Wednesday, February 21, 2018

How your career can make you a better mom

In my last post, I talked about how motherhood can help you contribute better to the workforce. I'm happy to say it works both ways, mamas! Your work and the skills you learn on the job will help you as a mommy, too. I should know! For example, my time as a preschool teacher taught me how to deal with kids while my years as an editor-in-chief managing a team on tight deadlines gave me the stamina to manage my household.

If you're afraid your career will make you a bad mama, don't believe it! Yes, a working mama's life can be challenging, but you mustn't let the challenges discourage you. Change how you view the struggle: You can grow not only professionally, but personally as well; you can build essential skills in the workplace that can be transferred to your home, and vice versa. Check out the many ways your work life can be good for your home life:

Management Skills
If you choose a management career, you will be able to transfer your skills to your home life. Project management training will encourage you to look at every plan from different angles, and consider multiple options. This will benefit your home life. You will get better at arranging vacations and childcare, and choosing the most economical ways of commuting to work, or getting your kids to school. 

In my case, I never get daunted by parties. While my kids' parties are tiny to begin with (which makes them sooo easy to plan), I've had years of practice as a magazine editor putting together photo shoots, ordering food for staff and crew, attending events, making small talk, making people at ease and even happy. 
Iñigo's 3rd birthday party was huge and a success—but won't do that again hehe

Health and Safety
If you get health and safety training at your workplace, or enroll for an online msn degree course, you will understand the importance of exercise and healthy lifestyle better. As a result, you can encourage your kids to exercise regularly and eat healthier. First aid training will help you deal with minor injuries at home, so you don’t have to visit the emergency department every time your child falls off the bike. 

For me, it was my work as a mom blogger that helped me be aware of proper food and nutrition at every age, what products are best for my kids's skin (that includes everything from allergenic skincare products to the best diapers like Pampers), vaccinations, and other safety concerns. Why? Because I had client brands who wanted me to write about these things and many times I had to research and there were also times these brands sent me pages upon pages of scientific data.

You won't believe all the research papers I read for this campaign!

Financial Planning
Working will also make you better at financial planning. You can transfer your skills to your household budget and manage your money better. Money management is an essential skill, but it is, unfortunately, not taught in mainstream education. This means that working moms are generally better at budgeting, planning for larger expenses, and staying out of financial troubles. You will be able to make your family budget go further if you pay attention to how your employer controls costs.

I became good at budgets when I was a managing editor. Even I was surprised at how adept I was at making sure we made a magazine within budget, that all bills and suppliers were paid on time, and that we still had a quality product—even on a budget! Sadly, I'm not as good with this financial planning when it comes to my household. I mean, I'm good but not super good. I like spoiling my kids, you see, so that can be a problem especially when I'm trying to stick to a budget but "Mama, can we eat Bonchon pleeeeeease?" unravels my resolve!

Time Management 
You will be forced to improve your work-life balance while looking after your family and going to your workplace. You will learn how to compare routes to your workplace and to your kids’ school, avoid traffic, and stick to appointments. While you might not have been good at keeping time while you were at home with your kids, now it will be something you need to do every day to keep your job. 

Am I right, mamas? Sometimes when people with no children talk about being busy, I sigh. In the immortal words of Iñigo Montoya from The Princess Bride...

I've been an underling and I've been a boss. I'm a businesswoman, too. I've worked for 48 hours straight but sleepless nights were easy when I didn't have kids. Let me tell ya—nothing compares to the busy-ness of a mama! But now I'm more efficient. My 24 hours is so precious that I've learned how to manage my time ruthlessly. What used to take me 14 hours to do, I can now squeeze into 6 hours. My focus is razor-sharp because I can't afford to waste time anymore. Motherhood has taught me the quickest, most efficient way to do things!

Managing Kids and Difficult Situations
When you work with people from different walks of life, you will gradually learn how to handle difficult colleagues and clients. This skill will come handy when your kids start, well, talking. My goodness, I thought I was such an amazing mother until my kids started learning how to talk and got sassy with me. Things like, "Because I said so!" just won't do it, mamas. Am I right? I had to draw on all my learned skills as a manager and negotiator to deal with my own children! I seriously can't imagine the teenage years.

While being a mother and having a job can be challenging, you need to look at the bright side. Some of your parenting and homemaking skills can be transferred to the world of employment, and vice versa. Make the best use of your skills and experience gained at home and in the workplace, and you can be a better mother and employee. Good luck to us all, working mamas! We got this!

