Friday, August 19, 2016

Ask Frances: I'm a working mom. Should I quit my job?


"Ask Frances" is a monthly blog series where I will answer questions from my readers. The chosen question will receive a prize. This month's prize is a Kipling Art S tote bag.

It is soooo nice! Thanks, Kipling, for sending me this really nice bag when you opened your new Megamall store a few weeks ago. I think it makes for an excellent diaper bag, mom bag, overnighter, or carry-on luggage. It's so versatile and handy, stain-resistant, and when you unzip certain zippers, it becomes bigger! This is what it looks like:

And here are some photos I grabbed from the Kipling website:

Isn't it such a nice bag? I wanted to keep it but I already have lots of totes so I've never used this. It's best to just give it to another mommy!

Our question this month is...

I'm happily married with 4 kids aged 16, 6, 5 and 2. I recently just got back into the corporate world after being a full-time mom for 7 months. I'd been working 13 years before my stint as a full-time mom. And because of the financial difficulty, I decided to go back to work. Thing is, I work nights. We don't have a helper. And while so far, I've survived with 3-4 hours of sleep, I'm starting to think about whether it's the right decision. The income is a huge factor especially given the fact that we have 4 kids to put through school and feed. But without a helper, I am doing two full-time jobs. It's hard to look for a trustworthy helper. I've had experience where one left my then-3-year-old daughter at home all by herself and stole from us so it's become a phobia. The house is almost always messy now because I just don't have the energy to clean as I used to. 

Do I keep the job and just struggle some more? Or is it not worth the health risk and the messy house? What would you do?

D.M.A.

I'm going to answer the "What would you do?" question. What would I do? I'd keep the job. If my family has a "financial difficulty," then I need to work. In fact, I do work now. How about the messy house? Well, if I had a husband I'm happily married to and four kids—one being a teenager—I'm going to enlist everyone to help. Yes, even the toddler can help!

D.M.A., I can answer your question in all confidence because that's my life. Since I was a child to now that I'm a mom, household help was a great help but not necessary.

My mother was a working woman but even her salary couldn't pay for household help, so my parents decreed that as soon as one of us (that would be the eldest) hit our teens, no more maids. I've been cooking and cleaning and doing the laundry for as far back as I can remember. I learned how to cook rice in a palayok (no joke) and wash my own clothes when I was 7. My father did the cooking and the childcare while my mother did the earning and the cleaning. Everything else they didn't do, my three siblings and I did.

Now that I have my own family, we also have our own chores. For example, my 6-year-old Vito helps with setting the table, loading the washing machine, and shining shoes. My 4-year-old Iñigo helps cook our meals, from prepping to washing dishes. My 2-year-old Piero packs away toys and can be counted on to fetch things. My husband cleans the house, I cook, and we both take turns taking care of the kids so we can work.

I'm saying all this to assure you that it's possible and that it's good for everyone to help around the house. It is especially important for us to impress on our kids that they need to contribute to keeping the house in order. I like to tease my kids, "If you can't pay rent, you have to do your chores!"

Iñigo making chicken in balsamic vinegar. Yum!
Your family needs the money so you're not being a bad mom by working. Your family needs you to work! What you need to do is get everyone to help around the house. That's their duty for living under your roof. If they don't keep it clean, they shouldn't live there! Joke! But you also know I'm kinda serious, right? Hugs! As a fellow mom, I know how hard it is to work and care for a family at the same time and keep the house clean, too! When the house is messy, why does no one blame the daddy and the kids??? It's always the mom's fault and that is unfair because she's not the only one living there. So make everyone help you!

A family needs to be a team. You work together. You help each other. You succeed together. It's not just for your own good; it's for the kids' own good as well. Chores teach kids responsibility, team work, accountability and independence! So make them do their chores and then email me your address so I can send you your prize from Kipling!

Kipling stores can be found nationwide. Follow their Facebook page for promos, sale announcements, and a complete list of their branches.

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If you have a question for me, send an email to frances@topazhorizon.com with "Ask Frances" on the subject.


Thursday, August 18, 2016

Meet Physiogel's new #EverydayStrong Women: Sara Black, Vania Romoff and Pat Henson

This post is brought to you by Physiogel.

This time last year, my skin was exploding in pimples. I didn't want to go out of the house. I didn't want to meet clients. I didn't want to attend events. I'm so glad Physiogel and Flawless came to my rescue. It took a few months but my skin did clear up. I now feel confident again to come out of hiding and meet people!

It seems such a shallow thing, but when you don't have the confidence to face the day, that can really hold you back from going out and making your dreams come true. Physiogel understands that we need to feel confident in ourselves, and that confidence can start with good skin.

