Tag: The Sandwich Generation

My BIG takeaway from my first family caregiver support meeting

My big takeaway from 1st support mtg

I’m not my mom and my mom isn’t me.

Profound, right?  I thought so.  This simple statement slapped me upside the head when I heard this from Dawn, the owner and creator of a nonprofit organization called ALOHA (A Life Of Healthy Aging).  Dawn’s organization visits my mom’s new assisted living community monthly to offer support to resident’s families.

Dawn followed this statement with a question: ‘who is your mom?’ and challenged me to find out.  I definitely know who I want her to be – I want her to be me!  But, even though she has been my mom for 44 years, I still have some detective work to do in order to answer this question. (more…)

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30 Minutes for 30 Days: Making Exercise a Habit

bicycle 30 minutes for 30 days2A guest post by Elizabeth Hubbard

There is a truism about me: the only thing I’ve ever been able to quit cold turkey is exercise. Elizabeth of Happy Healthy Caregiver would find that unacceptable and, as much as it pains me to admit it, she’s right.


With a husband, three children and a mother that depends on me, by not taking proper care of myself, I’m making things more difficult. When I’m not taking care of myself, I’m weighed down with guilt and embarrassment. I’m also frequently in a less-than-fabulous mood, which means I’m bringing down everyone around me. That’s why I cooked up the following experiment: exercise at least 30 minutes a day for 30 consecutive days in an effort to make exercise a habit. (more…)

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It’s like feeding a nest of hungry birds

Click the image to link to my sister’s (Susie Morrell) beautiful art gallery!

When people ask me how I’m really doing (not just a drive by how you doin’) it’s hard to put into words what this season of my life feels like.  This season where I’m being sandwiched between being the encouraging, present, and fun mom I want to be for my kids AND being the caring, respectful, and motivating daughter I want to be for my mom.  Oh, yeah and somewhere in this mix I want to be a romantic, loving, and supportive wife and a fit and healthy woman who successfully juggles a full time rewarding career and builds a mission rich profitable business on the side!  Feels crazy just writing it all out.  Like you, I want it all and I want life to feel harmonious.  It’s a big order to fill.

If you give a bird a worm

Since it’s difficult to describe a sandwiched life, I thought I’d try an analogy.  I often tell people that life is like a puzzle and you just have to figure out how all the pieces connect but reflecting on this now, this analogy is just way too simple.  After all, when you are putting together a jigsaw puzzle you have the luxury of evaluating one piece at a time. What I feel, and probably many of you do, is the constant pulling of different important and competing priorities that frankly are never satiated.  A better analogy for a mom in the sandwich generation is to think of a nest of hungry baby robins with mom flying back and forth to keep everyone well fed. (more…)

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Back to School, Back to You!

Back to school goal settingMy kids are already in their 2nd week of the school year!  I know, my Northern friends, we folks in Georgia start early!  Please note that we do end our school year earlier than most.  My kids are usually out of school before Memorial Day.  Not sure why our nation has to shift our school year based on the region of the country we live in.  It just is what it is.


Time for personal goal setting and reflection

In my eBook, The Savvy Sandwicher’s Survival Guide: How to care for YOUR health while caring for others (now available to my community members), I have a chapter where I dive into dreaming big and setting personal goals.  I call this chapter ‘Be a goal digger’!  In this chapter, I share one idea that works for me which is to revisit personal goals when my kids return to school.  Most Americans set goals as part of their New Year’s Resolutions.  I used to, too.  However, I found that once I got past New Year’s Eve and Day, I was in a post-holiday fog.  I had just emerged out of a crazed compacted time period where I was indulging more and moving less and frankly just wanted to get my Christmas decorations packed up.  After the holiday festivities, I just need to catch my breath.  I want to get back on track with my life but I don’t want to necessarily lay down new tracks!

When back to school season rolls around, my entire family is switching up routines and schedules.  So…it makes sense to find the pockets of time where I’m going to insert my healthy me time.  Quiet personal reflection time also tends to be more of an option while the kids are at school.  I suggest using ‘My Big Dreams’ worksheet included as a resource in the Happy Healthy Caregiver Community to get your dreams flowing.  In my ebook, which is also in the community, I share a few of my big dreams and also share my ’50 before 50 list’.  The ‘Big Dreams’ worksheet gets you to brainstorm around the four areas in the image below.Create Your Own Dream Worksheet

A simple self-assessment

So what does your current state of self-care look like?  My sister sent this tool to me recently. It’s called the Caregiver Self-Assessment Questionnaire and she found it on the PBS’s Caring for Your Parents webpage.  It’s a great tool to incorporate into your back to school reflection because it helps you evaluate if you are taking care of yourself – the caregiver.  I took the quiz and my ‘yes’ score totaled to ‘8’ which was on the fringe of a being in a high degree of distress.  Yikes!  I’m lucky that my answers to the questions about sleep and physical health are positive.  I gave myself a ‘7’ on current level of stress (1 is the lease amount of stress) but I feel like I could give this question a different score each week – sometimes each day!  I definitely don’t feel like I’m a ‘7’ consistently.  Right now, there is a lot of juggling of tasks and activities going on.   I just feel tired of the pace and often crave just being still.  Not to mention that the past few weeks I’ve been off my routine with vacation, the one year anniversary of my dad’s death, mom’s hospitalization (she’s home now!) and my kid’s starting a new school year.  For the overall health question, I gave myself a ‘4’ (again, 1 is the best score).  I’m definitely focused on overall improvements and have formed some great healthy habits over the past year.  I’m truly proud of what I have accomplished amidst so much crazy.

