Friday, April 07, 2017

Mom & Blogger: Finding The Balance To Maximize Both Roles

Hi, dear Loyal Readers! I know I've been missing from this blog for a few weeks now (I blogged just twice last month!). I'm busy with my job as consulting editor for beauty website,, and also with my new column about work-at-home moms at parenting website, Between these two new projects, home management, mothering and blogging, I didn't realize that I'll have such a hard time juggling! Life was much easier when I was just a mom blogger!

I'm not complaining, though. It feels good to be writing regularly for a publication again (and about parenting, too!). I'm also grateful for Calyxta because I got to experience corporate life again without the full time commitment. I still work from home and only check in at the office three times a week. It's helped me and my family adjust our expectations for when I go back to the corporate world. The Calyxta project ends this April so I can blog regularly again in May! I'm so excited. I miss blogging so much!

If you're a mom who wants to stay home with your kids and yet earn money, too, do try blogging. I know the web seems overpopulated with mom bloggers but believe me when I say that all mom voices are welcome here. We all need a community and it's so nice to find similar voices and feel comfort knowing you're not alone with your parenting struggles. If you don't want to be a mom blogger, that's great, too. You can write about your hobbies and interests instead. If you can earn from your blog, that's even better!

Blogging for business is an attractive career choice for any mother. Not only does it present the potential to earn good money from doing something you love, but it also offers versatility and control. Ultimately, that means you can build a work schedule on your terms, enabling more quality time with the children.

Juggling the two roles of mother and blogger isn’t an easy task, though. Frankly, failing to manage your time in an effective manner will cause major damage to both. As I've proven myself recently, I failed to juggle. Thankfully, it was my blogging that suffered—not my kids! This made me think of how I can keep things under control. Here are a few tips I found:

1. Build an organized workspace. 
The toughest challenge facing any home-based entrepreneur is finding a way to use the property as both a home and a workplace. Building a quality home office should be top of the agenda. It will help separate the two elements of your life and is also a clear indication for your family too. If you’re in the office, you’re at work. My friend, personal branding coach Martine de Luna, says in my Juana article, 5 Tips to Battle the Cons of Working from Home, "When I have to work at home, I separate myself from the kids and go to my workspace on the second floor. When they see me at the desk, they know it’s [do not disturb] time."

Speaking of workspace, my husband moved my desk to our bedroom so I can close the door when I work. But as a mommy of little kids, I haven't been able to do this yet haha. Another challenge I have is organizing my paperwork. Running a business from one small room can feel daunting, so going paperless is key. Fortunately, being a digital operation gives you a great starting point. Meanwhile, an online p.o box address can save you from facing huge amounts of paperwork. Either way, finding the right balance in this arena can only work wonders for your aspirations. 

2. Know your blogging goals. 
While I started blogging more than a decade ago as just a hobby, I've turned blogging into a business because of my work with many brands. Of course, since it became a business, I've had to be more serious about blogging. I had to set goals beyond just sharing my stories.

Many people scoff at it but blogging is a serious job. It requires a lot of time, hard work and money. Without a sense of direction, though, you’ll find that you'll falter on the job. Unfortunately, the productivity and outcomes will be far worse, too. So as a businesswoman, know why you're blogging, who you're blogging for, and what do you want to achieve through your blog.  

Planning ahead to ensure your blogging platform grows in the right way is essential. You can schedule posts regularly, make sure you share your posts on every relevant social media account, engage your readers on your Facebook page, use the right hashtags. This will help grow your blog and your influence, which will get the interest of sponsors. 

3. Consider letting your family play a role. 
Because mommy blogging is so lucrative these days, mom bloggers usually get accused of exploiting their children. Mining their kids' lives for entertainment, they say. As any proud mommy will tell you, sharing our kids' adorable photos and telling stories about how wonderful family life is is not about entertainment. We genuinely LOVE our kids and we're so proud of our happiness! We want to share away—whether we get paid or not! 

Readers also love having that insider's peek into the blogger’s life—and nothing is more authentic than a mommy's stories on her parenting adventures. Motherhood is just so huge, demanding, surprising and profound that it's impossible to fake. Plus, everyone loves kiddies. As many readers have oh-so-honestly told me, they don't read my blog because of me; they read it because they love my kids! And it's always so amazing when a parent feels the love of people for her kids. Mommy blogging is the best!

Now, as the kids get bigger, I do believe they need more privacy. But they can still be involved in your blog. Technology plays a huge role in modern society, and today’s youth probably know more about the internet than most adults. Once yours are at the right age, it could be worth giving them a little job within the work. Whether it’s writing, building SEO, or managing your blog's Instagram or Pinterest accounts doesn’t matter. It’s a great way to bond together while they develop skills they'll need for this social media-obsessed world. 

4. Invest in ideas that benefit both worlds. 
If your blog is about parenting, then virtually every day doubles up as content for the blog. But as you may know by now if you've been following my blogging adventures, there will come a time when you'll want to give your kids privacy. So what will you blog about then? I've chosen to blog about being a working mama. It's still about my insights on motherhood but my kids aren't as exposed. 

