Stuck Between Preschoolers and Parents: The Secret to Finding 'Me Time' for the Sandwich Generation

As a working mom, rarely do I have time to slow down and take time for myself. Between my children – the eldest having special needs, my husband – who has multiple sclerosis, my father – who suffers from Alzheimer’s, and my full time job, it is impossible to ever take a break.

I find myself juggling a million things at once – helping my kids with homework, running to the grocery store, taking my dad to doctor’s appointments, jumping on to conference calls, while simultaneously picking up toys, starting dinner and reading e-mails – it never ends.

Being a part of the “sandwich generation” is a huge challenge. Roughly 40 million Americans provide unpaid care to one or more people over the age of 65. It seems as though the list of things to do never gets shorter, the days fail to get longer, and little time remains to do anything for ourselves.

I’m sure I’m not the only woman who feels like we’re pulled in a million directions like Gumby with someone constantly asking something of us. Moms are lucky if they can get a brush through their hair let alone put makeup on. Sitting down to watch the news is a privilege and naps are a complete myth, right up there with unicorns and pigs that fly.

It is no secret that as moms, we have no time. The question remains, though, what do we do about it? There has to be a way to squeeze in some “me” time each day, doesn’t there? Or is it that we can’t relax because of the million things we think we should be doing instead.

The reason for finding that unwind time became extremely obvious to me this past year when one friend – someone who is in top shape and doesn’t smoke – had a heart attack at 40 years old and my daughter’s teacher, another fit woman who is 43, had a stroke.

All of a sudden, those petty issues such as worrying about the dust bunny in the corner or the laundry I haven’t folded yet, seem real insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

How I’ve learned to force myself to take some time off:

  • Take an electronics break. Shut off your phone, computer and any other device that connects you the outside world. Sit in your backyard, a park or the beach for just 15 minutes
  • Instruct a friend to kidnap you. Tell her not to take “no” for an answer when she invites you for a quick cup of coffee.
  • Schedule an appointment for yourself. Block out 30 minutes twice a week. If you want to sit around the house, ask your partner to take the kids out. If you’re a single mom, set up a “kid swap” with a friend.
  • If you commute to work, turn on some meditation music and zone out. Also, get some lavender oil and sprinkle some on a cloth that you can breathe into.
  • Get moving! Who cares if you can’t afford a gym or an exercise class? Take a walk, turn on the radio and dance or run up and down some stairs.

Don’t forget the little indulgences too – a piece of chocolate, a glass of wine or whatever makes you feel good. After all, a happy mommy is a happy family!

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About Alison Jacobson
Alison Rhodes, also known as The Safety Mom, is a nationally-recognized family safety expert, motivational speaker and coach. She frequently appears on national television discussing a variety of issues facing old and young alike including bullying, distracted driving and caregiving. She is the mom of four children, step-mom of another four children and the caregiver to her son with special needs and husband with MS.

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