Friday, June 21, 2013

For Work-at-Home Moms: How to Get Work Done with Kids Around

To say that the past five weeks had been busy weeks for me is an understatement. I had been facilitating a series of workshops for my clients in the past weekends and most of them were done out-of-town. I also had an out-of-town speaking engagement a few days before one of the teambuilding workshops I facilitated in Tagaytay. Moreover, I write articles and books in between these workshops and speaking engagements. I had been doing all these and more in the past weeks that we do not have a household help.

You might ask: How do you get to do all the (business-related) work given your circumstances?

Aside from grace from God and help and support from my spouse, I give credit to strategies I learned in the past years as our helpers come and go. These strategies are very useful whether you work from home or run a home-based business. I work from home to do writing jobs and HR projects. But I run my consulting and training business as well. Let me share my time-tested and kid-tested strategies with you.

Teach your kids to play on their own.– When you’re a new and first-time parent, you have a tendency to think that you need to be with your kid ALL the time. But the truth is, you need to give your child some time alone to teach him to be independent and to teach him to entertain himself. I know this to be true because I was like that when I was just starting out as a new mom. Good thing I love to read and I learned from the books and articles I have read that teaching and allowing kids to have some time alone is also good for them and to us parents as well. You can teach this to your child gradually. Start by giving him five minutes of independent playtime. Then, slowly extend over time or with practice. This helps develop not only your child’s independence but also his creativity and imagination because he does not need to be dependent on you all the time in taking the lead on what he will play with and how.
Farmer Mateo and his produce.

If you have more than one kid, teach and encourage them to play with each other.– In the beginning, I thought and felt that it would be very difficult to have more than one kid. But as my boys grew older, I learned to appreciate having more than one child. One of my joys now as a mother is to watch my boys play with each other. I am amazed actually at how much they enjoy being and playing together. My youngest who is one year and a half loves to play with his older brother. He laughs so hard at his antics. He wants to follow him everywhere. So lately, I ask my eldest child to keep his brother busy by playing with him when both of them are awake and I have some work that really needs to be done. This strategy promotes camaraderie between my boys and teaches my eldest all about responsibility. The great thing about working from home is that I can easily step in when they suddenly fight over a toy or someone cries.
Doctor Yanthy and his patient.


Schedule to do some work while the kids are asleep.– I had been employing this strategy since I had my first child. It’s easier to work when the house is quiet and the things around the house are not a mess. You can do this early in the morning like what I’m doing now as I write this piece. Or you can work during their nap times after lunch (that is if your kids still nap.) I used to get a lot of work done in the afternoon when my eldest was still a baby and a toddler. Now that he is four years old and a preschooler, most of the time, he doesn’t want to take a nap anymore. You can also work at night after the kids go to bed. It’s quite challenging though to work at night if your kids go to bed late. Thus, it would be very helpful if you train your kids to sleep by 8 or 9 o’clock.
Mateo sleeps in the carrier.

Instill in your kids a love for learning and reading.– One of the things I’m very grateful for is that my kids love to learn whether with me or on their own. My kids are bookworms, especially my eldest. He would read on his own even with no one asking him. It’s one of his favorite past times. And because my eldest loves to read, his younger brother imitates him. My youngest pretends that he’s reading, too! I love it when I see him make up words while holding a book in his hands. So my kids learn by reading while I do some work on my laptop or while I do my own reading. Since my eldest already knows how to write, practices his writing skills, and loves to draw, his younger brother follows his lead. I therefore make sure that I have a lot of paper, crayons and pencils available to keep their hands busy. I also feed their curiosity by answering their questions and encouraging them to be observant. This practice has further developed them to be always curious to learn and to be keen observers. By answering their questions most of the time, they are encouraged to ask more and develop the attitude to seek understanding of something.

Our little genius.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Because it's worth it

Today, I choose to pause from my busyness. I choose to savor my little victories. I choose to smell the flowers and appreciate the sunshine in my life. I know it has been raining in the past days here in Manila. It has been raining also in my life. And when I say it has been raining, I do not mean that it's raining with blessings alone. I mean that rain has also dampened my mood and spirit and my momentum in pursuing a few of my God-sized dreams. But today, I choose not to focus on what has been wet because of the rain. Today, I choose to focus on the beautiful flowers along the road of my life. Today, I choose to celebrate because in spite of the rains and the delays it has caused me in my journey, I am aware that I still have plenty of blessings to count.
Today, I'd like to take time to gaze at two of my biggest blessings even as I stand in the rain. Have you already experienced that in the past? That it was raining but the sun was also shining brightly? Today, is one of those days in my life.
One blessing I choose to celebrate today is my baby Mateo's 19th month of life. This cliche has been used too many times but I will still use it today. Time flies so fast! 19 months! Wow! I had been spending each day in the past 19 months with this beautiful baby - God's gift to me. 
My experience of raising him and caring for him has been a bit different from my experience of raising his older brother. I feel that I had been more hands on with his older brother because I was not working from home then. I sometimes feel guilty that I was not able to do some of the things I used to do for his older brother. But last night as I read a few more chapters in the book I'm currently reading, I felt God's loving reminder that I should not be too hard on myself. God reminded me through the book I was reading last night that as long as I give my best, I should not feel guilty. I needed to be reminded that I'm human and I have limitations. That my circumstances now as a mother of two active boys is different from my circumstances before when I was just caring and raising one child. That my responsibilities then as a full time stay-at-home mom are different from my responsibilities now as a work-at-home mom.
God continues to remind me this morning to celebrate the good that are happening to me now. And so I thank God for the gift of another son and the gift of breastmilk that I'm able to nourish him with. Mateo is exactly 19 months today and he continues to breastfeed from me. The past 19 months were full of joyful and memorable moments between me and my Mateo. I have not been able to document or blog much about our bonding moments as much as I would want to but they are all treasured in my heart. I thank God for helping me overcome all the challenges I've experienced and still experience in breastfeeding my baby. If not for His grace, I don't think I would be able to breastfeed this long. I thank God also for showing me that all my sacrifices and effort in giving the best milk for my baby is worth it. Just like his older brother, Mateo shows signs of good health and proves to be a very intelligent boy. I believe that this is partly because of breastfeeding.

Mateo breastfeeding at 18 months old
during our Mother's Day pictorial.
This brings me to the next good thing that I choose to celebrate today. I choose to celebrate my relationship with my God, my Dream-Giver. My relationship with God has been my greatest treasure and my source of greatest joy for many years now. I've had countless adventures with Him! Recently, we've had a number of adventures going on at almost the same time. One of these adventures is the God-sized dream He planted in my heart to publish a book on breastfeeding.
I'm actually close to finishing it. But I guess just like what many speakers and authors said in the past, it is when you are closest to accomplishing your goals that you encounter the greatest challenges. I believe that I'm at that point now. Frankly, I felt stuck in the past weeks. I feel that I'm making teeny-weeny progress. And what I think as my deadliest deadline in publishing this book is fast approaching! That's approximately 6 weeks from now!
I think I was already in panic mode since a few weeks ago. Thank God that I am currently reading the book You're Made for a God-sized Dream by Holley Gerth because I needed an encourager at this time. God has been giving me a lot of encouragement through this author. 
Last night was one of those nights when I felt some tears in my eyes as I read her book. Let me share some lines which pierced my heart with the love of my Dream-Giver.
It's a wild ride, this dreaming. Our role is simply to hang on with all our hearts. And to remember that it's worth it because GOD IS WORTH IT. (Emphasis mine.) The One who called us by name... fashioned our hearts, and walks with us every day is the ultimate reward. He's the reason we keep going, keep pressing on, and refuse to give up.
Truly, it has been an unpredictable adventure with the Lord! My adventure with Him in working on this book project was filled with many ups and downs, joys as well as challenges. But it's all worth it! Because this book project is not about me. It's about the God who called me to be part of His plan to bless many families, moms and babies most especially through this book. God wanted me to be part of His team in reaching out to many whom He wants to bless through breastfeeding.
As Holley Gerth writes it in her book:
The God of the universe has chosen you as his ambassador, his partner, his way of sharing his light with the world. You may not feel qualified. You may not feel ready. You may not think you can do what he asks. Listen, my friend: you are all you need to be to do all he's called you to do. "It's not about you" can be hard words to hear, but in this context they can also bring a profound sense of relief. You do not have to be superwoman to make God's plans happen in your life. Because it's ultimately about him, and your role is simply to let his light flow through you. You're the vessel - he's the source. 
In other words, let what you do shine in a way that helps people see who God is.
Yes, people will see you.
That's Okay.
You're still being humble.
And it's not certainly about you.
Amazing! Very beautiful words of encouragement and affirmation from God's messenger straight into my heart!
Yes, indeed it's all worth it! It's worth it because through all these experiences of mine of breastfeeding my children and writing a book on breastfeeding, I'm experiencing the love of my God. I'm getting to know Him better, deeper. I have grown to know Him in ways I wouldn't have known Him had I not made these decisions and pursued these God-sized dreams.
I thank God for calling me to join Him in these adventures and for calling me to invite other moms, other families to join Him in this adventure.
My role is to simply obey the One who called me and gave me this assignment. His role is to make things happen according to His plans. He is in charge of the results. My commitment is to give Him my best.
May His light shine brightly through me! I am but His light bulb! He is my power source!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Timely Encouragement to Keep Moving Forward

