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  • Support for the Women in the Sandwich Generation

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    Introduction to Joanne Ketch Coaching


    When I was a young adult, a landmark book came out detailing the demands on women who worked outside the home. It was Arlie Hochschild’s 1989 book  The Second Shift and the term “second shift” was used to encapsulate the expectation that a women who works outside the home comes home and takes on an another, consuming, role in which she manages the home; children, homework, groceries, food, cleaning, laundry, pet care. Arlie identified a “leisure gap” between men and women; it seemed that of the 50+ couples Arlie interviewed, none of the men did experienced the same burden.

    Today, we hear that term less but the dynamic still exists. A new term has been used. First coined by social worker Dorothy Miller in 1981, “sandwich generation” speaks to a similar burden. 

    The term “Sandwich Generation” speaks to adults who are dealing with the challenges of raising children (or guiding young adults) and assisting aging parents.

    Women are getting married later in life, having children later, and are living longer. These all contribute to the estimated 70% of the caregiving for elderly relatives with chronic problems.  


    The burden goes beyond time.

    a man with sticky notes all over to reinforce the stress involved with being sandwiched between generations

    In one research survey:

    • ⅔ of the poll responders who were concerned about aging relatives’ health were more likely to be depressed
    • (more than) 50% were worried about managing time for the aging relative and other family member needs

    a bunch of clocks to reinforce the idea that time passes and also that we have not enough time to get things done when we are in the sandwiched generation

    The number of working moms and reliance on the woman’s income is significant: 

    • 71% of families rely on mom’s earnings
    • 40% of families have a breadwinner mom

    a jar of pennies and a plant to symbolize the family resourced being used in the sandwich generation

    The number of people who support both children and a parent over 65 is increasing. The burden of the sandwich generation is becoming heavier.

    •  47% of adults aged 40 – 59 provide financial care for an elderly parent and a child
    • 38% provide emotional support for children and parents

    a baby hand and an old hand to show the span of generations that women in the sandwich generation have to attend to

    Personal Experience

    These facts have motivated and inspired me to use my experience, strength, education, and skills to help women burden by this.

    I was barely an adult in 1989. It was only much later, in my own experience with the “second shift” phenomenon that I was triggered to recall the news and discussions of my early adulthood. I remember as a child that our home became “home” to 2 of my father’s aging (rapidly) relatives. More specifically, our dining room became their bedroom. While our modest home of the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s was not “open concept,” nor was the dining room neatly and conveniently separate from the community rooms such as the living room and kitchen. 

    I’m not privy to the conversations that lead up to these relatives living in our home, and I view those months through the lens of a self-centered and inconvenienced child (although Uncle Bill did pay me $1 to retrieve each pill he dropped). Having them in our home seemed to stress my mom, and I remember it was smelly.

    Later, in one of my own adult seasons of life, I ran licensed daycares. In both Arizona and Texas, I observed that in my straight client couples, nearly 100% of the time, the expectation of care and family organization fell on the woman. She was the one who would take off work for a sick child or aging relative, manage medical care, arrange for payment and supplies. Even when both partners worked full time, the work of managing people and people’s spaces fell on the woman.

    Most recently in my life, I was sandwiched (along with my sisters) between the responsibilities of caring for young adult children (whose need for coaching, guiding, and mentoring remains significant even after the magical 18th birthday), the nurturing of an encore career, the aging and health decline of my father and supporting the sister who was geographically closest to him and handling the responsibilities (and, let’s be honest, the burden) of the acceleration of his cognitive and bodily decline.

    It was during these months that the cumulative life experience and career training coalesced and I realized that women need specific support for this season; a season that can last a long time. People are living longer, children are staying at home longer, careers are changing directions frequently, and financial lives are less predictable. 

    joanne ketch coaching logo because she coaches women in the sandwich generation to have more clarity, energy and focus

    It was for these reasons that I started Mid-Life-Chrysalis. The name has been with me since my own metamorphosis in 2006 when I was a single mom of 3 young closely-spaced children, and is finally attached to a business intended to help support, guide, and encourage women in their unique journey being sandwiched between the needs of often conflicting roles.

    I am developing several levels and types of support, but in the meantime, I offer a few coaching packages you can find here.