One of the most popular sandwiches in the US is the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. You have the bland taste of peanuts and the sweet taste of jelly in between two pieces of bread. If you’re the bread, you’re the housing that gives the peanut butter and jelly a place to join together. If you’re the peanut butter, you’re the person who holds the bread together. If you’re the jelly, you’re the person who brings sweet flavor into the mix so it doesn’t get too boring. If a sandwich only has peanut butter on it, it’s sticky and you need a drink to wash it down. If a sandwich only has jelly on it, it’s sometimes too sweet and you still need a drink to wash it down. Mix the two and you have a wonderful combination that many in the world have come to love, and you still need a drink to wash it down. LOL
Life is like a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. You have the good, the bad, and the ugly. The ugly is a very messy sandwich. But combine just the right mixture and you have the perfect sandwich that isn’t too messy. Combine just the right mixture of people and you have fellowship, love, and peace. Putting too much peanut butter and jelly on one sandwich will make the ingredients ooze out the sides, causing a sticky mess which in my family means dripping on nice clothes. Like the sandwich, people sometimes go overboard, either because they don’t say no when they really don’t have the time available to give, or because they cram so much into an already busy day that they eventually crash and burn. Either way someone is getting let down because of it. Seeing pitfalls ahead of time can save you time and energy.
Long ago, families stuck together so that there was an extended network of trusted people to help in and out of the home. It looks as though we’re coming full circle. Support groups have been popping up online and offline for several years because of the growing need for moral support and an extended family unit. But now more than ever there is a call for the “in person” moral support that came naturally in the 30’s – 50’s where women supported women by talking while sewing or hanging the laundry together. Men had their men’s clubs and people in the neighborhood sat around on Saturday socializing and winding down from their stressful week. The kids had other kids to play with in the street and grandparents helped teach young parents “how to” parent.
Back to the sandwich… Putting just the right amount of peanut butter and jelly on the sandwich can keep it from being messy and sliding around. When you’re sandwiched in between two or three generations, it’s difficult to balance because of the constant needs of so many. Strategically planning time can help. But it takes time to sit down and plan the time you have.
Today’s sandwich analogy was to help explain how important proper planning is when managing a group of people. This applies to a group of people whether at work or at home. Unfortunately most people don’t like to take the time needed to plan. But proper planning that includes “defense” and “back up” can really make a huge difference in your entire life.
Here’s a list of planning and family tips to help you get started:
1. Make a list of all appointments needed each month.
2. Group errands and appointments to the best of your ability. For example, if you schedule far enough in advance, you can get two doctors appointments scheduled on the same day for the younger & older people in the family.
a. Plan one before lunch and one after lunch.
b. Leave enough time in between those two appointments that if the doctor is late, you can hand out snacks and then take everyone to lunch afterward. Then there will be time to get to the next appointment.
(Thought: By taking your young child and older grandparent on the same day, they could help keep each other occupied if you encourage the relationship.)
c. Pack reading materials, snacks, wipes and other items to keep everyone occupied. You might have to purchase new toys or trinkets for the kids to play with. These items are only for these outings.
3. Schedule babysitters so you and your significant other can get away at least every six months.
4. Swap kids with others. If you don’t have others with kids in your life, contact a local church to see if they offer any programs and look up local MOPS or MOMS groups.
5. Get into a routine by figuring out when everyone’s active hours and inactive hours are. Then schedule chores and tasks accordingly. Often having great grandma play with little Sally for 15 minutes can be a great help.
6. Find an elder daycare that is combined with a child daycare so you can drop both generations off for some fun, giving you a break to run errands or just take a nap.
7. Ask for help. People have such a difficult time asking for help, but it’s so important. Remember, some people thrive on being needed and would love to help. As a teen I used to watch my grandfather when he had Alzheimer’s so grandma could get out. We’d play cards and talk. It made me feel important to be able to do something to help the family. But most importantly I loved my grandpa and wanted to be with him.
It’s important to spend time alone with the kids and then with the grandparents. Unless you can appropriately plan the time God has given you, you’ll burn out quickly and not be there for anyone. Little children and elders often do well when paired up. The elders love hugging and listening to the cute things little ones say. The young children do well because they just want someone to listen to them and watch them play. Many elder homes are now combining time with young children into their routine because of the awesome connection young, innocent, nonjudgmental children have with seniors.
Parents who are in the middle of the sandwich must take time away. It’s important to have time alone with themselves and their spouse to keep self needs and their marriage in order. This balancing act is a constant shift of day-to-day management.
Once you get the ingredients of the sandwich worked out, you’ll have more smooth flowing days than ones that ooze out the sides.
©2007-2014 Susie Glennan
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