your child and your parent will be better off when you are well-rested and your mental health is strong. Build-in routine opportunities to get away to recharge and refresh yourself so you can be the type of support your family needs. It's easy to lose yourself quickly when you’re sandwiched between your aging parents and your kids. Take care of yourself. Be mindful of what you need for support and personal care and make yourself a priority.