Family Relationships

Join other women in the sandwich generation - share ideas and solutions as you learn to nourish family relationships without starving yourself.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tips for Grandmothers During the Holidays

This time of year, the role of grandmother can be most rewarding, especially if you and you grandchild spend some of the winter holidays together. Ours just visited for Thanksgiving and we all enjoyed being together to celebrate. While buying and giving presents is important, the most significant gift you can give your grandchild is your presence, attention and love. And you know the best gift you can receive back is a great big hug. For some budget-friendly and fun activities to do with your grandkids this holiday season, here's 100 free things to choose from.

Generations of family gathered together for holiday dinner

'Grand Mothers' come in all sizes and shapes, as well as names - Grandma, Nana, Bubbe, Granny, or whatever special name your grandkids have for you. Grandchildren may live near or far; be in preschool, grade school, college or beyond; from intact or blended families. What grandmothers share in common is a deep desire to maintain a loving bond with their grandchildren. Here are some tips for creating enriched relationships:

When your grandchildren live far away, the most salient issue is developing connections. You probably don't have the opportunity to see them more than every few months, particularly in this economy. You will likely need to enlist the aid of your adult children to help you form the bonds between you and their kids. How you connect will change as they grow and will certainly flow from your own interests and creative talents. Whatever you choose, your efforts will be well worth it when you see how excited they get when you visit. For some new ideas about connecting at a distance, take a look the article on our website, Create Meaningful Bonds with Your Grandchildren across the Miles.

When your grandkids are babies, help them develop a full impression of you. You can best do this by using all the sensations that babies respond to. Let them begin to identify your voice by cooing to them on the phone or sending them tapes or CD's with you singing, reading or speaking to them. They can begin to recognize your face from pictures of you in their room or on the computer via iChat or Skype. Have a special song or book that you share with them as you cuddle on each visit. Wear the same perfume - or even a dab of vanilla – whenever you visit so that they learn to associate that with you.

Even if you can't spend the holidays together, continue to use phone calls, letters, cards, texting and emails to stay in touch. After a visit, you can create a scrapbook for them of pictures and souvenirs from your time together. Their memories of you will be enhanced when they have something tangible to look at and savor over and over again, like Family Photo Books. You can write them stories or poems about what you do together, with them as the star of the piece.

During the rest of the year, learn about your grandchildren's activities and interests so you can engage with them about topics that mean a lot to them. Pay attention to their friends when you go to their birthday parties, sports events or special occasions - then you can ask about them later when you have returned home. Integrate what you find out and keep up with their changing activities. All of your efforts will help cement the connections between you.

Check back with us again on Wednesday when we’ll have some more tips for you grandmothers to put in place this holiday season.

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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Tips for Keeping Peace in the Family at Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is here - complete with exaggerated media images of how the day should be - and you may be trying to conform to unrealistic ideals. As a member of the sandwichgeneration with extra demands on your time and added responsibilities, are you on emotional overload? If so, just remind yourself that nothing's perfect.
Food-laden table for traditional holiday meal
Following these common sense strategies will help you create a calmer holiday for you and your family:

1. Realize that anticipatory anxiety is common. Financial burdens and extra chores when entertaining family can make you feel apprehensive and stressed. Accept that this is a normal reaction.

2. Don't take everything personally. Make sure that you have reasonable expectations. Some family members may be struggling with financial or marital issues that have absolutely nothing to do with you.

3. You don't have to be all things to all people. If your favorite aunt can't seem to get along with her ex-husband's new wife, don't invite them to this dinner. That will make it easier for everyone.

4. Avoid hot button issues. Sibling rivalry and unfinished family business are bound to surface. Put aside differences and, despite how hard it may be, go for the higher ground. Walk away from misunderstandings but agree to finish the conversation later.

5. Bury the hatchet. If in the past you have stifled your feelings and then blown up later, don't let your emotions fester. With an important relationship, admit the part you play in the conflict and deal with it.

6. Talk in generalities. If there is tension in the room, discuss the value of apologizing for wrongdoings. Then encourage others to discuss how this quality has enhanced their personal relationships.

