Struggles of the Sandwich Generation – and How to Overcome Them

What is the sandwich generation?

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you fall into sandwich generation. The sandwich generation describes a generation of people, typically in their 30s, 40s, and 50s, who are sandwiched between two generations. They care for and support their own children and their aging parents – financially, emotionally, physically, or all three.
There are a couple of trends that have led to this phenomenon. On one hand, people are waiting longer to have children, and those children are being cared for even as adults. Think kids moving back home post-college, and adults still living with their parents or getting financial support from them (Sound familiar?). On the other hand, life expectancy has increased and people are living longer. And with smaller family sizes, there are fewer people to share the responsibility of caring for seniors as they age. As a result, there are many people, both men and women, who are the primary caregivers for both their children and their parents.
According to Statistics Canada, the sandwich generation includes over 2 million Canadians. They are usually juggling full-time jobs in addition to supporting three generations at once: their kids, their parents, and themselves.

The challenges

Balancing a job, supporting kids, and caring for elderly parents can be consuming and take a pretty big toll physically, emotionally, and financially. While it’s not all negative, and many senior caregivers find it rewarding to give back and find that is strengthens their relationship, there are many struggles and obstacles that those in the sandwich generation face:
• Mental and emotional fatigue
• Financial burden
• Burnout and exhaustion
• Less time for social activities
• Poor sleep habits
• Stress and frustration
• Less personal time
• Mental health problems (depression and anxiety)
• Less career development
• Difficulty managing their time
• Feelings of isolation and guilt

Tips for the sandwich generation

Yes, it’s difficult. But no, it’s not impossible. Here are some tips to make life easier for those in the sandwich generation:
• Assess your financial resources – re-budget to figure out how you’ll cover the costs and plan ahead for your personal goals, so you don’t get left behind.
• Take advantage of the applicable tax benefits claiming your parent as a dependent and applying for a family caregiver tax credit might be beneficial for you.
• Communicate – get your situation, including financial, out in the open, so the whole family knows where you stand.
• Spread the workload – get your kids to pitch in with household chores and have siblings and other relatives help take care of your parents.
• Consider having your parent move in with you.
• Accept help from others – you don’t have to do everything yourself. When people offer to help, let them!
• Set financial boundaries – determine how much you are willing to spend on each dependent a month, a don’t go above that amount,
• Get professional caregiving assistance – use BookJane to help you find a qualified senior or child care provider for an extra hand when you need it.
• Sleep when you can.
• Look on the bright side – it’s great that you get to spend so much time with loved ones, so try to enjoy it, find humour, and laugh as much as possible.
• Don’t try to control everything – let your children and parents be as independent as they can be.
• Take care of yourself – if you are suffering from medical issues, like anxiety and insomnia, make sure you get proper health care too.
• Help your kids get financially independent as soon as possible – teach financial literacy early on, and keep them informed with your family planning.
• Don’t forget to eat, sleep, and exercise.
• Consider counseling – or online support groups to cope with the stress of caregiving.
• Be kind to yourself – you need to take care of yourself in order to better take care of others. Give yourself a break, go to a yoga class, have a spa day class or an evening out with friends to recharge your batteries.
• Talk to your employer about benefits – many companies offer flexible working hours, telecommuting, and employee assistance programs.
• Get creative with senior care financing – have an estate sale or use your parents’ investments.

Tips for Spring Cleaning with Your Kids

It’s that time of year again. The snow is melting, the birds are chirping, and you’re starting to notice dust in all the nooks and crannies of your home. Time for spring cleaning!

It can be a daunting task to clean your home from top to bottom, especially for a busy parent with a hectic household. But it shouldn’t be a job just for you – the whole family helps contribute to the mess after all! Make the kids part of the solution rather than the problem, and have them help with spring cleaning. Whether you’re scrubbing every inch or focusing on organizing and decluttering, you could use an extra set of helping hands, no matter how little. Here are some tips for getting the kids involved in spring cleaning!

Find the right tasks

This is important, because if you give your child a task they don’t like, they’ll get bored and hate cleaning, and if you give them a task that’s too hard, they’ll get discouraged and hate cleaning. For a toddler, vacuuming the living room is too difficult, but putting away their toys is just right. Not only should the task they’re given match their ability, but they should enjoy it and find it rewarding too. Give them options and let them decide which chore they want to do first. It will be more fun for them (Many kids actually find swiffering and dusting fun!), and they’ll feel in charge, so they’ll take charge.
While you should encourage your kids to help clean the common spaces, it’s also important to get them in the habit of taking responsibility for cleaning their own things, like febreezing their gymnastics bag, for example. Just remember to have realistic expectations here – if you ask a preschooler to make their bed, they probably won’t be able to do it perfectly, but appreciate that they’re trying and let them know what a good job they did.

