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Parenting while in the Sandwich Generation

 

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Many parents today find themselves in the sandwich generation where stress, guilt and burnout is real.

My guest today, Michele Magner, has earned her MBA and Master's certification in gerontology and is a Gerontology PhD student at the University of Nebraska Omaha. She's a certified life coach, certified dementia practitioner, and certified conscious aging facilitator and an adjunct professor in the fall of 2024.
 
As an experienced family caregiver with many years in the senior living industry, she understands the challenges that you are facing as you care for those you love.
 
Our conversation included dissecting how we are managing stress, how core values play into our capacity and integrity, why it's okay to fill your cup just for you, and the difference between making promises and making plans.

IN THIS EPISODE, WE COVERED...

  • Michele's vulnerable example of "failing" her daughter and the powerful realizations she took from it
  • The 3 "C's" all caregivers need
  • The Importance of bringing your kids into hard conversations

DON'T MISS-

  • Fascinating research around the relationship between chronological age and subjective age, and its effect on aging

 

// CONNECT WITH MICHELE MAGNER //
Website: www.michelemagner.com

Instagram: @inspiredcaring
LinkedIn: Michele Magner


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TRANSCRIPT


Michele Magner  0:00  
We talk about caregivers putting their oxygen mask on. First we talk about people filling their cup because when your cup is full, then it can spill over to other people. And I'm really starting to realize just how important it is for us to take care of ourselves. Not necessarily because we want to have to be able to give it away, but just for ourselves, you are enough, you are worthy. You deserve to be well cared for. You deserve to be healthy. There is a path forward. There are strategies that you can put into place. There are resources available to you.

Danielle Bettmann  0:38  
Ever feel like you suck at this job? Motherhood, I mean? Have too much anxiety and not enough patience. Too much yelling, not enough play. There's no manual, no village, no guarantees. The stakes are high. We want so badly to get it right. This is survival mode. We're just trying to make it to bedtime. So if you're full of mom guilt, your temper scares you. You feel like you're screwing everything up. And you're afraid to admit any of those things out loud. This podcast is for you. This is Failing Motherhood. I'm Danielle Bettmann. And each week we'll chat with a mom ready to be real. Sharing her insecurities, her fears, your failures and her wins. We do not have it all figured out. That's not the goal. The goal is to remind you, you are the mom your kids need. They need what you have. You are good enough and you're not alone. I hope you've happened ear buds somehow sneak away and get ready to hear some hope from the trenches. You belong here, friend. We're so glad you're here. 

Danielle Bettmann  1:50  
Hey, it's Danielle. Many parents find themselves in the sandwich generation where stress, guilt and burnout is real. My guest today, Michele Magner, has earned her MBA and Master's certification in gerontology and is a Gerontology PhD student at the University of Nebraska Omaha. She's a certified life coach, certified dementia practitioner, and certified conscious aging facilitator and in the fall of 2024. Michele will be an adjunct professor at Creighton University Teaching Long Term Care Administration. 

Danielle Bettmann  2:21  
Michele shares content and ideas on her inspired caring podcast and programs in addition to private and group coaching. As an experienced family caregiver with many years in the senior living industry, she understands the challenges that you are facing as you care for those you love. I brought Michele on today to share a real life take on the unique dynamic of caregiving for young kids at the same time as aging grandparents and parents. But our conversation ended up taking on several universal threads that we can all benefit from. 

Danielle Bettmann  2:51  
She starts right off with bold vulnerability with an example of failing that led her to change her relationship with alcohol that she was using to cope. And that topic led her to share what being enough means to her. Our conversation included dissecting how we are managing stress, what is so key to realize as a caregiver, and how core values play into our capacity and integrity. She shares a truly fascinating look at her current research into the relationship between our chronological age and our subjective age and its effect on our aging. And stay tuned in this episode for insight into the difference between making promises and making plans. The three C's all caregivers need that it's okay to fill up your cup just for you, and the importance of bringing your kids into hard conversation. Let's dive into my conversation with Michele.

Danielle Bettmann  3:46  
Welcome to Failing Motherhood. My name is Danielle Bettmann. And today's episode, I'm joined by Michele Magner. Welcome Michele, thank you so much for being here.

Michele Magner  3:55  
Thank you so much for having me. I'm really excited about our conversation.

Danielle Bettmann  3:58  
Of course yeah, we met through mutual connections, but then discovered we're in the same city. So probably could have done this in person. But I've never actually recorded an episode in person I wouldn't know what to do.

Michele Magner  4:09  
I agree with you. I would not know what to do either. Where to look at what Yes, this is great.

Danielle Bettmann  4:14  
Too much technology. We'll stick with it. We know that's barely holding on working wise. So I'm so glad you're here. We're going to talk about the season of life that you found yourself in that maybe a lot of listeners have that we haven't covered on the podcast today. But before we get into all that accounting to hear the whole backstory and who you are as a mom and kind of dive into all of that. So go ahead and introduce yourself to my listeners. Who are you and who's in your family?

