Ask Amy: Stuck in the Sandwich Generation

I know many of you are trying to figure out how to balance work with your personal life. But those of you who are caring for your kids AND your parents are probably feeling overwhelmed. I hope my advice to Kathy is helpful to you.

Dear Amy,

I am smack in the middle of the sandwich generation. That’s my biggest challenge.

– Kathy

Amy Katz Dear Kathy,

Well, you probably don’t have the energy or time to give me any specifics!

Without knowing whether you’re caring for young children, older children, your parents, your husband’s parents, etc., and without knowing if you’re working full-time or part-time in your family’s business (or not at all), and without knowing whether or not your siblings are involved in the business or in caring for your relatives, I can still say with complete confidence you’re now in one of the most difficult phases of adult life. I know you know that, but you may not realize just how stressed you are.

Looking back, I realize now that during the time I was caring for my then 8 year old daughter and for my ailing parents and also working close to full-time, I was not myself. Some alien had taken over – an alien who was short-tempered, sleep-deprived, and impatient. Only years later did my friends comment on how angry I had been during those years. I had no idea how much my frustration was showing.

Even if your kids are perfect angels, and your parents are in good health but just want to spend every minute with you (well, with their grandchildren!), feeling pulled in many directions can exhausting.

So my advice to you is to reclaim some part of you that you’ve lost amidst all the responsibilities you’re handling right now. You may not even realize that you’ve lost something — your sense of humor (no surprise), your interest in a craft or hobby, the ego boost you used to get when you accomplished a project at work, or simply the time you enjoyed walking around the block with a friend.

Perhaps most importantly, you may have lost the very thing that means the most to you – the fun of being with the people you love, and who most depend on you right now – your parents and your children.

There are some real advantages to working in a family business, and I hope you’re able to enjoy them now. You undoubtedly need extra time, and that may mean that you don’t show up at work as often as your siblings do. Hopefully, they will understand. See if you can renegotiate your role for a while. Or, maybe you can work a few days from home. Don’t feel guilty about this. As you are able to get more time to feel like yourself again (and less like an alien), I suspect you’ll be more energized. You may even influence your family to adopt flexible work arrangements for people in your situation. After all, short-tempered, sleep-deprived, and impatient employees are typically not very productive.

I hope you’ll take the time to reclaim and rediscover a part of yourself that’s been missing. It’s there… just buried under deadlines, carpools, and doctors’ appointments.

Take care,





Kathy’s situation may be one that you’ve experienced, too. Please share any ways that you’ve found to cope in the comments section below.

2 thoughts on “Ask Amy: Stuck in the Sandwich Generation

  1. Thanks Amy,
    I have to remind myself not to feel guilty when I do things just for me.
    I know in order to take care of everybody else, I have to take care of myself or everything will fall apart.

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