7. Practice letting go. You may be feeling childhood pain or longing for family who are gone and now only in your memories. Realize that forgiveness and gratitude are a gift you give yourself.

While taking care of your family during this hectic time, remember to pay attention to your own needs. Plan ahead and accept help from others when they offer. And try to include fun and laughter in what you do. During the holiday season, while you may wish for peace on earth and peace in your family, don't overlook the importance of your own peace of mind.

We send you warm thoughts and gratitude for being part of our community of amazing women. Here's an article in the Huffington Post from one of you. Our heartfelt best wishes to you and yours for a wonderful Thanksgiving and a list full of things to be thankful for.

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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

How to Take Steps Toward a Career Change

If you're a member of the sandwich generation and thinking about changing your career, Caryn FitzGerald, our guest blogger this week, has some tips for you.
Surveyor Changing Into Sneakers
On our Monday post, Caryn asked you whether you want to break free from the corporate world and live the life of your dreams. Here's what she has to say about that. "The answer is simple, follow your heart and don't allow yourself to give up.

1. Ask yourself what is your true passion? What really makes your heart skip a beat or your energy soar? For me, it was helping others move through the challenges they faced in stepping into their own lives. As a woman who has recovered from eating disorders and broken free from abusive relationships, I knew what it was like to feel powerless and out of control. I used those experiences to help others and create the lifestyle I enjoy today. Those feelings effect all of us at one time or another and the ability to identify them and create a support system to assist us through them is crucial.

2. Find a mentor who has achieved the goals you are seeking to accomplish. There is no better mentor than someone who has been where you are and is now where you want to be.

3. Be honest with yourself. What are you willing to give up to make this dream a reality? Be specific! Are you willing to give up television? Eating out with friends? Four dollar a cup gourmet coffee adds up ($120 a month) quickly, are you willing to give up some of the luxuries you enjoy today, to invest in yourself for tomorrow? What is your ultimate goal? Again, be specific. Creating a vision board will allow you to envision the life you are truly seeking to live.

4. Create a business plan. Every successful businessperson has made a detailed plan of what steps they will take, monies they will invest in both the business and themselves and what result is desired.

Do you want to become self-employed with the freedom of working from home? Or purchase a franchise and be the owner while others work for you? Perhaps you want to become part of a team and create residual income as a network marketer. These are just three of many different avenues one can take to create independent income.

Be aware that replacing the income of a corporate job with an income as an entrepreneur can take time. One of the incredible benefits is that one can take small steps, a few spare hours each day, to build the foundation that will allow them, in time, to leave their job. This is not the lottery - it's breaking down and recreating a new way of living. Releasing the old habits and replacing them with new, healthier habits that will serve you in moving into a passionate life.

There will be failures along the way. The key is to remember that in order to succeed one must fail, get back up and continue to move forward. Ask anyone who has achieved the lifestyle they desire how long it took and how many failures they endured along the way and you will learn that success always come with a price. The price includes determination, persistence and resilience. The road to success involves hurdles and failures, yet how quickly you decide to get back up and move forward is up to you. The faster you get back onto that horse, the easier it becomes the next time and eventually you will reach the goal of living the life of your dreams!"

Caryn FitzGerald is a mother, wife, friend, writer, raw foodist, nature lover, teacher, blogger, entrepreneur, coach and overall lover of life! She is an eating disorder and domestic violence survivor. Caryn believes that a full, abundant life can be created and enjoyed regardless of one’s past. Today she assists others in creating the life of their dreams. Connect with Caryn.

If you want more information as you begin your search, these ideas and video may help. And here's material specifically for midlife career change. Sign the email list to the left of this post to receive our free monthly newsletter, Stepping Stones and download our ebook about how to reach your goals.

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Monday, November 22, 2010

Breaking Free: Changing Your Career

Here on the blog we're always talking about how boomers in the sandwich generation can manage the challenges of parents growing older and kids growing up. And for many of you, work is a major part of that equation. So if you're less than thrilled with your career and have been thinking about making a change, we have a treat for you.

