Tuesday, August 28, 2018

My top toilet-training tips revealed!

This picture is making me all sentimental and gooey inside. I took this photo for my BabyLove diaper review just a few months ago, when we started toilet training in earnest. It was Piero's third summer and we really hoped he'd be potty-trained before his fourth birthday. Sure enough, before we even finished the pack of diapers—I didn't realize it would be his very last!—Piero was using the toilet and he's strutting around now like a big boy. "I peed in the toy-wet, mama!"

And now I see this photo, a photo of his last days as a baby, and it makes me so emotional!!! As in naiyak ako, mamas. Kainez. I was surprised at my reaction. I have been so ready for the kid stage and so proud Piero went through potty training like a champ, but now that it's here, I guess I'm also wistful for the baby days.

But not wistful enough to want another baby! Nope. I am done! I am finished! I never have to do potty training again! Here's a short post on our tips on how we toilet-trained our three boys (because, yes, I can finally claim to be an expert!):

1. Watch for child's readiness.
I know babies can be potty-trained, and by babies, I mean 2 months old to less than a year old. But doctors say that is not a good idea at all. You can protest all you want but I'm going with the medical experts. Pediatric urologist Steve J. Hodges, MD, advocates for late potty training. His recommended age is 3 years old. Because any earlier than that is harmful. He writes in parenting website, Babble, "It’s typically the kids who trained earliest and most easily who develop the most serious problems. I see about 100 kids a week at my clinic, and about half are dysfunctional voiders; most of them trained before 3." Read his eye-opening article here: The Dangers of Potty Training Too Early.

How do you know a child is ready? When she can say she's ready, when she can run to the toilet and sit on it herself, and when she can pull down and pull up her underwear herself. So what does that mean? A child is ready for potty training when she can talk, walk, and have enough motor skills to not fall into the toilet bowl and manage the business of underwear on her own. Depending on your child, that could be anywhere from 2 to 3 years old.

Our kids were toilet-trained at these ages: Vito at 4 years and 2 months old, Iñigo at exactly 3 years old, and Piero at exactly 4 years old. We waited for their readiness, and because they were raring to do it, too, we were done in about 3 days, with hardly any mess and dismay.

2. Be ready yourself!
A few years ago, I was talking to a taxi driver while we were stuck in traffic. He was complaining about his kid, who had a kid herself. "Limang taong gulang na anak niya, hindi pa rin nagbabanyo mag-isa. Paano, tinatamad yung anak kong turuan yung anak niya!" So there, mga mommies. Kapag handa na si baby, kailangang handa na rin kayo!

Yes, while there are parents who are very eager to get their kids out of diapers, there are also parents on the other end of the spectrum. Many times parents are loathe to potty-train because it will be messy. They just don't want to deal with the mess and the frustration. As a former preschool teacher, I can attest to the many times a parent has asked, "Do you toilet train the kids as part of the curriculum?" O.M.G. talaga. Toilet training is a parent's job, guys.

I have a list of what to prepare when you're in the toilet-training stage to help you deal better with the mess and accidents. Click here!

3. Buy fun underwear.
In our experience, letting the kids see you in your underwear motivates them to want to wear their own. It helps them feel grown-up. If you have a boy, let him see daddy in his briefs or boxers. If you have a girl, let her see you wearing panties. Not all the time. Just when you're dressing up and when they ask about the clothes you're putting on. 

Then the next time you go to the mall, ask them to check out the kiddie undergarments section. Let them have a choice. I personally prefer plain white briefs for my kids but they picked out colorful briefs emblazoned with superheroes so that's what we got them. Whatever makes them enthusiastic about graduating to underwear is welcome!

4. Try training pants.
Now that you've made your child excited to wear big-boy briefs or big-girl panties, you can help train them with the pull-down/pull-up movement with training pants. Training pants are diapers that have an elastic waistband. This makes it easier for your child to pull down his diaper when he needs to go the toilet. It also helps him feel secure because if accidents do happen, the mess will be contained in the training pants and can be discarded. It's easier for both the child and the parent (or yaya).

