Working Moms

Sandwiched

I recall reading a long time ago an article about the "sandwich generation".  I remember vaguely thinking it might be me some day.  Well, now it is.  My Dad has been battling cancer, and is losing.  They have given him three months.  I have three kids, 3rd grade, PreK and 15 months.  DH travels M-TH for work.  I work 45 -50 hours a week.

Any advice?  I need to be at the hospital/doctor/hospice visits when I can to make sure things are moving along.  My mom is overwhelmed and becomes meek.  My boss rocks.  She said to do what I need to do, but of course, this comes on the heels of a 60 hour week that involved travel and this week needed to be the same - 60 hours.  I will be lucky to put up 40.  End of year school projects are kicking my posterior too; DC's request for a "small pic of little one for a special project" was met with "No, I cannot do that, sorry."

How on earth do you juggle a dying parent, three kids and a career, on your own 4 days a week?  Do bosses really "get it" and provide leniency? 

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Re: Sandwiched

  • I am so sorry to hear about your father. 

    Do you have any PTO that can be used?  When my grandmother was sick, my mom used as much PTO as she could, and then when she needed more time, took some FMLA time.  The other option is to see if your H could take some time off from his travelling schedule.  It is a partnership, after all.

    As an only child, I know this is my future as well.  (((hugs))) and keep us posted.  



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  • I'm so sorry to hear about your dad. Since my mom is widowed and my brother has also passed I know this is my future.

    Can you take some PTO or FMLA time? Maybe drop to part time for a bit ?

    Also maybe hire a mother's helper to help in the evenings your dh is gone? Or use something like task rabbit to hire some one to do some of your errands ?
  • aglennaglenn
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    So sorry to hear about your father.  I just went through this; my father passed away in December after a long battle with cancer. 

    It is a juggling act and solutions will depend on your individual circumstances, but in general my advice is to take it one day at a time, outsource as much as you can (housekeeping, yard care, simple meals, etc.) and ask for help when you need it.  If you need to change your work schedule for a while, do it.  The worst part for me has been just feeling totally overwhelmed and not really having time to process my grief because life just does.not.stop.  It is very hard and I am sorry you are going through this.

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  • I'm very sorry to hear about your father. It sounds like you have a lot on your plate. Is it possible for you to recruit more help? Maybe your MIL or FIL could help out with your kids some so that you are freed up to help your parents? Perhaps you can swing some paid help for a few months? It is the end of the college school year, do you know any college kids that would like to help out for the summer? You might be able to pay a college kid to take care of house work, laundry, kid homework help, etc.

    We had a crazy year last year and my MIL was able to come stay with us for a month at one point; it was a huge help to have her taking care of all of the cooking, cleaning, baby, laundry, groceries, etc.

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  • I'm so sorry.

    Ask for help, ask for help, ask for help!!!

    People really want to help - they just don't know how or what.  Ask your husband if he can alter his schedule a little (even occassionally) and tell his boss what's going on.  And, then just take the days as they come.

    Take PTO or some FMLA time if you need it.  Be honest and upfront with your boss and tell him/her you need some flexibility and do your best to keep them informed and stay on top of things. 

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  • image 2chatter:

    How on earth do you juggle a dying parent, three kids and a career, on your own 4 days a week?  Do bosses really "get it" and provide leniency? 

    Everyone had some good ideas for managing schedule and getting help, I'll try to answer your last question......Do bosses really "get it" and provide leniency? 

    Yes and No.  They will get it to a point, but in the end they have a job to do and a company to run.  Particularly if he lives longer than expected, your boss will probably lose patience if you are letting things slip.  I would try not to let your emotions show on the job.  If you won't be able to get something done - ask for help before the deadline is near.  Use your PTO or FMLA and try to schedule absences with enough notice. 

    I'm very sorry for your situation and for your Dad's illness.



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  • I'm so sorry you are going through this.  I also lost my dad in January of this year, and it really, really sucks.  There is no other way to put it--it just sucks.  A lot.

