by Meg Benjamin

I had never heard the term “Sandwich Generation” until one particularly intense therapy session. My therapist said to me, “You are in a unique situation, being part of the sandwich generation.” Unfamiliar with the term, I asked her what it meant. I learned that the Sandwich Generation refers to people who are simultaneously raising young children and caring for aging parents. Suddenly, I had a label for my situation.

Understanding the Sandwich Generation

The Sandwich Generation is aptly named, as it describes individuals caught between the dual responsibilities of caring for their children and their elderly parents. This demographic often faces unique and demanding challenges, balancing the needs of two dependent generations. In my case, I am raising my wonderful 5-year-old fraternal twin boys while also caring for my elderly, frail, and cancer-stricken mother.

My Personal Journey

Two years ago, my father passed away. Since then, I’ve felt a deep sense of responsibility for my mother. This sense of duty prompted me to move back to her small hometown with my twins, ensuring I could be near her and support her during her final years. I felt obligated to be there for her, to make her life as comfortable as possible.  However, this responsibility has not come without its costs. Emotionally, financially, and physically, I’ve felt the strain. I am often exhausted, more prone to illness, and emotionally stretched thin. While not all of my stress stems from caring for my mother, it is a significant factor.

Struggles and Solutions

My journey has been fraught with difficulties. I am trying to take better care of myself by setting boundaries, ensuring I get adequate rest, and avoiding overworking. However, the challenges are compounded by the fact that I work almost full time, and my husband (the father of my twins) does not live with us full time at the moment. This leaves the bulk of childcare responsibilities on my shoulders.  I thought I was managing everything fine until I almost had a complete mental breakdown a few weeks ago. It was a terrifying wake-up call.

Coping Strategies for the Sandwich Generation

If you find yourself in a similar situation, here are some strategies that might help:

1. Set Boundaries: Learn to say no when necessary. It’s important to set limits to protect your own well-being.

2. Seek Support: Don’t be afraid to ask for help from friends, family, or professional caregivers. Support groups can also offer understanding and practical advice. There is an online support group for exactly what I am describing. It’s done via Zoom and costs $35 per session. Sandwich Generation Support Group -virtual on ZOOM – Support Group in West Lafayette, IN, 47906 | Dawn Dilley (

3. Prioritize Self-Care: Ensure you take time for yourself, even if it’s just a few minutes a day. Exercise, hobbies, and relaxation techniques can help manage stress. I recommend taking a hot bath, getting a massage or doing something nice for yourself.

4. Manage Your Time: Organize your day to include breaks and downtime. Prioritize tasks and delegate when possible.

5. Access Professional Help: Therapy or counseling can provide emotional support and coping strategies. It’s essential to address your mental health proactively.

Moving Forward

Living as part of the Sandwich Generation is incredibly challenging, but it’s also a testament to the love and dedication we have for our families. While I continue to navigate these demands, I remain hopeful and committed to finding a balance that supports both my loved ones and myself.

To anyone else in this situation, know that you are not alone. Seek out resources, lean on your support network, and prioritize your health. We can only care for others effectively when we also care for ourselves.