Many mom bloggers have transitioned successfully from baby stories to niche interests but still within motherhood. A music blogger might review the instrument that they’ve just bought their child. A food blogger may discuss family recipes. I love how my friend, Denise Rayala of Royal Domesticity, found even greater blogging success when she started her #Baonserye, where she showed the packed lunches she made for her daughter. It's brilliant really—she moved the focus away from her daughter but her mother's love is still so evident through the lovingly made lunches, plus she offers priceless tips and ideas for other moms! Squeezing great content out of your everyday life will reduce your research time and just be more fun to do. 

As a blogger, you should have a creative mindset. Use it to find ways of merging blogging and mom duties, and you’ll save loads of time and effort. Good luck, mommies!

*photos by Mark Yao for Biogenic

Friday, March 31, 2017

This is how God provides for me

This post is brought to you by Ariel laundry detergent.

Today, on the last day of International Women's Month, Ariel honored 100 Fearless Filipinas by publishing this ad on national broadsheet, Philippine Star.

A hundred women — rich and poor, career women and homemakers, young and old — all doing their best to make the world a better place, especially now that the world seems to have become a darker place. I'm one of the 100 Fearless Filipinas and I am truly honored (second row, fourth from left). I'm also a lot surprised and when I expressed it, they told me they thought I had to be on the list because of how I've bravely chosen to work from home and for all the honesty this blog is known for.

Well, freelance work is not easy. In the five years my husband and I have been doing this, delayed checks and no projects can be stressful. I try not to worry. Believe me when I say I don't spend my days nibbling on my nails in fear. I really don't! But on those days when the bank account is nearing zero, I do cry out to God in alarm. When you're a parent, your biggest fear is not being able to protect and provide for your children. But I refuse to parent out of fear.

I grew up in a home with no money. There was always so much anxiety. There was dread when the phone rang or when the mailman delivered the bills. There was shame when we visited relatives and they all looked down on us. There was the humiliation of being the only house on the street with the electricity cut off. There was always that nagging worry. Worry, worry, worry.

That's part of the reason I didn't want to become a mother. I couldn't fathom raising children in that bubble of fear. So I worked so hard, forsaking almost everything so I wouldn't be poor. I guess I finally came around the idea of motherhood when I started earning well — when I was 32. With our combined income, my husband and I had more money than we needed and we spent it shopping for our new home. We had no debts. We had fat savings. It was time to have kids!

We had Vito and then we had Iñigo. And then we lost our jobs.

You can't imagine the intense fear I had in 2012, dear Loyal Readers. I was losing my job as a magazine editor but I was being offered a great position within the company. Nothing had to change! Yet a huge part of me longed to be a stay-at-home mommy. Imagine that! I was so happy being a mama, I had to choose between job security and mommy heaven.

I guess you all know which one I chose.

Just before I had to give the company my decision, I remember spending one weekend in agony. My childhood was haunting me. I remember an interview I did with Ryan Agoncillo and Judy Ann Santos, and Ryan revealed that his wife's greatest fear was to become poor again. Surprised, I said, "But — forgive me for this remark — you have so much money. You're both so successful. How can this even be in the realm of her imagination?" And he replied, "You know how her dad left them and they suddenly had nothing? She never wants to go through that again." And that was me in 2012. Gripped in paralyzing fear. I never want to be poor again!

I confessed this fear to my prayer group. Remember my Praying Wives group? Amazing women! Earl Paolo, our ringleader, told me that it isn't me or Vince who is the provider of our family. It's God who provides, and He just uses me and Vince as the conduit of blessings for our little boys. According to our faith, He will give. Of course we must work, too, but there will be days when we can't work — we're sick, for example — but the blessings won't ever dry up as long as I just believe God will provide.

There were many verses on God's provision that Earl gave me but the one that helped me most wasn't about God's faithfulness but about the lack of my belief.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, 
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. 
Then you will be able to test and approve 
what God's will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.
Romans 12:2

That verse! That is the verse that changed my life! Even now as I typed it, I was moved to tears.

Do not conform to how this world thinks! Change how you see the world and the world will change for you! I don't have to work myself to death. I don't have to repeat the life my parents led. I don't have to be afraid. Believe in God — test Him! — and He will do wonders.

Well, did I become a multimillionaire? Did I jet off to various locations? Did I have a wardrobe to die for? No. But here's how it worked:

1) My blogs (back then I had two blogs) suddenly took off! Both on number of visits and amount of sponsorships. Like, from 30,000 views a month to almost 60,000. I have no idea how that happened. I give workshops on how to build and grow blogs but what happened to mine was so organic and so weird that I just chalk it up to divine intervention.

2) My blogs earned me more that I ever did as a magazine editor. Huge surprise! The income allowed my husband and I to stay home, raise Vito and Iñigo, and make Piero! We are both hands-on parents. Literally just at home with our kids every single day. We have a good life. We have good food. We buy lots of toys and books. We have the A/C on every day! I can't complain!