Sunday, February 18, 2018

Can becoming a mom actually help your career? Yes!

Being a mom and having a career are two things that are often pitted against each other. Mothers can't be good at work because they're distracted by their children. Working women can't be good mothers because they're not the ones raising their kids 24/7. Time and again, we working mamas have proven these accusations as false. Many businesses are founded by women (shout out to my friends who are all businesswomen!). Many businesses have senior officers who are women (check out this 2017 PDI article: More women executives in PH, Asia pacific, but...). Many of these career women are also mothers and I celebrate how women can enjoy more aspects of womanhood—of life!—and this is truly a sign of changing times.

The three reasons I work so hard.

I will admit that juggling motherhood and career and marriage and self-care is a huge struggle. And I will also say that when the need arises, family always comes first. That's a no-brainer. I work because I love it, I love making my own money, I love providing for my family, and I love using parts of my brain for something else that doesn't involve children. I like being more than a mommy. That said, when the kids are sick, I drop all work. When a job offer of P200,000 a month came up but it would mean working practically 24/7, I declined. You can always make money but when family needs you, family comes first. I think most working moms know this and do this.

But that doesn't make mommies bad workers. In my experience, I have more to bring to the table now because of all the things I know as a mom. I'm better at understanding how finances work, for example, now that I have to manage a household. I'm now more organized. I can make the best decisions in a snap (trained by kids whose needs are always urgent!).  

Becoming a mother can give your career a boost in many ways. Motherhood and career don’t have to be mutually exclusive. So if you’re thinking about work after having children, or are yet to have children and wonder how you can make it work, then this post is for you. Here are some of the ways that becoming a mom can give your career the boost that it might need.

You FINALLY take that leap of faith.
Many women put off doing what they really want because they don't think they can make it. But when children are in the picture, you start to think of being a good example. How can you teach your children to be true to themselves, to chase after their dreams, to pursue their passions, and be proud of their talents if you yourself aren't fulfilling your own purpose in life? If you've always wanted to be a teacher, do it now. If you've always wanted to bake cookies and sell them, do it now. Nothing is sadder for a child to see than a regretful parent who says, "I always wanted to do this-and-that but I couldn't because I had to work for you kids/scared I'd fail/I didn't want to be laughed at/etc." I know because my own parents said that and it is heart-wrenching to witness wasted lives, buried talents, and crushed dreams, especially if those were your parents'.

Be the role model you want your kids to have! If you fail, then try again. At least your kids see that you were brave enough to live your truth, tried to make it work, and got up again. I really do believe this because that's what my husband and I do all the time. Making our dreams come true requires a leap of faith, yes. It took me a while to take that leap, I'll admit, and I was scared all the time. I'm still scared. But many mom bosses (like many of my friends) decided to leave their old career behind and carve out a new one for themselves—and they inspired me! 

You’re motivated for real success.
If you weren’t too motivated by your career beforehand, then it is important to note that becoming a parent can really give you the motivation that you need. Nothing motivates you more than the little ones that you have at home that need to be fed and cared for. I was interviewed for an article in a parenting magazine a few years ago and one of the questions was, "What motivates you to work?" And I replied, "The bills. Do you realize how expensive it is to raise kids???" Haha but it's true. I can get really lazy, you know, but those bills need to be paid, those kids need to be fed, those kids need to go to school, wear clothes, get their vaccines. So I can't ever be lazy!

Money issues aside, you also become more focused and determined to be a success because you want your kids to be proud of you. My son, Vito, is so funny. He brought a magazine to school because my photo was in it (it was the Biogenic ad) and he told his classmates and their moms: "Look at my mama! She's a model!" I was half-embarrassed and half-proud. I loved it that he was so proud of me! It made me want to work harder, you know? I'm sure you know what I mean, mamas.

Your skills improve.
Like I mentioned earlier, motherhood forces you to learn a lot of new skills that you didn't have before. It teaches you creativity, patience, razor-sharp decision-making, people management, mastery of juggling schedules, and a whole lot more. Many moms actually realize that they could capitalize on these new skills. I know many women who embarked on businesses like home organization, house-cleaning, virtual assistance, events management, catering, tutoring, kiddie fashion, baby products. 

If you're a mom who quit work to be with your kids, or you've found yourself having plenty of time now that the kids are in school, you may want to attend workshops or enroll in courses that can equip you to launch that business you always wanted to do. If you're employed, you may consider a masters degree to improve your skills and employability. Doing an MSW online, for example, could open up your career options and make you able to apply for that promotion that you’ve always wanted to do. 

