First-Time Parent Takeaways: 3 Things I Could Keep Doing Throughout Motherhood

Just a few days ago, Melo and I were watching Tala play and practice standing, and I can’t help but notice that we have a kid now. “May bata na tayo”, I said. Tala looks and acts more like a toddler than a baby. We looked back to the things we went through in taking care of our first born; from her spitting that peaked when she was 4 months old, to her eczema, and worst the Impetigo Bullosa she had when she was turning 6 months old. It felt like these happened some two years ago.

So far, I am satisfied with how she is developing and growing. I know that we are lucky because we have the privilege to be with her all the time and take care of her ourselves. I also know that Tala is not a difficult baby if I compare our experience of raising her with the stories of other parents. I reflect on the things we do as her primary caregivers. I can’t claim that what we’re doing is the absolute right way of parenting, but I think these three things can be my guide in this journey as a mother.

MAKE BABIES FEEL YOU ARE THERE FOR THEM, ALWAYS

First-Time Parent Takeaways: 3 Things I Could Keep Doing Throughout Motherhood

I have read articles saying it is okay to let your babies cry for a few minutes so they learn how to self-soothe. Just thinking about it, honestly, I know that I can’t do it. I guess it’s because I am highly empathic as a person, what more with my own child. The way I see it is there’s no harm comforting your baby and instantly responding to their cries. As soon as she cries, I carry her, embrace her, and comfort her. I mentioned it before in my other posts that I am doing responsive parenting. I do on-demand feeding, so there was a time when Tala as a newborn breastfed almost every hour. I was practically carrying her the whole day, even while she sleeps. It took a lot of patience and shoulder and back pain. I think it’s exactly what she needed to be able to adjust smoothly to her new environment, one that is completely different from the nine months she was inside my tummy. I think it was all worth it because (1) I am able to make her feel that she is safe, (2) I am teaching her to put trust on other people, starting with us her parents, and (3) it helps build her confidence as she adjusted and learned to explore her surroundings. Eventually and all by herself, she breastfed less and she got more open to being put down during sleep, playing by herself, and being with another caregiver that’s not Melo and myself. I think the time and effort that I invested on building a bond with her as early as when she was still a newborn is paying off.

GIVE YOUR BABIES THE ENVIRONMENT FOR LEARNING

First-Time Parent Takeaways: 3 Things I Could Keep Doing Throughout Motherhood

It is natural for parents, probably more for those at their first time, to be extra cautious, nervous, protective of their babies. The idea of germs, bacteria, sickness is really scary. However, I know from common knowledge passed on from one parent to another that exposure to dirt (just the right amount of it) actually helps in strengthening an individual’s immune system. It is no different with learning skills. One needs to make mistakes, get a couple of bruises and scratches before she learns how to do things by herself. As often as possible, we let Tala crawl and play on the floor. We, of course, keep an eye on her and remove things that can possibly harm her. Now, she crawls fast, practice standing without holding onto something, and she can even climb the stairs at 9 months! All with supervision. Nothing to worry about. We’re not reckless parents. One time, Tala bumped her head so as expected, she cried. I said to Melo, this is just the first few times she’s going to get herself hurt. One day there will be scratches, wounds, and blood. And it’s all part of growing up. Point is we have to give her the space to try things out, make mistakes even get hurt, so she’d be able to gain the skills she will need to stand on her own.

LET BABIES LEARN AT THEIR OWN PACE

We know each baby is different. Although tips and advices give us the idea that babies should be trained how to sleep by themselves or to decide when it’s time to wean them from breastfeeding. I know there are practical reasons for these. In my case though since we had the time and flexibility to do things our way and there was no rush, I learned that babies can adjust and learn by themselves if you just give them time. As I said, Tala used to breastfeed every hour and she wouldn’t allow being put down for sleep, but eventually she did otherwise. It took patience and a lot of trial and error. Until now, in fact, we still adjust things based on what we think will work for her. Tala eats solid food now so she breastfeeds less. We are also able to leave her sleeping by herself in the room. At times, she just shouts to call for attention when she’s already awake, instead of crying. She knows someone will come to her if she calls out or sort of knock on the door. We are actually amazed by the skills she’s showing the past weeks. It seems that she’s advanced for her age but actually when I read articles about babies her age, the skills she’s showing are really expected at this stage. What’s important is that we are able to give her the support she needs, and let her do things at her own pace.

