Mothers in what is known as the sandwich generation are likely to feel more stress than any other age group as they balance the demanding, delicate acts of caring for both their growing children and their aging parents. This is a topic near and dear to our hearts and, in this episode, we discuss the struggles of the sandwich generation, how to manage some of the inherent stress and obligation, and what we can do differently once our children are in this age range and dealing with some of the same issues. Kelly and Megan also share their personal stories of life in the sandwich generation, from the pressures they experienced to the sacrifices they had to make, and we investigate why it’s so difficult to make time for self-care or reduce stress during this period of non-stop service to others. We also highlight the value of asking for help, relying on your support system, and being transparent with your employer, as well as the importance of making and communicating a plan for your own end of life care so that, when your children enter the sandwich generation, you can alleviate some of their stress. Tune in today to learn more!
Read The Article Here:
Key Points From This Episode:
Megan shares her personal experience of being in the sandwich generation.
A definition of the sandwich generation, which is usually in the age range between 35 and 59.
Kelly shares her personal story of caring for her grandmother, her husband, and her kids.
The pressure Megan feels to do more and be there for her father while she still has young children that need her.
One of the biggest stressors for those in the sandwich generation: guilt.
Find out why there is no official age group that qualifies as the sandwich generation.
Hear about some of the sacrifices and challenges that come with caring for elderly parents.
Why it is difficult to make time for self-care, take time off, or reduce stress during this period.
How to make sure you don’t slip into long-term unhealthy habits because of the stress.
Self-care doesn’t have to mean a spa day; it can simply be sitting down to enjoy your coffee!
The importance of knowing when to ask for help.
What you can do for others in the sandwich generation who might need your help.
We all need a support system; why it is important to reach out to yours when necessary.
The value of being transparent and honest with your employer during this difficult time.
Why it so important to have a plan for your own end of life care and communicate it.
The financial toll that the sandwich generation bears and how long-term care insurance can help alleviate it.
Understanding the stress this period can put on your marriage and taking care to nurture it.
Don’t be afraid to go to couples’ therapy; it has the power to save your marriage!
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
[00:00:01] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to She’s a Full On Monet, a digital lifestyle magazine for women. Every week, our Editor-In-Chief, Kelly Castillo, along with Megan Block and special guests, participate in a deep-dive discussion about recent articles and topics we have covered. We invite you to become part of our community, where everyone’s welcome.
[00:00:26] KC: Welcome to She’s A Full On Monet. This is Episode 5. I’m your host, Kelly, and I’m here with Megan.
[00:00:31] MB: Hello, everybody.
[00:00:33] KC: Today, we’re going to be talking about a topic that I think is near and dear to both of our hearts; the sandwich generation and the struggles of that generation, how to manage some of the stress and obligations, and things we can learn to do maybe a little bit differently once our children are in that age range and dealing with the same stuff.
I left my laptop at airport security. I got home from Houston last night. I was there for just one night and it was a very rushed trip and I was very discombobulated. Alex had forgotten to take off his – he has one of those Cartier love bracelets that you like screw on. You can’t just take it off. You have to unscrew it. So, he was wearing it and then TSA was like, “Oh, you’re setting off the metal detector. You need to go into this other area and be like completely patted down.” My daughter Gabby, she wears hers through security all the time, but she is not a Middle Eastern man in his 60s, so she’s much less suspect, I guess.
They pulled him aside and it was this whole thing, so I was responsible for getting both of our stuff out of the bins and like not holding up the line and he has a million small things. He had his watch, his belt, his wallet, his sunglasses. Oh, my gosh, he just needs a purse or something. Because I was like trying not to leave any of his stuff and, in the meantime, I left my laptop. So, I had to run out this morning and grab – I went to Target and got like a $200 laptop.
[00:02:08] MB: Are you serious?
[00:02:10] KC: Yeah, because I had no other way to film, I mean, to record this podcast. I had a desktop computer.
[00:02:18] MB: You’re going to get your other one though, right?
[00:02:20] KC: Yeah, I’ll eventually get that one back and then I’ll give this one to one of the kids or I’ll sell it or something. But I mean, my desktop computer is in like a loft office that I have, so it’s open to the household, which is great when I’m working. I can hear when someone calls for me. But not so great when you’re trying to record something and don’t want dogs barking and a husband calling for you and phone ringing and doorbell ringing.
[00:02:47] MB: Resilient. Resilient, is your word for sure. I don’t know, I certainly wouldn’t have – you’re a problem solver. I love that. I love it. Well, mine’s not as insane. I mean, one of my kids is done with school and then the next one is done with school next week. So, they’re in the middle, and then my dad was in the hospital, and now he just got transferred to a nursing home until his situation can get better. My little brother’s taking care of him, but like, I’m up here, worrying and trying to do what I can from here, so I’m worried about him and taking care of them and yeah, it’s just –
[00:03:25] KC: It’s like the universe tried to give you the best possible example for this episode, so that they can – you can talk about it.
[00:03:33] MB: It was always like, very much like resonated with but then it’s like, “Well, let me give you a prime example of what’s going on and how to handle it.” Now I’m like, “Well, maybe I’ll just tune in and also learn something too.” Because when I was a kid, my mom passed away before my grandparents. Her parents got old enough to really need that sort of situation. So, I didn’t have an example growing up of what to do with this situation. So, the idea of making sure my kids or the next generation or whatever your kids don’t have – can handle it better, or maybe handle it in a much more – I don’t know, there’s not really a better way. But you’re making these big decisions and handling these big emotions as they’re coming up and you’re dealing with these big issues as they’re coming up, and it’s like, “Is there a way to prepare for that before it comes so that you’re not so not blindsided, but it’s just tough?”
[00:04:31] KC: It is, yeah. First of all, for anyone listening who doesn’t understand the terminology, the sandwich generation is kind of a new term for this. It’s funny because in order to feel prepared today, I read several of our source articles that we were using to prep for the article, we’re writing about this subject and, as I’m reading them, I was like, “I don’t need to read this. I live this. It’s my life.”
