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Don’t forget your kids! Number 1 commitment for a working mom

Despite all of the troubles of the past year and a half, I always remember my commitment to my children’s growth and development. It is easy to get swept away from the problems and challenges of everyday life that we forget to also focus on our children and family. They can serve as a source of strength and support during those low moments and will be the reason why we get up in the morning to face another day.

My children are my number one priority. I make sure that I continue to stay involved in their lives, spending my free time with them. I shared my thoughts and feelings of what was happening during the challenges experienced by AHEAD because of the K-12 transition. It is always my hope they get valuable lessons from my stories and be more knowledgeable if a similar situation happens to them in the future.

When they were kids, I made it an extra effort to be 1 hour away from where they are. Sometimes, I would even follow a few kilometers away during their school field trips. The main office of AHEAD was moved to Katipunan, Quezon City when my children started going to school in the area. I want them to feel safe and supported. They can always count on me for help if they needed it.

But I also make sure not to spoil my kids even if as a mom, I want to give the best to my children. However, it is more important they learn how to stand up on their own two feet, and realize that it takes effort to succeed. I want to impart the skills and knowledge my children will need in the outside world while they are still in a safe and loving environment. To teach them about responsibility, I assign them work around the household such as managing the grocery budget. One of my kids even handled it too well, with me ending up haggling to include milk in the list because he would say that it was expensive.

I try to set a good example to inspire them to do their best in achieving their goals. I shared with them the core values that I practice and they were happy to adopt them as their own. We have family meetings to talk about our mission, vision and goals as a team. My heart is happy to see them also passionate about the same advocacy as me. The advocacy of education for the less fortunate.

Together as a family, we are launching a monthly training program for school principals under AHEAD. Investing in the development of principals will create a domino effect of excellence in the school system. Good principals lead to good teachers; good teachers will produce good students, and good students will become productive members of society. It is an amazing feeling to have the whole family working towards the same goal.

Being a working mom is a tough job especially when you are experiencing challenges both in career and health. But it is worth it when we remember the reason why we are working hard and striving for the best. It is for the happiness and success of our kids.

This Mother’s Day, I give honor to all the working moms out there who stay committed despite the trials. Our love for our children knows no limits, making us stronger. Cheers to all mothers out there. You can do it!

Christmas Party List

By Maridol Ranoa-Bismark

 

“Mom, my classmates want to hold a Christmas party at our house,” my son told me in a voice that was half-pleading, half-threatening.

Uh-oh, I told myself. Time to make a list in between deadlines. The good news is I won’t be doing any of the entertaining and my son’s friends wisely thought of going potluck. The bad news is I will have to coordinate a couple of things that my son is too busy with school to do. I scrounged around for the telephone number of the chair and table rental company and called the nice lady who owned the home-based business.

December is party season, she told me, so she might not be able to deliver the goods at my doorstep. I tried to calm my nerves and begged her to please send her delivery truck since I lived only five minutes away. Besides I’m a faithful customer, entitled to certain privileges; problem solved.

Next, I checked for paper plates, napkins, and drinking cups. Finding our supply running low, I sent someone to get these party musts for me. I then asked the help to resurrect our neglected water jug and wash it clean. The plastic tablemats also had to be washed clean and wiped dry the day before the party, so that it won’t smell “ugh.”

Then I checked the powder room. Is there a bar of soap in the sink? Is the toilet free from cobwebs and other signs of non-use? Is the roll of toilet paper enough? Is the bathroom mirror smudge-free?

Oh, and the dogs! Since we have three, I asked the house help to keep them in the cage and curtail their master-given rights to roam the house in the meantime. It’s the height of bad manners to set them loose and scare the wits out of our young guests.

D-day. The tables and chairs arrived as expected but what’s unexpected was their condition. The delivery guys already left when I discovered that the white monoblock chairs had smudges from a previous party! I turned to the tablecloths. I was shocked all over again when I saw food stains and wrinkles. Obviously, the tablecloths haven’t been tossed inside a washing machine! Thank heavens I had enough time to call the chair rental company and ask for a clean set of chairs and tablecloths before the guests arrived.

One last word: Going potluck means guests have the license to take over your kitchen. So make sure your supply of cooking gas is enough to last until your guests’ kitchen adventures are over. Mine did. And I heaved a sigh of relief.

You think your job is done when the guests are bidding you goodbye? Not quite! Your guests being kids, you have to make sure that they can get to their respective homes safe and sound. When they’re gone, you can pat yourself on the back for a job well done.

