As it turns out, I am a member of the “sandwich generation.” My coworker asked if I would write for our blog, and initially I didn't think I had anything to say. But after some quiet thought, I realized that while I don't have any chronic care situations in my life at the moment, I am 100% an employee caregiver.
I have four young children whom my wife and I absolutely live for. Each are unique in their own ways, and we must care for them accordingly. I need to navigate things like cyber-bullying, screen-time, nutrition, some learning challenges, etc. Managing each of these issues takes physical time out of the day. Managing each of these also takes emotional time.
I also have parents (and in-laws) who are aging. As much as I hate to admit it, they will not be around forever. I have preparatory caregiving responsibilities with them, as well. I owe it to them to provide the type of care at this stage of their lives that they showed me as a child. So I need to navigate issues around their health, finances, housing, and more. This too takes time. This too definitely takes emotional time.
I chalk it all up to "just life" most days, but in reality it demands a lot of my time and energy. I do not always consider myself a dual caregiver, but when I step back, that's exactly who I am.
My career lies in the middle of these two major caregiving responsibilities. It’s not easy to juggle it all. Sometimes I travel for work. When come home and walk into a meeting with my child’s teacher or doctor, I often feel so unprepared. When I receive packets of information regarding my parents finances, I don’t know where to begin. Sometimes I wish there was a roadmap to follow: a pathway that would guide me step by step, knowing there are nuances for each caregiving scenario I face. That would make life easier. That would make things clearer for me. That would take away some of the emotional time.
Am I like you? Perhaps. If not, I may be like your co-worker. Or your employee. Or someone you know.
What will make my life easier? Does this all fall on me or will my employer help? I have so many employee benefits that I often forget what is there to help me. What benefits are in the company handbook that I can leverage? Education Assistance? Student Loan Repayment? Discounts for Shopping? 401K and Retirement plans? All great benefits. But none of these will help me with what I have to do right now. None will help me understand my child's IEP this morning, and then guide me through an evaluation of assisted living facilities this afternoon. Not even out company EAP.
I wish my employer could help me with this. Then I could focus more on work. It's a difficult balance. I need to care for my children. I need to care for my parents. I need time to do my job. I need some extra time for me. I wish a tool existed that could help me in all of these caregiving areas....lucky for me, I have access to one....
© Jay Titus, M.S., 2017