Every week, Preen tackles motherhood sans the rose-tinted glasses. Our columnists L. Juliano, Marla Darwin, Monica Eleazar-Manzano, Rossana Unson, Chrina Cuna-Henson, and Ronna Capili-Bonifacio tell their personal experiences like it is—at times frustrating, oftentimes confusing, but always enlightening.
“But, you’re so good at your job… Why would you give it all up to be a mom?” someone asked me when I told her my plans after I give birth. Give it all up? Excuse me, but I didn’t feel like I was giving up my career to become a full-time mom, I felt like I was getting promoted. I saw motherhood as saying “yes” to the most influential role I’d ever have. Somehow though, I felt like well-meaning people were looking at me like I was throwing out all the skills I had honed while working—as if they were just going to waste away while I sing nursery rhymes and change diapers. And maybe, if I’m honest enough with myself, I was wondering if they’re right.
Thankfully, I had observed extremely hardworking, driven, and successful career women who, like me, took this great promotion with a pay cut called “full-time motherhood.” Now, about seven months in, I’m thrilled to have discovered that there are plenty of things about being a mom that keep you sharp and allow you to exercise your A-game.
Here are some of the ways that you use your work skills at home:
Finance and resource management
Motherhood is all about managing budgets and allocating resources well. The baby immediately adds an array of new items to your list of expenses—all of which you must do your research to find the most economical option without sacrificing the quality for your high-maintenance client. There’s knowing how much clothing you need in a particular size given that babies are outgrowing stuff weekly. There is deciding how much you are willing to spend on diapers, wipes, baby food, and all-natural bottle wash monthly. And then at the end of the month, it’s doing an inventory and assessing whether you are putting your budget where it really matters.
This is probably the one that we simply won’t survive without. I found that if I failed to plan my day the night before, I make motherhood look like a train-wreck. I’m running all over the place trying to do so many things and eventually doing absolutely nothing. When I schedule my activities and decide in advance how to use my 24 hours, it’s easy breezy! I manage to get everything done plus, I usually get extra cuddle time with the baby, time to blow dry my hair nicely and, a quiet evening chat with my husband before calling it a day. I find that allocating your time helps you prioritize, do the things that matter, and avoid “time-suckers.”
Leadership and teamwork
Being a mom is as tough as any job and it’s even tougher when you try to tackle it alone. A good leader knows how to build a team that can support you through the everyday grind. My husband takes the baby at 9 p.m. so that I can peacefully shower and wind down while he gets the baby ready for bed, a helper comes in three times a week to take care of all the cleaning and to keep the baby company during her nap times so that I can sneak in emails and meetings, and my mom has the baby for a few hours twice a week so that I can run my errands. I also have a long list of mommy friends on various Whatsapp and Viber groups who I can run to for advice, prayer, and emergencies. While I choose to be the primary caregiver of my child, I need a lot of support to keep myself sane. Knowing that it still takes a team and admitting that I can’t accomplish much alone has been very liberating.
Goal setting and tracking progress
I have a very good friend who spent many years working for a multinational corporation before becoming a mom. If you thought she was amazing at work, you should see her mother her children. She has charts and graphs to track their feeding and sleeping, she has them signed up for different classes that support their individual development, and if you ask her about any of her children’s milestones she will probably be able to give you the date and time it happened. This mama is on the ball, all the time. She brings her excellence and attention to detail from work into her home every day and it’s pretty spectacular. I may not operate at her level, but watching her has showed me that it is healthy to set goals for my child and to track the progress.
They say that the ability to problem solve is one of the most valuable skills you can offer an organization. Well, it’s probably also one of the most crucial things you’ll need as a mom because problems will arise—and when you least expect it too. One of my most memorable moments as a new mom took place when I had a diaper catastrophe happen in the car on my way to a meeting with my boss who had just flown in from Singapore. There was no space for the carseat so my baby was strapped snuggly in a sling when we had a little diaper leak while stuck in traffic. Let’s just say that it was messy for both of us. To make matters worse, upon getting her cleaned up, I discover that we were out of diapers. I didn’t have time to make any stops so I ended up “origami-ing” a blanket into a diaper and holding it in place with a pair of bloomers. I sprayed the soiled part of my blouse with hand sanitizer, half-tucked it into my jeans to hide the stain, and powered through my day as if nothing happened. Thankfully, work had trained me that panicking under pressure only paralyzes you. To troubleshoot a crisis, we take a deep breath, we focus, and we figure it out.
I hope you are as encouraged as I am to find that our minds get a lot exercise while we mother our children. Our brains are not on pause and our skills are not wasting away. They are going through strength training so that one day, if we ever decide to pursue our careers at full speed again, our minds will be stronger and richer than before.
Disclaimer: The views expressed here are solely those of the author in her private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of Preen.ph, or any other entity of the Inquirer Group of Companies.
Art by Marian Hukom
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