Michele Magner  4:38  
Absolutely. My name is Michele Magner and I am the mother to three incredible kiddos: two girls both in college and a teenage boy who is a band kid so we spend a lot of time on football fields with marching band. I have been very happily married for 23 years going on 24 marriage takes a lot of work. So it's not all rainbows and unicorns like that, want to sugarcoat it, but we're both still in love and showing up to do the work. So that is the super high level who is Michele. I have been a family caregiver for about 20 years, I took care of both of my grandmother's when I was from like, age 27 to 37. And then most recently, both of my in laws. So my children have never had a mother, who was not also a family caregiver.

Danielle Bettmann  5:37  
Oh, wow. That's that sandwich generation. Is that the term? Is that a friendly term? Or is there a better term?

Michele Magner  5:43  
Yes, sandwich generation is something that definitely resonates with me. But it's something that's really interesting. When you're in this role of caregiver, it doesn't really occurred to you like it. It didn't mean much to me at the time. But now in reflection, I'm like, oh, yeah, that's me. Fair.

Danielle Bettmann  6:02  
Yeah. Not a lot of time to sit and reflect? I'm sure. Correct. You're in it. So have you ever felt like you were failing motherhood?

Michele Magner  6:11  
I think for the majority of my especially young adult life, I absolutely felt like I was failing motherhood, in nearly every aspect you can imagine. I don't think in my 30s especially, there wasn't a day when I didn't feel like there was something I should have, could have or would have done differently. But as I have entered my 50s, and my kids have gotten older, I have found a little more grace for myself. But you bet. There have been many occasions where I felt like I'm failing motherhood.

Danielle Bettmann  6:44  
I have to ask you about the incident that you had shared when we first connected up something about your daughter going through dare. And then like you staying up late, and it didn't go well.

Michele Magner  6:58  
Oh, my gosh. So our oldest daughter is now 21. And I will preface with, as far as I know, none of our three children drink alcohol or do any drugs. So just to put that out there. But our oldest daughter had just gone through the DARE program at her local elementary school. And we had one of those nights where our neighbors were all gathered around our fire pit. And it's very strange to be this chronological age of, you know, in your 40s. But then in your mind, you're still like 23. So we had one of those nights where we just the drinks were flow in and we were up till 4am. 

Michele Magner  7:38  
But earlier in the evening, my daughter and her friend, were trying to get our attention. They were kind of hovering around the fire pit, because they wanted to talk to us about something that we were blowing them off. And so then at one point, they wrote this little note on a piece of paper and threw it out her window. And I picked the note up and did not read it and put it in the fire pit and burned it. I had no idea what that note said. I just instinctively completely wine soaked, made that executive decision to burn that little note. 

Michele Magner  8:14  
And the next day when we got up, our daughter just could barely speak to us. She really wasn't speaking to us. She wasn't looking at us. And she was visibly upset. And so I asked her what the problem was like, "What's your problem". And here I am. Also keep in mind, I was up till 4am I'm most definitely hung over. And she said, "You guys are also drunk last night that if something would have happened to us, nobody could have taken care of us. And we were trying to let you know how we were feeling and that we were upset about it". And in my hung over lack of sleep state. I looked at this little girl who's like 11-12 years old. 

Michele Magner  9:01  
And I said "that's what 911 is for", which is like really snarky and mean, like what a mean thing to say to your kid. In that moment, especially upon reflection, I was able to like later that day kind of get my act together. My husband and I were talking about it. We felt terrible, terrible. I mean, we had had a really good time before but we're not physically feeling great. And then emotionally that just kind of wrecked us. And I would like to say that I never drink again. It took me actually a couple more years and I did make that decision to change my relationship with alcohol. But I would say that was such a pivotal moment in our family where our kid was trying to express her feelings and her concern worries that she felt unsafe and we literally blew her off. So that was that was a pretty tough day.

Danielle Bettmann  9:59  
Yeah But the fact that it still bothers you now shows just how seriously you check it. You got your toilet paper handy?

Michele Magner  10:07  
I've got my toilet paper because I figured this was gonna get real and deep fast that it did. And really the drinking, you know, I do not consider myself an alcoholic. I never drove my kids anyplace drunk, like I had this whole mental checklist of what it meant to be an alcoholic, or I just didn't fit into any of that criteria. So for me, making that decision to change my relationship to me feels so much better than saying, Well, I'm sober. 

Danielle Bettmann  10:37  
Fair. Yeah, changing your relationship with alcohol based on just those incidents? That makes sense.