[00:04:58] MB: I can just show up.
[00:05:00] KC: This is my life for the last five to six years. So, I get it. But the sandwich generation is basically, it’s primarily women, although it’s not only women. It seems that women tend to take on these roles more than men. But it’s anyone from the age, and generally, that age range is 35 to 59, although I’m a bit ahead of that and behind. I could be anything. You could have parents who have certain disabilities or illnesses that need your help earlier than that. You could have children who have special needs that need more help before or after that, but that’s generally what it’s considered. And basically, it means the generation of moms who are caring for both children and adult parents who are aging, or grandparents who are aging and need care.
It’s stressful enough for moms to find balance in their lives between being a mom and taking care of themselves, being a mom and having a career, being a mom and having a healthy marriage. I mean, there’s a million things that are hard. But being a mom and having kids that you’re still responsible for, whether that is an everyday carrying responsibility or financial responsibility, or just an emotional responsibility, and adding to that the need to help care for aging parents and grandparents is the most stressful time.
I mean, statistics show that this generation, sandwich generation has a higher level of extreme stress than any other age group in any other circumstance. It is very, very challenging. And the things that people – the advice that people will give you, “Oh, do self-care. Oh, take time for yourself. Oh, make sure that you get time away.” It’s not always practical. You can’t always do that. So, that’s what we were talking about today and I think we are both very qualified to talk about this subject.
[00:06:54] MB: It’s interesting, because I have my own personal ones, but I also walked through a stage of life when you were taking care of your grandma, like a lot. I just remember that was such a – understandably so, because she’s your grandma, you love your grandma. But it was such a huge part of your day to day trying to figure that out and then the shift of everything. I remember your struggle with that situation before I personally experienced my own.
[00:07:23] KC: Yeah. Well, I’ll give some background on that. My grandmother basically raised me. I considered her like my mom. That relationship was very much like a mother. In 2015, she was diagnosed with dementia. She was 90 at the time. So, I mean, it wasn’t crazy, but we did not have a lot of warning signs. She was very sharp, very independent, lived alone for 50 years before that, and had always taken care of all her own needs and even helped us with our needs. So, we were not in a caretaking mindset at that time and she had been hiding her symptoms really, really well, because she lived alone and nobody was there to alert us of that.
It took a house fire before we realized what was going on and got her diagnosed. But at the time in 2015, my kids, my youngest was 13 and then I had a 17-year-old, a 19-year-old and a 20-year-old. My oldest was struggling with his own issues that were very consuming for our family. I mean, having four teenagers and taking guardianship of my grandmother, I was her guardian, her conservator, her power of attorney, I mean, everything. I do have a sister and she helped me tremendously because she lived much closer than I did, but this was really a daily struggle. I mean, my grandmother lived for another two plus years and thank goodness we had that time with her. She passed away in March of 2017.
Then, shortly after that, my husband had started to have some pretty serious health issues that really required me to take over a lot of stuff around the house that had been his responsibility and just to take over medication and doctor’s appointments and care and things like that, and that’s kind of ongoing. My husband is quite a bit older than me. So, I’m kind of in the sandwich generation with that.
My husband’s 20 plus years older than me, so he has the normal and maybe a little extra health issue for someone in their late 60s. It’s ongoing since then, taking care of him, and taking care of the kids. Now, I mean, my kids are out of the house. My daughter is a freshman in college and is home for the summer right now. Well, I don’t have kids in the house all the time. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t still have a lot of caregiving that I do, a lot of financial help that I give, emotional help that I give.
I am still momming. It’s not over for me. Yeah, I’m still struggling with this and, Megan, I know you did see me go through that but, your dad has his own health issues that are, I’m sure, stressful for you and your kids are even smaller.
[00:10:07] MB: Yeah. It’s kind of relatively new. He fell a few times and so he had to have shoulder surgery and, because of his shoulder surgery, he wasn’t moving. I have my own personal opinions about it, but I am no doctor. I feel like he should have started physical therapy maybe sooner, but the immobility after his shoulder surgery caused some like blood clots in his legs. So, he had to go to the hospital and he’s still suffering from those things. He’s now in a nursing facility until he can – because he lives on two flights of stairs. He lives up and they’re concerned about because he has to go up with blood thinners and the blood clot that’s just like not happening right now.
He lives primarily alone. My brother, who’s four years younger than me, he’s been taking care of the majority of like, everything because I live a few hours away. But that’s the hard part is because I’m a natural caregiver. Getting these calls and hearing how he’s doing and hearing how stressed my brother is. I feel like it’s too easy to almost just call and check in. I want to do more, and I want to be there, but I have my own kids who are like, they’re not older. They still very much need me every single day. So, it’s just kind of a frustrating situation. I’m now realizing that, “Okay, my dad is not in the best of health and this might be the start of an ongoing thing.” Just trying to be there for him emotionally and physically, it’s just really hard. I’m trying to figure it all out, and do it in a way where – I don’t know, it’s hard.
[00:11:49] KC: I think one of the biggest stressors with the whole concept of sandwich generation is guilt. I know, it was for me. I mean, I felt guilty leaving my kids at home to go drive an hour and a half and care for my grandmother. But when I wasn’t there, I felt incredible guilt that my grandmother would ask for me continuously, was confused, didn’t didn’t recognize her caregiver that I had hired for her, and would be combative with her. So, I felt guilt, and then guilt also in my relationship, because between caregiving for my grandmother and caregiving for my kids, I felt like I was sacrificing time with my partner. We used to take a lot of trips. We would travel.
During those two years, I mean, I really wasn’t comfortable being away for long periods of time, because I was so worried that something was going to happen. Sometimes she would have these panic attacks, and I was the only one who could calm her down. Being away for two weeks in Europe or something just wasn’t feasible, so our lifestyle changed a lot in those two years. I have to give Alex incredible props for being so patient and so generous with everything. But it’s this struggle. When when this situation – I mean, at the time she was diagnosed, she was 90. So, we knew that this wasn’t going to go on for 15 years. This was probably a short-term illness, and this is probably what she would pass from, and that’s what happened.
