family

I’m a Young Mom and Proud of It

June 5, 2020

There is no book or class out there that could possibly prepare you for the adventures you are about to endure as a parent. When I was 21 years old, holding a positive pregnancy test in my hand, I felt my world stop – all the things I had planned, my goals, my career, my future – just blurred out of focus. I was shocked. I never thought I’d be a mom at 21. I cried and felt hopeless. It felt like I hadn’t lived my life to the fullest and I was not ready. But I guess no one ever really is, whether a pregnancy was planned or not. Obviously being a young mom, I heard a lot of “but you’re still a baby yourself”, “what about school?”, “can you really handle being a mom at your age?”, “you just wasted your future” – and so much more. I was constantly criticized for getting “knocked up” too soon and not doing things “how I was supposed to”, but to be honest, I wouldn’t change a thing. Yes, I’m a young mom, but that doesn’t mean my life is over. Do I regret it? No, I don’t. Some might say that I missed out on my twenties, and it did kind of feel like that at first. But the moment my daughter was born, everything changed. I realized that my life was so much more than parties, drinking and dating. And I most definitely do not regret putting my career on hold just to be able to take care of my baby and be with her every day. I truly cannot imagine my life without my husband and my daughter and I wouldn’t trade any of the sleepless nights for one minute away from the two of them. My baby’s smile lights up the entire room and makes me love her so much it hurts, and to me, there is nothing better than that. Now I’m taking my third year as a mom, and although it’s been tough at times, I can proudly say that I’ve grown so much as a woman and a mother. I’ve also discovered some little-known perks of being a young mom and I’d like to share them with you. Easier adjustment Transitioning into motherhood could be quite disorienting. Yet, when other moms complain about how difficult it was to switch gears and give up the lifestyle they’ve been accustomed to, I couldn’t relate. I went from being a college student to a young mom. I didn’t have a decade of “me” time, lazy Sundays or a vacation. I was already on hustle mode at 21, so everything from that point on felt like progress. Sharing accomplishments I’ve heard a lot of young women say that they’re waiting till they’ve “accomplished everything they want to accomplish” before having kids. And again, I just want to say that your life does not end when you have a baby. I think it’s beautiful to be able to show your kids how to get from one point to another despite the countless obstacles and setbacks. To grow a life alongside your child and be able to share your accomplishments with them like having them watch you accept your Master’s degree or starting your own business. Refocused goals and ambitions Nothing will change your perspective quite like bringing a new life into the world. It could be a desire to do good, a spark of creativity or a fundamental rearrangement of priorities. Becoming a mom can change us in ways we never expected and it gives us a reason to do more and be better. Many young moms, including myself, are grateful to have had that shift sooner rather than later. A reason to grow-up Your 20s are a time for self-growth and self-discovery, a time to define adulthood and ourselves. Others would think that the only way to find one’s self is alone, somewhere, in solitary introspection. In my experience however, there’s nothing quite as introspective as motherhood. It will show you your flaws, shortcomings and deep-set issues. Seeing yourself through the lens of a new life can be transformative and has given me an urgent reason to grow up and be my best self. “When I had my son, it wasn’t just about me anymore. My thoughts revolved around him and how I could give him a better future.” – Mommy Audrey Grandparents Giving birth to my daughter at a young age also means that my parents are still young. Not only will they be able to spend more time with her, but they’re able to share their knowledge and help me as well. I’m thankful for the support and love they’ve given me and my daughter. “I was a teen mom. It was in high school when I got pregnant. I had no idea how to take care of a baby, I could barely take care of myself. That’s why I’m so thankful I had my parents with me. They showed me how to do everything – from changing diapers to putting my son to bed. And I love how they get to be very involved in his life.” - Mommy Nela Spending more time with them This is the best perk for me. Having my daughter at 21 instead of 31 means I have an extra decade to be able to watch her grow into the person she’s meant to be. An extra decade of love, growth, warm hugs, hand holding and heart tugging. And that to me is precious. So yes, I am a young mom but my life is far from over– in fact, I think it’s just getting started. To all the young moms out there, face this stage with optimism. The love and joy that your child will bring you will be immense. Planned or not, a baby will change your whole life, and with them you can live the greatest adventures ever imaginable.  