Now, where is that mop to clean the floors full of smudged footprints?

 

Enjoying Christmas

By Julie Javellana-Santos

For me, the Christmas season officially began when I found myself waking up at dawn and groping around for a blanket. The mornings had suddenly grown cooler. Where before I kicked off all covers, it was all I could do to snuggle into a comforter a few days ago. Needless to say, it took a monumental amount of will to get up and start getting dressed for the day.

For my sisters, the Christmas season began when the malls started playing Christmas carols last September. My sisters call me “Scrooge” because among all of us (we are five), I do not look at the holiday season as vacation time, but rather as a “stressful” time.

When the word Christmas is mentioned, images of endless traffic jams and malls packed with shoppers immediately enter my mind. This particularly affects me because of the many gifts I have to get. Since I was a little girl, my parents had Christmas gifts for everyone around them—the household help, our numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins in the province, and so on and so forth, and this is a tradition I want my own daughters to carry on.

Having been in media most of my life, I always found myself wrapping presents up to the last minute as vacation leave time could not be obtained to get those gifts and then wrap them. Being in media is stressful in itself as there are no holidays, no days off. One is always on call. Perhaps that is why the idea of Christmas as a time to enjoy is all but alien to me.

When I was a freelancer and master of my own time, I could do all this and the decorating as well. I had all the time in the world to scout for new decorations, and to refurbish my old stuff.

But perhaps it is time to pass on that task to my daughters. So this year I will leave them to do the decorating and the figuring out which of our Christmas decorations need to be changed and which do not. I will also leave them to do the shopping for gifts, the wrapping, and the distributing, all with the objective of giving me more time to enjoy myself this season–for a change.

Now if only something could be done about the Christmas traffic . . .

Be Personal Finance-Savvy

By Ruth Manimtim-Floresca

For the past several years, I have researched on, interviewed a lot of financial experts for, and written many articles on various finance-related topics. Somewhere in between, I came to know more about how it is to really take a good look at my family’s finances and what I could do to better secure our financial future. I acknowledge that I still have a lot to learn but I have improved on what I knew and have also taken several first steps this past year.

An article I read recently mentioned that most people’s idea of financial maturity means either getting the first paying job or making the all-important decision to get married. These life events, however, will not, and do not, affect financial stability unless you have already acquired the mindset with regards to making, keeping, and spending money. As I told my 17-year-old son a few weeks ago, I wish his dad and I could have learned many of the things we’re teaching him now about personal finance management when we were still in our 20’s. If we did, perhaps a lot of things would be different today.

But, it’s never too late to learn and to keep on learning. Here are six things I discovered that could help us become the totally finance-savvy individuals we aspire to be one day.

  1. Work hard and make your own money. For college students and new graduates, avoid becoming too dependent on your parents. They are not ATM machines. For family members of an OFW, don’t just wait for remittances to keep you alive. Make use of your time, be productive, and help augment your family’s income instead so your loved one would not have to stay abroad far longer than necessary. Don’t take shortcuts to getting rich (e.g. pyramid schemes, gambling, et cetera) because a large percentage of people who have done that end up with a lot less money than when they started.
  2. Save, save, and save. Study the power of compound interest. Whether you have decided to set aside P100, P500, or P1,000 a month in a financial institution, as long as you religiously stick to this every 30 days and do not touch your savings, no matter what, that small amount of money you allowed to grow will provide you with rewards in the future. Open a new bank account where you can transfer a fixed amount of money once a month. If you are enrolled in an online banking facility, this can be made easier via automatic transfers from your regular savings account. If you are more adventurous, study how you can earn more from investing in vehicles like time deposits, the stock market, mutual funds, and unit investment trust funds (UITFs).
  3. Be your own financial planner. It is not bad to take advice from others but, ultimately, it will be you who will decide where to invest and how to handle your money. Don’t just take someone else’s word and leave it to him/her to manage your money for you. Be hands on! Do your own research before making any decisions. It took several years before my husband and I finally decided to get life insurance policies after an unfortunate experience with an educational insurance company.
  4. Avoid getting into debt without a valid reason. Don’t borrow money unless the loan proceeds will be used for something that would help you earn money. When our PC started malfunctioning last year more often than we could use it, I bought a laptop and asked my sister to charge it to her credit card. I paid her back monthly for six months. Meanwhile, I used the laptop to churn articles and find online activities that would provide me with more income.
  5. Don’t become discouraged from pressing on. My husband and I have made some bad investments in the early years of our marriage. However, those made us realize that though we may make wrong decisions about money, the important thing is to make efforts to correct and avoid repeating the same blunders again. We’ve also learned that all financial decisions will not come without risks but it is not right to avoid making them for fear of committing another mistake. What matters is keeping watch over what happens after making a decision and learning from them. I am of the opinion that financial maturity can be achieved if we are determined to bounce back after experiencing setbacks.
  6. Live a simple life. Choose to spend money on basic needs and on a few luxuries to reward yourself every now and then. In our home, a mobile phone usually gets replaced only when the old one conks out. My kids don’t have the latest game consoles. What they have are hand-me-downs from their more affluent cousins. If they badly want a new gadget, they have to patiently plan for it and buy the thingamajig with their own savings.