Michele Magner  10:44  
Yeah. And the reality was, I was a very, very socially acceptable over drinker. And the reason I mean, when I started to really unpack this, I think my role as a family caregiver played a huge part into it, because it is such an easy go to way to manage stress, or worry, or fear. One of the things that I did that I talked about is I made a two page single spaced list of all the reasons that I would find myself drinking. And sometimes it was because I survived going to the skate party, which is like the roller skating rink, one of the most overstimulating places on the planet. Yes. And a lot of the times it was because we have a lot to celebrate. We have a lot to be sad and scared about. And I just feel like that caregiver role was really a connecting thread over the course of my kids entire childhood.

Danielle Bettmann  11:40  
No, I'm sure what you said something really powerful of like, everything changed in my relationship with alcohol change. So what did that look like? What changed? 

Michele Magner  11:49  
One of the things that was so key was I had this mental clarity, because that I had that undercurrent of, I can't do anything, right. It's the enoughness. Right? I'm not good enough. I'm not doing enough. I don't have enough. I'm not sexy enough, smart enough, pretty enough, talented enough, right? The enoughness. And one of the pivotal things that changed for me was I looked up the word enough in the dictionary, I have no idea what compelled me to do that. And the definition is I remember it is like having your fill of something, or to meet a standard. And I really started to reflect of myself in this role of mother in this role of caregiver and realized that I was actually crushing it, I was doing a great job and not giving myself the credit in these various categories of my life, like I have maximizer is one of my top gallop Strength Finders,

Danielle Bettmann  12:51  
I do too. High five. It's a curse,

Michele Magner  12:55  
It is a curse, because in our minds, we're always looking to how something could be better. How could we have made that better? How could it have been easier, but the problem was was I was using that skill set strength against me. And then I was saying, well, it's not enough. It's not enough like you could have done more for the kids today. But really, if you look back at what you did accomplish in the day, it's what was meant to have happened. I mean, another way to word that is someone said, if it should have been, it would have been something that would like it should have gone differently, well, then it would have gone differently. It's a lot of expectation management. So that was a really key. Yeah, that was a very key moment for me is when I shifted that relationship with alcohol looked up the word enough and saw that the definition actually didn't apply to me. It wasn't my word. And it was something I had attached to myself for a really long time. And

Danielle Bettmann  13:55  
Do you have a replacement word, or mantra or like thought or something that grounds you now?

Michele Magner  14:01  
I do a lot of work in these areas. So there's a lot of different things that come to mind. But the first top level one that I think really replaced it was for me in my background and faith is I am a child of God who lives up to the potential he put in me. I'm open to the he she I'm open to the universe. You know, however, people want to adapt that for themselves. But like I'm here, and I am doing a pretty great job, the best I can with the information I have. I'm operating at the speed of information. And I feel like I'm living up to it. That's

Danielle Bettmann  14:40  
Powerful. That mindset shift alone could unlock so many possibilities for just you're giving yourself permission.

Michele Magner  14:48  
You're absolutely right. And really it was really interesting to me something else that really changed when I shifted this relationship with alcohol was it opened up so much emotional bandwidth for me, because I no longer had to think about if I was going to drink, who I was going to drink with what I was going to drink, where I was going to drink when I was going to drink, you know what combination, what time when I like all of that stuff went away, because I did Bunco, I did ladies lunches, you know, I would do driveway drinking, I did all the things. And again, all of it was like a pressure valve release for being in this family caregiver role, amongst other things. And I was able to use that brain space in another way. And I was able to take all of that energy and focus it on like, What is my purpose? And what am I doing here? And who am I here to serve? So that was also just fairly significant?

Danielle Bettmann  15:45  
Well and so often, I'm sure we are feel like we're at our edge of our bandwidth as it is. And we use things like that Valve pressure release as an escape that should be able to replenish us and refill it and you know, kind of hit reset. But so often, it's almost the opposite. And it's pulling even more energy and mental capacity away. Yeah, that's going to be something that maybe listeners can chew on for the next couple of days. Yeah, just a new way of looking at it.

Michele Magner  16:18  
I feel like I had also just these really unrealistic expectations of myself as a mom and caregiver. And my grandparents and my in laws never actually lived with us. They lived in different places. So there was just a lot of logistics and going back and forth and things to manage. And I think that if I could go back and tell my younger self, anything, it would be what you're doing is absolutely enough. You know, you are so fearful that you're missing something and it is okay. It's okay, if the kid missed a nap. Because you are having to drive across town to help your grandmother with something. Like it was a tough day. Don't get me wrong, but it's okay. Like I just so desperately wanted my kids to be on a schedule. Yeah, set up for success. And it's very hard to nearly impossible, uncertain days based on what is happening. And I was really lucky because I had, I have a supportive spouse. Like, if someone is a single mom and having to manage all of this, it's so important to have some key people in your corner that you can, for sure count on. When you get a call that there's going to be a hospital stay, you know, someone's being rushed to the hospital.

