The sandwich generation: how to navigate the challenges of a multi-generation home

While it’s an honor to support your parents, and a unique blessing for grandparents to be so involved in your children’s lives, running a home in which you have to care for both your children and your parents can be quite challenging.  Unfortunately, there’s not a one-size-fits all modus operandi for multi-generational home-makers, but there are ways of mitigating the emotional and financial challenges that you may come in contact with from time to time

Put your oxygen mask on first

The truth is the truth—you’re not going to be help for your family if you don’t first take care of yourself.  Don’t neglect providing yourself with enjoyment, alone time, or whatever helps you re-charge.

We’re sorry, we realize many of you won’t like this, but hear us out because once you really appreciate the benefits of healthy living, and the relief of stress and emotions, a healthy lifestyle is actually quite addictive:

  • Eat clean: Learn to love fruits and vegetables and unprocessed food, go light on the carbohydrates and sugars; you’ll feel better mentally and physically, and will keep yourself in tip top shape
  • Make time for exercise: Not only can a good run or bike ride calm you down, cleanse your skin, and give you a pretty swell endorphin high; it’s also excellent meditative thinking time.  You’ll be surprised at how many problems your brain can solve when you give your body a mundane task to keep itself occupied.  And, if you happen to be one of the many who coil up in disgust at even the thought of physical exertion, it’s okay to start out slow and easy; walking is great, even if you just take it one step at a time.
  • Enlist a support system: Despite all that healthy living, you will still need help (possibly with exercise, possibly with other life ventures). It’s important to flex your humility when it comes to the well-being of you, your life, and your family.  If you need to hire a nurse or tutor to help with your work load, go for it.

On a deeper level, there might be stresses you’re experiencing that you don’t feel comfortable discussion with your family.  Talk to your best friend, chat with others in your situation, and if you need to visit a counselor, do it!  It’s amazing how decompressing talking to someone with an open, nonjudgmental ear can be.

It’s not just you

Welcoming your parents to your family’s home is definitely a transition—for everyone involved.  It’s important to give your ‘rents as much independence and privacy as possible (even if it may seem like you’re the one scrambling for alone time).  Take a deep breath and remember that patience is a virtue.

Just as you would like your parents to respect your decisions and to treat you like the adult you are, make sure that you show them the same veneration. Although they may be older and a bit more fragile, allow them to complete their own tasks and errands as long as it is safe for them.

While you can’t put a price on it…

The financial pressure of providing for extended family members can throw you as much off balance as anything.  Here are a few tips on maintaining your financial wellbeing (and possibly your sanity):

  • Seek professional help: Seek out a financial advisor to help you direct your savings and investments.  Not only will they offer an objective view, having an expert on your team will dampen the burden of resting those decisions solely on you and your spouse.
  • Tax incentives (now’s your chance): There are tax deductions for people providing care for their parents, so check in with a tax professional to make sure you’re exploiting all Uncle Sam has to offer.
  • Put ‘em to work!: Have you ever met an adult who complained about their parents making them get a job when they were young? Neither have we.  Not only does it build character, a sense of responsibility, and an understanding of the value of a dollar; advising your children (if they’re old enough) to get an after-school job can accomplish a few things: they can start saving, and they may not need to ask for lunch money as often!

Of course, insurance coverage is going to be a factor for everyone—your parents as well as your children.  Your Avante agent can help you establish the right coverage for the special needs of your entire household.  Contact us today!