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The Struggles and Fulfillments of Being a Solo Parent

May 11, 2020

In all honesty, being a solo parent is so much harder than I thought it would be. After my husband left us, raising two 7-year-olds, a 2-year old, and a baby was definitely not a pretty picture for me. But with the help of my parents and my sisters, we were able to live through each day. I remember having chit chat with my single mom friends during my first months of handling single parenthood. My friend, Mommy Jo, told us something that stuck with me: “Yung ‘single mom’, they're two words that describe a single person in two different roles. You find what you need and make things work para magampanan lahat ng responsibilities ng parehong nanay at tatay.” ~ Mommy Jo Whatever the reason is as to why you’re single parenting, being a solo parent is a big change in your life, and it’s completely exhausting. It’s different than just being exhausted from studying for exams or being tired from work. It’s the kind of exhaustion that would sometimes make you forget that you can breathe from all of it too. So, if you’re scared – and that’s okay, you’re human – I want to help you out with a few things I’ve learned myself: The Struggles of Being a Single Mom 1. Financial Strain. For a solo parent, this is the biggest struggle we have to deal with at first, and sometimes even until our child grows up. We were supposed to share this load with someone, so, the first question that always comes to mind is: “How can I support myself and my baby?”, especially if you chose to no longer include your partner in the picture. But a lot of single moms like you and me are making it happen. Do not feel guilty if you feel like you’re not providing enough for your child. You’re working hard and doing your best for your baby. That’s what’s important. “Mga laruan, damit, childcare, tuition, and medical fees – the cost of parenting, that's all in the background. You are facing them alone. But eventually, you’ll manage to give your children a great childhood that's full of magic, wonder, and adventure.” ~ Mommy Jo 2. Emotional Challenges. The feeling of not having your old social life back, the fatigue from not having time for yourself, the desire to blame someone for the responsibility that has immobilized you in your house and your job, and the guilt for thinking that your baby’s a burden. If your situation is a result of a decision you sometimes regret, learn from it and move on at your own pace. Focus your energy on living a wonderful life with your child. Have faith and you’ll get through this each day. 3. Decisions. Single parenting can wear you down, especially when it comes to decision making. At first, you may think it’s a good thing because you can just make the decision you want to make. But you’ll realize later that some decisions are hard to figure out on your own and be able to make the right one for your kid. It won’t hurt to seek help from your family or your other single mom friends who’d understand. 4. The Judgment of Society. This applies not just to us single parents but even to our baby. People judge too quickly without even understanding the reason why we’re in this situation. Even in this time and age, we’d still experience the disapproving look of the oldies, gossiping of coworkers, and the “I feel sorry for you” look when they see your child. But what you always need to remember is that no matter what the reason was, you’re a brave woman. You decided to raise your child and even though you’ll be doing it alone. “I-expect mo nang may judgers talaga sa paligid, kahit pa na alam nila yung sitwasyon mo at ng anak mo. Pero narealize ko rin na hindi ko sila kailangan i-please. Ang importante, nasusustentuhan ko anak ko at sarili ko. Ang importante, masaya kami ng anak ko kahit sa mga simpleng bagay lang.” ~ Mommy Maine 5. Dating. As if it wasn’t hard before, yes, it’s harder now. A lot of people would have a hard time continuing to date you after they find out that you already have a baby. And if ever you’re lucky enough to find someone, you may have trouble with your in-laws in the future. However, just remember that what’s important is you and your child’s happiness. 6. Explaining to your child. This may also include dealing with your ex (if that’s the situation you’re in). This may be one of the most heartbreaking things you’ll ever have to talk about with your child. Questions such as “Where’s daddy?” or “Why don’t I have a dad like other kids?” or “When can I meet him?” will surely be brought up by your child. And I’ll tell you that as early as now, you’ll need to be honest about it. Don’t think of “I’ll save my child from the heartache and lie for now (or forever).” The sooner your child understands that his/her father is not (and may never be) part of the picture, the better you can both accept the situation. But, don’t worry, because there are always two sides to everything! Despite these struggles, there’s a brighter side to look forward to. The Bright Side A lot of people feel sorry for us solo parents, thinking that we have a lonely life. But single parenting is not something for others to take pity on or feel sorry for. So, here’s a glimpse of the brighter side. 1. Having one person in charge. Being a solo parent also means you’re the boss of the house. Yes, it’s tiring and draining. But, let’s look at the good points too: Your child would only have one role model. Most of