These three sum up what I think I can do as a mother for every stage Tala will be in her growth and development. Aside from being observant and intuitive right from the beginning, I know these are also influenced by the way we were raised by our parents. I think everything will be fine and I look forward to seeing how things will turn out.

Searching for an Online Job: Tips from a Beginner

I’m ecstatic that I made progress with my online career. I’ve been posting about it frequently these past days and friends have already been asking about it. Melo and I have so much appreciation of the Internet and technology today that’s been making work with people from all over the world possible without the need to travel, being far from one’s family, or wasting time and energy on the commute. It got me looking back on the steps I took before I got my first online job. I thought it would be nice to share my personal experience and insights to help those interested to try it out.

It began with the question we all ask, “how do we make more money?” We knew the opportunities are now online. We want to start a business, but we haven’t figured out what exactly we’re supposed to do. Being frequent customers of Lazada especially since I moved to the province and after I gave birth, we thought we could also start our own online store. In fact, we already had it set up, and the Lazada account manager has been bugging me for weeks to move forward. However, there was one challenge, our location is not serviced by Lazada courier. They are able to deliver products here, but they cannot do pickup for sellers. It’s either we move our warehouse address to serviceable areas or we rent a space at the Lazada warehouse. In a nutshell, we hit a wall even before we started. Right now, the project was put on hold.

REJECTIONS COME FIRST

We were supposed to fly to Manila in July in time for our birthday, but weren’t able to because we don’t have enough funds. This is one of the reasons that compelled me to look for a job. Around the first week of July, I researched on Google, “work from home jobs”, “online jobs philippines”, and other similar keywords. I signed up on clickworker.com, typingworkforus.in, appen.com, upwork.com. I also updated my profile on jobstreet.com.ph and applied for online jobs. All the .coms I mentioned didn’t make any progress. I don’t think clickworker and typingworkforus are legit. For Appen, maybe it just didn’t work for me. Upwork, they say is legit. It looks legit. For me, it’s just hard to get a job there especially because the site has this credits system. And I just had 2 credits left, with no job offers, not even an interview or chat with an employer. It is sort of limiting, because you can’t apply to as much jobs as you can while there are also fewer job opportunities, in my opinion. I checked my Freelancer.com account, too, and it’s kind of the same thing. With Jobstreet, at least I was able to make it to the exam stage for 2-3 job openings. It still gave me a confidence boost. Oh, don’t be disheartened by rejections. Can’t actually expect to land a job on the first try, right? It’s part of the process, and more reason to keep pushing. Getting in the interview or exam stages and being rejected afterwards is way better than not receiving any response at all. The rejections also made me think that maybe it’s God’s way of telling me that it is not yet the job for me. Something better was coming.

USE A BLOG AS YOUR DIGITAL RESUME AND PORTFOLIO

I continued researching online for job openings and tips from those with far more experience. At first, I thought about how some blog posts make it look so easy. Start a vlog they said. Start a course they said. Nonetheless, thanks to these blog posts, I decided to start my own blog. It was already mid-July. I’m usually not a risk-taker but creating momseaph.com was actually a risk for me. I purchased the domain and paid for a subscription on WordPress. It’s not a small amount knowing that we’re already low on funds and the returns of this blog will come much later and there’s no guarantee. Just got me to think that I have to be more disciplined in posting here because I already spent on it. The two (2) immediate benefits of momseaph.com were, (a) I was able to exercise my writing again, and (b) I was able to use this as a portfolio or sample work in my job applications. I actually got the idea from another blogger who said having a blog gives more chances of getting hired. I would suggest the same thing. I think this is applicable not only to those looking for writing jobs. Open a blog. It doesn’t have to be your own domain. It could be a free wordpress account. It can be 1-3 pages only just to showcase your professional experience, skills, and sample works. If you can add an introductory video, it would be great too because some employers ask for one. If you have one already prepared then you just link it up. Think of it as the modern day resume.

