Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Working mom dream: A career that lets her be with her kids

At one of my blogging workshops (the super successful one held at the beautiful corporate offices of Flawless Face & Body Clinic), I was so happy to see moms bringing their babies. While I was speaking, sometimes a kid cried or talked loudly or had to breastfeed. I didn't mind at all. I brought all my babies to work so I totally understand how life is with kiddos. And that makes me constantly dream of a work environment that allows mothers to be mothers.

I wish more work places allowed kids to be with their mommies and daddies. Yes, I should change my title to "Working PARENT dream: A career that lets moms and dads be with their kids." Kids may be a distraction when you're working—as a work-at-home mom, I know this so well—but worry over them and guilt at spending too much time away from them can be a distraction, too.

At Summit Media, I brought my kids to events, radio tours, and to my office. I don't know if that was allowed because I was OK! magazine's editor-in-chief, though! Of course in Baby Magazine, my kids always tagged along to my shoots. Now, in L'Oréal, I sometimes bring my kids along and my co-workers get so excited to see little people in the office. In fact, the past 8 years that I've been a mom, I've always had my kids around when I work (for better or for worse!). I'm truly grateful for this privilege.

At an interview and a shoot for my Manila Bulletin column, I shot my OOTD... and my Iñigo!
Vito (in yellow) at a photo shoot for Baby Magazine. He wasn't a model, just a bored kid at mama's office!
Piero enjoying a photo shoot for Halo Sleepsacks

I'm grateful that my work now as a blogger allows me to earn money while I'm home. But this career is like a freelance job - sometimes the checks don't come in for months. I may be working on so many campaigns, which impress the heck out of everyone, but our bank account is screaming, "Show me the money!!!" The bills come with frightening regularity and with three kids now in school, the expenses have shot up. That's why my husband went back to an office job and I got a regular editorial gig at L'Oréal just to match the schedule of the bills with a reassuring monthly pay check. But we're already missing what we had just last year - 24/7 with our boys! Our life was so amazing. But we had to give it up.

It's not so bad, okay. Our kids spend a lot of time in school anyway, plus our jobs now allow us a lot of flexibility. We're not complaining. In fact, we're grateful we're allowed so much time for ourselves and our family while also earning a living. Many parents don't enjoy what we have.

Parents are such hard workers. And we'll work better if we knew our kids are safe and happy. For many of us who have wonderful yayas and relatives to care for our babies, that's great! But some of us, like me, who have no help at all from either kasambahay and family, work is almost impossible if we can't bring the kids along.

I wish companies can have daycare centers. Or a family room. Or offer flexible working hours or work-at-home options to all its employees, parent or not. It's a changing world anyway. Moms and dads are great employees because they need the job more, ya know? Employers can take advantage of that by taking care of the little kids, too. Parents spend a good chunk of their day at the office so it would be lovely if it would be a home away from home!

Kids also benefit from seeing their parents at work. I will never forget walking into my mother's office and observing the respect and good will towards her. I mean, to me, she was just Mama. So to see that she's more than that, that she's actually important to other people, was eye-opening. So bringing kids to work can be a good idea!

Dream dream dream away! I don't know how this can be done but I have an unshakable feeling it will be the future. And we'll be the generation of moms who will make it happen, if not for us but for our kids.  I'm so excited for my sons and future daughters-in-law!

Check back on Friday for a new post! Have a great day!

Monday, October 01, 2018

My job-hunting tips for housewives going back to the workforce

In 2012, the magazine I edited closed down. Being a mom of a toddler and an infant, I decided it was time for me to take a break from my intense career schedule and focus on my babies. I did, I loved it, I learned a LOT from being a mom, and I started a new career as a blogger and as a work-at-home editor. Losing my job was truly one of the best things that happened to me!

Fast forward to six years later and with my now-three little boys in school, I'm mulling over going back to the corporate world. My reasons are simple: (1) tuition fees are frightening, and (2) I have more time for myself now.

I write articles to sell lipsticks now! Shop for L'Oréal, Maybelline and Garnier at Lazada! 

So last year, I started submitting my CVs to every job vacancy for editor, writer, PR position I saw on Jobstreet and Linkedin. I'll be honest, mamas. It was not easy. I dusted off my magazine copies, printed my articles, and "minimalized" my CV. When I got to the interview, no one even wanted to see my CV and sample work. "You could email that," I was told. "And I already have your CV on my computer."

I was mortified. Me, a blogger, didn't even realize no one liked physical manifestations of my work anymore. I could've just submitted everything online! If there was anything that corroded my self-esteem and made me feel like a dinosaur, THAT was it.

I was ready to give up. Then I figured I was doing this wrong. No one who's never heard of me would want to hire me. At 41, I'm old. I haven't worked in a corporate environment in 5 years. I needed to do things differently. I'm here to tell you that what I tried is working well for me.