Be specific

You’ve probably already noticed that when you just ask your child to clean their room, nothing gets done. If you really want your child to get involved, you’ve got to start them off with small, specific tasks. So instead of giving them the general instruction “clean your room,” let them choose a specific task to start with, like cleaning their desk, organizing their book shelf, or putting their clothes away. For older kids, it’s best to give them a specific time frame too. They probably won’t jump at the opportunity to tidy up as soon as you ask them to, but if you ask them to do it by the end of the weekend or before they go to a friend’s house, you’ll have much better luck.

Make it fun

Yes, you read that right; housecleaning can be fun. Try turning it into a game to make it feel less like a chore. Set a timer and have the kids pick up as many toys as they can off the floor before it goes off. Call out a colour and have them pick up and put away everything that’s that colour. Some friendly competition can be a great way to motivate kids. Who can find the most markers with no lids? Who can pull out the most clothes that no longer fit them? When you’re going through the closet, set up baskets labelled “toss,” “save” and “donate,” and have a blast shooting clothes into the right bin like your favourite basketball stars. You’ll have so much fun you’ll forget you’re cleaning!

Play some tunes

Another tried and tested way to make cleaning fun is blasting some beats, so the whole family can disco while they dust and tango while they tidy. For little ones, you can find lots of “clean-up songs” and other great music for kids. Older kids can make a playlist of their favourite songs to crank up while you clean. Challenge your kids to finish a small task by the end of the song, and let them boogie down if they finish early. It’ll make the time go faster, and you’ll burn some extra calories.

Set aside time

Doing a thorough spring cleaning can be a process, so give your family time to work on it with no distractions. Write in the family calendar that Saturday afternoon everyone will be clearing out their closet, or Sunday morning you’re going through the pantry and scrubbing the kitchen together. But be realistic. You can’t expect to get everything done in an afternoon, and you also can’t expect your kids to spend their whole weekend cleaning. Instead of trying to get everything done in one long session, spread the job over a couple of weeks, devoting a couple hours each week to spring cleaning.

Work together

Make spring cleaning a family event, and show your kids how teamwork makes it easier to get a big job done. Not only will working as a group help motivate your kids, but it also makes cleaning more fun! Instead of sending the little ones in to scrub the tub all alone, have Dad join them and polish the fixtures while you shine the mirror. You can get in some good family time and conversation, and your kids will learn cleaning techniques from you and pick up on your positive attitude towards cleaning.

Don’t overdo it

Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you definitely won’t be able to make your home spotless in a day either. So don’t push your kids too hard or overwork them, or they’ll put up a fight and resent cleaning. Take breaks, so they don’t get burned out. Break up the cleaning into smaller tasks and more manageable chunks of time. While the kids should be involved where they can be, hire a babysitter to get the kids out of the house while you tackle the more challenging tasks, like cleaning out the garage and attic.

Offer incentives

To motivate your kids and to show your appreciation for a job well done, there’s no shame in giving your kids rewards. They might be sad they’re getting rid of their old things, so get them a new toy they’ve been asking for as a thank-you. They may complain that they have to clean, but they won’t give up if they know an extra hour of screen time is their reward. After spending a Sunday afternoon cleaning, reward the family with a pizza party and movie. This shows that if they are willing to help out, you’re willing to do them a favour.

Do good

While you’re cleaning up, get rid of anything that’s broken, the kids have outgrown, or that hasn’t been used in a year. Not only will you feel cleansed and rejuvenated, but you can do some good with the things you no longer need but are still in good condition. Help show your kids the bigger picture by donating these items to a charity that helps families in need. You could also throw a yard sale, which is a great opportunity to teach kids about money. Ask the kids to make signs, gather supplies, sort the inventory, and even be the cashier. You can keep the profits and donate whatever doesn’t get sold, or give all the proceeds to charity.

5 Things Grandparents Can Learn from Their Grandkids

Grandparents are full of wisdom, so usually we think about how they can bestow knowledge onto the younger generations. But there’s a lot older adults can learn from kids too. Grandparents might have a lot of life experience and know about family history, but kids have a different perspective on the world and know all about the current trends. Here are some things kids can teach their grandparents and some reasons you should make sure they get to spend lots of time together.

Most grandparents didn’t grow up with a lot of technology, so it might seem complicated to them at first. But once they get the hang of how to use new technologies, with their grandkids’ help of course, they can make their lives a lot easier. They could download Uber app to their iPad, for example, and use it to get lifts to run errands and go to appointments. Technology is also a great way to communicate – whether it’s through email, texting, Skype, or Facebook. Kids have grown up with these gadgets and social media channels, so they can easily teach Grandma and Grandpa the basics. Not only is this an opportunity for them to bond, but it’s also a way for them to stay in touch. You’d be surprised how many seniors use social media to stay close to loved ones and reconnect with friends from the past!

