Living Outside of Manila

It has been a month since our family moved out of Metro Manila. It was a decision brought about by many factors mostly because of  the monstrous traffic around NAIA 3, the undeniably high cost of living in the city, and the limited-to-no parking space at all! The hectic, urban rhythm of our family life despite me working from home is something I wanted to moderate little by little. Too many commitments, so little time! The growing toddler is also asking for her open space and that’s something we could not afford with our 1-bedroom rented apartment.

Ending a Phase

https://i2.wp.com/ak4.picdn.net/shutterstock/videos/6042899/preview/stock-footage-beautiful-girl-drinking-tea-or-coffee-at-home-beauty-model-woman-enjoying-the-cup-of-hot-beverage.jpg

9 years living in Manila defined a phase. It was a time spent building and establishing a career; finding love and ultimately transitioning to family life. It offered me a period of self-realization: What I was actually capable of given my own money, time, and independence. So finally leaving that place felt like ending a rich, dynamic phase of my personhood. It will always be a cherished time.

But moving out is worth it.

Starting a New Lifestyle

New Home

(Top Left) Living Room; (Lower Left) my Home Office; (Lower Right) Summer’s Play Area

1) Home-cooked meals

I’ll forever miss the convenience of phoning food delivery – but not the calories it brings! Honestly, I miss the weekly treat of Mcdelivery or that 10-minute walk in the neighborhood to settle into a cinema seat (We used to live near Resorts World Manila). But now, I think I just have to make do with preparing home-cooked meals everyday (healthy!), and getting a slightly higher-priced Cable TV subscription.

2) Going Local

Aside from more open spaces, what I love about living sub-urban style is the chance to discover some local, quaint restaurants around the corner. There’s this nearby coffee shop (sans the Starbucks price tag) owned by a high school classmate that we visit when we want a change from the usual grind. It’s very homey, and familiar despite us being new to the community.

I’ve been eyeing this known local diner which they say is a perfect place for a date. I hope my husband is reading this :)

Also, supermarkets outside Manila are less crowded!

3) A Greater Sense of Community

As we have more parks, playgrounds, and spaces for families to get together – I feel like there’s a greater sense of community here. When your kid joins the other children in the playground, how can you not say hi to the mom next to you? There was one time when Summer outran me again and just went for the slide with her head first. Since I cannot make it on time to catch her, another mommy offered to pick her up to make sure she slid down safely down the ground. Thank you very much. Those kind of moments make you feel less alienated in this mom phase.

Finding Home

seesaw

While we know that this is just temporary as we are still not living in our own house, the peace it brings to us is well-worth it. I must note though that when you build a family of your own, wherever you go, whichever place you decide to live – you will always find home.

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Why I’m a Happy WAHM even without a Yaya!

It’ll be about three weeks running this work-at-home-mom-life sans a yaya or even a household help. Despite my constant ramblings on Facebook about our challenging situation: the daily exhaustion, the blurring lines between work-family time, the demands of my work, plus the uncertainty of a toddler’s mood – I have this confession to make: I LOVE HAVING NO YAYA!

I didn’t expect to feel this way, because in a time when families are busier than ever, having help around is precious commodity. But, I have some good reasons why I am actually happy and thankful we have no yaya in the house:

1) It kind of pushed the ‘on-button’ in terms of team work between me and my husband. We both knew we are set for a long haul on this. For better or for worse, with or without cooked dinner or food delivery: Division of labor it is, baby!

2) Our daughter cries less and less. Whines less frequently because she has mom and dad taking care of her 24/7. And thanks too, to our friendly neighborhood kid who visits Summer to play with her while I do my work or while I clean the bathroom :) Summer is also more independent now. She can play on her own and I think she now understands the concept of her “mommy-working-at-home”.

My favorite pic of daddy and Summy during our first family trip together in Bacolod. Dec 2014

My favorite pic of daddy and Summy during our first family trip together in Bacolod. Dec 2014

3) I get to have a clearer sense of my productivity and energy levels. I am a morning person but because the little one sleeps so late at night, I had to adjust and keep up with her – causing me to wake up late, too. So I get to start work mid-morning for 2-3 hours. Then come back to the computer for another 2 hours once the baby is asleep by 11pm. To save my energy for this setup, I sometimes nap in the afternoon, or I wake up late in the morning.

4) I enjoy having the opportunity to manage household work, actually. I usually do the house cleaning in the evening after dinner. So when we wake up in the morning, the house is already clean. All I need to do is cook our meal for the day + work with my clients.