I wholeheartedly believe that material things can rarely give true happiness. Family and friends, however, could. Thus, my husband and I prefer to spend more on special outings where all six of us could bond and enjoy each other’s company away from home once in a while. We treasure these simple joys with a prayer that, when they are all grown up, our kids would remember those happy times with their parents and siblings more instead of memories of being showered with stuff that had only given them fleeting pleasure.

Sunday Shutdown

By Jing Lejano

Sometimes, six days is just not enough to finish all the things that I need to do for the week.

Apart from my usual writing and editing chores, which I do in the comfort of my bedroom, there are interviews to be done and shoots to be attended, sometimes in places not so very near. There are bills to be paid, mail to be answered, errands to be done, and papers to be sorted out.

There are dishes to be cooked, which will go straight to the freezer for the kids to reheat during the week. There are clothes to have laundered, water to have delivered, grass to have cut, and the kitchen roof that needs to have some sealant plastered over because of the incessant rain. There is my bedroom to be cleaned, which I always never do, unless I absolutely have to.

There are the four kids to take care of and looked after—although these days, they don’t need much taking care of as they could very well take care of themselves. There is the granddaughter to embrace, cuddle, and play with. There are family and friends to have lunch with, to chat with, to joke with, to cry out your heart with, and to laugh with all your might.

There are books to be read, movies to be seen, and music to listen and dance to. There are words to be written, pictures to be painted, and baubles to be made. There are my nails to be done, my hair to be colored, and my body to be kneaded into something like soft spaghetti.

Six days just ain’t enough to do all that, and so, on some Sundays, I have tried to my very best to cheat. I’ve tried tinkering with my desktop to see if I can get a little work done. But no matter how hard I try, no matter how great my resolve, I never accomplish anything substantive. It’s like my brain is wired to shut down on Sundays. And so, after a couple of hours of trying, I give up. I give in to the sacred rule of Sunday to relax and get some rest.

The Lord rested on the seventh day, who am I to argue with that?!

Saturday

By Jing Lejano

For several Saturdays now, I’ve found myself by my lonesome at home. Actually, I have not been so lonely for my granddaughter S has kept me good company. We’ve been playing with her doll house, eating ice cream, and watching cartoon movies.

As for my own kids, well, they’re off with their own lives. My two kids in college, E and F, have classes on Saturdays. My second son S, who’s in high school, has Citizen’s Army Training on Saturday mornings. However, he only comes home around dinner time as he usually spends the afternoons with his friends. My youngest son K also has stuff to do on Saturdays. He’s either off to a classmate’s house finishing a project or at the mall hanging out with his friends.

This is new territory for me. My kids and I usually spend Saturdays at home. Well, at least some of them or most of them, but never not all of them. We usually get up late in the morning and I’ll cook something nice for lunch. This would be followed by marathon sessions in front of the tube, watching the latest batch of movies.

My kids and I, we’re movie freaks. The boys and I, we love action and sci-fi adventures, usually those involving some journey to a galaxy far away. My daughter E loves gory horror movies, usually those involving somebody getting hacked to a million pieces. Sometimes, I can get them to watch cheesy romantic comedies, but not too often. We would watch and we would eat, and every so often, somebody would make a joke or two. Of course, we’re not always together. On some Saturdays, each of us would be occupied with our own projects, but we’d still all be home.

I suppose I am at the beginning of what’s popularly called the empty nest syndrome. You have these wonderful babies, bring them up into well-behaved children, and hopefully raise them into individuals with passion and purpose.

Raising these four kids has been one hell of an adventure filled with comedy, drama, romance, and yes, even action—the very same things that we used to enjoy on the tube every Saturday. Looking at them, I could only hope that I did right by them. I could only hope that I was able to teach them something about living and loving as they go off into their own adventures.