My Mommyology

July 4, 2014
by mymommyology
1 Comment

Raising Children with Strong Values and Character

I picked up Sam from school yesterday and we had our usual conversation in the car about how her day went.  It was all pretty normal, until Sam said, “Mom, my classmate got sent to the time out chair today.”  I thought she was just relaying an event at school, but as I probed deeper, I found out this little girl was sort of a bully to my sweet Sam.  “She pushes and pulls me a little too roughly.  And she says she won’t be my friend because she has enough friends,” were some of the things that came out of her mouth. “She also says bad words.”

I felt my temper flare up but somehow managed to bite my tongue and breathe.  Those #BetterMe sessions were hard at work before I realized it. ;)

I didn’t want Sam to shut down and I wanted to find out more .  How she felt, what she did, if she was hurt (physically or emotionally)… Sam was very matter-of-fact about it, but I could tell she couldn’t wrap her head around her seatmate rejecting her friendship and treating her that way for no apparent reason.

That night as the girls went to bed I chatted about it with my cousin who also sends her daughter to the same school.  Apparently my niece experienced a similar incident.  When she stood her ground with this “heavy-handed” classmate who was trying to bully her into something they were instructed not to do, my niece got accused of being mean and uncaring.  My cousin said her daughter felt bad after, but was reassured that she did the right thing.

These aren’t the first set of stories I’ve heard over the year about kids with “attitudes”, or kids acting like bullies to their classmates.  And often what follows are statements like, “What do the parents teach them?” or “Why are they (the kids) allowed to get away with such behavior?” 

Now I’ve been fondly “accused” by people close to me that I can be very protective of my children.  So much so that I’d shield them from anything “bad” even before it comes remotely close.  And because in reality I can’t do that, they come home with stories and thoughts similar to those I’ve just shared.  So yes, I’ve been guilty of similar thoughts and statements — judgements if you will — too.  And quite honestly if it hadn’t been for these last few #BetterMe sessions with Coach Pia, I’d have done things differently.

About a month ago we had a session at the all-new Flair Towers on How to Raise Children with Strong Character and Values.  And the reason I bring it up is because it makes me wonder how you can guarantee spelling the difference between kids with a solid value compass and kids who “go astray”?  While I hope and pray that I’m doing something right with the girls, it’s still a thought that plagues me everyday.  After all I’m not the only influence they have in their lives anymore, and they can easily pick up and do things that are against what they’re taught.

Going back to the lessons of that #BetterMe session, one thing I felt that worked in my favor was this:

Two words.  A whole lotta meaning.

Two words. A whole lotta meaning.

The slide says it all but it’s NOT. EASY. TO DO.  I admit that my initial reaction when Sam told me would have been to shriek, “WHAT?!”  And I probably would have launched into a litany of how that was wrong versus right and what she should do or how she should fight back.  But I remembered this and instead, I asked questions.  I reserved my judgements for myself and tried to help Sam process how she felt.  There was no right or wrong, I let her say her piece and worked through what we could when I could inject my thoughts without the lecture.

The other part of the session that struck me (a month later no less!) as this was unfolding before my eyes and ears, was when Coach Pia said:

Self-explanatory.

Self-explanatory.

Unknowingly (and thankfully so, whew!), this is something I’ve been doing with the girls too.  I avoid the phrase, “because I said so”,  and I make it a point to explain the bigger reason behind the discipline.  Safety, respect, honesty, trust, openness.  I use them often and I try to say it in ways she’ll understand.

Somehow I think it stuck.  Sam had no qualms about opening up to me and saying exactly how she felt (I hope it stays that way always!).  I didn’t correct her strong words, because I knew she was saying it to me only and I acknowledged that.  I also appreciated her telling me that she didn’t retaliate because she knew it was wrong.  Despite looking like the weaker one of the two, somehow I hope I was able to reinforce that she actually was the stronger one.  And I affirmed her decision to not repeat the bad words she’d heard.

And so I go back to the judging statements about what the parents teach or don’t teach, and allow or don’t allow.  More and more, I’m beginning to think it’s not really that parents teach the wrong things or allow misbehavior to happen.  No parent in their right mind would purposely do that.  Rather, it might just be the amount of influence (or lack thereof) over their kids.  And as a disclaimer, it’s also not about quantity over quality time (because I know of parents who work full-time and have kids with strong values and characters), but as Coach Pia says, it’s really about being present.  It’s important to emphasize family time over friends time, especially as the kids get older.  The presence of parents should be felt 5x more to those of their peers.  Family influence will imbibe strong values, and will combat any other influence that peers will bring to the table.  And if all else fails, you go back to the first insight on resisting lecturing, so you are open to them and they are open to you.