This week we're featuring Caryn FitzGerald, a guest blogger who will discuss her career change and offer some tips so you can make some changes too. Here is Caryn's view out of the window of her home office and her story:"Fourteen years ago, I graduated from college ready to take on the world. After two decades of education, I walked across the stage, received my master’s degree and into the world of corporate America. My corporate career didn’t last long though as mentors began to share the possibilities available to me as an entrepreneur and I allowed my heart to be open to receive this knowledge, changing the direction of my life’s path forever.

If I had known the details of the options available before I went to college, would this information have made a difference in the path I had chosen? Probably not. But it would have allowed me to be better prepared for what was in store for me upon graduation. It would have given me the ability to make better choices, not be fearful of creating a lifestyle instead of living a life. I would have learned sooner that I had options instead of believing that, in order to survive, I had to be tied to corporate America as an employee with a job.

Jim Rohn once said JOB is an acronym for "Just Over Broke." This is what the vast majority are conditioned to believe is the only means of making a living. It is very rare that a child is told, "don't worry about going to college, find what you feel passionate about, follow your heart and money will flow into your life."

What if there was a way to have the ability to earn as much income as you desire? To decide how many hours a day you would devote to creating an income? To grant you the ability to spend time with family and loved ones without worrying about having more money left over after the bills have all been paid in full? What if the secret to entry into this lifestyle was 100% yours?

The secret lies deep within each of us and, although often brushed against, it is not always recognized or acted upon. Unfortunately, the voice of fear speaks loudly, and many will give in, conforming to the societal norms of working a job instead of following their hearts desire.

What if you could take small steps each day that would allow you to break free from the corporate world and live the life you dream about when you close your eyes each night?

This is possible." Log on here Wednesday, readers, to find out how!

In the meantime, if you want to get started, learn more about Caryn FitzGerald. And check out this website where you'll find lots of articles about career change, from to how to make a hobby work for you to adapting your career in a tough economy.

Generativity is word coined by Dr. Erik Erickson in the 1950s - it describes a stage of psychosocial development when people want to give back to future generations. Here's a Huffington Post article by Marc Freedman, CEO of Civic Ventures, about boomers transitioning to an encore career of public service.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Becoming Thankful and Grateful

When you're a member of the Sandwich Generation, it's not easy to take care of your family in flux - growing children and aging parents. With all the stresses you face daily, preparing for Thanksgiving may seem like another added burden. But this year, why not make a plan to bring some new traditions to your holiday table which will lower your levels of stress and raise the levels of meaning for the whole family?
Family eating Thanksgiving dinner

In your busy life, sometimes it's hard to focus on what you are thankful for but once you do, you can begin to acknowledge the part others play in your happiness. A leader the field of Positive Psychology, Dr. Marty Seligman studies what brings Authentic Happiness to your life. He has created questionnaires to help you recognize your gratitude, optimism, strength, compassion and love as well as techniques to increase your positive emotions. Here are some steps to help you get started in looking at your gratitude:

Begin to consciously notice what brings you joy. Strange as it may sound, you'll need to actually set aside time to pay attention to what you are experiencing when you are feeling happy and grateful. Awareness is the first step toward creating any change.

Count your blessings. Each evening, note three things that happened during the day for which you are thankful. Be specific as you describe what happened to you. It could be a loving conversation with your partner, a hug from your teenage daughter, a lunch date with an old friend.

Re-live and savor each of these events. Spend time re-creating in your mind the happiness of the experience. You will feel your body becoming more relaxed, your emotions more positive and your thoughts more focused. The joys of life are not only in present activities but also in remembering pleasurable occasions you have already experienced.

Think about what you did to open yourself to these moments. Then decide to direct your actions to include more of these delights in your life. Recognizing your own personal power will strengthen your belief in yourself as well as your willingness to consider the part others play in your happiness.

Realize why this piece of good fortune came your way. It will help you identify the people you're grateful to have in your life. You can then thank them for playing a part in improving your world.

elderly man carving roast turkey at the table with friends and family

Deciding to focus on giving thanks means a whole new mindset. When you count your blessings - at Thanksgiving or any time during the year - you can act on the gratitude you experience and live a rich life no matter what else is going on around you.