Danielle Bettmann  17:33  
So that's the perfect segue into just kind of painting the picture of a day in the life when you are caring for babies and taking babies to the hospital and the nursing home and juggling. I think you mentioned like crying in the closet. And explaining why grandma doesn't know who we are anymore. Just give us that tangible visual of what was the day in the life like?

Michele Magner  18:00  
Yes, so I would often drop off my oldest daughter to preschool, like the little church preschool. And then my younger daughter and I would drive over to the nursing home. It was like a 45 minute drive to get to her. And I had a very special little box of toys and treats in the room. I felt very proud of this idea. These were Barbies, race cars coloring, they were things she could only have when we went to visit great grandma, like special little treats in the box. So when I would say to my, you know, two and a half, three year old we are going to see great grandma, that wasn't a complete fit. 

Michele Magner  18:38  
But sometimes it was a fit, because it was a long drive. So we would drive over there. So often what I would do is open this little box of goodies on the floor, I would have my toddler sitting on the floor of this nursing home in her my grandma's room and I would crawl in bed with my grandma and I would take a nap. And what was so beautiful was my grandma was watching the baby. Like my grandma is babysitting, and I'm getting a nap. So it served a couple purposes. I mean in you know, I'm not like in some deep sleep, obviously. But she had a little sense of purpose in that moment. She's watching the little baby, the kid. So then we would like zip home. Sometimes I would be late picking my older kid up at the daycare at the preschool. We would rush home have lunch, try and get through various errands and chores. And then I was privileged to stay home. 

Michele Magner  19:36  
I guess I should add that that was for 12 years I it was truly a privilege to be able to stay home with our kids and it's what allowed me a little more space to be in this caregiver role. So that definitely is notable. But by the end of the day, you know something that really comes up often is the emotional labor that our roles require. So It's not just tasks. It's not just logistics, there's an emotional labor component to it. And I have started following Fair Play life. Are you dialed into her? 

Danielle Bettmann  20:11  
Yes. 

Michele Magner  20:12  
So really just what is the division of labor in our homes, who is expected to do what and I just again, had such high expectations of myself, that I should have this hot, fresh meal on the table for my husband, when he came home from work, after juggling the kids after going to see my grandmother, and he expected nothing. This man, God bless his soul. 23 years, he has never looked at me and said, So what's for dinner? Ever, it's kind of miraculous. That we're like an average day, you know, we'd pop open the bottle of wine to start to decompress, try and get the kids to bed and then have a minute. 

Michele Magner  20:53  
So it was really challenging the evolution of caregiving, it shifted to my in laws, it did change, because our kids were a little bit older. So they were more self sufficient. So what that does is instead of being strained, rushing all over, dragging your kids everywhere, is now you were just leaving your kids at home alone, which is like its own version of feeling like failure, and not feeling like you're in the right place at the right time with the right people, like you're constantly being divided. 

Michele Magner  21:28  
My mother in law lived with dementia for 12 years, the symptoms started pretty low key with just some forgetting things here and there, and then over time, obviously increased. But there did come this point, when it was just very clear, she no longer knew who any of us were. And that was really, for all the kids really hard, especially my girls, because she my mother in law had two boys. And so and these are her only three grandchildren. 

Danielle Bettmann  22:00  
Oh, wow. 

Michele Magner  22:01  
So to have these two little girls, like she just oh my gosh, I mean, she loves all of our children loved all of our children super dearly. But they have the most memories with her. And so the most awareness of how she had been before. And that was just really tough, especially for my daughters to know that grandma wasn't exactly sure who they were anymore. Part of what that does is it starts to confuse you about your own identity. You have the are in relationship with someone, and you have this dynamic with them. And then they no longer recognize you or identify you, as a daughter in law, son or granddaughter, it starts to confuse you about well, Am I still your granddaughter? Am I still your grandson? If you no longer recognize me? 

Danielle Bettmann  22:51  
Oh, wow. I've never thought about that. 

Michele Magner  22:53  
Yeah, it's hard. It's really hard. And having those conversations with the kids, we tried to just support that, of course, grandma's still love all of them loves us. It's a disease. It's like, if you have cancer or some other disease of a different body part, you know, there's a progress that happens with that disease process. So it's she wasn't choosing it. So we couldn't take it personally.

Danielle Bettmann  23:21  
Yeah, that's really important to differentiate, especially for kids who are trying to make sense of this and might jump to inaccurate conclusions and assumptions. So it says a lot about your family, that you're able to have very frank, honest conversations about these things, and that you were willing to kind of face those conversations head on as hard as they are. 