the time, parents have different personalities from each other. And sometimes it becomes hard for a child to know which one should be their role model. So, although it’s a big pressure on you, you would be the best role model that your child would ever want to become. No blame games. For those who became single moms because of divorce or separation, we know that quarrels in marriages often lead to divorce and could also have an effect on your child. But now, being a solo parent means that if things go wrong, there won’t be anyone to blame or argue with. Again, it’s a big pressure on you for making the right decisions. But then again, wrong decisions will help you grow as a mom and as an individual as well. 2. Becoming more independent and responsible. You’ll feel frustrated with the responsibility at first, or whenever challenges are too overwhelming to handle. And that’s normal. But you can take these challenges as a way for you to become a stronger, independent person who owns the responsibility to take care of a family. Later on, you’ll realize the accomplishments you’ve made with your kid. “Mas naging strong ‘yung desire ko to achieve my goals. Siyempre hindi naging madali, especially kasi I had to finish college and find a job while mayroon akong baby na inaalagaan. Sobrang struggle sa time management, pero at the end of the day, napakafulfilling yung nakakaya ko lahat ‘yun, not just for me but also for my son.” ~ Mommy AJ 3. Learning from mistakes. You and your child will learn from your mistakes. They know that they won’t need to rush into relationships. They won’t look for happiness or support in another person because they know they can have that with themselves and from you. However, be careful of stopping your child from discovering things for themselves as well. Caution is important, but you have to realize that just because it happened to you, doesn’t mean it will happen to them. And if they do get hurt, do not start with the “I told you so” or “You should have learned from me” talk. Just be there for them. 4. A stronger parent-child bond. Single parenting allows us to dedicate more time for bonding. If you’re staying at home with your kid, you’d discover activities to do and create a deeper connection. If you’re a working single mom, you’ll be able to bond with them after work with undivided attention. 5. Your child will be alright. Society believes that children being raised by a solo parent is bad for a child, but it’s not. Single motherhood is not a joke, and yes, your kid may face challenges during the early stages of his/her life. But the beauty in that is they become strong and independent earlier than the kids their age. They learn the value of money early on and they become more flexible with approaching pressure and daily stresses of life. And do you know what’s even cooler? Your child will always look up to you. As he or she experiences his/her challenges, they’ll better appreciate the sacrifices you did for your family. Advice to Single Moms I’m pretty sure you’ve heard a lot of advice from people by now, so I just want to emphasize three: 1. Take things step by step. Decisions to make and actions to take will eventually come, so don’t pressure yourself to know everything already. Unexpected things will happen, and all you can do is brace yourself as you live through one day at a time. 2. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Again, the guilt, the blame, the pressure of responsibility, all of these can consume you. But be kind to yourself and never forget to acknowledge your accomplishments, may it be big or small. 3. Don’t forget that you have a choice. There would be times when you won’t be able to change the situation anymore, but you can choose how you’ll react and your next course of action. Own up to your choices. You want to keep being beautiful and healthy? Choose to care for yourself. You want to have positive vibes, surround yourself with supportive people. You know as well as I do that those small choices will make big differences to our lives. Here are inspiring words from our fellow single moms: “The battles you face, the triumphs you earn, they are testimonies to your incredible strength of character. Regardless of your situation, you are still a wonderful mom!” ~ Mommy Jo “Okay lang umiyak. Okay lang hindi maging strong palagi. As much as ayaw mong umiyak at makita ng anak mo, kasi dapat ikaw yung malakas sa inyong dalawa, minsan ang sarap rin sa pakiramdam na ihahug ka niya, kahit ‘di niya naiintindihan kung bakit ka nagkakaganun. Kasi nareremind ka na hindi ka mag isa, na kasama mo rin siya sa lahat ng ‘to.” ~ Mommy AJ “Okay lang kahit hindi mo laging gusto. Super mom ka, solo parent ka pa, pero tao ka lang rin. It’s overwhelming to deal with the challenges every single day. And minsan napapaisip na lang ako. ‘Di na ba matatapos to?’ Pero pagdating ng anak ko galing school, tapos aakap siya sa’ken pagkatapos magmano… Sobrang sulit yung pagod.” ~ Mommy Jenn So, just hold on there! Think of all the things you and your child have been blessed with so far, and not just with the material things. Being a solo parent is hard – physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially. But dreaming for your kid and his/her future makes it a little bit easier every day. It will always motivate you to push yourself and keep moving forward during the trying times. Because you know that by the end of the day, all of these things are worth it.