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Monday, November 15, 2010

Thanksgiving is More Than Turkey Day

With Thanksgiving just a week away, are you busy making shopping lists, planning menus and creating seating charts? What about also setting aside some time to reflect? Think about the people, experiences and circumstances for which you are thankful. The stress of preparing for the holidays sometimes stands in the way of focusing on all we have to be thankful for - so take a deep breath and step back for a moment to relish, with gratitude, the gifts of family and friends. To help you begin, you'll find some tips for reducing holiday stress on our website.
affluent caucasian family eating dinner

Even with a difficult economy, we can still find a lot to be grateful about, especially during the holidays, when families and friends traditionally draw together. Let a heartfelt 'thank you' be your mantra during this season - you can do it without making a dent in your budget. And, having just observed Veterans Day, please remember those serving our country, who are far away from home during these holidays.

As we pay more attention to the contributions of others and learn not to take good things for granted, we are more aware of all we have to be thankful for. And conveying your gratitude can help you feel happier as well as the person you thank. Sonja Lyubomirsky and other psychologists studying happiness have found that after expressing gratitude you'll experience more contentment and improved self-esteem as well as closer connections - you'll even sleep more soundly.

If you decide to express your appreciation for what you have by giving back to your larger community, you can check your local paper or the Internet to find out what the needs are. Some families are adding a new Thanksgiving tradition this year by volunteering at a homeless shelter, serving a holiday meal at a soup kitchen, preparing or driving dinners through a meals-on-wheels program, or visiting those in hospitals and nursing homes who aren't able to celebrate with family. Talk with your family and friends about what they'd like to do.

Visit us again later this week when we'll have some tips about how to focus on reducing your stress and acknowledging your gratitude as you get ready for Thanksgiving this year.

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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Women in the Sandwich Generation: Begin to Create a Plan for Your Future

Are you busy balancing your work and family life, raising kids and caring for aging parents? Although you're likely making plans for your kids' college and for your parents' care right now, you need to also be thinking about what's next for you.

How ready are you? You may want to watch how Jeannie, a 48 year old new mom, is planning for her future. And see how Maryann has put a long-term care plan in place, so her son won't be in the stressful position she was as her mom needed more help.
Financial adviser and client
A recent survey found that more than 50% of boomers may not have enough money to maintain their current living standards in retirement. Consequently, many will be working past the traditional retirement age so they can save enough to comfortably retire.

How much longer do you plan to work? With the economic downturn, perhaps you can't afford to retire and are counting on your benefits. Or you may think it's important for you to stay engaged and connected, be productive, feel empowered. There are also questions about your 'after work life' that deserve consideration. Do you know what it will cost to live in retirement? Have you budgeted and saved enough money? This information can help you understand some of these retirement issues.

Want to increase your awareness and plan for your unique lifestyle and goals? Learn more about AARP's new educational program - Decide, Create, Share. You'll be able to assess your future needs across home, community, health, legal and finances. Discover how ready you are for the future and use the tips provided to help you stay on track.

Isn't it really all about you living life on your own terms and staying in charge? Browse around for information and articles to help you care for your family and still nourish yourself. Sign the email list to the left of this post and receive a monthly newsletter full of practical tips for you. And then you can download a free ebook about how to reach your goals. Now's the time for you apply the same competence and energy to yourself that you give to others?!

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Monday, November 08, 2010

Women in the Sandwich Generation Need to Start Taking Better Care of Themselves

In last week's election, did you notice all the references to the Pink Stampede? There were several firsts for women - Nikki Haley (South Carolina) Susana Martinez (New Mexico) and Mary Fallin (Oklahoma) were all elected in states that never had a female governor before.
Women exercising

Despite these historic events, women continue to lag behind in issues related to taking care of themselves. They seem to have other priorities that can't wait. According to AARP research, 44 million members of the Sandwich Generation, most of them women, are caregivers for aging family members.

If you're looking for support and resources as you try to balance your family and work life with caregiving responsibilities, click here for Through the eldercare locator, there's information about particular information in your local area on such topics as housing options, financial assistance, transportation or legal help.

