Four career options for the sandwich generation

Gemma Williams highlights the challenges facing people stuck in the so-called sandwich generation and points out some career options to consider.

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There often comes a time in life when things can feel overwhelming, especially when you’re quite literally in between a rock and a hard place. 

For the sandwich generation, which makes up an estimated six million Britons, there exists a daily struggle between caring for themselves and caring for the people who depend on them- and it’s not often the carer who wins.  

Mental health issues are extremely common for caregivers around the country, and with inflation and poor pay on the rise, it’s the people caring for those around them who are suffering all the more. 

Let’s break down what it means to be a part of the sandwich generation, and take a look at some of the ways you can try to improve your situation and get the help you need.

What is the Sandwich Generation?

The ‘sandwich generation’ is a term used to describe people who are quite literally sandwiched between caring for multiple generations. 

Children and other dependants on one side and elderly parents or grandparents on the other, is an awful lot of responsibility for any adult to juggle; and when you throw a career into the mix it’s easy to see how things can quickly become overwhelming.

Many people find their personal time reduced to literal minutes during the day, so a career, a personal life, and other pursuits can take a back seat, whilst the needs of others become the very first priority. Emotional burnout can be extremely common, especially for those who struggle to set emotional boundaries, and finding a way to care for yourself is pretty much left in the dust. 

Understanding the challenges

Balancing a career with the care for so many others has very specific challenges. For many in this group of caregivers, finding the right career becomes crucial not only for financial stability, but can make a huge difference to what you’re able to achieve in a day. 

Managing time effectively is impossible around a work schedule that is too demanding, which can lead to guilt, stress, poor performance and self-doubt; the list is very long. 

There is a societal expectation to excel in our professional and home environments, but for the sandwich generation, time and choices are limited. 

So what can be done to improve mental health, make time for others and ourselves, and have a more fulfilling career? 

4 career options to consider

Switching up your career can free up time, allow you more control, and even some job satisfaction. Here are a few tips to break out of the constraints of your work situation.  

Remote Work and Flexible Jobs 

Seeking jobs that allow you to cut out the commute and work from the comfort and safety of your own home can give you several hours of your day back. 

Working from home with flexible hours can allow you time to yourself, time to give better care to those around you and maybe even develop some new skills. Many industries now offer remote positions, including customer service roles, writing, marketing, and IT.

Entrepreneurship and freelancing 

Becoming a freelancer or starting your own business can provide superb flexibility and autonomy. Utilising an existing skill, selling products online, working with different people and enjoying your professional output can make a huge difference to your mental wellbeing. 

You can set your own schedules, prioritise tasks and work around your existing caregiving duties. Enjoy being adaptable and you might even be able to shift the work-life balance back in your favour. 

Healthcare and Social Services

It’s very important not to forget the major skill you have been developing this whole time; being a caregiver. 

You have developed the skills to nurture and care for those around you, improving quality of life and helping those who need it, these attributes should never be ignored. 

Financial Planning and Consulting

Expertise in financial planning can allow you to assist others in navigating the complex aspects of caregiving and supporting families, just as you have been doing in your own life. 

Planning for retirement, estate planning, savings and budgeting are all skills that people need help with, and you’ll benefit your own life by improving your own skills at the same time. 

Practical tips for success

  • Create a support network: Surround yourself with friends, family, or support groups who understand your situation and can offer guidance and assistance when it’s needed.
  • Set boundaries: Establish clear boundaries between work and personal life to prevent burnout. Learn to say no to additional responsibilities when necessary.
  • Take care of yourself: Prioritise self-care activities such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies that bring you joy and relaxation.
  • Seek professional help: If things become too much to handle, don’t suffer alone. Depression, anxiety and other mental struggles require proper attention- don’t hesitate to seek support from a therapist or counsellor, or find a safe place to recover.

Final words

Navigating the technicalities of supporting so many people is not easy, and it never will be. It is crucial however, to remember that you do not have to suffer alone or remain trapped in the same job that is throttling your ability to take care of yourself. 

Learning to give yourself the things you need to be happy and healthy is just as important as the help that you deliver to those around you, so don’t neglect your own mental wellbeing. 

*Gemma Williams actively contributes to conversations about career development, workplace culture, and the future of work. She is dedicated to creating resources and platforms that provide meaningful connections and support career growth. After gaining experience in various HR roles, she now turns her focus toward growing her personal brand and connecting with leading experts in the industry. Follow her @GemmaWilliamsHR or take a look at her website:

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