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List of Activities that You and Your Kids Can Do During Quarantine

May 5, 2020

Thinking of activities for kids so they’ve got things to do in quarantine? I was inspired to write this article when I saw a video my friend had recently shared. It was a video of her daughter, Martina, narrating her activities during this quarantine. There’s a ton of things and activities you can enjoy with your kids! So, here’s a list of what my kids and I do as well! 1. Keep to a schedule. This is what keeps me sane most of the time this quarantine period, and this is what keeps my kids having something to look forward to every day as well. It helps you show the line up of activities you have for them, but it’s better to plan this with them already after a day or two so you’re sure that they’ll like the activities as well. Here’s a sample! 2. Create activity bingo cards. You can make up rules for every activity card. For example, a one-line strike would have a prize, starting with small ones like a piece of candy, while completing the whole Bingo card would mean getting a bar of chocolate. Read at Home Card. Whether it be educational or fictional, this would be a good time to teach your kids how to love reading. You can start with storytelling, and then move forward to teaching them how to read (if they still don’t). It’s good if your kids already have books at home, but you can download or print out online for good reads as well. Household Chores Card. This is a win-win for both of you. You can start teaching your kids how to help you do simple to complex chores at home, and reward them after completing the card. 3. Let them tune into their musical side. Play instruments. There are a lot of video tutorials on the internet you and your kids can find. If you’ve already got an instrument at home, stick with that for now and try to learn with that. Sing-alongs. A lot of mobile applications can be downloaded for karaoke or sing-alongs in this day and age. You can also try singing along to internet videos of minus-ones or music videos of your and your kids’ favorite songs. Or, you can just go acapella and sing your hearts out! Dance crazes. Start simple. You and your kids may even want to try the ones in TikTok! If you all like it, you can take it up a notch and learn a one-minute (or more) dance routine every week. 4. Do arts and crafts. Painting. There are a lot of ways your child can enjoy this. There’s ice painting, sponge painting, glass painting, baby blocks painting, and a whole lot more! Drawing and coloring. Your child can do the traditional one, wherein just having a clean piece of paper, pencils, and crayons would do the trick. But, if you have the means, you can also print out photos that they can color. Origami. This may be a little difficult, and you’d be extra more careful of your children using scissors or getting a papercut, so this is better done if you have older kids. Journaling and Scrapbooks. Designing your kids’ journals or scrapbooks could include all three mentioned. But this would also help you teach them to start writing their thoughts and memories every day. 5. Have entertainment. Hold a movie marathon. Involve your kids in preparing the snacks for this so you can hold a picnic as well. Get a clean blanket, place it on the floor at your living room, and hold a movie marathon of their favorite movies. If you’ve got more than one child, they may want to watch a different movie from the other. You can hold a game to determine the schedule of which movie would be played first. Have a backup plan though, in case someone gets cranky! Play games. Veer them away from technology for now and take out those board games and card games. You can also play charades, play with them and their toys (that could also involve storytelling), or play and dress ups (superhero dress ups for the boys) and role-plays. 6. Create a vision board. This is for your kids to have a visual of what they want to be and what they want to have in the future. May it be a news anchor or a football player, have a mansion or a castle, explore the Philippines, or go to another country. No matter how absurd or silly it may be, let them dream. They can cut out these photos from old magazines and newspapers (or if you have the means, you can print too) and paste them on their vision board. 7. Let them meddle in the kitchen. Baking. This is a great activity for your kids to learn about measurements and doing things with exactness in such a way that they would enjoy it. Imagine them getting excited and learning how to measure two liters of milk, two spoons of chocolate chips, or a half cup of flour, and so forth. Cooking. This may involve measurements as well, but you can view this as better training for their taste buds, such as knowing if the food needs more soy sauce, salt, or water, as well as their sense of time, such as knowing how many minutes an egg should be boiled or fried, etc. 8. Have regular home study. This may not be as exciting as the other activities, but this is a good way to instill discipline on your kids when it comes to their studies. Prepare homework materials and activities for them and have them do it at least an hour each day. Using flashcards for your younger kids could help make studying easier and entertaining as well. You can involve bribes too, such as getting a prize once they finish their assigned homework. I’m sure you and your kids have a thing of your own as well. But these suggested activities for kids could help you and your kids have fun bonding and learning moments. Do you have other suggestions for things to do in quarantine? Leave a comment and share the activities you do with your kids!

