The sandwich generation
That's what we're called... those of us in our late fifties and early sixties... sandwiched between our ageing parents who need our care and grown-up children who need our financial and practical support as they launch their careers and their own families.
Sometimes life can feel like an endless daily round of demands and obligations leaving us with no time to be ourselves. As soon as we've picked up a grandchild from school and delivered them safely home it's time to pop in on an ageing relative and make tea and...
In her new novel 'Not Quite Nice' actress Celia Imry (star of Calendar Girls) writes about 'put upon' grandparents who are exhausting themselves to help their families. According to Imry these obnoxious children demand babysitting and talk about their inheritance in a less than subtle way.
As a fully paid up member of the sandwich generation I have to say I don't recognise this version of events. Maybe my wife and I are just fortunate…we have lovely grandchildren and spend as much time with them as we can and none of our children have even hinted at their 'inheritance'... possibly because there isn't that much to get excited about...
According to a survey carried out for 'Senior Railcard' today's pensioners (as they are quaintly called) have three holidays a year, possess disposable income of £330 per month and drink a daily glass of wine at 6.30pm. As well as enjoying three meals out a month they spend a mere six hours a week babysitting their grandchildren.
Hmmm, sounds idyllic to me. I have to say that's not quite how things are in the Lee household. We both continue to work, albeit Wendy for two days a week, whilst I still do the full five days and more. As well as four grandchildren in this country (and two in the US) we both have ageing parents who need varying amounts of care. It rarely feels a strain however and, I don't mean to sound a 'goody two shoes', but it's privilege to be able to give back to our parents and help out wherever possible with our grandchildren.
What about you? What's your experience of being in the sandwich?