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Trapped In the Middle of the Sandwich Generation

I should have had my kids when I was younger. Then they’d be out of college by now and I wouldn’t feel quite so stuck as the squished meat of the sandwich generation. Now, I find myself in the unenviable position of having to fill out applications for both college and assisted living facilities.

I knew I was losing it when I suggested that my son include the fact that he could still shower independently on his college application and told my mom that she should apply early decision to the Farm Meadows retirement community on the same day.

When we started visiting campuses and assisted living facilities during the same weekends, everything became a mish-mash. The food choices were great at the state school, but not so good at Spring Water’s Senior Community. My parents have lots of friends at the Golf View Senior Park, but my son has no friends at his reach school. His safety school offers lots of great extracurriculars, but the assisted living community with immediate openings offers no social programs.

I’ve heard parents complain that the college search becomes a blur, and I’ve spoken with friends who have found it emotionally challenging to search for the perfect place for their aging parents.

But to try to tackle both transitions at once packs a powerful double punch.

My parents needed help filling out all the forms and paper work, but so did our college-bound teenager! Both generations are on the brink of with major life transitions as they look out at what’s next.

So, where does that leave me? Smack in the middle – emotionally drained and physically exhausted. I am simultaneously hopeful for what the future holds for my son and fearful of what the future holds for my mom and dad.

I’m trying to keep all the balls in the air, yet I’ve suddenly learned that I’m not very good at juggling. Unfortunately, there aren’t any classes in how to smoothly transition your kids to college while helping your parents move on to the next phase in their lives. Instead, I’ve started taking yoga classes to help me relax.

More on the struggles of the sandwich generation:

How are other parents of teens dealing with these challenges? What have you found helpful as you navigate being both the parent of a growing teen and the child of aging parents?

Valerie Newman

Valerie Newman lives in Connecticut with her husband and two kids. When Valerie started mixing up her kid’s college applications with her mother’s nursing home applications, she knew she was part of the sandwich generation.

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