3) When the clients aren't paying, that can be terribly frustrating. In theory, I have all this money but in reality, my bank account is almost empty. That just doesn't make sense! It doesn't happen all the time, okay. We're fine most of the time but there really have been days when I'm staring at the bills and telling God, "I know You have provided because I have so many projects but please help me!" And then suddenly a check or two is available — sometimes just enough to pay for that month's bills, sometimes a lot more. It's exciting, this life! You can see it as stressful or you can see it as exciting. Renew your mind!

4) And then God uses other people to provide for my family. Sometimes, the blessing is so specific to what I need that it just can't be coincidence. Here are a couple of examples:
This is not a sponsored post but I just want to tell a story of how God blesses me with just what I need. I had to do a sponsored IG post for Lady's Choice where I share a photo of my macaroni salad. I've been sick for more than a week and couldn't go to the grocery to buy pineapple chunks for the recipe. And I was feeling down, thinking I won't be able to do the post, and so I prayed for... I really don't know what I prayed for because I was blabbing to God about how bad I feel and how I need to get better and maybe I can ask client for an extension or if I can just get enough strength to run to the supermarket and get pineapple chunks. Well, God didn't make me better or strong enough to go to the grocery. He sent me the pineapple chunks! He probably decided I should stay home and rest instead of running around like crazy like I always do. Thanks, @jollyeatsph, for letting God use you to bless me. Thank you, God, for everything, as always! You are my provider and I am grateful You have never failed me and my family, always giving us what we need and sometimes even more. Thank you! #momlife #faith #MakeItJolly #blessed
A post shared by Frances Amper Sales (@topazhorizonblog) on

So all I want to say, dear Loyal Readers, is I live in hope and faith. Despite how I grew up, despite all the fears I had, despite all that I do, my life is lived in hope for all things wonderful and that's why it is wonderful! Sure, my husband and I deserve credit because we always try to make good decisions. But sometimes even good decisions don't have the expected results, sometimes no matter how you work hard the money doesn't come, sometimes no matter what savings you built the economy crashes because of outside forces (sigh!). But it's okay. God is sovereign over all!

It's okay. Don't worry. Give it up to God. Pick yourself up. Carry on always. Don't stop moving. Always believe. That's the secret to my fearless life. A renewed mind. A hopeful heart. A faithful God. May you have these, too! God bless you!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Probiotics benefits for pregnant women

This post is brought to you by FrisoMum.

I'm studying probiotics recently. First, because I'm reading up on FrisoMum, the sponsor of this post. Two, because my kids' pedia prescribed probiotic supplements for them, so that they can absorb more nutrients (my kids are skinny like their parents). Third, because there's a lot of articles on probiotics that are popping up on my Facebook feed. And last, because I was deleting photos on my phone (the endless quest to make more space!) and I saw lots of pics of pregnant me! And yes, I took probiotic capsules when I was preggers and also whenever I have tummy trouble.

Pregnant in 2014! Last time na yan!!! More pics here =)

We all know (if you drank Yakult as a kid) that probiotics promote healthy digestion. That also means they're used to treat disorders like bloating, irritable bowel syndrome, and diarrhea. I guess that also means if you like eating street food, you should toughen up your tummy with probiotics haha

Anyway, the articles I'm reading say that healthy gut bacteria also help in a whole lot of other ways. Let me count these other ways:

1. Keeps skin clear,

2. Keeps the vagina and urinary tract healthy,

3. Prevents bad breath,

4. Regulates immune function,

5. Reduces inflammation,

6. Kills off bad bacteria so you won't rely on antibiotics,

7. May have a hand at preventing autism.

Woah. If you're a woman, that's a lot of reasons to include probiotics in your diet, right? If you're pregnant or planning to be pregnant, that part about autism is a huge reason to take probiotics stat! Plus, when delivered vaginally, our baby's first exposure to bacteria is in our birth canal. We better make sure the bacteria there is the good kind!

You can get probiotics from food like yogurt, miso, kefir, kimchi, cheese... Actually, a lot of fermented stuff really (but I dunno if that includes wine and beer haha). All over the world and throughout history, every culture ate fermented food. That's because there were so refrigerators back then. Because of that, they had to preserve food, and fermentation is one of the processes they used. Now fermentation creates trillions of these good bacteria that we now apparently need for our bodies to be healthy! Anyway, I'm not a fan of fermented anything so it's been hard for me to include probiotic-rich food but I'm trying!

If a daily diet of fermented food is not to your liking, then you can ask your OBG about taking supplements. I did and she told me that probiotic supplements are like the greatest thing ever. Not her words, okay, more like her attitude about it! If you're preggy now and reading this, ask your OBG about probiotics.

FrisoMum is a pro-digestion milk for moms that cares for the tummy. It's packed full of prebiotics and probiotics on top of the vitamins and minerals you need. You get better digestion, better nutrition, and better times spent together with your family because you're healthy!

FrisoMum is available at selected Mercury Drug stores in Manila, Luzon, and Cebu. Always ask your OBG about taking prenatal supplements. Like their Facebook page for more nutrition tips for your pregnancy.