In our case, we only used training pants with Piero, our last child. That's how I know it really helps ease the anxiety and frustration of everyone involved in this messy business. I mean, we were able to toilet train Vito and Iñigo without training pants but with Piero, everyone was more relaxed. We used BabyLove Premium Gold Pants. Piero calls them "dia-pants" and these training pants definitely made the whole potty-training episode a happy affair. Plus, he loved his dia-pants so much, he was almost sorry when he realized he didn't need them anymore! Try the BabyLove Premium Gold Pants, mamas. Topaz Mommy approved!

5. Reward successful attempts.
It's important to be wildly happy about every successful trip to the toilet, mamas. Like, make it a HUGE deal. "Oh my goodness, you peed in the toilet! I'm so happy! Are you happy? Did that make you feel like a big boy? I bet! I can't wait for you to do that again! Good job!" Yes, that wildly happy.

Another thing they respond positively to is rewards. Whether it's a sticker on a chart or a small toy, you two decide. With Vito, he had to be motivated by Lego minifigs. With Iñigo, he was just happy with the praise. I mean, we had toys ready for him, too, but he was happier with the hugs and kisses. With Piero, he asked for a big toy—a Pacific Rim Jaeger action figure that we had to order all the way from China. So he was determined to learn to use the toilet quickly.

And of course, never punish a child for accidents. Don't even express disappointment. Always be encouraging. I know some parents get angry and say things like, "You're such a baby! You're so dirty!" And they spank the child for every time he or she doesn't get to the toilet on time. The child then learns to control his or her peeing and pooping out of fear. I've read research indicating that punishing a child during toilet training may result to two things: when the child grows up, he or she becomes sexually frigid or sexually deviant. The now-adult associate their sexual organs with filth, anger, and disappointing the important people in their life. So they either cannot feel sexual pleasure or they will only want sex that not normal. So please please please make potty training a positive experience!!!

Aaaaand there you go, mamas! My top toilet-training tips for that exciting, frustrating and messy time in you and your toddler's life!

Now, if you need diapers to contain the mess, help train your kid, or because your child's not ready yet for undies, there's a Shopee BabyLove Fair happening now till August 29, 2018. The promo says diapers are up to 50% discounted! Plus, you get a chance to get a bag of diapers for only P99. Those are big savings! Shop here!!!

*This post is brought to you by BabyLove.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

The irony that all parents must live through: A love that protects also lets go

I've always known since I got pregnant with my first child, Vito, that he isn't mine. I'm his forever and ever but he belongs to someone else and I'm only here to take care of him until he's ready to be with that someone else. With my next sons, Iñigo and then Piero, I knew that same truth.

I'll teach my boys how to feed themselves, then cook. I'll teach them all they'll know and send them to school for the things I don't know. I'll teach them to do chores and to manage a home. I'll teach them how to care for themselves and to protect themselves from sickness and accidents. I'll teach them to do things on their own and become really good at being independent. I'll teach them everything they need to live a free and productive life... But I'll never benefit from everything I'll teach them. That's for someone else's benefit. Not for me. If I teach them all these amazing things and then keep them home till they're 60, then I wasn't a good parent at all. A good parent's penultimate goal is to let go of her child.

So we care for them, make them healthy and strong, love them, build them up, educate them, protect them from the evil and dangerous world, and then one day that's way too soon, we release them into that very world. If we did our job well, they'll not need us anymore. And that's what I dream of: my grown-up sons blazing paths, making their way in the vast universe. I want them out there. I don't want them home with me, safe but nameless.

Every day is a tug of war: Protect and let go. Protect then let go. Then step back. Stay behind. Trust my parenting and trust them... And watch them run off alone! Such a crazy irony we parents must face every single day. We have to shield them from the world and then we have to let them out into the world.