    I have two pieces of advice:

    1. (Like pp mentioned) Both accept and ask for help.  These are both easier said than done.  My friends were amazing, but I think I pushed their offers away at first because I wanted to seem okay and like I was holding it together.  I was not.  If people are not offering help, then ask.  Sometimes people who have not gone through something like this don't know what to do/say but are more than willing to do things if they knew what.

    2. Get as many things in order now as possible before the inevitable happens.  My dad's death was a surprise, and it is a miserable process to get paperwork, taxes, bank accounts, etc together.  The process is nearly impossible for us but it seems it does not have to be that way if you plan.  I know this can seem cold, but it's hard enough to deal with death let alone dealing with all that death leaves behind. 

    You and your family will be in my thoughts. 

  • I don't really have any advice (actually I didn't even read the other PP), but I wanted to let you know that I'm in the same situation.  My FIL is dying (they say he has maybe a week left), I have a 4 year old and a 2 year old, and I work full time. My husband (an only child) works long hours, and his mother is totally over welmed. We have all moved (temporally) into my MIL's house to help her take care of FIL, and I'm starting to lose it!  Taking care of parent and small children at the same time is daunting.  I don't mean to high jack your thread, but I want you to know that your not alone.  Who ever came up with the term "Sandwich generation" was exactly right.  Hugs and Good luck!

  • I am so sorry about your dad.  That is too much for you to deal with.  My DH travels M-Th and I have just one child and right now I feel like I am going nuts, so I can't imagine trying to do what you are doing.

    IMO, you need to take more time than just trying to squeeze it all in around 60-hour weeks.  That is not feasible.  Your situation should qualify for FMLA so take it, or take some PTO.

     

  • Netty_3Netty_3
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    I am so sorry about your father, and that you find yourself in this situation. I think now's the time to not be above asking for help from those you know who will...be it church folks, friends, or other family members, and especially DH when he's there. If anything, maybe he can give you four hours on the weekend to just decompress...and on Sunday he can help you plan dinners and cook and freeze...run errands and help clean as well. I wish I had advice for you in that department...but I doubt anyone would ask me for cooking advice.

    Make time for yourself, I think a lot of caregivers find themselves stressed out and forget to care for themselves. Also, this will help so that you're able to give your best self, and make the most of the time you have. Let the hospice nurses do their job, and you just be there to provide support and have quality time.

    My aunt did this, and my uncle was out of town a lot for work at the time and her mom was in the next state over, plus my cousin was still in HS with competetilve soccer and senior year stuff going on. My uncle stepped up a lot, and luckily my DH and I were there as well for them (we all live away from other family). Ask for help...I'm sure people are wondering what they can do and are happy to, they just don't know what it is that would be best.

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  • I just went through this, remember you cannot do it all alone.  If your father requires daily care or round the clock care, you really need to hire someone to do that.  You can work with the case worker to make these arrangements and to see what is covered by insurance and what is not.  You can hire a nany to help you with the kids and you can take FMLA if your company offers it.  Some bosses do get it, just make sure your work doesn't suffer otherwise they can use that against you if needed.

    Good Luck!!

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  • I am so sorry. I think you will probably need to take time off, ask DH to take time off, ask friends and family for help and hire help. It is important to be there for both your parents during this time. 10 years from now, what will you be glad you did, and what will not have mattered?
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  • shannmshannm
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    So sorry about your dad.

    I don't have any advice but I do think some bosses "get it." Do you have a job where lives are in the balance or the well being of people/animals is at stake? If not, I would encourage you to let things at work slide and be with dad as much as you can. Can you take leave?
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  • Also - OP - check if your work (or your husband's) or your parents has an EAP. Ours has all kinds of elder care/health resources available - some of it is just advisory too - but they can help you make arrangements and explain different options, etc.
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  • Thanks all.  I do need to ask for and get more help.  Reliability has been an issue in the past; as I am sure you guys all experience yourselves, when there is a lot going on, every minute gets scheduled and when someone who is "helping" is an hour late, it is more of a hinderance.  DH is setting his inlaws up to help more when he is out of town; that will help so much. 