ONLINEJOBS.PH, THE JOBSTREET FOR ONLINE WORK OPPORTUNITIES

Days are passing by and I was still unemployed. I kept busy with my blog because it’s still an investment I made, which I’m hoping will eventually earn through advertisements. I continued searching for online jobs too. I tried looking on Facebook and joined groups. There are a lot but I think these two are the most helpful for me: (a) Online Filipino Freelancers and (b) Filipino Freelancer Online Home Based Job (Upwork, Elance, oDesk etc). You will need to request to be a member before you get access to the page. There are a lot of helpful information from job openings, to personal experiences, to tips. It’s actually from one of these groups that I learned about Online Jobs PH. It’s overall user experience is fantastic. For me its level of credibility as a job site is the same as Jobstreet. It’s very easy to use and understand. The website functions are helpful to both the job seekers and employers. It’s important to complete your profile and Online Jobs PH made sure to guide job seekers in accomplishing this. I created my profile on August 3 and immediately started applying for jobs. The following day I got a response from an employer. I made it up to the second test but I wasn’t hired because the task was really able to help determine whether I was fit for the job, and I understood it, too. Again, another rejection but found this helpful so I was able to filter the jobs I applied for. On the site, you can send up to maximum 10 applications per day. And there was a day that I actually use up all that allocation. I submitted around 30 applications in 7 days, till I got hired on August 10. Afterwards, I continued submitting applications, this time for part time jobs. I noticed that the chances for getting responses and getting hired increased. The employers can see if you’ve already been hired via Online Jobs PH in the past and they’re also informed when you get hired by another employer. The latter happened to me just recently. I got hired for a part time job, and my other employer was informed.

While the employers are being thorough in their search, make sure to do the same. There still can be some postings that can’t be trusted or look sketchy. I did try applying to some of them, got a response but figured something’s off, and confirmed either through searching for reviews online or I simply trusted my instinct. There’s perfect–job.com and livingston-research.com to name a few. Rule of thumb, if it’s too good to be true then don’t trust it. Walk away.  

SPEAK AND WORK LIKE A BUSINESS OWNER

The beauty of the online employment I think is that it got rid of the HIRErarchy, where the employer is more in a position of power. I think of it as like having your own business and you’re talking to potential clients to offer your services. I always write a fresh cover letter. I tried different tones depending on the role I’m applying for or my impression of what kind of employer I’m pitching to. Imagine speaking to different kinds of clients, some may be friendly and casual while some may want to be more formal. Point is you have to be the right amount of confident, friendly, and helpful. Sometimes I start my cover letter with “Let me help you”, other times I just use the standard “I am interested to apply for the role”. Then I give a short description of my relevant experience and links to my resume and blog. And I end with saying “I hope to get a chance to work with”or “I look forward to working with you”. I read in another blog that it’s also good to sound like you’ve already earned the job, but not sounding overconfident. I think honesty also helps. It adds to your credibility. It shows that you are a mature, experienced professional. Everyone wants to work with someone like that. This will also give you a peace of mind. When I was applying for the part time job, I told the employers I talked to that I have another employer I’m currently working with and that I hope it’s not an issue for them. So far, the employers I’m in touch with are understanding and supportive. They know that the beauty of working online is you have that flexibility to earn more money.

This is it for now. It’s a long post and there’s more to discuss. I will do my best to write related posts in the future as I progress in this industry. I invite people to comment below or message me if you have questions or suggestions. I would love to help others who want to start a career online or collaborate with those who have more experience than I currently have. Exciting times ahead!

Online is where the new business districts for stay-at-home parents can be

Once upon a time I dreamt of climbing the corporate ladder, but like in the multiple endings books, the pages I turned led me to a different story. I saw a LinkedIn notification about a college batchmate who got promoted to a higher position in a big advertising agency, the industry I once belonged. It has a nice ring to it, and I thought to myself: (1) we’re growing old and becoming experienced, it felt strange but we’re actually now in the stage of being the boss; (2) I felt envious, or am I?