I guess that's why the best thing that happened to my relationship with God is motherhood. I mean, I've always been a Christian but I don't think I ever truly put my faith in God until He put a baby in my arms. Three babies, too. I have seriously never been more terrified in my life, having to be responsible for these little people and making sure they become giants on earth and in heaven. So I have to trust God to take care of them when I can't. I can let go because I can only protect them and prepare them so much as an imperfect human mama. For divine guidance and protection for my boys, God's there. His presence allows me to let go with grace and no fear.

So—just to lighten things up because I'm so serious!—here's a little story of my youngest boy, Piero. He's 4 years old. I love this stage, 4 years old. His brothers were the sweetest and most adoring and adorable when they were 4. Piero's the same but he's also the silliest, naughtiest, and gets into trouble-iest! Yes, I made up that word. My kids love making up words and I find myself using their words instead of proper words!

Anyway, Piero, being the unstoppable kid that he is, never listened to me when I said, "We have a new bunny, Blue. She's a prey animal so she's not like dogs and cats that like to be cuddled and played with. Rabbits get scared easily by big humans like us so Blue might kick, bite and scratch you. So stay away from her!"

So here's the thing: My first two kids always listened to me. This third kid, hardly ever. How do I deal with him? Do I bend him to my will or do I equip him with knowledge so that even when he insists on his way, he'll know how not to get hurt? Well, you know what I did. I taught this little 4-year-old boy how to behave around a skittish little rabbit with sharp teeth, sharp claws, and powerful legs. There were painful lessons along the way, lessons that quickly made him be more careful so that he avoids getting scratched and bitten. And you know what, mamas? Guess who Bunny Blue loves most in our family? Piero! Those two get along so well!

Piero will lie down on the floor with Blue, and will go into dusty corners and under cobwebby shelves just to be with our bunny. The mama in me is inwardly screaming, "It's so dirty there!" But that same mama lets it go because there's a friendship that needs to be respected.

Besides, I've done what I can to protect his immune system with healthy food, vitamins, and his favorite milk Nido 3+. Piero calls it "super milk" and it is because it has Iron, Zinc, Vitamin C, and other nutrients that boosts his immune system, and Lactobacillus Protectus to protect his respiratory system. So even though it's the rainy season and he's in school (two factors that make germs spread faster!), I can be confident to let him go and have fun with Blue, his brothers, and his friends because I've done my part in protecting him.

How about you, mamas? How do you deal with the letting go of our kids? Do you have a healthy attitude towards it or does it make you anxious and afraid? Please share in the comments! I’d love to hear what my mommy friends think because we all have to go through this #ProtectAndLetGo business!

*This post is brought to you by Nido 3+.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Losing myself

So today I went to the mall to buy a prepaid SIM card for me, and also get new glasses for me, and shop for me. It was an errand FOR ME. But I get there and I saw this jar of M&Ms chocolate spread and of course I bought it because I got so excited to see my kids try it. And I also got milk tea because my kids love milk tea (never mind that my backpack was suddenly 2 kilos). And then I got new shirts for my husband because wala lang. And then I checked out bedsheets because my sons said they love hotel sheets.

And then I saw I had a few minutes left before I had to go home! So I rushed to Smart and to the first optical shop I saw (Ideal Vision) and I was still able to do what I needed to do and I thought, whew, at least I was able to do what I needed to do for me!

Then as I was riding the taxi back home, laden with packages, I realized I always think about wanting some time for myself but when I have it, I'm thinking of them. When I'm working on my computer, I also open tabs looking at hotels we can staycation at. I look at their photos on my phone when I'm stuck in traffic. I think about my husband when love songs play on the radio. They're always on my mind even though I really don't want to think about them sometimes. And I realized I don't know how to live for just myself anymore and that's a lot scary because the kids will leave one day and I really don't want to become a widow... 