Michele Magner  23:39  
Well you mentioned crying in the closet, I absolutely did a lot of that, especially in the early years caring for my grandmother's but I am a firm believer in, we have to keep our kids in the loop about what is going on at age appropriate knowledge levels. I'm probably an oversharer with my kids, because they are smart, and they are paying attention. And they are listening. And they are tracking. So if you think you are keeping a secret, there's a really solid chance that your kids have a sense of what is going on. And it's scary to see your parents responding in an emotional way, because our emotions linger, right? Yeah. It's scary to see your parents responding in this emotional way and to not know why their little minds are just like ours are going to start to make up stories about what's happening. So I think it's important to as much as possible, keep kids in the loop about the state of affairs and what people are thinking about what's coming up next. So they can process as well.

Danielle Bettmann  24:52  
Yes, I fully support you on the importance of that because not only for your trust and credibility in that parent child relationship. it, but just for your kids mental health and their ability to have things feel predictable or explained in a way where I think I like the definition of trauma where it's not what happens to you, it's what happens to you that you're alone to deal with or something like that, where it basically is like, the inability to feel supported as you process through what happened. And I think, you know, we really underestimate sometimes maybe even for like the bigger kids how much they need us for that.

Michele Magner  25:33  
Right. And I don't know much about child development, I think my kids are turning out pretty darn great. So I don't have the magic formula or anything. But I also don't know what their earliest memories are of seeing their mom distraught, or what the situation was around that. And I, integrity is really important to me. It's one of my values. And so I would just hate for my kids to have an idea about something that maybe is not the accurate situation that had occurred. Yes. And everybody has their own truth. I have learned that and my I have learned that like you can be looking at someone and be recapping the exact same situation. And both view can have very different interpretations of what happened and believe it to be the truth.

Danielle Bettmann  26:25  
Very true. And even more true when your brain is like half baked, because you're four.

Michele Magner  26:33  
Half baked because you're four or wine soaked.

Danielle Bettmann  26:38  
Both ends of that spectrum Yes.

Danielle Bettmann  26:58  
So big emotions from little people are running the show at your house. Is that right? Do they fall apart when something doesn't go their way? Just once, why can't they accept the fact that the answer is no. Am I right? The struggle is real, you're not alone, and you're in the right place. When your days are filled with relentless push back, it is so hard to feel like a good parent, especially when you're in laws aren't shy and sharing how they think your kids just need a good spanking. Every time you lose it, when they lose it, you feel like a failure. The worst part is, without addressing the root of your child's behavior, you're doomed to play a fruitless game of Whack a Mole reacting rather than preventing the next conflict. And next time, nothing's gonna go differently. The good news is, when you have a handful of effective discipline tools in your pocket, you're able to step into full confidence as their parent, parenting actually becomes a whole lot easier. I promise, you're not failing them, you just need more tools. So if you have a tiny human, who's full of love, and yet so, so difficult, if you can only be so nice for so long. If you've tried everything and still feel defeated on the daily, my free class, authentic and unapologetic is for you. In this free training, I share five huge misconceptions in parenting strong-willed kids that inadvertently invite defiance for mistaken goals, they're using their behavior to meet and what to do about it. How to let judgment roll off your back and truly feel like the parent your kids need, and why what you're currently doing just isn't working and isn't going to anytime soon. So go to parentingwholeheartedly.com/unapologetic To access this exclusive free training immediately. That's parentingwholeheartedly.com/unapologetic The link will be in the show notes.

Danielle Bettmann  29:27  
So now you're getting like a PhD in gerontology and you know going to be a professor and all these things. So catch us up between those two between, you know, the day in the life that you had shared and now your work of supporting families in this season of life.

Michele Magner  29:43  
When I was helping my grandmother's I really loved being in the senior living community buildings where they lived in both assisted living and the nursing home buildings and I loved being around the seniors. And so I realized my dream job was to work In a building in some capacity, so fast forward, I ended up working in an assisted living memory care around the same time that my mother in law was receiving her Frontotemporal dementia diagnosis. And working in the memory care, I had the privilege of starting our support group for the community in there, and just realized how nuanced it is with dementia and the dynamics of our families and the education that was needing. 

Michele Magner  30:29  
So I actually moved from that building over to a skilled nursing facility, which is long term nursing home care, and skilled nursing rehab. So for five and a half years, I was in that building, working with the families, the team members, the residents, and I did much of our dementia education for a large period of time training the team members on best practices, so I became a certified dementia practitioner. 

Michele Magner  31:00  
So I can't diagnose or treat, but I can certainly help people with education and communication and setting people up for success. The other thing that I realized working in the nursing home was how differently we're all aging. And that really fascinates me. What are the factors that contribute my inlaws at age 75 to both be gone, because he, my father in law ended up getting a terminal cancer diagnosis. And he fed into this statistic of passing away before my mother in law, because he was her care partner. So 75 years old, both of these people are gone. Or you have 102 year olds who are sharp as a tech, you know, puttering along. 