5) Our house looks more clean and orderly now. Believe it or not, it seems to me that our house is more organized and tidy now that we don’t have a household help. Maybe because strangers don’t really have much concern about a home not their own. They’re always going the “shortcut” in terms of housework.

6) Also, there is no “pakikisama” anymore. When we had yayas, we had issues about food, schedules, even going out, etc. Now, we have all the freedom in the world to decide when and what to eat (btw, we still eat on time!), when to sleep or wake up, and what day of the week we want to drop by the mall :)

7) Last and my favorite: I have stopped feeling guilty about frequently eating out or calling for food delivery. Because, hey: I’m not paying for a yaya, anyway!

8) Which leads to: more savings in house and food supplies. The coffee creamer does not magically disappear!

But what I truly treasure about this setup is that it brings us closer as a family. The husband comes home earlier than usual because he knows he’s in charge of giving the little one a bath. I am less interested in taking in more clients or more work because family comes first. Which leads me to my word of the year: ENHANCE.

Enhance what is more important: family time, love traditions, relationship over work.

I know there’ll come to a point when we would actually need a yaya. As what Mommy Topaz says, “If we had all the money in the world, we won’t hire a yaya!” Why not? If we only do not need to work. My husband goes crazy when I get stressed out with this balancing act! Haha! It makes me a bit sad though that we will need a yaya sooner or later. But until that time comes, I will cherish this precious time to be just the 3 of us.

Happy New Year from our family to yours!

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Christmas Simplified

christmasCan you believe it: Only 1 more week left and it’s December! If you’re a mom I know you could be as tensed as I am. I’m trying to get my eyes off the last day of November because until then… the madness begins!

And I just realized I have 3 weeks left before that first family trip. I do not know if I should be doing some conditioning exercises for the little girl before she hops on the plane for the first time. I don’t want to stress… no, not during Christmas. I’ve come to a point when it feels like for several years I’m only getting swayed with all these festivities that at the end of the day it all feels pointless.

So I am embarking on the challenge to simplify Christmas, like this mom blogger: 5 Ways to Simplify Christmas

1) Finish Shopping by November 30

Item number 1 is already a challenge. I hope I could get the funds as soon as possible to finish shopping. Not only that, I’m launching these crazy Black Friday sales with some of my client’s websites. Hope I could sneak in my own time to buy gifts. Tip: Do the Christmas gift list early to make this one more feasible. And shop online!

2) Think-through Gifts

And there’s nothing wrong if your favorite girl friends all get purses from you! I realized gifts aren’t a measure of the depth of our love and friendship. So giving generic but useful gifts are ok, especially when you can get them online! It saves time and budget. But of course if you have very special relatives (like your husband!) – he doesn’t have to get the same item you gave your male neighbor :))

Also, writing cards that you bought (or made) make very heart-felt gifts. Consider making some for friends you hold dear.

3) Stick to a simple Christmas menu

No more fighting over the last piece of pasta sauce in the supermarket. Or maybe do it early if you can store in the fridge. Schedule cooking/baking time so you don’t cram on Christmas eve and look entirely swept out once the family pictures come out on Facebook.

4) Choose to stay home

Two years in this marriage and we only fight big time during Christmases and New Years — because we’re kind of spread thinly between our family visitation schedules. It adds stress in the relationship too because we’re still kind of adjusting to our new family. So this year, my husband declared we’ll stay home on Christmas and New Year. Much to the dismay of the grandparents, I know.

5) Decorate Simply

If you like (and has the time) to DIY, go ahead. But if you must shop, choose items carefully. Pick the ones that will really be complementary to your home. And make sure these decor items are pretty flexible – meaning you can use them to mix and match with most of your decorations yearly.

6) Praise Him!

Praise Him for choosing to love us by coming into the world. Praise Him for all the moments He held us close; All those late nights when He listened to our most ardent prayers; when He chose to bless us even if we were undeserving; when He helped us persevere so we will have greater faith.

And thank Him for He has shown us how to really love.

Now, go and share that love to others regardless of how simple your ways are :)

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Sharing the Blessing of Work

Apart from having more time to spend at home, and the privilege to provide for my family, another one of the many reasons why I thank God for giving me this work-at-home career is the opportunity to bless others.

james 1:17

Through my online work, I became a channel of opportunity to send freelance projects to my husband, friends, and former office mates. Every lead that I pass along is often received with gratefulness. It’s a wonderful feeling to bring hope!