But a lot of times your adult parents start having health issues in their late 60s, 70s. It can go on for decades. So, you really have to – even when your kids are like – Kenzie is four, right? If she’s going through something that requires a lot of attention, you know it’s short term. You know she’s going to grow –
[00:13:39] MB: This could be forever. He could just have a different complication. It’s frustrating.
[00:13:46] KC: It’s so frustrating.
[00:13:47] MB: Because there’s only so much you can honestly do. My brother was talking to me and he’s like, “Oh, we got to talk to dad about his health and this and that.” Because, like, you want to feel like you can fix certain things, so then you don’t feel like you have to worry 24/7, but at the same time, life is life and things are going to happen. There’s only so much in your control. Set yourself free from the guilt as much as you can, because it’s going to naturally happen. You’re going to naturally feel guilty, because you’re not somewhere else doing something else. There are so many different directions.
[00:14:20] KC: Everywhere you are, you feel like you’re supposed to be at the other place. So, it’s worse in my opinion than working mom guilt because it’s all about caregiving for people that you love. I can only imagine, like, you and I both have pretty flexible careers where we can be more hands on with our kids and with our other obligations. I know for my sister at that time, she was working full time in a very inflexible job environment. She ended up taking a three-month family leave to help with my grandmother for the very beginning, but she can only take so much time off. So, I can only imagine if that’s your career situation and you’re dealing with this.
[00:15:06] MB: Exactly. My dad, he’s also kind of in a weird situation where he also has a mom who’s 90 plus. Before he hurt himself, he was taking care of his dad. So, he also has adult children who like, you know, semi count on him as well. So, it’s tough seeing him feel guilty about his situation, because he wants to be there for his mom. He’s been living with his mom up in Northern California, primarily. So, it’s like, seeing him also in that generation, I feel like, okay, you can put an age group on it, but you can’t also.
[00:15:44] KC: I mean, Alex, his mom is 87, I think, and lives close to us, so we handle things with her when we can. Thankfully his sister is really involved with that as well, but I know he feels tremendous guilt that he, for his health reasons, that stuff is put on me, or he can’t be as available to his grandchildren, and to his mom. He’s in that position as well, but he has his own health issues that make it harder for him to do the things that I know he would prefer to be able to do. A lot of that again, falls to me.
I don’t mind doing it but, I mean, it’s exhausting. Yeah, this is extremely stressful, extremely exhausting and we ended up making so many sacrifices. I mean, in my opinion, caring for my grandmother for those few years that she was ill was a sacrifice I would make a thousand times over, because she had done so much for me in my life and she was such an amazing person, but yeah, there are sacrifices.
When you have a child, you know there’s going to be a ton of financial sacrifices, career sacrifices, emotional sacrifices, and you’re prepared for that. But I don’t think many people really consider how they’re going to handle when their parents are aging and what those sacrifices might be also on the other side. We expect it with our kids, but not so much with our parents.
[00:17:15] MB: It’s emotionally exhausting too, because they are seeing themselves not be able to do the things they’re used to and they’re not always quiet about that. So, you’re feeling this burden of watching them realize that they can’t do certain things anymore and it’s for them to be around people to see that, and then you’re carrying that. There’s just so much weight. I feel like there’s a lot of weight. There’s also a weight to like not make the whole visit or the whole conversation or whole anything about anything bad. So, you kind of always – you know when you’re around a baby, and they’re crying, and you have to like over animate to make the baby stop crying, you have to almost be overly – not overly friendly or overly happy, but you don’t want to bring them down either. But it’s just a wait.
[00:18:05] KC: You have to be super cheerful so that they don’t feel like you have resentment or that you’re seeing it as a burden, the things that you’re doing.
[00:18:12] MB: Because you don’t want them to feel guilty. Either about the guilt, they see you feeling the weight, then they’ll feel guilty about the weight, and then it will make the condition worse, sometimes.
[00:18:23] KC: I think it’s hardest for men to be in that position, especially if they’re like really career oriented, successful guys. I know like Alex is –
[00:18:34] MB: They can’t do a lot of things, and they can’t do it anymore.
[00:18:37] KC: They get so frustrated with themselves, and they don’t feel that they’re relevant anymore. That’s really hard for someone who’s used to being the one that everyone leans on to lean on anyone else. So, you also – it changes the whole dynamic of the relationship. You have to be so careful with everything that you do because, as much as you want to care for them having conversations about, “Hey, I don’t think you should be driving any longer,” or –
[00:19:04] MB: It’s hard for them to admit it, that – they’re also used to telling you what’s up. So, all of a sudden, if the roles are reversed, and it’s kind of like – it’s a humbling experience. It’s hard to admit to your son or your daughter, your granddaughter, whatever, you probably shouldn’t be, like you said, driving or doing something like that. It’s like, no one wants to have the conversation. But you also don’t want to worry about the person 24/7 either.
[00:19:35] KC: I know, for me, like, the things that I did. I try with, whether it’s my husband, or my grandmother or, eventually, I know it’s going to be my dad. You try to maintain their dignity and their sense of who they are as long as you possibly can. I mean, you have to stop yourself, because it’s so normal to want to say, “Oh, remember I told you” or “We talked about this already.” You have to stop yourself from doing that because it’s not their fault for whatever they are going through, just reminding them that they have these issues, it’s so detrimental because they’re already frustrated.
Whether it’s a cognitive issue or physical issue, it’s almost like you have to ignore the limitation. I like to give give tasks that they can still do. Don’t take everything away from them. If there’s things that they can still do for themselves, let them do it, even if it takes them 10 times as long because they need that autonomous, being able to be independent, it’s so important and it’s hard.
This is such a hard place to be in life. We can’t all take time off from caregiving. If you go to a therapist or a doctor, and you say, “I’m exhausted. I’m caring for my aging parents. I’m caring for my children. I don’t have any time for myself.” They’re going to say, “Oh, well, you need to carve out time for self-care. You need to get away. You need to reduce your stress levels.” Yeah, I know, I need to do all that. Thank you, genius.