A glass of beer to cap a productive day

I used to think one day I’d become a top executive, buy a condominium unit in Manila and a house in Tagaytay where I can spend the weekends and go home to anytime I’m stressed or I feel like it. I’d be very busy, calling shots in the office, respected and influential. I’ll end my days relaxing and drinking with friends. Then repeat. I will also have time to travel to places for leisure and work. Maybe this is what I’ve become in an alternate universe.

This was how my Monday went. I woke up, combed my hair, brushed my teeth. I went out the room to turn on my laptop, because I’m rushing to finish a presentation which was a test for an online job I’m applying for. I wanted to get a head start before Tala wakes up. Melo had to do some errands. I just asked him to come back home immediately so he can play with Tala while I work. We squeezed in brunch when Tala woke up. Some quick interruptions here and there. I was able to finish in more or less five hours. We found out that Melo’s parents are flying back early the next day. It was a spontaneous decision. We’d spend the night in Tacloban, so Melo doesn’t have to drive for three hours so early in the morning the following day.

Simple joys, dinner at Shakey’s

I thought to myself as we drove to Tacloban, I could be a director too, but that would mean long hours of work in an office. I might even bring some more work at home. I’d have to commute everyday. I can’t just go to another province spontaneously at 4pm in the afternoon. I’d have more money to spend. I don’t have that now, but I have time.

I, then, felt an appreciation of technology. It has afforded us to work anywhere, anytime. The job postings I look at right now are from all over the world. Good thing there are websites like UpWork and onlinejobs.ph. Jobstreet now also have home-based job postings. I don’t have to leave the comforts of our house to go there for an exam or interview. I haven’t been hired, but I think this is where the world has been heading now, virtual business districts where opportunities are endless. There will be no fancy corporate attire or corner office or nights out with colleagues. However, there’s the opportunity of not only getting hired but also to hire. From becoming virtual assistants or freelancers to CEO or Founder of your own company. To top it all, I get to spend time with my daughter and husband, and be as spontaneous as how we did when we went to Tacloban.

What we want is the wealth of time. I even told Melo that we have to do everything we can to make sure that we also get to spend time with our next kids as much as we did with Tala. Having a stable income is crucial to achieve it. Right now we are not able to visit our family and friends in Manila as much as we want to because we don’t have enough funds. This is the reason I’ve been trying to establish myself online the past couple of weeks. This is the reason we’re asking ourselves what businesses we can start and sustain.

It may not be for everyone, but I think I like and I am excited about where this story is going.

Things to do for MomME TIME

Mommy time, does it exist? Having a baby means I don’t get to decide what things to do and when to do them. It all depends on Tala, or if Melo can look after her for a while, or for others if you have another person to handle the baby while you take a breather. Nevertheless, it’s still important to find mommy time even for 30 minutes, to recharge and stay sane.

I’m sharing below my personal list of things I do. It’s worth noting that I’m in the province where the mall is 3 hours away, and we don’t have the other conveniences that city living has. Good thing these are simple activities, doable whether you are in the city or in the countryside.  

TAKE A WARM BATH

This can be as quick as 15 minutes that you have for yourself. It’s top on my list, because during the first few months after giving birth, I consider bath time as the only time of personal peace. What I wasn’t able to do that I suggest you try especially if you’re still in the pregnancy stage is beautify your bathroom. Organize it, put scented candles or incense, even have furry rugs or toilet cover. Have a bluetooth speaker handy so you can listen to your music. We always play lullabies on Spotify for Tala, I kind of missed my music so I play it while taking a bath. Invest on a shower heater if you don’t have one yet. The warm water is really very relaxing to the body.

PICK A TV SERIES TO WATCH WITH YOUR HUSBAND

We were able to add to our routine watching 1-2 episodes every night after we put Tala to bed. Sometimes, we just bring Tala with us if she still hasn’t gone to sleep. This is an easy way of bonding with your husband, an activity you can share together and a good substitute to date night. Just Netflix and chill. Plus we sometimes, drink a bottle of beer or two. And we always have snacks prepared.

BUY YOURSELF YOUR FAVORITE DRINK OR FOOD

My favorite right now is milk tea. We don’t have the popular brands available here. I was so glad when a local cafe opened, and it’s selling milk tea. I buy one whenever we do our errands or when we go to church. It’s like comfort food and sort of a reward you can give yourself. If you can’t go out, good thing there are now food delivery apps in the major cities, so at least there’s that convenient option.