Michele Magner  31:48  
So I went back to school in my 40s, which I highly encourage women to consider, what are you interested in and pursuing continued education, and degrees, regardless of how old you are, really, because there's no rules anymore. And there's no such thing as a non traditional traditional student, especially when we have this online world. So I earned my Master's certification in gerontology. So that's like halfway to a master's degree. And just as I was looking at the course, load, I just thought, I want to take all these classes, all of this is so fascinating to me. So I entered the Ph. D. program. And I'm really interested in researching how caregiver stress is impacting that subjective age. 

Michele Magner  32:41  
So we talked about that at the beginning, we have our chronological age. So I'm 51. On any given day, I feel about 36. I meet 100 year olds who say I literally feel 55 It's so confusing to me, where I'm at in my life. Our subjective age, feeling younger is actually really important. It's really important. So when we have middle aged people complaining about getting old, we just need to start to work on some checks and balances. Because how old you think you are, is playing into actually how long you're going to live.

Danielle Bettmann  33:18  
Oh my gosh, wow. 

Michele Magner  33:19  
If you have a younger subjective age, you are going to have better aging outcomes.

Danielle Bettmann  33:25  
That is fascinating. 

Michele Magner  33:26  
It's fascinating. It's really important. And what does the role of that caregiver stress play on our subjective age. So that's the area that I'm presently interested in learning more about, I was invited by a local university to be an adjunct professor this fall to teach their long term care administration class. And my motivation with that is really to infuse younger people to find their love of gerontology, which is the aging just learning about aging, the Study of Aging and working with older adults. And so the idea that I'm a root cause kind of girl, like, I love the idea of just getting to the root of having these 15 to 20 students who are considering what do I want my career to look like, and be able to impact them in that way?

Danielle Bettmann  34:17  
Yeah, I mean, your passion just like jumps off the paper, I'm sure that they're gonna feel the same way. They are so lucky to have you.

Michele Magner  34:26  
I'm very, very excited about it. The other big thing that I'm working on is, so many families are in this caregiver role or the sandwich generation, we're not managing our stress. Well, we're trying to show up for all the people in all the places but then we're really sacrificing our own health which is by the way influencing our own aging journey. So as a coach, I love coming together with that power of attorney daughter who is trying to do at all so that I can help her with her her mental health, her mental bandwidth. And I have a general idea having worked with so many families and senior living and just my own experience about the trajectory of what is maybe coming up. 

Michele Magner  35:12  
So I can help people get prepared emotionally and logistically, and then encourage people to have better information sooner, so they can make the best decision for their family members in a quicker way. Because so many people are strung out. They're trying to do all these things, when really, we need to start interweaving some different interventions at the home. Or it's time to consider that move to senior living. So really empowering people to understand how to do that is so important to me. Wow,

Danielle Bettmann  35:46  
yes. And so if you had a chance to speak directly to that oldest daughter, you know, in that situation right now, that's listening. I know, You've mentioned a lot of things to kind of focus on already. But if you could share like that one piece of advice, or insight, what do you want to say to her?

Michele Magner  36:05  
Recently was mentioned, I don't know who posted this on Instagram. But she said, we talked about caregivers putting their oxygen mask on first, we talk about people filling their cup, because when your cup is full, then it can spill over to other people. And I'm really starting to realize just how important it is for us to take care of ourselves. Not necessarily because we want to have to be able to give it away, but just for ourselves, you are enough, you are worthy. You deserve to be well cared for. You deserve to be healthy. There is a path forward, there's strategies that you can put into place, there are resources available to you. The key is you have to make that decision. You have one of those pivotal moments in your life like I had in my life, where you wake up, you're paying attention, and you're going to make a different choice for yourself. And you deserve it.

Danielle Bettmann  37:00  
Yes, no one can make that decision for you. 

Michele Magner  37:04  
No, I think it's really surrounding yourself with people who are going to fill you up and fuel you. Because it's very easy to get caught on the complaining merry go round, we have 60,000 thoughts a day. 90% of our thoughts today are recycled thoughts from yesterday. And like 70% of those thoughts are negative. 

Danielle Bettmann  37:29  
Ewww.

Michele Magner  37:29  
It's staggering. We literally have to snap out of it. Yeah. And then start to make sure that we're surrounded with information and resources and people that aren't going to feel what we want, not how things have been going in the past.

Danielle Bettmann  37:47  
Yeah, no, I can totally see how that translates to my work with families and clients as well, because that was why I created a group program. It was why I insist on working with families for three or four months at a time. Because you do need an entire environment shift. You need a community shift, you need a level of commitment and investment in something different. That holds you accountable to that change that it's not just good intentions. It's not just like, oh, I came across the information, it takes so much more than that to make that change possible.

Michele Magner  38:24  
Yeah, you have to have some skin in the game. Worrying is not planning. You need to make plans, not promises.

Danielle Bettmann  38:34  
If, yes, that sums up so much. Right?

