How Do You Strike A Balance Between Caring For Your Young Children While You Care For Your Aging Parents?



If you recall when you were growing up, maybe in your teens or early twenties, you always had dreams of what you will do if you had all the time and lots of cash. Some ladies just want to travel round the world, others want to help out in orphanages and prisons. A few with no lofty plans were content with just having their space to do their own thing. But life happens. So quickly, you got married and before you could blink your eye, you’ve had three kids in five years. Even the guy you got married to feels like a stranger to you, you are overwhelmed with so much responsibilities besides the huge bills to pay.

You wonder how your parents coped with six or eight kids living on about ten percent of what you earn today and none of the benefits we enjoy from technology. You want to give your kids the best but it’s so demanding. After a tiring search for the right school, the fees aren’t coming down anytime soon. Education is no longer restricted to the four walls of any school so you are under pressure to explore other opportunities to provide the exposure today’s kids think they need. Besides school fees, you’re paying for extra-curricular activities, school trips, piano lessons, summer camps, you name it.

Kids are growing at an exponential rate these days. The clothes and shoes you bought last quarter no longer fit and you’re forced to buy at overpriced rates in the budding shopping malls all around us. Many kids are picky eaters and would scream ‘yucky’ or throw a silent gaze when amala or eba is served for dinner, so your meal plan has not only changed but costs more. You want your kids to eat healthy but you don’t want them starving either so you’re constantly compromising with fries, sausages and pizzas.

Why didn’t they tell us parenting was this challenging? After five to ten years of school runs, you wonder where all this is headed while your dreams and plans sit on the shelf waiting for the kids to go off to boarding school or get married. You want to do something for yourself but considering all you need to do for your kids, you push it to the back burner and nothing gets done year in and out. Then one day you realise it’s been two decades since these babies came and you haven’t done all you really wanted to do.

It’s would have been just fair if you had only your kids to bother about, then you can have a flicker of hope that in a number of years, things should ease up a bit and you can settle down but NO! There’s the older generation, parents and parents-in-law, yes we shouldn’t ignore them but where do we draw the line about how much we do for them. Most time they make us feel guilty like they poured out their lives for us, they made sacrifices but should we put our lives on hold and be ‘interest’ from an investment and channel all we earn now to take care of their needs?
Imagine a lady building a house for her parents when she’s got none of hers and she will do this to her own kids decades later.

Is it fair that she should take on some much stress because of poor planning from her parents? Their priorities many years ago were different, they travelled overseas each holiday, bought every aso-ebi and attended every owambe in town, while they were working they pretended like they were philanthropists helping everyone just to look good and putting nothing away for the rainy day. Now the consequences of those poor decisions have been transferred to their daughter and they make her feel guilty if she’s buying a new car or going on holidays with her kids while they can’t pay their rent.

Many older folks retire from active service and have no plans on what to do next. No plans to give back to the community or even learn a new skill, besides it’s all a myth that they can’t do anything. They sit at home all day lonely doing nothing than watch their favourite programs and call a few friends. They demand you provide the funds to start a business, they harass you about visiting them ever so often and make a fuss if you don’t call every now and then. After such a busy week at work and not much quality time with your kids, do you abandon your kids and even time for yourself to visit them weekly because they have no other friends and nothing to keep them busy?

Many years ago, to be extremely fat and chubby was the norm and seen as a sign you were wealthy but these days, being slim is the new normal. Even the routine of having your annual medical tests was seen as an overkill years ago but now doctors tell us ‘if something’s caught early, the chances of surviving are better’. So everyone now has something scheduled regularly, whether it’s a mammogram or a lipogram, keep a track of your numbers. You don’t want to put so much stress on your kids paying for medical bills because you didn’t live a healthy lifestyle. With the fast-paced life and hectic schedules we struggle to cope with, many women aren’t eating, exercising or sleeping well and it’s much more later that the effects are revealed.

Some have decided to do the minimum for their kids or even abandoned their parents because there are so many issues to deal with. The constant pressure to meet their emotional needs of growing older, paying rent for those who don’t own their homes, medical bills, providing out-of-pocket allowance and you still have your kids to bother about with the attendant challenges of raising them in this 21st century.

You can still strike a balance, you might not be able to keep up a 100% on all fronts but do your affordable best that’s sustainable with no regrets later. Don’t sacrifice your dreams and ambitions for the overwhelming expense of taking care of the younger and older generation, come up with a plan that will keep the see-saw not tipped in one direction so when you’re much older, you can look back happy that you did your best. Don’t wait till you’re old to start making plans, ask yourself what you can do today to prevent your kids from any pressure from your end when they step into your shoes. Start planning today!

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