But you know those times you absolutely loathe your husband and kids because they drive you insane and you imagine what life would be like if you'd chosen to stay single? Do you see yourself traveling the world and wearing killer outfits and pursuing your hobby like, I dunno, rowing maybe or collecting fine art, and you're definitely slimmer and with no flabby tummy stretched by multiple pregnancies? I know you imagine that, too. I think all wives and mommies do. 

Well, if I had stayed single, I think I'd be happy anyway, happily living for myself. But this life for others, it feels awful sometimes but it's also really sneakily wonderful underneath all this exhaustion and running around and losing oneself. 

I promised I'd never lose myself when I become a wife, when I become a mother. But I see now I'm not losing me. I'm becoming me. And this me is not just for me. And that's exactly what I'm supposed to be.

Friday, August 10, 2018

My 2019 media kit is ready! Plus, a bit on being depressed

I'm finally done making my blog's media kit for 2019! I usually make a media kit around August, then email them to agencies and brands at around September to October. I get polite, noncommittal replies throughout November. Nothing in December. But by January, I get proposals na.

So, bloggers, make a media kit now!

This media kit is actually two separate pages. I just put them side by side so it will be blurry. Para hindi niyo masyadong mabasa hehe. Send me an email if you want to get a clear copy (and collaborate!). Also, I should have new photos taken. I'm still using the ones that Louie Arcilla took in 2016. If you want to create a media kit, too, use Canva. There's a lot of beautiful templates available there. 

What do you think of my 2019 media kit? It's simpler than my 2017 one. Yes, I skipped a year. I didn't make one for 2018. Too exhausted from 2017 being a not-so-good year (physically, mentally, and as a mother). In fact, I remember praying, "Lord, I just want to rest this year. One whole year that I can sleep and just focus on my kids. I'm so tired." And to make sure I have less work, hindi talaga ako nag-send ng proposals last year. 

Yet God had other plans. He sent me Nido 3+, BabyLove diapers, National Book Store, Gold Seas Tuna Chunks, Fern-C, Kinder Joy, Downy, Olay, Manulife, and Mr Muscle. Most of these brands were interested to work with me not because I pitched to them but because friends recommended me to them. So thank God for friends! Imagine if I got my way and I didn't have any work at all this year. Di tunganga kami sa gutom, right. While I wasn't allowed to rest from co-providing for my family, what God did instead was heal me. I feel healthier this year. My anxiety also dissipated. I have a better attitude this year. 

So maybe yun lang pala talaga problema ko. I had a bad attitude last year because I had a hard time coping with being a mother to my school kids, being 40 and with no career prospects, no achievements, declining health, diminishing looks, aging, fattening, uglification of me and my life. Dear heavens, yes, when I'm depressed, I just really focus on the negative! 

But I'm better this year! I started exercising and eating better this summer. Did me a lot of good! But I stopped as soon as school started because I'm just so TIRED again. I sleep a lot instead. Doctors say if you have to choose between sleep and exercise, always choose sleep. Maybe if I get a kasambahay to do the chores, then I can use that time to exercise. But I can't afford a kasambahay now actually. Tuition is killing us huhu So I need to work more so I can afford a kasambahay!

And that's why I made a media kit! I'll be pitching to my favorite brands soon. Just figuring out what I can do for them. I always want to work WITH brands, not FOR them. While I always collaborate with brands I already use (because dapat may integrity tayo, mamas), not all the brands I use want to work with me. The reasons I hear are I'm not big enough as an influencer and/or not young or sexy enough hehehe. Ganyan talaga. So I need to either start lying about my age or start exercising and start posting bikini shots on Instagram! No joke. Even mommies in bikinis posing on the beach or by the pool will attract tons of followers. So if ever I start posting bikini shots, alam na (#forthegram).

One thing that always convinces brands is my fantastic writing skills. Naks! "Fantastic" is an adjective that only I came up with to describe my writing skills haha. Modesty aside, I do write better than most influencers out there and brands grudgingly agree. They want to at least get one blogger who can be coherent about their product. Hindi yung "This is so yummy! #blessed #sponsored" lang. So if you're not sexy, pretty or young, you can still get brands to work with you by being TALENTED.