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7 Things Parents should Consider when Organizing Family Gatherings

March 11, 2020

Family gatherings, reunions, and family outings - just thinking about these things can make you want to cancel. Organizing a gathering where you can meet with relatives whom you have not met in years may be difficult and stressful, but very rewarding and definitely worth it. Here are some things that you should consider when organizing a family gathering: Inform the guests as early as possible. Date conflicts occur especially when planning an event where there are students and busy office workers in a family. Remember to remind them as the date draws closer because people tend to forget events set in advance. Set the venue at home. Setting the venue at your house will probably be the best way to go for a small family gathering. Free venue means less expenses! Now you can spend more of your budget for food and activities. Have some activities. Games, talent shows, and raffles draws. Having engaging activities will strengthen a family’s bond. Make sure to have activities for the whole family like a round of charades or pictionary, bonfires with a do-it-yourself s’mores station, or competitive outdoor games and sports between each other. It is important to also plan out separate activities for kids (card and board games, party games, and kid-friendly movies) and activities for parents (home service massage and spa days, preparing food together for the family, or even casual conversations over a few cocktails). Visit nearby tourist spots. Your family may be tired of the places to visit around your city, but your guests might be excited. It’s a great experience for the kids and parents to take a break from being homebodies and do a little sight-seeing especially if your relatives are visiting for a few weeks and have a lot of time to pass. Have a plan B. There is no assurance that a storm won’t appear in a year-old planned event. It would be wise to have a plan b when an incident occurs. There’s no need to panic when a family that was assigned to bring meals informed you that they won’t be attending if you already listed the contact number of restaurants near you. Take photos and upload a dedicated photo album. Live in the moment while at the same time taking photos you can go back to later on. Create a photo album of the family gathering online so that you and your relatives can remember great moments you had together. What’s good about an online album is that the photos are stored forever and that everyone has easy access to it. Have fun. You are also a member of the family. Have a positive vibe, do not stress over something that was not part of the plan, they won’t even notice it.

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