[00:21:05] MB: Like turning it off, because caregiving can feel like 24/7, and it’s like you have to cut yourself off in a way. Give yourself visiting hours in that – of course be available all the time. But it’s like, if you can’t carve time out, you got to at least cut it off mentally for a little bit.
[00:21:24] KC: Yeah, you have to.
[00:21:26] MB: Think of something else.
[00:21:28] KC: Yeah. I mean, even if it’s a 10-minute walk, even if you have to load kids in a stroller to do it, or walk with your aging parent, or whatever it is, like whatever. Whatever you need to do, and don’t feel guilty for taking that time. If you need to just go out and be in your car for a few minutes and just have silence, there should be no guilt in that.
The thing is that it’s really easy to start to slip into unhealthy habits because they are the easiest and it’s easy at the end of the day to say, “You know what, it was such a long day. I deserve a glass of wine or two glasses of wine.” That’s fine. It’s totally fine. Or, “You know what, I’m so stressed out, I’m going to go sneak through the McDonald’s drive-thru and like eat all the things”, which is also totally fine.
But i if you realize that things are becoming habits, the unhealthy little treats that you give yourself are becoming habits. I know for myself –
[00:22:28] MB: It’s like further circling the guilt spiral of whatever you’re going through, it’s not feeding you in a in a good way.
[00:22:36] KC: You’re demanding so much right now of your body and your mind and your physical self, that it’s the time where you really need to take the best care of yourself. It’s so easy not to do that because you feel like, I’ve earned this, whatever it is.
[00:22:52] MB: The science of it is, is eating certain things at certain times will mess with your sleep cycle and you need this. It’s not about like, “Oh, you are food shaming or this shaming.” No, it’s literally about what that is doing to your body chemically and how you need sleep to recover, or you need a balanced breakfast so you’re not like all over the place with your emotions. Legit, you need to take care of yourself.
[00:23:15] KC: And that can be the self-care that we’re talking about. It can be taking the time to prepare a meal for yourself, what you like, not what someone you’re caregiving for wants to eat or should eat, something that you want to eat. Just taking that short period of time to make yourself something and not like literally eat the leftover crust of your kids’ lunch.
[00:23:36] MB: Like the edges of whatever is on the cutting board.
[00:23:42] KC: Yeah. Totally done. I’ve eaten the kids’ leftover lunch off their plates over the trashcan, I can’t tell you how many times.
[00:23:48] MB: It’s just getting like, “I need you. I need you. I need you” from everywhere. It’s going to happen and if you keep letting that happen and you never take time for yourself, it’s like you’re going to explode. Something’s going to break. Personally, I feel like I’ve done that and you just – like you break. You look in the mirror, you don’t recognize who you’re looking at anymore and that’s not fair because you’re too busy taking care of everyone around you. No. You deserve that same kind of treatment that you’re giving everyone around you too.
[00:24:26] KC: Yeah, and just those little acts of like self-love that take care of yourself and can change your mind set for the day.
[00:24:32] MB: Sitting and drinking your coffee versus like drinking it on the go through your next whatever. Actually enjoying your coffee. That’s for me, self-care. I feel like people think like self-care needs to be like cucumbers in the eyes like spa day, like ignoring the phone for eight hours. No, I can literally be like, “Wow, I haven’t enjoyed my coffee in eight months and actually drink it warm without having to microwave it.”
[00:24:57] KC: I was just going to say that. When you go to put your coffee in the microwave and yesterday’s coffee is still in the microwave, that is the wakeup call we all have had, that you need to wake up, even if it’s 15 minutes earlier, so you can sit and enjoy your coffee and scroll your phone and just do whatever.
[00:25:14] MB: When was the last time you literally just sat and listened to birds chirp outside? Put the sun on your face. Self-care can be 10 minutes, but if it’s done well, it can recharge everything. Then you’re good to go for the person who needs you.
[00:25:32] KC: It might be like, you can be outside sitting with your toes in the grass or whatever, and be doing your affirmations for the day, or thinking about things that you’re grateful for, or doing something like that, that will change your perspective for the day.
[00:25:46] MB: Breathing, getting that like deep breaths in. Man, we’re so full of like, “I got to be here. I got to do this.” We’re like shallow breathing and eating poorly and not sleeping and caffeine intaking. No wonder we’re crazy.
[00:26:01] KC: And there are things that – I mean, I think also, what saved me a lot during that time period was not being afraid to ask for help. I’m someone who doesn’t like to ask for help. I’m very independent. I like things done my own way. I’ve always seen it kind of like a sign of weakness, which I know is not healthy. But that period of time really taught me to look at the resources around me and ask for help. Whether it was asking my mom friends if they could help pick up the kids from school and explaining my situation to them, which is normally something I would never in a million years do, like I’m so private. Or asking Alex for his help with things around the house that he could do at the time that just take a little bit off my shoulders. Or asking my sister because she lived closer. If she could do some of the errands and things for my grandmother. I got my nieces to help out. I mean, I really –
[00:26:50] MB: You did. I remember. Or if you are close to someone and you notice that they’re going through something, they’re in the sandwich generation, as you call it, and they’re going through something. Small things, like, “Hey, can I pick up so and so from school for you?” Or, “Hey, I have this extra”, and you don’t have to make it obvious. “Hey, I have this extra turkey that I accidentally ordered too many on Drive Up. Can I bring it by?” When really you didn’t. You just know that they probably need to not worry about dinner tonight because they’re going through something. Just find small ways to help someone going through through that.
