Every week, Preen tackles motherhood sans the rose-tinted glasses. Our columnists L. Juliano, Marla Darwin, Monica Eleazar-Manzano, Rossana Unson, and Ronna Capili-Bonifacio tell their personal experiences like it is—at times frustrating, oftentimes confusing, but always enlightening.
I’ve eased up on my work schedule and opted for flexi time so I can spend more days at home with little bub. It’s been a rewarding, though at times frustrating, decision since. I find that nothing beats waking up every morning without having to rush, just waiting for her to open her eyes and see joy overflow from her hugs and giggles; her pleads for “Is it mommy time today?” answered always with a happy yes.
However, it seems like I’m juggling more than I used to when I was actually going to an office. Having to constantly appease little bub’s requests and manage her short patience are the main things I struggle with everyday. And having a yaya isn’t much help since it’s all mommy mommy mommy whenever I’m around (but big thanks to yaya for keeping things in order while we’re busy working and playing!)
In the few months since I changed work bases, here’s what I learned goes best for me and little bub that may help you too.
Start the day with lots of cuddles, soothing words, and undivided attention
I admit that the moment I wake up, the first thing I reach for is my phone. I check my things to do, project timelines, deadlines, and answer important emails (and fine, my social media accounts). I do all these before little bub wakes up. I set her alarm an hour and a half before school and I spend the morning assuring her, praying with her, reminding her of special positive words, giving her the rundown of our day, and getting her ready for school. I’ve noticed that when we start our days this way and continue with the positive energy throughout, she’s in a good disposition and requires less attention.
Words are very powerful and it can break and make a child. It’s also easier to go through tasks when I explain to her beforehand what to expect. Of course, there are days when I’m overwhelmed and neglect to give her the walk through. When we reach boiling point, I remind myself to go back to using the right words, even when I’m disciplining her.
Set a clear schedule but be ready to adjust and work anywhere. Be virtual
Put your work on the cloud. I know this may mean you’re more available to colleagues and clients than you should be, but it’ll allow for flexibility. In times when I have to be away from my laptop, I use my phone or tablet. Setting the work hours a day allows me to immerse myself completely without the mommy guilt, whether I’m not paying little bub attention or if I’m using my phone too much. I make sure I finish roughly at the same time everyday. I work at coffee shops, school benches, or in her playroom with a toy box as a table.
Break times are sacred mommy and little bub moments, and those are just as important in assuring smooth work afterwards. I find that little bub needs about 10 minutes of TLC whenever she’s asking for it, and after those few minutes, she goes back to playing by herself.
Teach your child to be independent
This goes without saying that having your child feed, potty, bathe, and dress herself with minimal help makes life easier. But it’s moments when she’s taking too much time that pushes me to just do things for her. Don’t. These milestones don’t happen overnight and being consistent with aiding her as she finds herself ready are crucial. We’ve had seasons when she stopped feeding herself just because I rather have her spoon-fed when I’m in a rush. Don’t throw all that hard work to waste.
Make room for lots of free play
Encourage free play and imagination with the right toys and tools. I prefer the ones that require the least of my concerns. Non-toxic, age appropriate, safe toys are always a good bet. We allow her to let loose and go all out in one area of the house where she can draw on the walls with washable crayons, mess around with clay, play with different kinds of building toys, and go through sturdy board books.
I’m usually included in her imaginative worlds and I integrate my work into her play. I say things like I’m steering the spaceship with my laptop control panel or I throw my voice. I also allow her an hour of screen time a day, which is only allowed after dinner. Knowing that she’s not allowed to use gadgets before nighttime has made her quite resourceful when she’s bored.
Work-free days are sacred
My weekends don’t always mean they’re work-free. So when I’m forced to work on Saturdays or Sundays, I allot other days of the week to completely be offline. And it’s not just for quality time with little bub. Once in a while, I make part of these days just for me, whether I spend it having lunch with friends, read a book at a coffee shop, or tune out at the spa. These are sacred and I make sure my colleagues and clients know that as well.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.