Kids can be very determined. They are learning how to do things on their own, and they want to be independent and do everything themselves. From tying their shoes to learning to read to riding a bike, they believe in themselves and don’t give up. Seniors can learn a lot from this attitude. It could inspire them to try something new they’ve always wanted to do, like learn how to swing dance or make gnocchi from scratch, and encourage them not to give up with the hobbies and tasks they’re already doing.

Video games
Yes, that’s right! Seniors can get a lot of benefits from video games. Not only are they a fun form of entertainment, but they get seniors up and moving, giving them some exercise and mental stimulation. So the next time Gram and Pap come to visit, why not have your kids teach them how to play Wii tennis and set up a round robin for some friendly competition.

Pop culture and current events
Especially today, kids are plugged into everything that’s going on in the world. Seniors, on the other hand, might start to feel disconnected from the modern world as they age. But kids can keep their grandparents informed and let them in on the latest trends, whether it’s the news, popular musicians, or the latest blockbusters and TV shows. A grandchild might want to share her most recent playlist with Gramps if he loves music. Maybe a grandkid would like to introduce his grandmother to some new TV shows, like Breaking Bad, or take her to the movies to see an Oscar-nominated film. This not only gives grandparents and grandkids something to talk about and do together, but it also helps grandparents feel in touch with the world and gives them some conversation starters.

Living in the moment
Kids know how to have carefree fun. They jump feet first into puddles, not worrying about whether or not they’re wearing rain boots. Where you see a cardboard box, they see a castle. Kids can teach seniors how to look at things with fresh eyes and how to let go and have fun. As people age, they can become cynical, unhappy, and anxious about the future, so spending time with grandkids can help remind grandparents that life is short, and we should enjoy it.

10 Ways to Make the Babysitter Hate You

You’ve found the perfect babysitter. They’re always on time, they’re great with the kids, and they can get your little Sophia to bed without a fuss. Now you want to make sure you don’t lose them. Just like you don’t want just anybody watching your kids, babysitters don’t want to babysit for just anyone. Here is a list of common pitfalls not to fall into if you want to your babysitters to work for you again.

1. Don’t welcome them
A surefire way to get off on the wrong foot with a babysitter is to not greet them properly. When you welcome a new babysitter into your home, act excited to see them and show them around. This accomplishes two things. Firstly, it sets the tone. When the kids see you’re friendly and excited to see the babysitter, they’ll follow suit. Secondly, giving the babysitter a warm welcome helps them feel comfortable. Don’t forget to give them a quick tour too, so they can get familiar with your home. It’ll be much easier for them to make the kids dinner if you show them around the kitchen before you go, and they’ll be grateful you showed them how to turn on the TV once the little ones go to bed.

2. Leave them with no information
You can’t just walk out the door when the sitter arrives without giving any information. Emergency numbers, behavioural problems, allergies, medications – this is all information your sitter needs to know for safety reasons. Some information, like when you expect to be home, you can just tell the sitter before you go, but important information, like the phone number you can be reached at, should be written down and stuck on the fridge. The safety stuff is important, but don’t forget other information that might be helpful. Does your child have a specific bedtime routine? Is there an easy way to calm them down from a tantrum? What’s the wifi password? Providing this info will make the experience go smoother and be much more enjoyable.

3. Leave a novel of instructions
Yes, you don’t want to leave the caregiver clueless and empty-handed, but leaving pages upon pages of instructions, rules and schedules doesn’t do any good either. The babysitter has experience and knows what they’re doing, so there’s no need to micromanage. You don’t need to describe how your child likes to eat apple slices at 6 p.m. while playing Clue Jr. Let your child decide when they’re ready for snack, and whether they want to play Clue Jr. or Monopoly. If the sitter is too caught up in the details of the instructions, they won’t be able to pay attention to your kid.

4. Surprise them
Surprises are for birthday parties and presents, not for babysitters. It’s not fair to forget to tell the sitter about your Saint Bernard. What if they’re allergic to dogs? It’s also not fair to tell the babysitter you only have one child, and then wait until they arrives to tell them your child has a playdate and they’ll also be watching four other kids from the neighbourhood. Babysitters need to know what they’re in for ahead of time so they can be prepared and make the proper arrangements.

5. Linger
The absolute worst thing you can do when you leave the house is have a long, drawn-out, dramatic goodbye. Yes, there may be tears. It’s a good thing you’re leaving your kid with a child care professional who knows exactly what to do! Coddling, hovering, and spying will only make things worse – we promise. The sooner you leave, the sooner they’ll stop crying, so stick to a quick, cheerful goodbye, and get out. Your babysitter will thank you.