I love how this PBS quiz gives you specific action items you can take if your score falls within the high degree of ‘distress’ category. By all means, if you haven’t seen your doctor in over a year, finish reading this blog post and make your appointment. Identifying areas where you can ask for relief is another great next step.  Seeking support from others via a group may also provide a healthy outlet. I certainly hope you are finding some relief and encouragement from my blog and social media accounts. I know I find comfort and support by just knowing I’m not the only person in the world feeling the squeeze based on caregiving responsibilities. I also love that PBS and other respected organizations are promoting the importance of self-care and giving us permission to not feel guilty about caring for ourselves.

It’s as easy as 1…2…3!

Since I’m the teacher sharing knowledge, I want to end this post with some specific homework so that you can apply what you have learned:

  1. Decide when you are going to do your annual goal review and planning. Schedule this session on your digital calendar.
  2. Write down 1-3 personal goals for the current month. Schedule a monthly goal review session on your digital calendar.
  3. Write down your 1-2 personal goals for the current week. Block out time on your calendar for the activities related to your goal.

Once you complete these steps, I have no doubt you’ll be able to raise your Personal Development grade up to an A+ and I look forward to celebrating your success!

“Either you run the day, or the day runs you.”

– Jim Rohn

Time for Caregiver Self Care

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Driving mom from Michigan to Georgia…it’s what you do.

mom's trip to michiganMy family has two lake homes in Hubbard Lake, Michigan.  For health reasons, my mom hasn’t been able to visit Michigan in a few years.  My siblings and I were determined to get her there this year.  We have dangled this trip in front of her as an incentive for her to take better care of her health and we wanted her to be around the extended family as many have not seen her since my dad’s memorial last fall.  Thankfully, she was able to go.  It took much preparation, and patience but I know in the end we are all glad we went. (more…)

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Seven ways to pay your health first and still be a super caregiver


©2013_SusieMorrell_title_6x6_ oil on panel_hlowres with self care text
My sister painted this! Click image to see her online gallery!

Finding the time to take care of your own health with all the competing priorities of work, children, and an aging parent is near impossible.  There is no lost time to be found in a ‘sandwiched’ life.  I’ve experienced first-hand what happens to a mother’s life (and father’s too!) when you put yourself last on the priority list.  My parent’s believed they gave us everything growing up – all our needs were met and many of our wants.  But because they did not prioritize their own health on their daily to-do lists, their health paid the ultimate price.  Starting in their 60’s the lack of attention they gave themselves caught up to them in countless hospital visits, numerous prescription drugs, and a compromised lifestyle that caused them to be dependent on others to help care for everyday activities like cooking, showering, and running errands.  I believe that my dad would still be with us and he and my mom would be enjoying their golden years and retirement savings by traveling and having the energy to maximize each day.  Witnessing these choices, led me to wanting a different lifestyle for myself and others. (more…)

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A day in the life of a sandwich generation mom

mom cardigan or supermom cape

You just never know what the day will bring.  Each one is a new adventure.  Here’s a diary of what happened today:

5:55 am – Rise and shine!  Got up after one snooze even though I wanted two…my dog Shadow was ready to get up so he jumped from the bed when I turned to snooze the second time.  Got up since he’ll just bug me until I do.  Put workout clothes on that I had set out night before.  Swallowed morning prescriptions and vitamins.  Gave hubby a quick smooch and headed downstairs.

6:10 am – Chugged pre-made morning cleanse juice and took my Shih Tzu Shadow for a quick ‘squirt’ (the kids walk him when they get up).

6:30 am – Listened to Chalene Johnson’s Build Your Tribe podcast while I drove to my trainer’s facility for our scheduled workout. (more…)

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I’m positive that attitude changes everything!


Your attitude is a choice

Once, when I was going through a difficult time and didn’t know what direction life would take me, I was told by an acquaintance who had been through a similar rough patch that if you worry and then suffer, you suffer twice. But, if you don’t worry (and just believe) and still suffer in some way, you would only suffer once.

Newspaper columnist Erma Bombeck gave similar advice about worrying:

As a person who often measures value based on productivity and how many to-do items I cross off my list and as person who would like to suffer once and ideally not suffer at all, the act of worrying just isn’t for me. Rather, I choose to believe that there is a lesson to be learned or a bigger plan to be followed.  I choose to be positive. (more…)

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Quench your thirst to learn and grow



Are you running on empty?  We’ve all seen examples of busy moms who lose their personal identity sacrificing it all to care for the needs and wants of their families, job, or community. Sometimes we tragically see these moms in the news after they have snapped and plummeted off the deep end and hurt people in the process.  Most of these women probably meant well initially and maybe didn’t realize they were losing themselves along life’s journey.

Be a role model

Caring for others in spite of ourselves happens easily since there is always something we can do to help someone else, to make our homes cleaner, or to make our boss happier.  It’s a slippery slope and in my opinion sends the opposite message that most of us want to pass on to our children.  I believe it’s important for kids to see their moms growing and thriving.  They can’t witness our personal growth unless we carve out time for ourselves.  I want my son, and especially my daughter, to see that I am still a person underneath this supermom cape.  I have dreams, I have goals, and I have interests.  We encourage our children and our aging parents to step outside the comfort zone.  Let’s practice what we preach!

It’s not selfish to take care of yourself physically and emotionally.  It’s an act of survival.  Ignoring internal passions and interests is dangerous as it can build resentment and burnout.  Avoid the burnout by igniting the little bits of kindling inside of you.  We all were individuals before we were married and parents.  What interests did you have then?  In what ways, even if small ways, can you feed those interests and still care for others? (more…)

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