[00:27:24] KC: I understand that a lot of people are like me and not comfortable asking for help or not even a comfortable sometimes accepting help. Sometimes just do the things. Just do the things and I mean, obviously don’t pick up their child from school without their permission –
[00:27:40] MB: If you notice and they’re not saying anything, but you know them to know that there’s like literally something up, you don’t have to – it’s intuition. You don’t have to be literally told. We’re also in that social media world now where people kind of share each other’s lives. If you know for a fact that they’re going through something big and you can be there for them in some way, the big thing is not everyone has the ability to sit down and say, “Okay, I need help. I’ve reached my human limit on what I can physically emotionally do and now I need help.” Then, you have to go through your mind of like, “Who am I not going to burden with my extra help?” “Oh, well, so and so has three kids. They probably don’t have time for this.” No.
So, if you notice that they’re needing some extra help, maybe reach out because they might be looking at your situation and going, “Oh, that might be” – they’re already assessed. You know what I mean?
[00:28:42] KC: If someone’s going through an illness in their family or anything that you know that they are probably struggling. I mean, you can, like you said, drop by food, walk their dogs for them, pick up their kids from school for them, things like that, and it’s so appreciated. I think people are always afraid to offend the people or overstep. But I mean, most people would so welcome the help. Another thing, if you can financially afford to delegate the tasks that don’t have to be done by you, this is the time of life to do that. This is worth the money. It’s hard. I’m fairly frugal, I am practical, and it’s hard for me sometimes to pay things – pay people for things that I know I can do myself.
[00:29:31] MB: Like imposter syndrome, where we feel like we can do it all and like if you can’t, then it’s like you’re not measuring up. Really though, you can, like you said, get help and pay for help and delegate and offload. Do that.
[00:29:45] KC: Make a list of all the things that have to get done in a week or a day or regularly and then see, a lot of those aren’t going to have to be you. I mean, you can Instacart your groceries if you need to or have them delivered by the grocery store. This is the time where it’s really worth it to have someone come in and deep clean your house for you on a regular basis or deep clean your loved one’s house, who physically can’t do that. Maybe that’s one of the things you’re doing for them that doesn’t need to be you. Or ordering more takeout and just having a family conversation where you say, look, for this period of time, we’re going to eat more takeout. I’m sorry, guys, but this is how it’s going to be.
[00:30:18] MB: Be honest with yourself. You don’t have to have a five-course meal while you’re also taking care of all the things we mentioned. Come on. Sorry, I’ve had a long day. I already know I’m popping that frozen pizza in the oven tonight and no shame in that.
[00:30:34] KC: No shame.
[00:30:36] MB: It’s a rough season right now and it’s not always going to be a rough season. Right now, is not my like, let’s try that meal on Pinterest today. Like, I’m exhausted. Just do what you know you can do and don’t try and overdo it, because that’s crazy. Your guilt, no wonder you say you have no me time. You’re trying to cook like a brand-new recipe, while like running back and forth and doing this and that. It’s like not going to happen.
[00:31:03] KC: No, it’s not going to happen.
[00:31:04] MB: Those are very good points.
[00:31:08] KC: I think most people would be surprised how much of a support system they have around them if they reach out to them. So, you have to find a support system, even if those people can’t, like, you can’t delegate tasks to them. It’s not that kind of relationship, but having a support system that you can talk to and you can vent sometimes when it’s too much, and having – even if it’s a friend who’s far away that you can call, or it could be a therapist on Talkspace or BetterHelp. It could be something like that, where it’s easy to call or text someone, when you have a moment and say, “Really rough day today.” Maybe they’ll send you a joke, or maybe they’ll tell you about their day, or whatever it is that kind of gets you out of your head for a minute. We all need a support system.
[00:31:49] MB: Yeah, because at the end of the day, you’re carrying like your normal things that it’s going on in your life. But then after handling the older generation that we talked about, you’re also handling that situation, and then your kids, and it’s just like weight upon weight upon weight. Sometimes simply just like getting it out verbally and talking about it, you just feel lighter and better and less congested with so much going on, because when do we ever get noticed that that older generation part is going to happen? Like you said, we know when we have a kid, this is going to happen. Nobody has a kid that comes out, like, “Hey, Mom. I’m good. You go do your thing. I don’t need you.” We know what we signed up for.
With the older generation, it could be a freak accident that just totally throws you for a loop and all of a sudden now this is your life. So, it’s just a hard transition and the more support you have, the better off you are.
[00:32:46] KC: When you talk about support. Also, if you are working a full-time job at this time, talk to your employer and let them know what’s going on in your life because, first of all, they’re going to notice that you’re stressed and you’re distracted. Maybe your job performance isn’t going to be where it usually is during this period of time. Talk to your employer, let them know what’s going on. They’ll be sympathetic. I mean, hopefully.
[00:33:09] MB: They should be. I think a lot of people are afraid to admit because it’s such a competitive space in certain spaces. They’re afraid to admit they have personal issues, because then other employers might see that as like a red flag. But you don’t want to work for someone who doesn’t understand that human life happens and things happen that are out of your control. I think people need to be transparent.
I had like an influencer type thing that I had to be completely transparent with them and it was a paid thing that I had to be like, “Sorry, I can’t do this. This is what’s going on in my life.” And I was super worried that it was going to be problematic, and they were so understanding. Most people will be understanding if you’re transparent and honest about it. You don’t have to be everything all the time. You just have to do the best you can.
[00:34:01] KC: I think, as women, we already feel that we’re not taken seriously in a professional environment and our need to take time off for our kids when they’re sick, or they have stuff going on at school or whatever is seen as unprofessional. So, talking to your employer about this might make you feel uncomfortable, but there may be solutions there for you that you didn’t even realize you had, that your employer may offer family time off, or they may offer reduced hours. They may let you work partly remotely. Who knows what they’ll say? But just letting them know.
As an employer, I can tell you, I notice when one of my employees is suddenly distracted or less available, less quick to respond to my messages. If I don’t know what’s going on in their personal life – you don’t have to tell them everything, obviously. But if I don’t know that something is going on, I might assume they’re no longer interested in their job or the motivation is gone or whatever it is. I try to always talk to them and say, “Look, I’ve noticed this what’s going on?” If I know something is going on, I’m so patient and understanding and try to coordinate with them and make it easier for them, because I’ve been there myself.
