With kids adjusting to a new routine and parents needing care during prime homework-helping hours, back to school season can pose logistical challenges for many families. If you are a member of what many call the “sandwich” generation, with both aging parents and young children vying for your attention, here are five tips for making the back to school season a bit easier on yourself:
Just say no: Do you have a hard time saying “no”? When everyone from your children’s school association to your community or worship groups are asking for your help, you may have a habit of filling your plate with too many things. Remember that the more overcommitted you are, the less you will be able to fulfill those commitments and help others.
Don’t “should” yourself: When you are pulled in a few different directions, it’s common to feel guilty no matter what direction you choose. Let go of the “shoulds” and the “coulds,” and appreciate yourself for all you are doing. If you tend to be self-critical, ask a friend or your partner to help you take a step back every now and then and appreciate you for all you do.
Enlist your children: Some of the cultures around the world who live the longest are the ones who spend time with their families on a regular basis. Rather than splitting your time between your parents and your children, bring your children to visit your parents, or ask your parents to read to your children. It will make for special memories for everyone, and will give you some time to recharge your batteries.
Take care of yourself first: When you’re on an airplane, they tell you to put your mask on in an emergency first, and then to put it on that of your neighbor or child, because you really can’t help others unless you help yourself first. Take a lesson from the airlines and make sure you are getting exercise, healthy meals and time to unwind, even if it’s just for a few minutes a day.
Ask for help: Sometimes life just hands us too much. If you are overwhelmed and don’t know where to turn, consider hiring someone to help you care for your parents in their home. It will make things easier on everyone.