6 Useful Tips for Managing Sandwich Generation Stress

As a member of the sandwich generation, you may be taking care of both your parents and your children at the same time. This position might lead you to feel like you’re not doing enough, or are overloaded with stress. But let us tell you: you’re doing an amazing job. You’re only one person and the fact that you keep pushing forward shows how caring you are. 

We want you to know you’re not alone. To help support you, we’ve gathered some heartfelt stress-managing tips from other sandwich generation caregivers. 

1. Building a Strong Support System 

Pictured above is the O’Donnell family and loved ones, whose story is part of the CaringBridge How We Heal Series.

It’s okay to ask for help. After all, it’s rare for someone to go through life doing absolutely everything by themselves. Receiving support is just as important as giving it. 

If you’re struggling with taking care of your older and younger folks, reach out to your friends and family. Tap your community’s resources, like your local church, food shelter and cleaning services. Use social media and caregiver support groups to receive support and get helpful recommendations. 

There’s so much help out there for you. Taking the first step of reaching out may feel difficult, but it will help to take some of the weight off your shoulders knowing that others have your back no matter what. 

“Build a great, solid support system of friends for not only yourself but your children who will undoubtedly be affected as well. Friends/family/therapy if necessary. Church, if that’s your belief system.”

Tawny P. 

“Make use of community and government resources—meals on wheels, senior advocates, meal services. Ask for help from your church.”

Chris C.N.

2. Don’t Discount What Others Can Do

Pictured above is Cyteria Knight and her rescue dog Halo. Cyteria’s story is part of the CaringBridge How We Heal Series.

Sometimes you might feel like you’re the only one who can take care of everything. Consider taking a step back and seeing what others are truly capable of doing, including those you’re taking care of. 

Your children may be able to take out the trash or dust your bookshelves. Your parents might be able to do certain things on their own, like making their own lunch. It depends on your particular situation, but it can be worth taking a look to see where your load can be lightened, even in the smallest ways. 

And don’t forget your support system. If someone wants to help run errands, prep meals or simply babysit for an evening, take them up on their offer.

“Don’t discount what others are able to do. Let the kids and parents do as much for themselves as possible, matching socks, folding towels, etc. Also never discount help that others may offer. Offers for help don’t come often so take advantage of them when they do. I have learned that things can be done differently from how I would do them and still not be wrong. God bless you!”

Karen C. 

3. Keep Priorities Organized 

One of the best things you can do when you’re caring for multiple people is to stay organized. This can look like listing out tasks and delegating them to loved ones who are willing to lend a hand. 

One easy and free way to organize support is by using the CaringBridge Planner. Here you can post tasks and errands and even request rides from your loved ones. 

Simply enter the tasks, choose the date you want it done, and send the site to your friends and family. They can go on the site and sign up to help right in the planner. It’s a simple, uncomplicated way to coordinate support and can take a huge load off your shoulders.

“Delegate as much as you can to preserve your own health!”

Edith P.

“Make time to prioritize each family member and start with yourself. It isn’t easy but necessary for survival and thriving.”

Dana H. 

4. Set Aside Time For Yourself

Pictured above is Claire Schwab, whose family story is part of the CaringBridge How We Heal Series.

We’ve all heard about the importance of self-care, but what does it actually look like for the sandwich generation? Take some time to think about it. Maybe you enjoy taking walks or lying down and meditating. It could be having 15 minutes in the morning to complete a skincare routine, or taking an hour to do a favorite hobby like gardening or drawing.

Whatever self-care means for you, set aside time to do it, even if it’s in short bursts throughout the day. Remind yourself that you’re worth taking care of and that you deserve that time. 

It’s also important to remember that by taking care of yourself, you are able to better care for others. Setting aside regular time for self-care will help reduce stress and replenish your energy.

“Depend on others to give you ‘me’ time when you feel burnt out or overwhelmed! Someone to take the kids for a movie and someone to spend time with a parent for you to take a break. You are very important and you must still have self-care and love to be there for others around you!”

Tracy Ann B. 

“Remember to take care of yourself, even if just a few minutes a day. And yes, build support through people and research resources who offer support.”

Patricia T. 

“Set time for yourself and stick to it. I took care of my mom for 11 years who was extremely demanding, and I worked as a special education director. Now I realize I had the right to save my time and tears and all, I should have said I am sorry but! Total burn out.”

Georgia F. 

5. Stay Engaged With Hobbies & Interests

What brings you joy? Do you like to scrapbook or paddleboard? Maybe you love astronomy podcasts or reading crime mystery novels. Whatever your favorite pastimes are, don’t let go of them.

Caregiving is incredibly challenging, and hobbies give us something to look forward to. When you have a busy schedule ahead of you, it can be comforting to know that later that day you’ll have some time to do something you love.

Our interests and hobbies are also a major part of who we are, and they deserve our attention. When we don’t hang onto them, we lose a very important part of what brings us joy. So know that, no matter how small a hobby seems, it’s worth your time. 

“As hard as it is…find a hobby or something you enjoy and DON’T give up on it…read, write, photograph, hike, whatever that may be that brings you joy just for YOU!”

Tawny P. 

6. Take Photos & Enjoy the Small Moments

Pictured above is Judy and Jaxson Martinez, whose story is part of the CaringBridge How We Heal Series.

It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by all the day-to-day responsibilities, but that can make you miss out on enjoying the small moments. This could be crayon drawings by your children, giggles during dinnertime or your parents giving you a hug. 

Whatever it may be, take a moment to celebrate those small treasures. Have your phone handy to take photos and videos of moments you want to remember. Years down the road, you’ll be grateful you took that time.

“Take LOTS of pictures. You will regret it if you don’t. This time is crazy and stressful and some days you will absolutely hate being in this position, but one day you will look back on this time and be thankful you were there in the hard moments to comfort your parents and hopefully help bring them joy by watching their grandchildren grow.”

Tawny P. 

“You just do the best you can and be honored that the Lord has blessed you with your parents and family. Some days you just muddle through.”

Suda S. 

“Having been there l know the blessings far outweigh the challenges.”

Sharon M.S.

How Do You Stay Present?

Pictured above is Nic Ndegwa and son, whose story is part of the CaringBridge How We Heal Series.

One of your biggest gifts is your giant heart. You take care of others because you’re a compassionate and generous person. While taking care of others can be a loving and rewarding experience, the stress of it can make you miss out on important moments.

That’s why it’s important to stay present whenever you can. If you have suggestions on how to stay in the moment, we’d love to hear from you. Your ideas could help someone going through a time of sandwich caregiving and inspire them to keep going.

Don’t Go Through Your Health Journey Alone

You can stay connected to friends and family, plan and coordinate meals, and experience love from any distance.

All of this is ready for you when you start your personal CaringBridge site, which is completely free of charge, ad-free, private and secure. Don’t spend another minute alone!

  • Maria

    About the sandwich generation. No, I’m a tortilla generation. I did not grow up with sandwiches.