ASK FOR A FREE MASSAGE OR DO A SELF-MASSAGE

Ask your husband for a massage. With all those muscle pain you’re experiencing, you deserve it! The physical touch is also important and beneficial for your relationship. On the other hand, I also do self-massage on my shoulders. I discovered a balm for muscle and pain relief on Lazada. The lavender oil truly helps to relax my tensed muscles and get a good night’s sleep.

GET YOUR NAILS DONE AT HOME

Find a manicurist who does home service. If you can’t go to the salon as often as you want, then have salon services in the comforts of your home. If they could, then ask for a foot spa, too. This is great especially if you don’t have extra time to visit the salon, or if distance is a factor. It’s just nice to have someone else handle your personal needs as simple as getting your nails done.

WEAR A NEW HAIRSTYLE

You know how we ladies get a haircut or a new hairstyle whenever there’s a change in our life. Now’s the perfect time. Get a new hairstyle to fit your mom lifestyle and identity. Mine was inspired by Maricar Reyes-Poon. Choose one that makes you feel beautiful, confident, and happy. A happy mom and wife means a happy family.

WINDOW SHOPPING ON ONLINE STORES

I’m not really the type to do shopping when I’m stressed but after giving birth I really enjoyed browsing and buying stuff from Lazada. There’s even this joke on how they say breastfeeding your baby is cost efficient, but you actually spend more because you end up shopping online. So just be watchful of your budget. It’s nice to do online shopping because it’s easy and it feels good when the delivery arrives.

You don’t need a full day to make momme time happen. Even a few minutes will actually do. What’s important is you do something to give yourself a break and that will make you feel good.

Would love to hear other easy-to-do momme time activities. Share it by leaving a comment below.

How to not feel bad for being a stay-at-home mom

It’s the first time after graduating college in 2009 that I am out of an office job. I chose to be a stay-at-home mom while I help in managing the resort of my husband’s family. It’s challenging, because: (1) I’m still figuring out motherhood; (2) I had to adjust to living with my husband and in-laws in the province; and (3) helping in the resort meant having a new workplace and new workmates. Basically, everything is new to me.

For me, the struggle came more from the inside than any external factor. There’s the clash between what I was used to and this new environment that I’m in. I had to make peace with myself eventually, thanks to these three ideas.

THE DEFINITION OF PRODUCTIVE CHANGED

My day changed from commuting to the office, attending meetings, and doing tasks on the computer to breastfeeding, putting my baby to sleep, and changing diapers. I think they’re equally difficult tasks, but I didn’t feel that I’m accomplishing anything. It’s not like I’m going to make my key performance indicator the number of diapers I was able to change, right? I just had to acknowledge that my primary job now is a mother and embrace it. It meant taking care of a life. I am productive if I am able to attend to all my baby’s needs. It will take a very long time before I can measure my success, which will be based on how she turns out as an adult.  

DON’T STOP TRYING

I have tried the different strategies I know that I used to do at work. I tried to plan my tasks ahead on a planner, a whiteboard, on a laptop. I even tried using Trello again. We’ve rearranged our room several times already, trying to figure out which would be safe for Tala and efficient for us. In fact, we just setup the balcony to be our new work space. I hope it works or we’ll just figure it out again. Point is, everyday it’s like doing a mini process evaluation inside my head and I just re-calibrate tomorrow as needed.

IT’S OKAY TO RELAX

When Tala was younger, I slept whenever she was sleeping, any time in the day. I still do it now from time to time. And it makes me think I’m being lazy. Although I know that it’s actually one of the advice to moms during the first months of their baby, to catch up on sleep because there can be sleepless nights. Still, it made me feel guilty. What I tell myself is if I’m being a bum then this is the first time I’m doing it, because I immediately got a job after graduating. It’s okay to take a break from the employment world. Besides, we carried our babies in our womb for nine months, it’s perfectly fine to relax, focus on the baby, and recover first.

Bottom line is we mothers should not forget to take it easy on ourselves. It’s a difficult job with long hours and no salary. It’s an equally respectable career, and we are very proud of it.