Now, go, dear mama blogger. Make a media kit for 2019. List down the brands you want to work with. Find out who their digital manager is (use Linkedin). Think of ways you can work together (you will cook a recipe for Gold Seas Tuna every month, you will share your crafting projects on IG and say everything came from National Book Store, etc). Send a proposal. Make sure that your proposal is short, clear and grammatically correct. Then pray and wait.

Good luck!    

Saturday, August 04, 2018

My kids' favorite yummy reward is Kinder Joy

My mama readers ask me now and then if my kids have chores and if I reward them for doing their chores. Here's the answer: My kids have chores. Since they're still young, their chore list isn't long, just the usual (make your bed, pack away your toys, help set and clear the table, put away your shoes).

For chores, they don't get rewards. For doing homework, no rewards, either. We believe that kids shouldn't be rewarded for things they have to do. But for things they don't have to do but do anyway (like shine shoes that aren't theirs, wash the car), yes, we reward them with either money or treats.

When summer came, however, I relaxed my rule on no rewards for lessons because they shouldn't be studying anything during their holidays! Still, I bought a few math books (multiplication and division for Vito, addition and subtraction for Iñigo, numbers and shapes for Piero) and assigned 30 minutes for review per day. Of course, not one child wanted to study, but because I offered treats for every session they completed, they happily did their lessons!

The treats? I gave them their favorite Kinder Joy eggs!

I like Kinder Joy because it combines an edible product made with high quality ingredients on one side and exciting toys on the other. Yes! Two-in-one treat! And the third aspect I love about it is that the toy is a surprise so the kids are always excited to open a Kinder Joy egg and discover what's inside.

Two wafer balls in a bed of cream!

We started buying Kinder Joy more often last year, when our littlest boy turned 3. Since the toys are tiny, we waited till Piero was old enough to know he's not supposed to eat the toy. Now all my kids are thrilled that Mama gets them Kinder Joy.

There are over 90 toys to discover so it's a fun project for the entire family every time the boys open one. (In our case, we open three eggs in one go!) Yep, Mama and Papa participate because the toys inside have to be built. The kids love putting together the toy, and we help them with the instructions and sometimes we show them how the toy works. Now that our eldest is 7, he helps his little brothers, too, so that makes me extra proud. The toys really make them think, be creative, and play together.

And let's not forget the other half of the egg—the snack! Kinder Joy has two crispy wafer balls nestled in two creams: milky cream and cocoa cream. I actually have eaten Kinder Joy and can attest that it's delicious. Kids are happy with anything sweet but I'm super maarte and to be honest with you, very few candy, chocolates, desserts and pastries pass my taste test. So my kids hate it when I say “no” to requests for sweet stuff simply because their Mama says, "Not that. Hindi masarap 'yan." You can bet they're beyond delighted that Kinder Joy passed my test!

In my family, we like Kinder Joy mostly because opening the egg delivers a yummy snack (in a controlled portion, too!), a toy that stimulates their mind, and moments of fun family bonding. Great mom find!

I really like this snack!

Kinder Joy is available at all leading supermarkets all over the Philippines so it shouldn't be difficult to find. Just buy a few eggs and give your kid one every time he does a chore or finishes a task. Your child will love the chocolate and the toy inside! So head to the nearest leading supermarket now and get your kids some #worldofkj fun! #kinderjoyphilippines

*This post is brought to you by Kinder Joy.

Thursday, August 02, 2018

The 10 toilet-training tools you need

Congratulate me, mamas. I am finally done with the baby stage! With my youngest boy, Piero, finally out of diapers, we are now truly in the kid stage. That means I'm dealing with tons of sweat, a life that revolves around school, my kids making their own friends, and lots of briefs in the laundry basket. A new life indeed!