Many women who left the workforce worry about the gap in their résumés. Take heart! True, it may be harder for moms to get hired but it’s not impossible. If it’s that career gap you’re worried about, here are my top tips for getting back to work: 

Sending out CVs isn’t enough. A piece of paper that lists down just your jobs can’t possibly cover all the skills you learned as a mom! Managing a team, thinking on your toes, coming up with creative decisions on demand, stretching the budget, beating impossible deadlines, being completely organized—companies would be crazy to not hire a mom! But HR departments don’t realize that mothers are the best project managers in the world, so the way around that issue is networking. 

Now how do you network when you've been cooped up at home for 5 years and the only people you've talked to are toddlers and fellow homemakers? Here's how to start: 

Reach out to your former colleagues. 
They know two valuable things: your experience and vacant positions in the company or in the industry. They’ll most likely help get word around and, most importantly, put in a good word for you. I did this and it took a few months but I started getting calls for interviews. 

My first day at L'Oréal, I was so nervous. Such a huge company!

Try part-time jobs. 
Most of the calls I got were for project-based work. I managed the product features for BABY Magazine. Then I covered for an editor at beauty website,, because she had to take an extended leave. I did the PR for the kiddie network, Nickelodeon. And now I have a project as beauty editor for L'Oréal Paris (which I hope will be renewed—pray for me!).

These are not full-time jobs but on my CV, they definitely filled in the career gap. As a mom, I also appreciated that I was able to dip my toes back into the workforce yet still be able to care for my kids. 

You don’t need to volunteer for jobs related to your work. Volunteering for any opportunity that presents itself also opens you up to other career possibilities. Help your friend organize her party. Take over the church fundraiser. Do the door-to-door marketing for an event in your village. You’ll not only learn new skills but also expand your network. A couple of years ago, I volunteered to give a talk at a hospital about fashion and beauty for moms and now I’m a professional speaker! It’s crazy considering my stage fright! 

So get yourself out there, mommies! And good luck on your career comeback!

Check back on Wednesday for a new post! Have a great day!

Thursday, September 27, 2018

7 lessons for working mamas from "An Open Book: Thursdays with Nanay Coring"

I just finished this lovely little book, An Open Book: Thursdays with Nanay Coring. It's a short biography of National Book Store founder, Socorro Ramos. And when I said it's a little book, I meant it's a short and fast read, written in simple language that both kids and grown-ups will appreciate.

I think if you're a mom looking for books to inspire your kids, this is a good pick. If you're a working mom looking for inspiration, then this is definitely something that can encourage you. I read it in an hour and I found myself highlighting passages and writing my thoughts on the margins—Yes, I write on my books. For me, when I do that, that's always a sign it's a good book!

Every chapter in this book tells the story of Mrs Ramos, lovingly called Nanay Coring—from her impoverished childhood, her whirlwind and enduring romance with her husband, and how she lived through the great war to how she built her business again and again and still remains to this day the massive force behind the country's biggest book store and stationery supplies chain.

Each title of the 14 chapters highlights what the Ramos matriarch wants us to learn from her life. Here are Nanay Coring's advice and life lessons:

1. Live simply.
2. Never surrender Corregidor. (You'll have to read the book to understand this advice.)
3. Remain humble.
4. Knowledge is power.
5. The more time you spend at the store, the more you know.
6. If you work hard, nothing is impossible.
7. Always be on time, if not early.
8. Never show signs of weakness.
9. Be known as a good person, not a rich person.
10. It takes time to build something.
11. Happiness is helping people.
12. Rely on your own gut feel.
13. Always pray.
14. Read more. Know more. Earn more.

Aside from those life lessons, I picked up 7 other tips from Nanay Coring. Here they are:

1. Remember what's important.
Nanay Coring was from her father's second family. She lived through the war. She saw her business fail several times. So even when she became massively successful, her values remained the same: Don't forget where you came from, and take care of your family. That's it.

Throughout the book, she constantly reminds her children and the reader to work hard but to not forget your husband and children. Eat meals with your family. Talk with your family. Go out and spend time with them. Being busy with work, Nanay Coring and her husband Jose only had Sundays free. So they used that time to reconnect with each other and their kids by going to church, eating lugaw and siopao at Ongpin, snacking on fruits, candy and tsampoy.

Unlike what we working mamas are told, it doesn't really take a lot of time or money to make an impact on our kids. We don't have to be with them 24/7, we don't have to be their sole caregiver, we don't have to take them on out-of-town trips every weekend, we don't have to give them "the best" a.k.a. expensive shit. I see this so often these days! Moms who over-schedule their kids or spend every single minute with them, or demand their husbands to jet off the whole family somewhere exotic every weekend or so "to make memories." How exhausting. How frantic. How mom-guilty.

