I’m a primary caregiver for an immediate member of my family. It’s a full-time job in and of itself – doctor’s visits, physical therapy, household management, financial obligations, etc.
Sometimes it feels like a never ending to-do list. Add career obligations on top of that, and you’ve got yourself quite the doosey.
But I’m not alone.
Millennials have shaped into quote the caregiving generation, many of whom are “sandwiched” between caring for members of multiple generations.
The latest Millennial Caregiver Report from the National Alliance of Caregiving and the AARP Public Policy Institute show that Millennials (ages 18-34) make up nearly a quarter of the approximately 44 million caregivers in the United States.
Juggling bother career and caregiving isn’t a choice for this generation of caregivers – it’s a necessity.
Personally, I have no one else I can count on to help with my current family caregiving needs, and thanks to some really shitty, really obsolete policy regarding caregiver compensation, I have no financial support (aide and attendant isn’t going to put a dent in my student loans – an investment I incurred before my family member was injured). Thus balancing life somewhere between Wonder Woman and complete nervous breakdown is what both myself – and over 10 million millennial caregivers across the United States – are faced with.
Here are three tips for succeeding at life when juggling both career and caregiving responsibilities:
Don’t Compare Apples to Oranges
No one else in my graduating Business school class has a career like mine. Most of them have six-figure corporate jobs, and a few others run VC-backed start-ups.
I was fired from my first MBA job – due to my family member’s hospitalization and my subsequent absence (Family Medical Leave Act needs some serious revamping…). Faced with finding a way to make that month’s mortgage or lose everything, I had to create my own career – one that would work with caregiving.
Sometimes I’d get frustrated when comparing my “by the skin of my teeth” business trailblazing with my colleagues’ Fortune 500 lifestyle, but then I’d remember – I was comparing apples to oranges:
- My colleagues’ spouses weren’t injured serving our country overseas – mine was.
- My colleagues’ didn’t know what it was like to spend years as your loved one’s sole advocate – I did.
- My colleagues’ career decisions weren’t dictated by questions like: “How will this schedule work with our four days of doctor’s appointments each week?” – mine were.
Bottom-line: Caregiving affects your career.
Don’t fall into the trap of comparing two unlike things – the career of a non-caregiver vs. career of a caregiver – as such comparison is completely irrelevant.
Customized Work Environment
When assuming the role of primary caregiver, I had to make some major changes to my work environment and schedule. While my actual work responsibilities didn’t change, I had to change how I performed them. Instead of working out of a downtown office suite from 9-to-5, I had to transition to a 100% virtual home (and/or hospital waiting room) office that primarily operated after hours.
Here’s a few websites that can help you identify flexible work environments:
Check out 12 Best Freelance Websites for Millennials for more resources.
Prioritize Passive Income
Life as a full-time caregiver doesn’t leave much time for much else – including working.
I went from logging sixty hours a week at my business, to being a near-24/7 caregiver – a change that meant I had to really, really rethink my company’s future. I let contractors go, downsized my client list, and scaled back my conference and seminar schedule. But with such changes meant significant income cutbacks. Not cool when you’re also deemed the primary breadwinner.
Thus, I had to find some way to generate passive income, meaning my business could make money whether I was there or not. I wrote books, created online courses, and modified my blogging platform to be income producing – creating three streams of passive income. So while a bad week on the caregiving side may mean living out of the hospital waiting room, it no longer has to mean losing yet another week’s worth of income.
By rethinking your career and identifying passive income opportunities, caregivers can help alleviate some of the financial strain being an uncompensated caregiver puts on their family.
Want to learn more?
Check out these additional caregiving posts for more information and resources: