Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Tips on How to Prepare a Child to Be an Older Sibling

He was used to being an only child. For three years, he had my undivided attention. We had a lot of time bonding with each other through play, conversations, books, storytelling, crafts, music time, dates, etc. He certainly was the apple of my eye. 

Then, I learned that I'm pregnant again. 

I did my best to still bond with him a lot and assure him that I still love him just the same. I searched big brother books that I can read to him. I was grateful I found one. 

I talked to him about his baby brother in my womb. I let him play music and sing songs to him. 

I brought him with me in my monthly visits to my ob-gynaecologist. We let him join us in some of the ultrasound sessions. 

He seemed excited and adjusting well to his role of becoming a big brother.

Then, it was time for me to give birth to my second child. My eldest son stayed at my parents' house. He slept with my parents when I went to the hospital. It was a difficult time for him. He was not used to sleeping without me by his side. He cried a lot during the nights that I was in the hospital going through labor and recuperating from childbirth.

But he was happy when he saw me again and his baby brother when he visited us in the hospital.

Two weeks after I gave birth, he acted differently. My usually active and talkative little boy didn't have the energy to play. He didn't want to eat or drink. He was not talking. He just kept sleeping and lying in bed. I knew something was wrong. I thought that he was sick but he didn't have any fever or was not showing signs that he was in pain.

A few days later, he was so weak. My husband decided to bring him to the hospital already.

His pediatrician had him confined. He was put on IV. He still didn't talk or eat or drink. He was still quiet and looked sad. He lost a lot of weight.

The doctors could not find any reason for his loss of appetite or "sickness" other than probably his difficulty in adjusting to our new normal in the family. He now has a baby brother. He's no longer an only child. His mommy is busy caring for another child. His mommy is breastfeeding another baby. 

He was not suffering from physical pain but he was going through an emotional pain... something that he could not articulate. Something he was not prepared to process or express.

He must have been depressed at that time. 

My poor little boy... I thought he was ready for this change but he was not.

It was a painful time for me as a mother. I was even able to visit him in the hospital because I needed to stay with his baby brother. It was only my husband and my mom who stayed with him in the hospital. I stayed home to recuperate and take care of the new baby.

I did my best to give him extra attention. I tried to be extra understanding and patient with him. I tried to do the same things we used to do so he would feel that my love hasn't changed.

Eventually, he started eating again. He started talking and playing again. He was the loving and helpful big brother again to his younger sibling.

He would sing songs to him. He would read his books to him. He talks to him and shares some of his toys with him. He helps take care of him by rushing to get new diapers or getting some of the things of the baby and bringing them to me.  

I'm so thankful that my eldest child eventually recovered from that emotional turmoil. 

Almost three years later, I got pregnant again. My eldest son will become a big brother for the second time. My second child will no longer be the baby. He will now be a big brother.

I didn't want any or both of them to go through depression again or to get sick after I give birth. 

How can I assure them of my unchanging love? How can I prepare them for their upcoming sibling? 

I thought that I should tell them often that I love them just the same. But how do I remind myself or ensure that I tell them these words often when I have a lot to do and prepare for the coming of our new baby?

Since I had been writing poems almost all my life, I wrote a poem with this title: Mommy Loves You Just the Same.

I drew inspiration from my bonding times with my kids.

I read the poem often to them, daily at least.

I believe that the poem helped my older kids prepare for the coming of their baby brother. My second child did not get sick after I gave birth even though he and his eldest brother were also crying a lot while I was in the hospital during childbirth and on the nights that followed.

I'm so glad things were better this time around.

Then, a dream was planted in my heart. What if we make this poem into a children's book? Why not?

Before my youngest child turned one year old, I found an artist who was willing to collaborate with me in making this dream a reality. On May 19, 2016, Thursday, we will be launching my first children's book! A dream that was planted in my heart because of my experience as a mother. It's like I'm giving birth again. But this time to a book and not to a child. 
Click here to order a copy of Mommy Loves You Just the Same.

My excitement is shared by my two older children who were my inspirations in writing this children's book. They were the ones who first heard this story and who first benefitted from it. 

Are you a pregnant mom who is looking for resources that would help your older child prepare to be an older sibling? Or did you just give birth recently or a few months ago to a new baby and you need help in assuring your older child that your love for him/her remains the same? 

I recommend this book to you, not because I wrote it, but more because I know that it would be a good tool that you can use in your motherhood journey. One of my goals in writing this children's story is to help families adjust as their families grow. That's why I asked our illustrator to make coloring pages for the kids, too. I wanted to give the kids something that would further help them remember the lessons in the book. 

