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How to Not Lose Yourself when you’re Parenting Parents As Well As Children

Beauty from mud

Are you a part of the sandwich generation? The filling in the sandwich more aptly… and a very thinly spread filling at that 😳 

The term sandwich generation has been used to describe those caring for their own children while also caring for their ageing parents, often while managing a career as well.

Whatever the balance in experiences with older children and your parents, the sandwich generation is undoubtedly in the middle, with demands placed on them from either side. 

So how do you find space for you? How do you make the “sandwich filling” more robust? How do you stop from losing your own sense of self and how do you cultivate the connection with yourself that you need?

Connection is the key word here… we need to stay connected with ourselves. Indeed, if we don’t, we’re unable to be there effectively for emotionally vulnerable teens and increasingly dependent parents. 

If we don’t foster the connection with our own self, it impacts our ability to be there for anyone else in a meaningful way.

But what does “connection with self” even mean?

To be connected with yourself, means you have a strong awareness  (a sense) of your

  • physical body and how it feels,
  • mind and how and what it thinks,
  • emotions and how they manifest themselves,
  • energy levels and how and when they fluctuate,
  • spirituality and what gives your life meaning and purpose.

On top of all of this awareness, my definition of connection with self, means that I care about my “self” – my body, my emotions, my mind, my energy and my spirit – in a sensitive, compassionate and loving way. In fact, this last bit is the key part of connection.

To be truly connected with yourself, means a lot.

It doesn’t mean, how much or in what way you exercise, how much or what you eat, when or for how long you sleep. These are all important parts of staying well, however what is a healthy way to exercise, eat and/or sleep can be different for each of us. 

When you truly know yourself, you are much more aware of what YOU need to stay healthy and well. When you have a strong connection to your own self, where your limits are, where your boundaries are and what your value truly is… when you truly feel love and compassion for yourself, you’ll  be much more open to taking time out when you need to, saying no when you need to and asking for help and support when you need it.

Connection is the key and yoga literally means connection.

The word “yoga” is a Sanskrit word, meaning to yoke… to join together, to connect. Through the practice of yoga, we can truly connect with our own self.  Connection to our body, to our mind, to our emotions, to our energy, to our spirit.

A yoga practice does NOT need to be physically challenging, sweaty and intense. Although it can be. 

A yoga practice does NOT need to be relaxing and peaceful. Although it can be.

A yoga practice needs to cultivate awareness.  It’s through this awareness that we begin to understand ourselves better.  We practice feeling the sensations in our body as we move, and as we’re still.  We practice an awareness of our breath and how it feels to alter the flow of our breath. We practice awareness of thoughts that cross our minds during movement and stillness. We practice awareness of our emotions and how they feel in our physical body. We practice awareness of the leaning in or pushing away tendencies we have. We practice letting our emotions move through us. We notice the shifts in our energy, and we learn to respect and honour those shifts.  

We learn to still our mind enough to feel the connection that brings joy to our spirit, that enhances our sense of purpose and meaning, that allows us to feel that we are a part of something much bigger than our own self, but that does not diminish us in any way. We start to feel a true sense of connection. A sense of what yoga really is.

And all of this… doesn’t necessarily change any of our life’s circumstances. We are still the parents of children who are on the beautiful but often complex and challenging journey through adolescence. We are still the children of parents who are becoming more vulnerable and less independent as they navigate their senior years.  We are still the filling in the sandwich and we are still needed on both sides. 

But our yoga practice constantly refreshes and renews us. Our yoga practice nurtures us in a way that allows us to nurture others. We feel more energetic as our yoga practice fills us up, allowing us to give without depleting our own resources, or losing sight of who we are. Our yoga practice brings us to a better state of connection with our own self and through that stronger self-connection, allows us to connect better and with more compassion and generosity toward our teens and to our parents.  

Nothing changes, but at the same time, everything changes. 

If you would like support in accessing better self connection, in developing self-care practices that you can fit into your every day, that help you find more space in your day, I’d love to be there for you. 

 

Kathy 🌱

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