Raising kids can be a tough job on its own, but when you add caring for your elderly parents to the equation, you find yourself in a situation that might seem impossible to manage. It can exhaust you, especially if you have a full-time job to combine with your family obligations. Here is some advice on how to make this situation easier to handle.
Make your home a safe place
Whether you’re taking care of your parents in their apartment, or they’ve moved in with you and your family, you should make sure that the place they live in is safe for them to move. The elderly are more accident-prone, since their bones are more fragile and it’s more difficult for them to walk or carry anything, so you have to do a makeover of their living space. Your goal is to minimize the possibility of them tripping, slipping or bumping into something, so rearrange your furniture to gain enough space for them to move, put non-slip mats in your kitchen and bathroom and install grab bars in your shower or above your bathtub. This way you’ll make the house safer for your kids, too. If you live in a two-floor house, put your parents’ bedroom on the ground floor, so that they don’t have to climb up and down the stairs several times a day and make sure they have all the essential things at hand when you’re away from home.
Know your limits
Although you love your parents, your priority is always your children. As soon as you notice you’re slipping and you’re not doing a good enough job taking care of them, due to the responsibilities you have for your parents, you should stop and think about your next step. Think about joining a support group for people like yourself, where you can get some precious advice. Find out if there is financial aid available to caregivers where you live, or hire a professional part-time to help you with your parents. Another option to consider is affordable retirement living with round-the-clock qualified care and any other type of support your parents might need. Although this topic could be a difficult one to bring up, try explaining to your parents that you only have their best interest in mind. Find a community where the elderly are respected and taken good care of, where there will be other people like them, so that they can have a normal social life, as well as health and mental care.
Get your kids to help
No matter how young your kids are, it’s very likely that they understand most of what is happening around them, including the fact that their grandparents are now in need of help. Of course, it will be much easier to explain things to teenagers, but even if your kids are five years old, there are ways for them to help you with caring for your parents. Naturally, you won’t force your children to do anything, especially if it’s not age-appropriate, but one thing that they can always do is spend some time with your parents, keeping them company, talking to them and cheering them up. They might even take over some of the chores, to free your time for some more difficult tasks. Bringing something from the
kitchen, helping your parents find their favorite channel on TV, or handing them a blanket when it’s chilly will relieve some of the burden off your back, while allowing your children to feel helpful and bond with their grandparents.
Take care of yourself
If you want to be a good mother and caregiver, having a meltdown and being depressed isn’t something you can allow yourself, so be very careful not to get caught up in all your duties and neglect self-care. You’re the person who puts the food on the table, always making sure both your parents and children eat healthy food. It’s just as important that you keep your own diet balanced and don’t skip meals. Try
working out a few times a week and visit your doctor from time to time, to maintain good overall health. Don’t feel guilty for taking some time off and going out for a night at the cinema or a cup of coffee with your friends. Just like your children and your parents, you’re a person with needs and feelings which need tending to, and nobody is allowed to judge you for it.
Juggling between two completely different generations can be extremely tiring and difficult, so take all the help you can get and make sure you don’t lose yourself while caring for others. Be patient, stay positive and keep in mind that you’re surrounded by the people who love you most.
About the Author
Tracey Clayton is a full-time mum of three girls. She feels she knows a thing or two about raising happy, healthy and confident kids. She’s also passionate about traveling, fashion and healthy living. Her motto is: “Live the life you love, love the life you live.