It has been almost a month since I last wrote a post for this blog. I had my share of both good and bad problems in the past month. Let me start with the two bad problems I had. First, our maid left. We had a hard time finding a replacement (even though we tapped an agency to help us). Then, after waiting for a long time for the replacement, that maid left after around a week. Our second bad problem is that our townhouse is not yet finished. We thought that it would be ready for move-in by June. But it was not yet ready for move-in and we had to cram to find another house that we can rent in just a matter of days because we found a student who wanted to rent our condominium unit. And he needed to move into our condominium unit by June 2. That meant moving out of our condominium unit that same day.
I still praise God and I'm very happy in spite of our bad problems because we had more good problems in our hands. One main reason why I was not able to write a post for this blog in the past month is because I had been facilitating teambuilding workshops every weekend in Tagaytay in the past three weeks. Two days before the first teambuilding workshop I conducted, I also had an out-of-town speaking engagement. (I'll write another blog post about that soon.) Two days prior to the second teambuilding workshop, I conducted a whole day management and leadership workshop. On top of those commitments, I had to meet my writing deadlines for The Philippine Online Chronicles where I'm a contributing writer and I had been given writing assignments for the month of May. On the week that was leading to my third teambuilding workshop, we found a confirmed tenant/renter for our condominium unit. It was a blessing in disguise because that week I realized that it was another dream fulfilled. Finding that tenant reminded me of a dream I wrote years ago. I remembered that I wrote before that I wanted our family to earn passive income through our condominium unit/s. That week, through that student and his family, that dream came true. So although, we panicked to find a house that we can rent in just a matter of days, we were very happy with our challenge. Did I also mention that we needed to move out of our condominium unit the following day after my third out-of-town teambuilding workshop? Yes, our challenge that week was not only to find a house that we can rent with such short notice but also to find a house owner who will agree to rent out his house to us for only two months. Remember, we're supposed to move into our new townhouse but the contractors are still finishing it. So, we need to wait for around a month or two months at the most before we can live in our "Promised Land."
Just like what we often hear, God works wonders and miracles at the 11th hour. True enough, He supplied us with many 11th hour miracles - our student renter/tenant, someone who will continue renting our parking slot in the condominium (because we already paid it in advance and we would not be able to use it anymore for around 3 weeks), a house where we can stay for the meantime and many more!
That's why the month of May has been one SUPER BUSY month for me and my family. Our busyness does not end there. This month of June, I have more teambuilding workshops lined up. Actually, the next one will be next Saturday. Yesterday, I went out-of-town again to do an ocular inspection of a potential venue.
In between all the coordination, event/workshop preparations and client meetings, I'm also managing our house (that is maidless for the meantime) and taking care of my two small kids. Another blessing is that my mom temporarily stayed with us so that she can help me with the kids and some of the chores at home.
I feel like I'm swimming in an ocean of grace. It's all grace that I'm able to keep up with my commitments. It's because of God's amazing grace that I'm able to deliver what my clients expect me to deliver and even more. It's because of His grace that I was able to write a chapter for the e-book I'm currently working on. It's His grace that keeps me moving forward in my breastfeeding book project. It's His grace that keeps me sane, hopeful and standing firm.
Last weekend, God's timely help and encouragement came to me in the form of a book and His angel in the form of a book author. My husband bought for me a copy of the book You're Made for a God-Sized Dream by Holly Gerth. Along with it, he bought for me as well Holly's book You're Already Amazing.
I knew right away from the first time I read about Holly's book in her blog that this book is for me. That hunch/intuition was confirmed the moment I started reading it.
I shared a few lines from it in Full Life Cube's Facebook Page. I posted these lines with a photo.
Photo source here.
I know deep in my heart that the things I'm working on are all God-Sized Dreams that God planted in my heart. At first, I didn't know how I would move forward in pursuing them or making these dreams realities. But as I obeyed and embraced them with my heart, hands and spirit, God paved the way for me and He has been moving me forward from the time I said YES to His call/invitation to start these projects.
I praise and thank God that even in my current busyness in my Consulting business (Full Life Cube), He still blesses me with some time to write and work on my book projects. Only God can make this possible. Definitely not me. If it were only me, I would have thrown the towel months ago or I would have shelved these projects indefinitely because my current concerns and challenges are oh so valid and real.
There are days when the piles of laundry in our hampers, the many things and rooms that need to be cleaned, the dishes and glasses that need to be washed and the many other mommy duties that I need to do overwhelm me. But I realized that even amid these duties and difficulties, I can still accomplish the impossible and my God-Sized dreams BECAUSE the God who called me to pursue all these enables me to do all these. I'm so blessed to have Him as my God!
Are you also working on something that you know God entrusted to you? Are you also encountering challenges and thinking how you can find the time in your busy schedule to work on that God-sized dream or God-entrusted project? I pray that you'll find encouragement from this sharing/blog post of mine. I pray that reading this would give you hope and that this would somehow sustain you and enable to do even one thing that can move you closer to accomplishing your dream or your project.
To God be the glory!