People tell me all the time, "Aww don't you miss having a baby?" Nope. I loved having babies, of course. I loved the toddler stage. What I love most? I love that it's done! Having gone through it three times and over 8 years (EIGHT YEARS), I am so happy to move on! Just thinking of full diapers, dealing with poop every single morning, toilet-training and I know I'm done with babies. If I could, I'd throw a massive party saying good-bye to that phase in my life!

After three kids successfully out of diapers, I think I'm qualified to give tips on toilet-training. So I will! For today, let me share the tools you'll need when you're in this oh-so messy stage in your child's life. Here's what you need:

1. Training pants
I can't tell you enough how surprised I was at how training pants really work! I only tried training pants with my third little boy. I honestly didn't think they were necessary because we didn't use them with my first two boys.

But I discovered BabyLove Premium Gold Pants (because Piero liked the baby on the packaging) and so we gave training pants a try and—my goodness!—it worked! It worked because it made Piero get used to the pulling down and pulling up action whenever he needed to use the toilet. He also liked that the BabyLove "diapants" made him feel secure, that he could have accidents a little. It wasn't traumatizing at all. So he didn't feel panicky when he had to go because if he leaked a little, the diapants will catch it, and yet because he knew the diapants were easy to pull down, he was willing to run to the toilet.

If you want to try BabyLove Premium Gold Pants, there's a sale on Shopee right now till Sunday. Click here to shop!

2. Wipes
Ah yes, a mother's best friend! You're going to need this near you at all times in case of accidents and to wipe the toilet seat clean.

3. Target
This is for little boys learning to pee. It's hard for them to control the angle of their pee and they also get surprised at how it comes out. Remember, they've always peed in a diaper so they've never actually seen their pee coming out of their penis. So expect them to watch their pee coming out instead of focusing on keeping their pee in the toilet!

What can help is putting a colorful target in the bowl. You can use one Fruit Loop floating on the water. Other moms put a sticker just above the water line. It's easily peeled off after a few flushes.

4. Paper towels
Rags will do, too. You'll need to wipe pee and poo off the floor or the toilet seat or chubby thighs in case of accidents.

The last few days when Piero was still wearing diapers announced on Facebook!

5. Antibacterial soap and alcohol
Potty training is a messy business. When I potty-trained my second boy, Iñigo, I got bad diarrhea for 6 weeks and had to see a gastroenterologist for relief. I'm afraid I was careless with washing and disinfecting my hands. I'm glad it happened to me instead of one or all of the kids!

6. Spray bottle with diluted bleach
This is for quick clean-ups so you won't get overwhelmed with the messiness that potty training brings. Just dilute some bathroom cleaner or bleach with some water, put in a spray bottle, spray all surfaces on and around the toilet after your child uses the bathroom, then wipe with a tissue.

7. Pads
These are for your child's bed. I put one under the fitted sheet so that in case my little boy pees in his sleep, the mattress is protected.

8. Pail
This is for rags and briefs and other clothing that need to be washed. Just throw them in so you can attend to them later.

9. Rewards
Toys always work! Especially with my first son, Vito. He got a Lego minifig after each pee and poo appointment haha Toys get the kids excited, knowing a little toy is waiting for them when they successfully use the toilet.

10. Lots of patience!
Every child is different. My kids were toilet-trained "late." Vito at 4 and 2 months, Iñigo at 3 years old exactly, and Piero at 4 years old exactly. Many parents think a child should be toilet-trained before a year old. I think some things should be determined by the child's readiness. Weaning, starting on solid food, walking, potty training. If you wait until the child's ready, potty training is done in 3 days and it's so painless and not so messy because the child is excited to become a big boy. If you force a child, potty training can take a loooooong time, and be full of frustration and accidents and misunderstandings.

So be patient for your child to be ready and be patient when you're going through potty training. Your patience will be rewarded with a happy and accomplished child!

Okay, I hope my list of essential toilet-training tools helped you, mamas! Do try BabyLove Premium Gold Pants. Take advantage of the Shopee sale happening right now till Sunday. Click here to shop!

*This post was brought to you by BabyLove.