You're more powerful now, oh so much more powerful!
As a working mom, you have a lot of things to be thinking about. And becoming a mom will automatically make you better able to manage time, prioritize, and organize. So even if you go back to your previous career after having children, it can mean that you’re better able to do the job you were doing before. You’re likely to be a much more productive worker as you know you have only got a certain amount of time to get the work done in.

Becoming a mother can give your confidence a boost. You have done something amazing when you grew a baby and kept that baby alive and healthy, too! For many women it can help them to feel more confident and comfortable in their own skin. It happened to me and I wrote about my empowerment because I truly felt more alive and more powerful. Your motherhood can be just the catalyst that you need for a mighty change!

*This post contains paid links.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

What to pack for a last-minute holiday

It's Chinese New Year tomorrow! For many Fil-Chinese schools and businesses, that means it's a holiday so hello long weekend!

If you’ve decided to spend the weekend on a family getaway, then don't panic, mamas. While a long break sounds like a brilliant way to relax – nothing can beat the excitement of a last minute holiday, right? – it doesn’t mean that you can leave the success of your break to chance. You still need to pack efficiently. In fact, you need to be twice as efficient than you normally are during your holiday preps because a last minute plan doesn’t leave you much time to get ready. So what do you need to pack in your luggage to make it work for you and your family

Transitional clothes for both warm and cold kinds of weather
When you don’t have the time to study the weather, you need to prepare for cold and warm temperatures. Be reassured: it doesn’t mean that you should pour the entire contents of your wardrobe in your travel bag. 

Whether you're going to the beach or going on staycation in a posh hotel, make sure to bring midseason jackets for your family, as they’re ideal to keep you warm during a cool and windy day but they’re not too heavy so that you can still wear them when the sun is out. My husband always packs jackets for my kids (because I always forget, given our tropical climate). Why? Because when we go on long road trips, the car gets cold. When we book at a hotel, the A/C gets really freezing (even when I turn it off!). When we went to sunny Bohol and climbed the Chocolate Hills, guess what—it was windy and drizzly and chilly up there!

Just remember the onion skin layer concept. Pack clothes that you can layer on top of each other if you need to: T-shirt, light jumper, cardigan, etc. 
We left the hotel, it was hot and sunny. Thirty minutes later at Chocolate Hills, we were freezing!

The entertainment factor
It’s a holiday, however short it is. Consequently, it has to be fun! If you’ve still got enough time, make sure to book some tickets for local attractions and shows. Whenever we go to Tagaytay, for example, I really make kulit my husband to go to Tagaytay Sky Ranch and the zoo at Residence Inn. He hates those places haha but the kids love them! 

Additionally, make sure to pack a few toys to keep the kids occupied during the journey. While you don’t need to throw all their toys in a bag, you should have at least three different kinds of games such as a soft toy, a colouring book, and a board game, for example. I allow my boys to bring one toy each. More than the entertainment factor, their toy comforts them in a strange place. 
While boating in Burnham Park is something we won't do again, I'm glad we still got to do it!

Essential tech devices
Back in my day, there was no such thing as gadgets. Now we have a small bag just for it! We bring the iPad. It keeps the kids from running all over the airport or the hotel lobby when we're preoccupied with checking in. We bring a camera. We have chargers and wires and power banks. If we're traveling abroad, we bring a universal plug. 

One thing I really want is a smart suitcase that has an inbuilt GPS system. Have you seen those? This suitcase makes sure you'll never lose your luggage. Suitcases now are so hi-tech actually. They have built-in chargers, built-in child seats, and some bags even follow you around like a puppy. This last one I think is stupid because people will trip over that darned thing, diba??? Just look at it.

Looks cool, though.

Don’t forget a snack!
If your trip is going to last a few hours, you’d better pack some yummy snacks to keep you going. Best to pack your own chips and cookies, too, because those things are so expensive at tourist spots!  You can also make your own healthy snacks in a moment. Popcorn is universally loved and it's low in calories (unless you add tons of salt and butter).  Not a fan of popcorn? Try homemade power bars instead. They’re full of superfoods and don’t require any baking time, so they’re ready in no time. 

But we make sure to buy the local snacks, like ube halaya and strawberry jam from Baguio.

From appropriate clothes to something to eat on the way, it’s important to know what to pack when you’re in a hurry. Don’t let your last-minute holiday be ruined by poor packing and do enjoy the long weekend!

*This post contains paid links.