Michele Magner  38:39  
So I mean, I follow the people, I've downloaded the worksheets. It's really something has to either be so pleasurable or so painful that you're willing to actually invest the resources that it's going to take. And sometimes it's really it doesn't have to be heavy, and so much and oh my god, we have to change everything. Like one little tiny change can shift the trajectory of all of it. It's like launching a rocket. If they are one inch, of course, they are not gonna end up in the right. What solar system I don't even know the universe literally. Yeah. Same thing with a boat, a boat leaves the dock. If their course is off by just a hair, they are going to end up in a different hemisphere. So we're not looking to like we don't always have to go straight to the big picture heavy stuff. We can just start with some basic, like, tell me about the day. And at what point in the day did you start to feel like I'm overwhelmed and exhausted? And we'll just focus on that. And then go from there.

Danielle Bettmann  39:46  
So powerful. Yes, because it is tangible. It's not impossible. It does not take the lofty hard thing that you have made it up in your head to be right.

Michele Magner  39:56  
It can be easier. It can be more fun. There can be Be more laughter I mean, we refer to it as doing the work. But really, there's also a lot of joy and my gosh, the results when you're getting those results of feeling like you have actually succeeded that day, and not failed. Motherhood, yes. So rewarding. And so much of that is just shifting our thoughts coupled with our habits and our thoughts. That's what we're going for. 

Danielle Bettmann  40:26  
Yes. And not to dwell on this any longer than we need to,  but what does that look like for a caregiver that is off five degrees in that trajectory? And you know, that continues to play out without any intervention without any thought you know about? Otherwise? Where do you see families ending up? What does that picture?

Michele Magner  40:45  
Yes, it's a small thing. But it's a massive thing. And it's the people pleasing. And if we can get a handle on the people pleasing, because what I see so often are, the daughter is just working so hard, she's stringing herself out to try and take care of everything. And everyone, she's not feeling rewarded, that it's paying off or working. It's at her own expense. And there's almost like she becomes the martyr, because she's sacrificially giving, but then not feeling full herself. 

Michele Magner  41:16  
So if we can identify like, we were talking about your Gallup strengths, what are your love languages, like that is a big deal. If you go through and do just the five love Languages test, it's a free assessment online, find out what your love language is, and then reflect back on some recent instances where you felt taken advantage of or under appreciated, if words of affirmation is your love language, that's mine. And nobody is saying thank you, you are going to just feel crushed and depleted constantly. If acts of service is your love language, and nobody is like offering the vacuum or make the dinner, or you know, I'll run the laundry back over to mom's assisted living, like if nobody's offering any acts of service, the you are going to feel depleted. So that is a great example, it's one little thing, they can do it right now immediately, it can change the outcomes that you are going to have as a family caregiver. And as a mom, for all the years going forward. Just having that one little piece of information. Core values is another thing, and I have a whole program around identify your core values, that people need to know those two, Mm

Danielle Bettmann  42:39  
hmm. That came up in my work too. Because as a parent, you can't find that you are in integrity, if you don't know what you're even trying to be, or what you're trying to teach, or what makes your family different than the neighbors and not be able to put words to that in a way that makes sense to your kids. So when you finally have that identified, and you all kind of create that together, it's your backbone, it's your foundation, it's like the thing you can come back to and rate yourself when inevitably, life kind of hits you sideways. And it is really powerful. And it's interesting that that, you know, bleeds through a lot of different work in different seasons of life. Right?

Michele Magner  43:20  
The companies that we work for, right? Many of them have their values on the wall. And so when we're hired by these companies, we think, yeah, that feels good. I like that. But then at some point, we there's discord and we're just not feeling very aligned with the company anymore, we get kind of confused about what's gone wrong. It's a value misalignment at that point. And within our families, like I know, so many people who will say, well, family is one of my core values. Now, we're not going to stop there, because why aren't our families all getting along? Equally, everybody within your family unit or other families will say that that's a core value of theirs, but you have to go deeper. Because it might be time it might be respect, it might be connection, and how we meet those values is going to be different, too. And I just think there's a lot of power in doing that information.

Danielle Bettmann  44:15  
Yes, yes. So there's there's a family agreement piece to my work within my program that helps families ask a series of questions about like, what how do we want to feel in our home, and what makes us feel that way so that you can actually put something to that of how that's illustrated for each of the people in your family. So you can really see how your actions connect the dots to contribute to someone else's sense of safety or comfort in your home. And, you know, that sounds kind of vague and judgy or you know, woowoo but know that that's powerful when you can finally have words to communicate your needs. 

Michele Magner  44:53  
It's not vague or judge judgy or woowoo. It's fact like companies don't spend billions of dollars to have all of this psychological information about consumers as to why and when we buy things like, this is how the world is working. You know, they don't spend billions of dollars to hone in on their marketing core values so that they can promote their companies in a certain way. They've all done it, all those companies. That's true. I think that it's brilliant, what you're doing for families, because it is absolutely foundationally going to change how they can operate for years to come. Here's the thing. Our kids are growing up, and then they leave. And you really hope that they want to come back and hang out with you at some point. Yeah. Yeah, I want that. Yes. Like, these are the formative years, my kids are 21, 19 and 16. And already, my girls who have gone to college, they're already awake to this idea of WoW, our childhood was actually I mean, they didn't leave thinking it was tough. But they had really good childhoods, despite the fact that their parents were sometimes emotionally strung out as family caregivers, and gone at various points because of that.

