Helping the “Dagwood Sandwich” Generation
We often hear the term “sandwich generation.” This is a label coined by the media to describe adults caring for both their children and their elderly parents. They are in effect, sandwiched between two generations of their family.
Within this group is a subset I like to call the Dagwood Sandwich Generation. Some of us are members of families that generally have children early in life rather than later. I’m a Dagwood.
As a Dagwood, I have been very fortunate to have found employment with a forward-thinking company that provides flexible working arrangements for its associates. I have been the beneficiary of some type of flexible working structure since 1995.
Johnson Storage & Moving’s custom-fit policies have benefited five generations of my family!
In the beginning, I was able to remain successful as a general manager because I had the ability to work from home in the evenings after my son had gone to sleep. This allowed me to keep up with my workload without having child-care conflicts.
I was fortunate to have my mother providing child care for me, but was never put in the position of having to impose on her to keep my son for twelve hours a day because of the flexibility afforded me by the opportunity to complete some of my work from home.
The next progression for me was working a full day each week from home. What a joy to actually drop off and pick up my son from school and what a nice break for my mother to be relieved of that responsibility once a week!
During these two initial stages, my mother was the main caregiver for both of her elderly parents as well as my father’s mother. She had the responsibility of overseeing medical care for all three of them. She also was providing full-time child care to four grandchildren, including my son. She was my first example of a Dagwood.
My sisters and I rarely had back up child care available. This made it very difficult for Mom to get our grandparents to their medical appointments. Once my working structure changed to one day per week at home, she was able to schedule the appointments for the days that I was home and available to watch the children.
By 1998, I was working remotely full-time. My new position did not require my presence at any of our facilities on a daily basis.
In 2002 my mother-in-law moved into our home. She had many health issues and I was able to take her to all of her medical appointments while still completing all of my duties for my employer. One week, we had seven appointments with five different doctors. Had I not had the ability to flex my schedule, either my husband or I would have had to leave our employment to care for her. For our family, assisted living or nursing care was not an option. She was with us for the last year of her life.
My husband and I opened a business in 2005 as an outsource solution for moving and storage companies. My experience with Johnson Storage & Moving’s flexible work policies spurred the idea that this new business was possible. It never would have occurred to me had I not learned how much of our administrative duties can be accomplished well from a remote location.
My husband manages our business and I am still a full-time employee of Johnson Storage and Moving. In the years since 1999, we have been blessed with eleven grandchildren. The flexibility in our schedules has allowed us to provide emergency child care as well as regular after-school care for most of those eleven.
Johnson Storage and Moving’s flexible work policies have benefitted five generations of my family:
My grandparents – by freeing up my mother to get them to their medical appointments
Our parents – by removing the need to go to assisted living or nursing care and by reducing the stress of juggling the child care of grandchildren and eldercare of parents
My husband and me – by allowing us to fully participate in so many facets of care giving and family life that we would have missed otherwise.
Our children – by allowing us more participation in school activities and by providing various levels of child care for their children
Our grandchildren – by providing the best possible child care when they are sick and after school. (After all, what child would rather go to day care than to Grandpa & Grandma’s house?!)
And…..I am eternally grateful.