It seems that women are far less informed about their own longterm planning than caregiving others, and this includes what it will take for them to live in retirement. This week on the blog we want to get you thinking about you, for a change! Learn more about your medical history to reduce risks in the future. If you eat well, exercise, get a good night's sleep, have a positive attitude and a good support system, you'll be on the road to better self care.

However, there's more to it. Want access to information and tools? AARP has developed a program to help you stay engaged and connected called 'Decide, Create, Share.' Its purpose is to empower women to be in control and live the best life possible. And if you're interested in taking a quiz that will increase your awareness about health, finances, legal issues or home and community, click here.

Log on to our website,, for articles about how to care for your family in flux without starving yourself. Please sign the email list to the left of this post to receive our free monthly newsletter, Stepping Stones, and download a complimentary ebook, Courage and Lessons Learned: Reaching for Your Goals. And click here to watch Patricia's video clip about how she is setting personal goals for her future.

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Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Voices Raised and Budgets Honored

People Standing in a Line Waiting to Vote at a Polling Station

Tired this morning from watching late night news about the elections across the United States? Although not all results are in yet, it's clear that the American people have used the polls to give voice to their concerns about the economy. The challenge to the administration is to work with the new Congress to cut spending, balance the budget and reduce the deficit while creating new jobs and reviving the economy.

To help your own personal family budget, Nourishing Relationships is pleased to be a part of this week's Mom Audience Giveaway Explosion.
We've enjoyed learning about Mom Audience, which gives mothers the opportunity to connect with business, employment and service opportunities as well as find out about discounts, deals, giveaways, products and other events. Now they have compiled a group of blogs and websites that are providing products and services free of charge to Mom Audience members this week.

To take advantage of the Mom Audience Giveaway Explosion, subscribe to Mom Audience. When you do, you'll receive an email with a list of giveaways available to you this week.

Our Nourishing Relationships giveaway is a copy of our ebook Courage and Lessons Learned: Reaching for Your Goals and a chance to also receive a copy of our newest ebook, Taking Control of Stress in a Financial Storm: Practical Strategies and Resources for Success.

To receive Courage and Lessons Learned, simply sign up to receive our monthly ezine, Stepping Stones, which is offered to the left of this blog post. Stepping Stones gives you insider information about our monthly Virtual Book Tours as well as informative white papers with practical tips about how to nourish your family relationships without starving yourself.

As always, you are welcome to follow us on twitter and "like" us on our facebook fan page. You'll discover practical tips and strategies for the Sandwich Generation, whether you're coping with stress, acting out teens, aging parents, boomerang kids or difficult daughters-in-law.

If you want to become eligible to also receive a complimentary copy of Taking Control of Stress in a Financial Storm, leave a comment to this blog post, answering the question: "How would you react if you had a adult child who wanted to move back home?" We'll be giving away copies of our ebook - full of white papers about coping in this economy - to 3 lucky winners, chosen at random. Be sure to leave a contact email so we can let you know if you win. You can learn more about Taking Control of Stress in a Financial Storm on our website, Her Mentor Center. You'll find information, support and direction there to help you manage your family in flux.

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Monday, November 01, 2010

Elections and Giveaways

In case you don’t have a TV, haven't been picking up your mail for the past several weeks, and have screened your phone to ignore automatic dials - there's a U.S. election tomorrow! Pundits on both sides have agreed that great changes in the House, the Senate and the Governors' mansions are likely - the only question is how considerable those changes will be. If you'd like your opinion to be considered, be sure to get to the polls in time to have your vote counted.
Voters at a Polling Station

Women's suffrage was established as a right by the United Nations in 1979 and has been achieved in all U.N. countries except Saudi Arabia. American women have been coming together to make their voices heard in elections ever since they gained the right to vote in 1920, through passage of the 19th Amendment. So join your sisters at the polls tomorrow.

Women have been connecting and sharing their thoughts - about politics as well as their families and themselves - over the years at quilting bees and sewing circles and now the web is providing a new place for networking. We've found a great spot for Moms to bond and showcase their businesses, This week they'll be highlighting giveaways to women who join with them.

Be sure to check back on Mom Audience Giveaway on Wednesday, November 3, when you'll find a special gift from Nourishing Relationships and Her Mentor Center.

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