Tips for Balancing Back to School and Eldercare

Schools are open (or opening next week in my case) and any mother knows September is not for the weak. As a working mother I have always said that September can bring me to my knees. School supplies, soccer practices, homework, open houses, parent teacher conferences, meanwhile at the office, the fourth quarter is lurking and end of year stress is gearing up.

As a working daughter, any ordinary day can bring me to my knees. Hospitalizations, routine doctors visits that turn into test after test after appointment after appointment. A fall. An accident. A plain old bad day. Any change in routine can cause a caregiver stress.

balancingbacktoschoolandeldercareTo help those of you in the sandwich generation ease back into the swing of September here are 8 tips for balancing back-to-school and eldercare.

  1. Create a schedule. Then do what you can to stick to it. No more slacking off. If you got a little loose over the summer, it’s time to get strict again. Pick the day you run errands, the day you visit your mother or father, the day you do laundry, the day you will phone it in and order takeout. Choose the time you work out, go to sleep and wake up. Structure will set you free.
  2. Plan ahead. Plan the menu for the week. Prep whatever food you can on Sunday nights. Plan your outfits for the week and hang them with accessories on the back of the closet door. Pack lunches the night before.
  3. Keep your bags packed. Keep swim bags, soccer bags, overnight bags for an emergency hospital stay packed. After you wash a uniform or rinse out a snack pack, put it back in the bag so it’s ready to go for the next game.
  4. Re-adjust your sleep routine. September requires stamina. And stamina is aided by sleep. Were you sleeping seven hours over the summer? It’s time to up it to eight. Yes you’re busier now, and adding an hour of sleep to a packed schedule may feel counterintuitive. But when you are tired everything you do takes longer. Rest up!
  5. Plan some stress relief. Speaking of self care, this is not the time to skimp on self care. Get some exercise. Keep a pair of sneakers in the trunk of your car and walk where and when you can – on your lunch break, at the school track during a sports practice, around the grounds of the assisted living facility. You gotta move!
  6. Get a family calendar. Put the whole family on the same electronic calendar – iCal or Google or Outlook – whatever works with your devices. You need to be able to see all of your commitments at a glance.
  7. Do double duty. Double down on to-dos. Need to squeeze in a visit with your parent and a soccer game? Bring nana or grandpa to the game. Do your parents need groceries? Put a cooler in your trunk so you can do your shopping too and keep the milk cold while you stock your parents’ pantry. Haven’t exercised all week but hoping to socialize a bit? Ask the neighborhood ladies to walk and talk instead of whine and wine.
  8. And as always, be kind to yourself. September is an ambitious month. You will have rough patches. You will get to sign a permission slip. You will be late to the doctor’s visit. You will need to leave work early once or twice. Forgive yourself. You are doing the best you can!

For more tips on living in the sandwich generation, download the Working Daughter eBook, 55 Life Hacks for Working Daughters: Tools and Tips to Simplify Every Part of Your Life

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