Before I end this post, let me share some tried and tested tips that could help prepare a child to be an older sibling.

1. Stop calling the child "baby". We used to call our second child "baby". But when we got confirmation from my ob-gynaecologist that I'm pregnant again, we started calling our second child by his first name. I also instructed our maids then to stop calling him a baby. Instead, we made him proud to be called a big brother or "Kuya".

2. Deliberately spend more quality time with the older child/children. This is one way to make deposits in your child's emotional bank account in preparation for the times when you will be away from him/her. During my previous pregnancies, I did my best to spend as much time as I possibly can to do arts and crafts with them and to have dates with them. Even when I was on bedrest and after giving birth, I would regularly read-aloud books to them. This poem/story was one of those that I read to them.

3. Give your child/children ideas on how they can bond with you while you are pregnant and with their baby brother while still in your womb and after you give birth. Aside from suggesting to my kids what they can do, I let them come up with their own ideas on how they can help me take care of their baby brother. You'll be amazed at how loving and helpful kids are!

4. Make their birthday before you give birth extra special. On their last birthday before becoming a big brother, I always go out of my way to make these celebrations memorable. I want these events to help make them feel important and special. You may read about my second child's birthday party here. If you don't want to throw a party, you can get some ideas here in my other blog post wherein we had a simple celebration for our eldest son.  

Hope these tips help you and your family! I also hope that you can join us in our virtual book launch on Thursday! We're giving away exciting prizes to those who will pre-order a copy of Mommy Loves You Just the Same. Click here to read more about these. 

Some of the prizes we're giving away during the launch.

How did you prepare your child/children to become older siblings? Feel free to share your own tried and tested tips by leaving a comment on this blog post so we can help more families.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

3 Tips on Food Handling and Safety

Do you personally prepare and cook your own food or your family's food?

I used to prepare and cook our family's food when my husband and I were newly married and when we still had one child. I enjoyed cooking a lot. For me, cooking is both science and art.

It was during those early years in our marriage that I created my 4-Week Cycle Menu Plan. It was my way of making things easier for me.

When we had more kids, I was forced to delegate this task to our helpers. I taught our new maids my recipes and how I want them to be prepared. I also taught them about food handling, food safety and sanitation. These were the very things I used to teach our crew in the fast food restaurant where I used to work as Certified Training Manager and Store Manager.

Some maids are open to my teachings and training. Sadly, most of them are not. They are not used to having someone supervise them and teach them or correct them when they make mistakes. Maybe, that's because they used to work in households where the owners are usually at work or do not spend time observing how their maids work.

I'm used to being an involved Manager. One of our management styles in the restaurant is managing by walking around. We go around to observe, teach and correct if needed. It's an effective way to ensure that what we teach our crew are reinforced and have follow through. When we observe them work, we witness if they are doing things right or not. We would know if they remembered what we taught them during their orientation or training.

A couple of weeks ago, I observed our new maid while preparing to cook our food. At first I watched her closely, right after I gave her instructions. After that, I went upstairs to my home office to do my work. From my computer, I would observe here every now and then through our cctv monitor.

Photo source here.

I would cringe every time our maid would do some things that are big no-nos to us who are from the food industry. It was also enough to make me go back to our kitchen to remind her of what I taught her about food handling and food preparation.

Let me share 3 tips or guidelines that I always teach our new maids when I orient them. These are also the 3 things that my maids usually violate that's why I call their attention when I observe them in the kitchen.

1. Always wash your hands with soap and water after handling raw meat, poultry or fish. Do not touch other things yet until you have washed your hands.

I see this often when I observe the maids who have worked for us in the past 8 years. They usually touch other things or surfaces (like the cabinet handles and doors, plates, kitchen counters or ref towels, etc.) with their hands after they touched or held raw meat, poultry or fish.

Why is this a no-no? There are bacteria in raw meat, poultry and fish. Those bacteria would be transferred to other surfaces or things in your kitchen that you or your maids would touch or hold if you do not wash your hands first.

2. Always wash your hands with soap and water after touching or using your kitchen rag.

A kitchen rag is usually used to wipe the kitchen counter or stove. In some households, this is also used to wipe the dining table. Imagine the amount of dirt that goes into this rag. Some people do not even wash this after every use with soap and water. Because of all the dirt that comes in contact with this rag, it becomes an easy breeding ground of bacteria or germs. These germs can get to your plates, eating utensils and other things that you use when eating if you or your maid does not wash her hands first after using your kitchen rag.