[00:35:08] MB: We’re all humans. All our situations might be different, but I’m sorry. They’re all not different. I mean, all the feelings that we go through, the emotions we go through, the process in which we go through is generally the same. So, you may never know, your employer might be literally going through the same thing you’re going through and might be completely empathetic and understanding. But they might just see that as, like you said, a distraction.
I mean, it’s tough to be open to friends and family and ask for help. It’s tough to be open to your employers, and be honest. But it’s going to be less, also less burden on you, because you’re not worried about – you’re not worried and have anxiety about like, “Oh, well, what if this shows at work?” Well, yeah, it will show at work. It will show at work, it has shown at work, but you want them to know so that it’s not perceived as something that’s not.
[00:36:03] KC: Right, exactly. That’s the key, I think, if you are in that kind of situation, and I can only imagine the stress that would come with that. I have learned, going through this with my grandmother, I mean, one of the first things I did after I – because I had no idea how to arrange care for someone. I had no idea what it meant to be someone’s guardian who’s an adult. I had no idea how to handle banking for her, how to hire a caregiver. I’ve never had to do any of that. I learned all of it on the fly.
[00:36:31] MB: I would Google all of that. I wouldn’t have known either.
[00:36:35] KC: Thank goodness this happened –
[00:36:36] MB: So, I feel like this might be my my thing at some point.
[00:36:40] KC: Thank goodness, this happened in 2015 and not 1995 with no Google because I don’t know what I would have done. But what I learned from this, I came home and I had this conversation with Alex and I said, “We need to make a plan because I never want my kids to be so blindsided by this.” Thankfully, my grandmother was very good about writing out exactly what she wanted for her end of life care and I didn’t have to make – one of the biggest emotional problems that I had was trying to decide if I was doing what was right for her. If I was doing what she would want. There was a tremendous amount of indecision and guilt on my part, because I wanted to serve her wishes. I wanted to do what she would have wanted. I had to guess what that was, in some instances.
[00:37:24] MB: I think a lot of people can understand that. I lost my mom suddenly, but there are people who no longer can – like their brain function is gone and they’re still alive, but they cannot function as themselves. So, people all of a sudden, like you, with your grandma, have to talk on behalf of them and you’re like, “Maybe I’m making the right decision. I don’t know.” That has to be –
[00:37:43] KC: You’re already grieving. You’re grieving the loss of this person, even though they’re physically still there and then you want to do right by them. And it feels like so much pressure. So, I told Alex at the time, I said, “This could happen to anyone. I could get hit by a bus in the street tomorrow and have brain damage and you could be making these decisions for me. It’s not an age specific issue.” So, it’s so important that we all have a plan, and that we communicate that plan, whether we write it down and put it in an envelope and tell our kids to open it in case.
[00:38:17] MB: It’s very important.
[00:38:20] KC: People don’t like to talk about it. They think it’s morbid. They think it’s – I don’t know, bad mojo. But it’s so important. I can tell the emotional burden that you put on your family when they have to guess it’s so, so sad and so hard. I also learned a lot with my grandmother about long-term care and end of life care and how expensive that is. I mean, I was fortunate enough to be able to hire a caregiver for my grandmother, which without that, I don’t know what we would have done. We would have had to try to move her into our house. It would have been a disaster not having her there but our house was not suitable for an elderly person.
[00:38:54] MB: You have to arrange everything and like install stuff sometimes. Put in their stairs. It’s a lot. Going either, to a place, having someone come, having them go home. It’s financially –
[00:39:05] KC: So difficult. We lived in a three-story house with marble stairs everywhere, and an unfenced pool. I mean, it would have been a disaster. Not safe for anybody. So, I was able to keep her in her own home with a caregiver. But I priced out, like memory care facilities. I priced out private nursing. 24-hour private nursing, 7 days a week, can run you over 200 grand a year. And I don’t think that most people are expecting that at the end of their life. Everybody worries about retirement. Everybody has an idea that they need to save for retirement, whether they’re doing it or not, they know they should be. There’s 401(k) and IRA. Everyone’s got 401(k) or an IRA or they want to, or we all know we need to do that.
[00:39:53] MB: It’s not The Notebook where you’re chilling and watching the sunset and then you just go. You could need years of nursing care, years of nursing care, or you’re taking care of them.
[00:40:08] KC: Right. This is not necessarily an age specific issue. You can have something like MS, or a long-term cancer, or any one of these kinds of diseases where you need full-time care for decades. No one wants to think about that.
[00:40:26] MB: – that you’re fully taken care for life, and you have your parents. Imagine that. It’s like all from everywhere. It’s expensive.
[00:40:37] KC: Yeah, it can be a financial burden to care for your aging parents, if their financial situation doesn’t allow for you to use their own resources to do that. My grandmother’s didn’t necessarily. I covered a lot of it. We ended up selling her house after she passed and recouped some of that, but it was very expensive. At the same time, even if your kids are out of the house, I mean, right now in the world we live in today, most people are supporting their adult children, at least partially, because wages for millennials or whatever is low and it’s hard to make ends meet in the world that we live in today. So, I mean, I know I help my adult children not every month, but when they need it. It adds up too. When you’re financially supporting in some way your adult kids and your aging parents, that is a double whammy financially, and it can get really expensive really fast.
[00:41:34] MB: You have this house that’s empty, because your kids are adults, and you have this house, that you don’t need that space, but you’re still paying for it. I remember when, like, before my mom passed, I was out, she was still helping me. She had this huge house and it was just her my brother. And it’s like, you just want to like close up shop and find a cute place by the lake and like have no one call you. Now’s the time I get to live my life. But no, now you have to help your parents and your kids in college who didn’t know that rent was due this month. Yeah, it’s such a mess.
[00:42:08] KC: So, I really would recommend for anyone. People also, by the way, have these, the term boomerang children, where you think your children are moved out and independent, and then they lose their job or something happens, and they need to move back home.
[00:42:24] MB: I’m certainly in my in-law’s home.