Relax! Remember what's important! They need us to love them. That is all. We don't have to prove it so much. We just need to eat a meal with them every day, give them hugs and kisses, and make simple memories. My husband was lucky enough to come from a well-off family, but it's their dinner-time stories he tells me often about, or how their garden overlooked their school and their mom waited there, or their trips to the grocery. I hardly ever hear about their annual shopping jaunts to Hong Kong, even though as a girl from a poor family, that was what impressed me most. So keep it simple.

2. Don't call for trouble.
See my note there? Haha. How indeed! Also, since I'm very confrontational, I'm noisy and argumentative. In the time of social media, how do you keep quiet about your food, your trips, your shopping, your kids, your career, your political views???

So my takeaway here is don't ask for trouble unless you're ready for it.

3. Have integrity in everything you do. 
This isn't easy. Sometimes we really mean we'll do the job, attend the meeting, be at the event, pay the bills. But life happens. Traffic happens. The kids happen. But it should be our guiding principle in work, in parenting, in marriage, in politics, in EVERYTHING. Have integrity. Be true to who you are and what you value. Say what you mean and mean what you say.

4. Give people what they need.
Many moms ask me what business can they start so they can work from home. Many mompreneurs I know started their business because they needed something no one was providing or a product no one was selling, and they decided to just fill that space. I like how Nanay Coring also figured out that people sometimes don't know what they need and you have to tell them. Create your customers!

I love that advice because sometimes I have a great idea and then I think, "Maybe I'm the only one who needs this." But Nanay Coring is proof that marketing can be as simple as telling people, "This is my need, and this solved it. Do you want to try it out, too?"

5. Care for people.
Smile. Be considerate. Be thoughtful. Open doors for clients and assistants. Give your customers and messengers a cool drink. Say thanks.

6. Be proud of your work.
Whenever I feel guilty about being away from my kids, I tell myself to shut up. As a work-at-home mom, I'm not even away from them often. Once a week maybe, for 4-6 hours. That's not a lot so I shouldn't feel guilty for the time spent away from them, especially since that time was used for one or both of these reasons: (1) I earned money, (2) I refreshed my mind and spirit doing something I'm good at.

Many times in the past, when my kids see me tired from meeting a deadline, they say, "Mama, I'm going to work one day so you won't have to." And I always say, "That's nice, but I like my work. I like using my brain. I like making my own money. I like work a lot!" So now my kids don't equate work with bad things. They see that it's not easy but it's something I'm proud of, that provides for our needs, and that makes our comfortable life possible.

Except for when I worked at the Senate, I'm always proud of what I do, even when people sneered at it. And when you're a blogger like me, people are always sneering at you. It's so funny that when I tell people I'm also an editor and a beauty writer, they kinda relax into a strange relief: "Oh, you have a real job." Then when they find out my blog still makes more money than any other "real job" I hold, they protest again.

I refuse to be ashamed of my blogging. It puts food in my children's tummies, it's not corrupt, it's not stealing. So as long as you have a job that helps people and your family—whether you're a janitress or a CEO, be proud of it! Your children are proud of you! 

7. Do what you're best at.
Throughout the book, author Cecilia Ramos Licauco who is also Nanay Coring's only daughter, says that her mother wanted to be other things. Nanay Coring wanted to be a doctor. She also wanted to be a singer. Instead she became an entrepreneur and succeeded in it so massively.

The lesson I got there is we all have dreams and sometimes we can pour our whole lives into making those dreams come true, and sometimes we can allow life to tell us where to go. As a young girl, I was determined to make my dreams of becoming a magazine editor-in-chief come true. And it did! But as a mother, the latter is what's true for me. I had a job with crazy hours that demanded I wear stylish clothes and sky-high heels, I had babies who only wanted to breastfeed, and yayas who kept resigning. I couldn't juggle my dream job and my kids! So I let life take over. I became a stay-at-home mommy, I blogged about my boring/crazy mom life in the most raw and honest ways, which people seemed to like a lot. Blogging was so successful that—tada!—I registered it as a business.

I never dreamed of becoming a mom and a blogger, but those are what I am now. And guess what—these roles fulfill me more (and blogging pays more, too) than anything I've ever done before. So maybe when we as moms feel life is passing us by and our dreams aren't coming true, maybe it's time to look at our life, dream new dreams, and see how we can make this mom life work for us instead.

If you want to get a copy of An Open Book: Thursdays with Nanay Coring, it's available at all National Book Store branches. You can't miss it. It's always by the cashier! You can also leave a comment on this post and first one gets my copy! When I'm done with a book, I sometimes give it away. I wrote on this one, though, so if that doesn't bother you, then it's yours!