It’s such a delight to be able to share the joy of earning online on your own while having the flexibility of time, plus the ability to dictate your own price. For some people, this may not be a big deal. But for people who desire a different beat, it’s life-changing.

Now that the holiday season draws near, for sure there will be more projects to work on and to share with!

It is true – “Every good and perfect gift comes from above.” – James 1:17

 

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A Father’s Love for my Daughter

My eyes were all wet when I chanced upon Jenni Eperson’s blog post about his dad. Read the birthday letter she got from her dad below:

How I wish Summer can write something as profound as this one when she grows up. Thinking about his dad’s love for her, I can’t help but get so excited – and emotional at the same time. I pray that they’ll have a meaningful and positive father-daughter relationship. Because Jenni’s words were true when she said that:

“A father and daughter relationship has the profoundest of bearings on whether or not we grow up to be happy, serene, healthy, fulfilled individuals. The way in which a father interacted with his daughter as she was growing up is a major factor in how a woman’s nervous system is wired, which in turn impacts her physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health, her self-image, her view of the world, and the ease – or otherwise – with which she loves and trusts as a woman.”

As early as now, I can see how much my husband adores our little girl – to the point of spoiling her (much to my protest!). He won’t think twice about buying that expensive-toy-kingdom-version-of-Barney-the-dinosaur-stuff-toy, while I manage to ramble about how cheaply I could get that with just one trip to Divisoria. Summer can never tell the difference, anyway.

Truly, a wife will love his husband more when he becomes a father. It is awesome to witness a man’s outpouring of love and his tender weakness towards his child. I hope someday, Summer will know about his dad making all sorts of Photoshop work of her when he misses her… his excitement to come home to kiss and play with his baby… his habit of bringing home pasalubong (Mcdo fries, fake Elsa doll, slippers with light and sound, etc.) for her… and his urgency to bring her to the hospital at the slightest weirdness of health.

I long to see the day when our daughter will give thanks and praise to his dearest, loving daddy :)

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What made me fall in love in the first place

Warning: This is an utterly cheesy post. But I am writing it anyway (and publishing here!), just in case in the future I will forget how I fell in love with my husband – and how crazy I went. You know, past the honeymoon stage, so much practicality takes over one’s marriage (add kids to the picture) and we can easily fall to the trap of losing the memory why you are married in the first place.

I can strongly remember the first time I exclusively spoke with my husband, I got easily drawn to his character – so much gentleness, humility, and kindness towards me. So genuine goodness. And as you know, I am some sort of a strong-willed woman who’s not used to this type of simplicity of character. So this is like finding a vanilla cupcake amidst a glorious bunch of dark chocolate ones.

I don’t believe in sparks or magic or love at first sight. But I knew right there and then that what I felt was something I have absolutely never ever felt with anyone before, even with past boyfriends. I used to deny this to myself back then, thinking that ALL LOVE is just the same. We can feel the same feelings we felt before. But I knew deep inside, he was different. THIS is different.

And when I realized I have fallen in love with him, there was no stopping me or us. I went for it – with all my heart. I was just so madly and crazy in love with this guy, thinking he is really a nice one. But my eyes were also open to our realities. I knew we were two different people coming from different backgrounds. But it was like meeting your soul mate. It’s okay. It’s fine. We can work it out.

And so we did. One by one, things fell into place and our relationship grew even stronger. Although, there were times when I wanted out because I felt he can sometimes take me for granted. Maybe because I wanted us to have more time together. It came to a point when I no longer get it why we should be apart. Maybe, because we were truly meant for each other.

I remember the passion, the “always looking forward to see him again” feeling. The first few months had my phone beeping non-stop from his texts. I remember spending a whole day at work, in front of my pc, but phone in my hand – so busy answering his messages. I was not working at all!!

Fast forward – and now we’re married + 1 kid. Most days we talk about house chores, schedules, plans, money, and work projects. I get annoyed by his little idiosyncrasies I can’t stand. Until now, I cannot be ok with his laziness to take a bath/brush his teeth. BUT despite all these everyday annoyances – I.always.want.him.around.

I still love being with my husband – beside me, inside the little home we made. With or without our child.

I’m writing this down to remind me. In case there comes a time I no longer want him around. Or forgot why we are with each other.

I pray that that won’t ever happen.