    He's coming home from the hospital this evening, that will help too, as I will just pack up the kids in the evenings and we will do dinner, bath and pjs over there then drive two streets over to come home.  That way my mom can get a sort of break, and I can cook for my parents. 

    I don't know anything about FMLA for parental illness; anyone have any experience with that, how it works, etc?  To further complicate things, we just made an offer on a house on the other side of the metro area from where we are, and will be moving in July, all going well.  Right now we are in the throes of earnest money and inspections....

    And one other question for those who are or have been there....how do you locate reliable, competitively priced cremation services?  This is on my list, but calling around just seems....well, weird.  But I do have a small project plan drawn up and that is on the list.

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  • image 2chatter:
    Thanks all.nbsp; I do need to ask for and get more help.nbsp; Reliability has been an issue in the past; as I am sure you guys all experience yourselves, when there is a lot going on, every minute gets scheduled and when someone who is "helping" is an hour late, it is more of a hinderance.nbsp; DH is setting his And one other question for those who are or have been there....how do you locate reliable, competitively priced cremation services?nbsp; This is on my list, but calling around just seems....well, weird.nbsp; But I do have a small project plan drawn up and that is on the list.


    Does your dad have life insurance? Mine did through work and part of that was a policy for burial service. The company gave me a list of their vendors they worked with. I made dh, then my so, call and pick whichever one he felt was the nicest.

    As for FMLA , I remember when my brother was killed I could take FMLA for mental health reasons. I chose not to, but wish I had. I think I just needed a doctors note. Do you have an HR you can ask ?
  • I am so sorry about your dad :(. And for everything you have going on on top of that. My father passed away from cancer also, when my twins were 8 weeks old & I lived in another state. I was on maternity leave so traveling to see him a few times and to the funeral was not a work issue, but an issue of who was going to care for 2 newborns & me having to choose b/w my father and my kids, so just a different type of conflict. The way I looked at the whole situation was that (one assumes) I would have years & years with my kids, and only had a few weeks left with my dad, so I didn't want to regret anything as far as being able to see him. I suspect there were people who thought it was terrible that I left newborn twins 3 times in their first 2 months but I don't regret a thing, as I got to spend time w/ my dad before he was doing really badly, then at the end I got to say goodbye and also participate in the very difficult decision making process w/ my family & doctors and then of course was able to attend the funeral and help my mom a little bit (though not as much as I would have liked).  Thankfully my brother lived near my parents at the time and was able to be there for my mom.

    My advice would be to assess your PTO situation, use it now and then find out the FMLA deal now in case you need it (Yes you can get it to care for parents, I know many ppl who have). Always ask yourself if you will have regretted not doing something specific once he is gone.  Being present at every single hospice appt before he really begins to decline might not be the priority, so prioritize now so further along you can really get involved & support him & your mom (unless you don't think your mom is absorbing the things they're telling her about caring for him & then it might be a priority).  I would also encourage you to spend some good quality time with him now (not during the workday but when you can do it on the weekends/evenings) before anything gets to the point where communication really gets hard.  At that point, keeping him from suffering will be a priority of course but being with your mom might start to become more important... do you have siblings? figuring out a way to share in some of it might help also...

    I would talk to your hospice nurses & SW's etc for advice- they are there to support the family as well. 

    Bosses- I suspect those who have lost a parent or close family member probably get it more than others. We were lucky that MH's boss was really good about the time he ended up having to take over that period but you never know I guess. :(

    If you have the means, I'd hire someone to watch your LOs in the evenings a couple nights a week so you can go over there & spend time while keeping PTO at a minimum if it is possible.
    As everyone said, ask for help- in laws if they're nearby ( mine weren't but they did fly in on all 3 occasions when I traveled to see my dad to help MH), find a friend who you know is super resourceful and see if she'll organize some care or other things for you... it is hard to ask but many people would love to do something like that for someone.