[00:42:27] KC: Yeah, this is just the world that it is today. I strongly believe in multi-generational living. I think that’s fantastic. But it also can be stressful. So, I would encourage anyone who is middle aged or thinking about the impact that their aging may have on their children. I know I think about it a lot because of what my grandmother went through and my husband’s health issues and what we’re dealing with. I think about what my children might have to deal with, for me when I’m older. So, things like planning your end of life care.
Long-term care insurance, if you don’t have the financial resources to stay in your own home and have full time caregivers, which as I said, right now in 2021, can easily be 200 grand a year. 20 years from now, 30 years from now, when I’m thinking of that, I don’t know how much it’ll be. So, long-term care insurance is is a really great resource. If you’ve never heard of that, I strongly recommend people look into that. Writing down exactly what you want to happen. If you’re adamantly opposed to a nursing home, tell your kids and family that, write that down. If you don’t carry their way, let them know that too, so they don’t have the guilt if they have to put you in one. Because there’s so much guilt.
[00:43:41] MB: They voice that and you put them in a nursing home and they really didn’t want it and they’re miserable every day. You don’t really know why. It’s so good. I strongly, strongly recommend that too. My mom, she did not make it. But she passed away suddenly and she didn’t have life insurance and she didn’t write down anything. I think she had a conversation with my dad once that she didn’t want to be cremated. But she didn’t have life insurance. So, at the time financially, we couldn’t do what she wanted. Because putting someone in the ground is like crazy –
[00:44:16] KC: Ten grand plus, easily.
[00:44:19] MB: So, if you don’t prepare, then you’re left to – we were left guessing everything. Because it was sudden, it was unexpected. But if she had lived but then all of a sudden couldn’t speak, couldn’t function, their brain wasn’t – I mean, that was the first to go is the brain function. So, if she lived but the brain was no longer there, it would still be the same situation. Well, what would she want to do? If you’re sitting there alive but can’t speak for yourself, you’re leaving it up to everyone else to figure it out and that’s hard.
[00:44:48] KC: And it’s the most painful thing because you feel like is this what they wanted? Or would they rather have this? Am I making the right decision? Because you want to honor them. It’s so hard because you’re already in a very fragile emotional state and then you’re trying to make these kinds of decisions. It’s just not fair. If you can not put that on your kids, I highly, highly recommend you don’t. I mean, I’ve told my kids, I don’t care, I would happily live in a nursing home. I never got to live in a sorority house because I didn’t go to traditional college. I think it would be like the older lady sorority house. I saw my grandmother. We had to put her in a memory care facility for a very short period of time while we renovated her house to make it safe for her and she had burnt it down too.
But I went in there one day, and they were playing balloon volleyball and having an ice cream social. I was like, “Can I please move in here immediately? Because this looks amazing.”
[00:45:39] MB: It does look amazing. It does.
[00:45:42] KC: So, I’m fine with the old lady sorority house. That’s totally fine with me. I also know –
[00:45:47] MB: If you have strong opinions. You need to write them down. You can’t expect people to like, guess, right?
[00:45:54] KC: No, not at all. Also, one thing that was really hard for my sister and I was after my grandmother passed, and we were getting ready to sell her house, we had to go through her house, which she had lived in for 50 years, and clean it out. If there was one thing, I would have asked for her to have done differently, it would have been to start minimalizing and cleaning out her house. She was 90 when she got sick. I mean, she knew she wasn’t going to live to be 500, so she could have started getting rid of things and cleaning things out. Not that I minded cleaning it out, but I didn’t know as I was going through all the little mementos and things that she had, what had a strong emotional significance to her and what didn’t.
[00:46:32] MB: What she would have wanted to give to your kids.
[00:46:36] KC: Right. So, just tossing something in a dumpster and hold it – I would hold it in my hands and I would be like, “Did this mean something to her? Am I throwing her away?” Yeah, it was so emotional. It could have been, it was a lot of like cards I wrote her all through my childhood, paint projects I did when I was an elementary – I mean, she kept every single thing, which I thought was so sweet and I loved it. I love showing my kids. They helped me clean her house out. Showing them all the stuff, I did when I was little, and made when I was little and we found a bunch of photos and like those little –
[00:47:08] MB: I remember, you didn’t have a lot of photos of you as a kid.
[00:47:10] KC: I don’t.
[00:47:11] MB: You have one baby photo. How’s that possible?
[00:47:16] KC: I was raised by a single dad. He just he was not thinking about that.
[00:47:20] MB: I needed more proof you had an actual childhood and you didn’t just show –
[00:47:25] KC: I didn’t show up fully formed, like Buddha from the Lotus.
[00:47:28] MB: Your teens and your 20s, but like not a lot of like, she was never an actual child, I bet.
[00:47:34] KC: No. I was never a baby. No, there’s no proof. So, it was so hard to do that. So, I know, as I get older, especially if I’m diagnosed with something, I am for sure going to purge my living space and I’ll minimalize. I’ll live in a smaller space. I’ll get rid of a lot of clutter. Because I don’t want my kids to have to have those kinds of difficult decisions.
[00:47:56] MB: Things that are important to save if they’re supposed to go to someone or be done by something. Write that down for –
[00:48:03] KC: Yeah. I still have –
[00:48:06] MB: – for somebody at this time.
[00:48:07] KC: I still have crates and crates of some of my grandmother’s things because I just don’t know what to do with them and it was too hard to get rid of. I would definitely recommend that. One thing that we didn’t touch on, but I think we should quickly before we wrap up is, this is probably the most stressful time. We already know it’s the most stressful time for women going through this, but it’s the most stressful time on a marriage. This is a time when a lot of marriages fall apart and not because you know lack of commitment, but because it’s an easy time for both parties to build a lot of resentment.
