Women are caretakers and often, we don't even realize what's happening to us. I'm not talking about what we're doing or what is happening around us. Sitting at my laptop this morning I realized, yikes I've joined the sandwich generation. Just a few weeks ago I was writing up the “empty nesters” page for this website and I never recognized myself in the story. You might say I'm a triple-decker as I'm juggling roles across 3 generations.
Knowing that open communications is best, when my son announced he and his wife wanted to move home, I was honest and shared my excitement and fears as everyone will have to make adjustments to our new, extended family living arrangements.
Which Sandwich Describes Your Family?
More important than the sandwich you pick to describe your situation, is recognizing that your life has changed. Next you'll want to define your roles and draw boundaries to insure you meet your personal needs in addition to supporting others.
- Flew to Florida with my 95 year old father-in-law, to prepare his Florida condo for sale. This morning's crisis was not finding the shorts he took off last night, which had his wallet in the pocket. Fortunately I found the shorts before he called the condo maintenance crew to check the contents of the dumpster.
- My sister is now divorced so I'm her caretaker. After hospitalization this year, I visit monthly driving from New Hampshire to Connecticut. We review activities and address open problems. Fortunately I've got a wonderful bookkeeper handling the bills for me.
- The big news is my son and his wife are moving from Florida back to New Hampshire! They're moving in with us as they're underwater with their house. They've got one new job, renters and just need to close on the second job plus health benefits. Crazy what drives some of our decisions in life.
So now you're wondering how my home can help me juggle these care taking roles? Our homes are the one environment we control. We might go out to work but most roles we fill happen at home with friends, spouse, children plus giving back to our family and community. I'm also lucky to be working from home, with a home office to keep work separate from my personal life.
Now I'm wondering whether I need to create space that's just for me, somewhere I can go and relax for an hour a day? A month ago I would have picked my quilt room but we're giving the kids their own space on the top floor. What I want to do is read more, so I”m going to create a reading corner in the living room. More important, I'll make my first hour of the day just for me as I love this time when it's quiet and I can watch the sunrise.
What have I learned by writing this? I've learned that in order for your home to support your lifestyle, it takes a commitment on your part. It takes a shift in mindset to say what you need: space that belongs to me. It also takes a commitment to get focused on what's important, i.e. giving myself permission to spend an hour a day relaxing and reading.
I've enjoyed this time exploring the caretaker syndrome, and finding a solution that meets my needs. I'll share more and would love to hear how you're creating personal time and space for yourself.