6. Check in too often
You would probably be pretty upset if you found out the babysitter was texting and calling friends while watching your child, so you shouldn’t want them on the phone with you the whole time either. It’s reasonable to check in on a new sitter once or twice, but texting every few minutes, calling for updates constantly, and demanding pictures of playtime is way too much. You should have left the sitter your number, so let them call you if there’s a problem. Show them you trust them, give them space, and let them focus on your child.

7. Make them do too much
Yes, it’s okay to ask the babysitter to clean up after dinner or help with some homework. But to expect that they’ll go over and above the job description, like wash and fold the laundry or do a whole science project, is a definite no-no. Babysitters are there to watch your kids; they’re not maids. If you have any special requests, make sure it’s agreed upon in advance – don’t just spring it on them. Keep it simple with the sitter. Just ordering pizza makes it easy on everyone: your kids will enjoy the treat and the babysitter will get to spend time with your child instead of worrying about meal prep and clean-up.

8. Come home late
If you expect your babysitter to arrive at the agreed-upon time, the same should be expected of you. The babysitter might actually prefer if you stay out and party longer (more hours means a bigger paycheck), but you never know. They might have another job booked or plans with friends after you come home. Delays happen and might be outside your control, but if you know you’re going to come home later than you told the sitter, at least give them a head’s up, so they’re not up all night worrying.

9. Don’t pay them on time
This is a common scenario. You get home from your night out at the movies, you bought popcorn and candy, and now you don’t have enough cash to pay the babysitter. “I’ll pay you next time you babysit,” you say. Don’t! Your babysitter did their job – they kept your kids alive and well while you were out, and now you have to live up to your end of the deal. What if they don’t babysit for you again, or you don’t need them for a few months, and they were depending on the money now? Before you get home, make sure you have enough cash to properly compensate the babysitter. Lucky for you, the BookJane app negates this issue by automatically charging your credit card through the app, no tip needed!

10. Cancel last-minute (without paying)
Remember, the babysitter set aside their time to work for you with the promise of being paid. What if they turned down another gig to work for you? What if they planned their schedule around your day? Cancelling at the latest possible moment is unfair and frustrating. Same goes for coming home early. It’s great that you come home early, but what if the sitter was counting on the money from those extra hours? If you cancel on short notice or come home earlier than you anticipated, it’s common courtesy to pay your sitter anyway.

Benefits of Companionship for Seniors

You’d love to spend more time with your senior loved ones – especially if they live at home alone. But with your busy life, you might not always be able to offer the support you’d like to. BookJane can help you find an in-home caregiver to provide companionship for your senior loved one. Companions not only provide physical assistance, but they can also help seniors’ physical, mental, and emotional health, improving their overall quality of life. Here’s how.

Physical health and safety

Having someone around, especially someone that has first-aid certification (like the caregivers you’ll find on BookJane), can be a huge comfort to both you and your senior. Not only would a companion be there to help if an emergency or health issue occurs, but a companion who sees the senior on a regular basis might notice and physical changes or changes in mood that could be a sign of a serious health problem. Additionally, studies have shown that seniors who feel lonely and isolated are more likely to report poor health, and that depression and isolation can reduce someone’s life span. Regular social contact, like you’ll find with a companion, could keep isolation and depression at bay, reducing the risk of health problems.

Help with daily tasks

As seniors get older, some everyday chores – like making lunch, taking out the garbage, and getting dressed – get more difficult to do. While these tasks may become a frustrating and a struggle for an aging adult, they can be easily accomplished by a companion. Having a little bit of extra help fulfilling these daily tasks and physical needs allows seniors retain some their independence and dignity, living comfortably at home without feeling helpless or like a burden to friends and family.

Staying active and engaged

A senior living at home alone might not get up and interact with people on a daily basis. Having a companion gives them a reason to be mobile and do activities, even if it’s just for a quick walk outside or playing a card game. They can help plan outings and also provide the transportation, making it easier for the senior to get around participate in activities they love. Companions don’t just keep seniors physically active, but they also keep them mentally alert too. Engaging in conversation with others and playing simple memory games helps keep the brain sharp  and lowers the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Social connection

As a senior and caregiver spend time together, a strong bond will naturally form. This social connection and friendship helps fulfill the seniors’ emotional needs and improve overall quality of life. Having someone to do activities with and talk to – to share memories, thoughts and feelings with – adds fun and joy to seniors’ lives, especially when they would otherwise be alone. It also lifts their self-esteem and helps ward off depression and social isolation. Social engagement is known to be one of the biggest predictors for health, happiness, and longevity, which only gets more important as we age.