    Cremation etc- the hospice organization probably has resources for that also and I am sure the companies are used to getting calls. It is really nice of you to do that, so that your mom doesn't have to think about it. Any other funeral/service details that can be worked out ahead of time by you (or your dad if you think he'd want to participate, that is a very individual thing obviously, some ppl do some dont) will be so helpful as much as it totally sucks to think about & do.

    GL and hugs to you. 

  • I think you've gotten great advice, I just wanted to say how sorry I am.

    My dad was sick last winter and I remember just feeling like I was going to drown.  

    I remember someone from church asking me for a favor and I tried to sort of diplomatically say no by telling her what other things were on my plate that weekend.  A few days later she arrived at my house with dinner for the family and I realized that I was, in fact, more overwhelmed and more in need of help than I thought.  After that I started being more open with people and leaning more on MIL. 

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  • I too am so sorry to hear about your dad.

    MIL was ill and was in the hospital for almost a year before she passed. We only had DS1 at the time, but it was definitely very hard to juggle.

    Do you have siblings? You shouldn't shoulder this responsibity by yourself. SIL and DH really tried to split things up, but SIL really did take on a lot bc her daughter is grown and had more time then we did to help.

    Yes, you can take FMLA to care for a sick parent. DH almost had to pull the FMLA card when his "understanding" boss stopped being understanding.

    Is your dad single? I ask bc if he is, hire an attourney to help you through probate. If your mom or a wife is in the picture, then ignore this.

    Prayers to you and your family.
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  • image 2chatter:

    And one other question for those who are or have been there....how do you locate reliable, competitively priced cremation services?  This is on my list, but calling around just seems....well, weird.  But I do have a small project plan drawn up and that is on the list.

    If he was in the military, then he can get burial benefits through the VA.   

    http://benefits.va.gov/benefits


  • Thanks for the link MrsSDGirl!  I have his DD214, and need to get on this, but it was one of those things that seemed overwhelming to navigate. 

    All of the support on this thread is amazing ladies. 

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  • image 2chatter:

    Thanks for the link MrsSDGirl!  I have his DD214, and need to get on this, but it was one of those things that seemed overwhelming to navigate. 

    All of the support on this thread is amazing ladies. 

    You're welcome!  We have everything all set up for my dad, who was in the marines.  And, I just helped my MIL get burial benefits for my FIL as he was in the navy during WW2.  Let me know if you have any questions, but as long as you have his DD214 the VA people are very helpful.

     

     


  • I hate to suggest something that may cause more work, but is having him do hospice at your house and option. It means you would have way less travel. Also, ask neighbors, relatives or friends to help with some stuff that may help you find time. My fil had neighbors helping with meals for family and his mom did hospice at home. Doctor and nurses came there so no visits, etc. Could you work from home, parents house so you could be there for visits. 
  • image jroth33470:
    I hate to suggest something that may cause more work, but is having him do hospice at your house and option. It means you would have way less travel. Also, ask neighbors, relatives or friends to help with some stuff that may help you find time. My fil had neighbors helping with meals for family and his mom did hospice at home. Doctor and nurses came there so no visits, etc. Could you work from home, parents house so you could be there for visits. 

    This for sure though I think I made an assumption (duh) in your OP that you were getting home based hospice??? Definitely the way to go.

    I'm not sure about your parents' social situation also and if having to talk to ppl about what is going on, fielding phone calls, etc  is partially what is stressing your mom out but one more tool that was EXTREMELY helpful to our family when my dad was sick was carepages.com  (I think there is another one out there too but I'm blanking on the name). It's a blog site specially for ppl w/a  sick loved one to share information and updates and information and ppl can sign up & get the updates emailed to them as you post them and also can post supportive comments & messages to your dad/family on there. It was a lifeline for us--- my mom would read my dad the new comments every day and when the 'news' was not great news, it was so much easier to put it on there to let ppl know than for my mom to have to deal w/ the phone calls or letting ppl know what was happening, etc. Obviously it can be used to share good days & good news too. Just a thought. 

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