Sometimes, I would catch our maid use the kitchen rag to wipe the surface of our kitchen counter and then after that she would just wipe her hands dry on the ref towel before holding the plates that she will use to set the table. When I catch our maids doing that, I would ask them to wash their hands first and use new plates or eating utensils instead. I will ask the maid to wash the ones she touched after she used the kitchen rag. I would remind our maid that our hands may appear clean but it doesn't always mean that they are free from germs. So, it is best to always wash our hands with soap and water after holding dirty things like a kitchen rag.

3. Always tie your hair when preparing food or cooking even when you just showered or taken a bath.

There is greater possibility that some hair would fall or get in  contact with the food being prepared if a hair net is not used or the hair isn't tied.

Even when one's hair is newly shampooed, there is still bacteria in it. We studied this in college when I was still in the University of the Philippines taking up BS Hotel and Restaurant Administration. My classmates and I were surprised when we saw under the microscope the bacteria present even in newly washed hair.

This is one of the stories I tell our maids when I explain this to them. I would tell them that we would swab surfaces and even skin of people and we would study these samples in our laboratory and observe them under the microscope.

In truth, I am sometimes tempted to buy a microscope for our use at home to demonstrate this.

These tips barely scratch the surface of what I usually teach our restaurant crew, supervisors and managers about food safety, food handling and food preparation.

I believe that these are important things that need to be shared even to homemakers and our maids or cooks at home to prevent foodborne diseases. I am especially passionate about this because I have babies at home and young children whose tummies are not yet fully formed and strong. Actually, there are adults who also have sensitive tummies.

Because of these recent observations with our new maid, a desire in me was awakened to organize a seminar on the topic to homemakers and maids or cooks.

If you are interested to learn more about food handling, food safety and sanitation, send me an email at teregmps@yahoo.com to inform me if you and/or your maid/cook would like to attend this kind of seminar.

This can be a 2-4 hour seminar with question and answer portion already. If I receive a number of emails from you or if there would be at least 20 people who want to learn from me about this topic, that would be enough for me to organize this learning event.

So, go to your kitchen now and observe your maid or cook! ;) Then, send me an email at teregmps@yahoo.com if she needs some training.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Do You Want To Earn Through Blogging?

I went to Western Union two weekends ago to collect my payment from Google. One of the ways I earn from home is through blogging. There are many ways to earn through a blog. One of them is through Google Ads. It makes me happy every time I collect payment from Google because it's a form of semi-passive income for me. What used to be a hobby only became an additional income stream.
It was not a really big amount; but it was enough to pay for my monthly SSS contribution, my eldest son's Science class and my video editor's professional fee.
Would you like to earn through blogging, too? Do you also like to write?
I'm excited to share with you that the first H.O.P.E. Summit talk video, How To Be a Hands-On Parent while Earning Through Blogging (or iHOPE through Blogging for short), is now available in our online shop.

If you missed the first ever H.O.P.E. Summit last year, this is your chance to still learn from the comforts of your own home or wherever you choose to watch and listen to the talk. You can also watch it at your most convenient time and pause it if something urgent comes up or if you want to take down notes.
Best of all, it comes with a BONUS printable worksheet to help you act on the lessons shared by our speaker during her talk.
Our speaker for this talk is Award-Winning Blogger, Martine de Luna. Martine has positioned herself as an expert in her chosen niche with the help of her blog. She has also become a brand ambassador to various products through it. Because of this, she is able to stay home with her kids, breastfeed her baby and homeschool her son.
Would you like to have this kind of lifestyle too? Would you like to be a H.O.P.E. (Hands-On Parent while Earning) like her?
Let me share some of the feedback from the workshop participants last year.
The workshops participants with some of the speakers.

“The lessons are inspiring.” – Ging Jusi, workshop participant
“Since I want to have my own blog, I learned some strategies how I can earn while blogging.” – Jenina Tuazon, workshop participant​
“It gave me inspiration to become the parent that has freedom from corporate work while providing for our family through an entrepreneurial pursuit I am passionate about.” – Dennis Anguluan, one of the dads who attended the H.O.P.E. Summit
Continue reading the testimonials about the first H.O.P.E. Summit here.

Hurry! Purchase your copy of the talk now while it's offered at an introductory price of P350 ONLY! Click here to access the talk.

Enjoy learning!