Physiogel has a mission to empower women with sensitive skin to break free from the barriers we or society impose on ourselves. #EverydayStrong is their campaign that celebrates women who choose to be better and stronger every day. Their stories will be shared and we'll start with three successful women: photographer Sara Black, fashion designer Vania Romoff, and creative digital influencer Pat Henson.

Vania Romoff

She's one of today's hottest designers but Vania says it didn't happen overnight. "I used to do fittings and consultations inside coffee shops," she says and adds the years she spent selling at bazaars. "A whole lot of patience, perseverance, and resilience. It will take you quite a while to get there, maybe longer than expected, but there is no telling what a young woman can achieve once she puts her heart into it."

Vania is also a mom to a daughter, Emilia Simone. Between motherhood and growing her fashion business, Vania says, "Most days there’s barely a room to breathe. But there is strength from the inside that tells you to never stop working towards your goals – no matter what the circumstances are; and that it is always okay to take a step back and reprioritize."

Pat Henson

She may be just 22, but Pat Henson has already suffered crushed dreams and reinvented herself to create new ones. As a teen, she was an athlete but a broken collarbone forced her to give up the sports she loves. "I had to go through surgery—a titanium plate was attached to hold my bones together."

Because she was tall, she tried modeling but was told she was chubby and faced many rejections. Pat says, "I told myself, this isn’t really for me. I need to move on." With that she started a swimwear business and became a social media darling in the process. Pat says, "I wouldn’t change anything. From the fracture that broke my heart, to the modeling rejections, and being turned down, all led me here today. I started my own business with Costa Swimwear in which I design everything – from the items to the packaging, printed materials, and even designed several triathlon logos along the way. Pretty cool experience, I must say."

Sara Black

Of the three Physiogel #EverydayStrong women, it's Sara Black I know. I was new in the magazine industry and Sara had just shifted from modeling to photography when we went on a shoot to Iloilo. She was so graceful and soft-spoken that I felt loud and awkward beside her. Her grace isn't just something that exudes from her, it is also seen in her work—all her photographs are elegant and intimate. This talent has put her on top of the industry. 

"When you really love what you do, you work harder every single time no matter what kind of job it is. It will involve a lot of your time, a lot of sleepless nights," Sara says before adding ruefully, "If you’re unlucky like me, even getting confined in a hospital due to fatigue."

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

A non-techie review of Starmobile PLAY Click phone from Smart

This post is brought to you by SMART Communications. 

Today I'm going to do a short review of the new Starmobile PLAY Click smartphone. Since I'm not a techie, I briefly toyed with the idea of letting my husband (the former editor-in-chief of T3 magazine) do the review. But since he is very busy editing and writing, I decided I'd do the job!


Meet the Starmobile PLAY Click smartphone. I've had this phone for one month now. I got it from the Smart Unbox event. Yes, it was free! Every guest got a free phone! Look who's checking out the PLAY Click phone at the event: my 4-year-old Iñigo!

This phone is supposed to be an entry-level phone. That means it's for people entering the smartphone category. By partnering with Smart, Starmobile made the PLAY Click super affordable. You can get this phone for only P1,288. I knoooooow! Smartphone yan, ha! P1,288 lang!

Okay, quick review:
Matte silver back
Sharp and clear screen.
That empty space beside Facebook had Instagram which was accidentally
and mysteriously deleted by someone in my house.

How it looks - It looks fine. I got a silver one. I love the display—so bright and clear and super sharp! But ang liwanag sobra when I use it at night sa dilim. No auto brightness so I have to adjust manually.  
How it feels - I like the weight of it. It's not as light as my iPhone 6, yung tipong lilipad sa kamay mo. The Play Click phone feels solid. Not heavy, just solid.  
How it sounds - A bit tinny for me. Well, what did I expect from such tiny speakers? But remember that I'm old enough to have been raised listening to music from giant speakers, where every tone is full bodied. So listening to music on a smartphone has never been a satisfactory experience for me. 
How it connects - The phone comes with a Smart Super Pack SIM which gives me 100MB of data plus P30 load rewards every month. Okay naman ang speed niya but when I have a lot going on, the phone loads data slow na.   
How it takes photos - Sadly, not a very good camera when taking photos indoors. Okay siya pag maraming light so do your selfies by a big sunny window or your #ootds outside.  
How it lasts - Depends on how you use it, I guess. Some days, ubos agad ang battery. Some days, I don't have to charge till the next day. Ubos ang battery niya agad when I play all the music or watch videos on the Smart Life app!
It's a good starter phone when you're entering the smartphone market. It's nice to hold, simple to use, intuitive, and because it's bundled with Smart, it's just easier to enjoy because Smart already preloaded it with all the things that make smartphones so fun—like social apps and Smart Life.


Yes, the Smart Life app! I really really love it! It's a special service for Smart subscribers that offers perks and discounts, free music and videos, and games.