The husband can feel very neglected when all your attention is on the children and the parents. It could even be his parents, but it doesn’t matter. He’s just not getting any attention. He might be understanding but if it goes on for a long period of time, it’s hard not to feel neglected. It’s hard not to feel – and then if you get attention from an outside source, it’s a really tempting time. For women, they don’t feel like they have a lot of support. They’re exhausted. At the end of the day the last thing they want to do is like be around anyone else, even if it’s their husband.
[00:49:11] MB: Even if like someone moves back in, an in-law has to – you can’t afford caregiving or a place, so they’re now moving in and, all of a sudden, the husband is now sharing a space with their mother-in-law or their mother, or their, like fill in the blank. But it’s like a total shift in where the attentions going.
[00:49:30] KC: Yeah. So, there’s resentment on both sides, because there’s resentment from the husband not having –
[00:49:36] MB: Why don’t you understand?
[00:49:38] KC: Right. You could be living with his family members who you’re not completely comfortable. So, it’s the whole situation is just like ripe for marriages to fall apart. So, I would highly recommend if you’re in this situation that you hire a sitter and a respite caregiver if you need to, if you can afford it, and go on date nights, go on weekends away. You need to recharge your batteries and you need to have time where you both agree. We’re not going to talk about the kids, we’re not going to talk about parents, we’re not going to talk about whatever else. We’re just going to spend time together and it’s really hard to do. Really hard to do.
[00:50:13] MB: We some really weird, awkward date nights where I’m like, oh, my gosh, we just talked about kindergarten ideas for 90 minutes. That was cute. That was a fun, sexy date.
[00:50:24] KC: Alex will be like, “I don’t want to talk about the kids and I don’t want to talk about this other thing that’s going on in your life.” And I’ll be like, “But that’s all I have to talk about. Nothing else is going on with me.”
[00:50:35] MB: You talk about your kids, I’m sorry.
[00:50:39] KC: My whole day.
[00:50:40] MB: Stuff like an internal moment where you’re like, I am nothing else. This is such a wakeup call that I manage bring to the social table with my husband.
[00:50:52] KC: I haven’t seen any shows. I haven’t watched any news. I haven’t read anything. I’ve got nothing for you.
[00:50:59] MB: Yeah. And it’s very important, though, to make that a priority and to not burden. Also, here’s the thing. It’s also important, because I’m currently in that situation real quick, before we wrap up, to also like, share the responsibility of who’s planning it and who’s doing what. If it’s also the person who’s also planning everybody else’s life, like the wife role, then it almost feels like I’ve –
[00:51:19] KC: Another chore.
[00:51:22] MB: – and just take myself out by not doing it. You know what I mean?
[00:51:24] KC: We trade off. I plan one, and then the next time Alex will plan it. It’s pretty funny because he’s not great at planning things. So, we get some pretty unusual things.
[00:51:33] MB: Oh, my gosh, how nice is that? You just have to show up or be told what to kind of wear. It’s never good. But sometimes they’re fun. When Dan planned our last one, we got Cheesecake Factory cheesecake to go in the mall parking lot and watched people. It’s not too fancy, but we talked forever, and I ate cheesecake, and it was like, what else do I need? Sometimes, it’s all about getting away and getting your headspace in a place where it’s not thinking about all the bullshit. You know what I mean?
[00:52:03] KC: Yeah, exactly.
[00:52:04] MB: Connecting on a level that’s like pure and fun and like doing the heart good, because it’s so dark and heavy and burdensome that you just kind of need to disconnect from that for a minute.
[00:52:17] KC: You need to be around your person and just let yourself remember who you were before all this stuff started. If you’re already past that, and you’re already into the resentment building zone, this is couples’ therapy 101. This is the time that you need to do that.
[00:52:33] MB: – for a little bit and just see how – I mean, it might be rocky at first, but you’ll get better at it.
[00:52:41] KC: Yeah. If you are already resentful or he’s already resentful, you need to talk about that in a safe environment. Don’t be afraid to do therapy. This is the time that it’s most needed. Because the thing is the kids are going to move on in their lives, and they’re not going to be a daily presence in your and your husband’s relationship, at some point. Or you and your spouse’s relationship at some point, and your aging parents will eventually either be on being at home or pass or whatever is going to happen there. It’s all temporary. At the end of that, it will be you and your partner and you guys need to be able to heal from the trauma of this sandwich generation period, and be there for each other and still, hopefully, have a great relationship. When that happens, a lot of relationships fall apart. So, don’t forget to nurture it, because it’s only going to last so long and you need each other.
[00:53:36] MB: That’s very true. Heavy one.
[00:53:39] KC: That’s a heavy topic. I feel like we’re we always pick heavy topics.
[00:53:44] MB: We can talk about like bathing suits for your body type or something. We can’t with this heavy stuff. I mean, I feel like I could talk about it because it’s easy, because life is heavy. Things are relatable. But, man. This is so personal for us.
[00:53:59] KC: It really is personal for both of us. I also wanted to let everybody know, first of all, thank you guys for tuning in. We really appreciate your support. Find us on all the social media channels and our website, of course, shesafullonmonet.com. But we’ve also started a Facebook group, which is a discussion board where you guys can all be part of the conversation, whether it’s the topic that we covered in the podcast, or one of the articles we wrote about.
If you have something that you want to say or you want to start a conversation about one of our articles, please join our Facebook group. That will be a place where everyone can kind of get involved in the conversation. I’m really excited about it. Because community is one of our brand values. This will give us the opportunity to really create a community of our followers and readers. I’m excited to launch this.
Guys, check that out on Facebook and let us know what you think. Thank you again, please follow, like, subscribe, do all the things. Do all the things. We appreciate the support. It really means a lot.
[00:54:56] MB: Yes, very much so. Thank you.
[00:54:58] KC: Thank you, guys, and see you next week.
[00:55:00] MB: Bye.
[00:55:01] KC: Bye.
[00:55:04] ANNOUNCER: Thanks so much for listening to this week’s episode. Don’t forget to bookmark our site, shesafullonmonet.com. Subscribe to our newsletter. You can also find us on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. If you’re enjoying this podcast, it helps us a lot if you can follow, rate and review. See you all next week.