Danielle Bettmann  46:08  
Yeah. And you don't want to have to look back on those years with so much regret, either.

Michele Magner  46:13  
It chews people up. Guilt is the number one emotion that is crushing family caregivers. And again, it goes back to feeling like I should be at my kids show choir performance, except for that my mom just fell. And now I need to be taking care of this. And it's just you are a house divided. And the guilt is crushing. And the response to that is we're doing the best we can or operating at the speed of information. I have three C's in caregiving, we need to be curious. We need to communicate, and we need to have compassion, both for the person that we're caring for and ourselves. To be curious, why does it feel so hard to be missing the show choir? You know, you've maybe it's because connection is a core value of yours as a family member, and you feel like you're hurting the connection with you and your kid. So being curious is really important. Communication, communicating what your needs are, just like you talked about? What is it that I need to feel successful in this family? What is it that I need communication, and compassion, having compassion for yourself, that you are really doing the best you can? is so important and compassion for these people that you love that you're trying to take care of is important. 

Danielle Bettmann  47:34  
And all that really comes back to stress? And how do you how do you manage stress? And how would you continue to keep going with the capacity to take on tomorrow, with all the things you can't control by managing the things you can control. So as like a closing thoughts on managing stress, is there any other type of like tangible next step that a listener could take.

Michele Magner  47:58  
So what I want to encourage people to do is really focus on those core values. Because we don't want to just manage stress, we want to eliminate the stress. And when you have a better sense of who you are and how you operate. You can find some neutrality, so that you're actually not triggered as much, you're actually not flipped out and stressed out like you can immediately foundationally get back to those values, your strengths, who you are, process quickly, and then move past it. We have chocolate chip moments. That's what I call them. I bought a bag of chocolate chips to take to my daughter in college. I said to the family, no one need these chocolate chips are on the counter. I'm taking them to test it tomorrow. I came down the next day, there's chocolate chips on the counter, my little brain goes to oh my god, there's a hole in the bag. Like, oh, no, they. And then I looked up and my son is like, Oops. And I was furious. This is a chocolate chip moment furious triggered, stepped away. Within minutes, I was able to recalibrate, come back, apologize quickly for my reaction. It's ridiculous. I'm sorry. This is why I felt that way and move on. So the stress can be reduced or eliminated. And you can move into a neutral space or you're just no longer triggered by things anymore. Or you can just you can move through that process faster where things aren't lingering.

Danielle Bettmann  49:24  
Yes, the faster part I think is, is what's critical because I teach my clients just to catch yourself sooner just look for that progress of like, I would have went on a tirade for 30 minutes and now it was only 25. Great, right? That's what that looks like. Yes.

Michele Magner  49:39  
I'd be holding it against you at Christmas even though it's February.

Danielle Bettmann  49:45  
Well, we connect on so many things. We could obviously keep chatting for a while but I do want to wrap up so how can listeners connect with your work?

Michele Magner  49:53  
Thank you so much. I am on Instagram @ Inspired Caring I'm also on Facebook, Michele Magner only one L, Michele, or Inspired Caring, and then LinkedIn. And then my website is Michellemagner.com One L Michelle, Michelemagner.com.

Danielle Bettmann  50:16  
Okay, I will have all that linked in the shownotes. That's easy to click from. And then the last question I have to ask that I asked every guest that I have on is how are you, the mom your kids need?

Michele Magner  50:25  
I am the mom that my kids need, because I am also growing and learning. And as I evolve, and I know better, and I can do better, I believe that I'm able to show up for who my kids need in this moment.

Danielle Bettmann  50:43  
So true. They are lucky to have you and we are lucky to have you here today. Thank you again, Michele, for all your vulnerability. And for your expertise. I think it is so valuable not only for caregivers, but to any parent listening. 

Michele Magner  50:56  
Thank you so much for having me, Danielle, I loved it.

Danielle Bettmann  51:04  
Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of Failing Motherhood. Your kids are so lucky to have you. If you loved this episode, take a screenshot right now and share it in your Instagram stories and tag me. If you're loving the podcast, be sure that you've subscribed and leave a review so we can help more moms know they are not alone if they feel like they're failing motherhood on a daily basis. And if you're ready to transform your relationship with your strong-willed child, and invest in the support you need to make it happen. Schedule your free consultation using the link in the show notes. I can't wait to meet you. Thanks for coming on this journey with me. I believe in you, and I'm cheering you on.

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