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How to know if you’re fit to work from home

I once received a private message from a former superior who wanted me to join his team. Since I have found quite a balance of work and family in my life stage  now (thanks to the blessing of working straight from the house), I respectfully declined the invitation. It was really tempting because the offer was good and the work seemed manageable. However, I knew in my heart that I fought long and hard to really attain not just my work from home job, but a lifestyle that I authored myself. He understood my decision but made a comment that doing corporate is good plus I have the skills – so it’s a loss. While he only meant well, at the back of my mind I found myself saying that ‘It’s quite the opposite, really. I believe it’s a bigger loss if I will just exhaust my talent and time working for someone else instead of building my own thing.’

The Anxiety that Comes with Quitting your Day Job

I understand a lot of people who are quite anxious to quit their day job to pursue a work-from-home career. Whether one gets hired full time or part time working remotely from home; or become a full-fledged freelancer, or a home-based entrepreneur – there’s a lot of breaking-down-the-comfort-zone-wall that will take place. But despite the anxiety, a lot of people (especially home makers) go for home-based work because of lifestyle goals, childcare issues, and yes – the passion to create something of their own doing.

If you honestly feel that you want to try this out but scared of jumping in, I’ve got a few pointers to help you decide. But remember, the number one rule is: There’s no certainty in life. There will always be that risk involved. So it’s better to find out early if you are up for this type of career.

Let’s answer the question: How to know if you’re fit to work from home?

work from home motivational quotes

1) You are a self-starter.

Being at home offers a lot of temptations to go slow on the deadline, settle for a mediocre output, or simply skip work all together. Television, Internet, your bed, and even your own hobbies can easily put out the fire of wanting to start. Therefore, the number one trait that you need to posses if you seriously want to make a living while in the house is to be completely self-motivated. Despite external factors, within you lies the drive to get up and do work. I’ll be honest to say that there are days when I just want to lie in bed or play with my daughter the whole day. But I know that at the end of the day I’ll beat myself for being unproductive. That’s the kind of motivation that I think keeps me going a lot of times.

2) You can follow a routine – that can be flexible at the same time.

It’s a misconception that when you work from home, you can choose when and when not to work ALL THE TIME. While that is possible, the bottom line is your ability to stick to a healthy routine. Especially when you are aiming for a balanced lifestyle, you would have to create an hourly schedule to allow time for priority areas: spiritual, health, family, work, not to mention housework, as well. If you don’t have a routine you will most likely fail in this type of set-up because a routine is a good motivator to finish tasks on time (see point #1).

On the other hand, since there would be a lot of distractions while at home versus the regular office job – one must also posses flexibility. You need to bring your child to the pediatrician but there’s a looming deadline – be flexible. Chop and spread out your tasks within the week so you can attend to both; or eliminate the less urgent ones to make time for your kid. When an unexpected friend or relative drops by, have a pre-planned strategy: In short, make a routine that is also open for the unexpected. That’s flexibility.

3) You’re not big on losing some social life because you just love staying at home.

If you’re not the party-goer or the one who needs peer interaction during the day – this won’t be much of an issue. It really boils down to how well you know yourself and your level of social tolerance. Since I’m a home buddy and my social life is my one-year old daughter presently, this setup is just right for me.

4) You are a good financial-steward.

As you will most likely be giving up the shelter of a bi-monthly salary once you become a freelancer, there is much to be said about being disciplined in your financial systems. The good thing about it is you are the one who will decide on how much you are worth based on your output — not the office position that says this is how much this job should pay. But just in any kind of freedom, you have to be smart in budgeting your income especially when there’s waiting time involved in remittances, bank transfers, and the like. It’s also a good reminder for you that from now on, you will be paying for your own health insurance, and other government and social security contributions.

5) You are passionate with your craft and has the motivation to CREATE and CONTRIBUTE.

This is one of the major reasons why I really pursued a work from home lifestyle. If you’re like me who desperately wanted out of the office cubicle thinking it’s so much waste of time being stuck there instead of pursuing an independent career — then this could be the dream job for you. If you have the passion to create something out of your own resources in order to contribute to the greater good – be it for family, church, economy, or the whole of humanity – then, my friend… this could be it!

As a Last Note:

I wouldn’t say working from home is the best job in the world. It has its own advantages and disadvantages. After all, there ain’t no perfect job. And by this time, you probably understand that it’s not for everyone. It isn’t the right career path for all of us. Again, it all boils down to your lifestyle choices, priorities, motivations — and most importantly, your own self-knowledge.

May you have the life that your heart desires :)

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