Build one-on-one time with everyone (including yourself) every week as part of your routine.

Build one-on-one time with everyone (including yourself) every week as part of your routine.

I’ve to say this post has been in my drafts for quite sometime.  Life got in the way what can I say.  I’m glad it did; because yesterday’s incident helped me crystalize the lessons even more.  And while I know I’m the furthest thing from being the parent that knows it all, I’m all for learning and doing whatever it takes that will help make me a better one step at a time.

Thank you #LysolPH!

Thank you #LysolPH!

Thank you to Lysol for sponsoring this #BetterMe Session with The One Core.  Visit their Facebook page: Lysol Philippines for the latest products that can help make your home and hands germ-free. :)

 

June 20, 2014
by mymommyology
3 Comments

See You At Ponti!

Back in the day, Il Ponticello, more commonly known as Ponti, was a staple hangout and one of them “old reliables” indeed.  With good music and reasonably priced drinks it was always part of our list of meet up places.  The thing is after a while, you had to be young and willing to shout and sweat and come out with a thick cloud of cigarette smoke hanging over you to want to go back there repeatedly.  Personally, I got too old for it.  I was never a fan of the second-hand cigarette smoke sticking to my towels and sheets, even AFTER I’ve showered.  Twice!

Now, PK (“post-kids”), when I see my friends I like to sit and talk.  These moments are few and far between (and in Manila there’s always much to talk about) and because I know I STILL have to get up the next morning and have my faculties in check to care for said offspring, I need it to be a relaxing yet entertaining ambiance.  With alcohol of course! ;)  But really, we want to be able to hear each other and enjoy our food and drinks and have enough personal space around at all points in time.

The nice thing about it is, it seems like Ponti has grown up with us too.  The place was closed for a while due to a transfer of ownership — and let me tell ya, the new owners fixed it up GOOD.

It's back!  And it's better!

It’s back! And it’s better!

The owners are of different business and artistic backgrounds, all experts in their fields.  From restaurant management to marketing, to interior design and food quality… they’ve actually got it all! ;)  You know you’re in good hands, and you know that every last detail has been thought through to perfection.

When you enter, this greets you. :)

When you enter, this greets you. :)

It’s now better lit and it gives off a more sophisticated vibe.  The smoking section is enclosed (so those who don’t want to smell like smoke won’t come out smelling like smoke) but also so nicely done that you’d still want to sit there and have your drink.  If you wanted to have a lunch meeting or an early cocktail (or mocktail), then it’s a good place to do it in.

The table setting.  Ooh, wine glasses!  It's a sign. ;)

The table setting. Ooh, wine glasses! It’s a sign. ;)

And best of all — there’s food! Really good Italian food too (I love Italian food!).

Yummy in my tummy!

Yummy in my tummy!

I honestly don’t remember the old Ponti having food, though my sister-in-law tells me it did.  The head chef (can I say Master Chef?!) comes from Genoa, Italy and has cooked up some awesome stuff, from appetizers all the way down to the desserts.  You MUST save space for dessert!

Pannacotta Cheesecake is a MUST!  The other dessert is nutella in creme puff with ice cream.  Yummm.

Panna cotta Cheesecake is a MUST! The other dessert is Nutella in creme puff with ice cream. Yummm.

My husband who’s in the restaurant business is very particular about the price (well, who isn’t really?), the presentation and the “portioning”.  He’s quite satisfied when we go to Ponti and eats quite a bit.  The staff is very attentive and friendly and have been trained to provide excellent customer service.  And the managers are always present and very hands on,  so if there’s anything you need they can personally attend to you.

Everyone that I’ve spoken to who’s been to the new and improved Ponti has nothing but good things to say about it.  And it’s nice to drop in with friends, because everyone and anyone has some memory of Ponti at one point in time.  It’s fun to reminisce and see just how much it’s changedand matured — alongside all of us.

Come to think of it…  it’s Friday today. It’s that kind of week and I really feel like I need — deserve — a drink.  Or maybe two.  Maybe it’s time to round-up the gang and hit them “old reliables”.

The Ponti Spritz.  Pretty refreshing!

The Ponti Spritz. Pretty refreshing!

So… see you at Ponti? ;)

***

Follow Il Ponticello on Facebook: IlPonticelloMakati  and on Instagram: @ilpontimakati

Make your reservations for lunch and/or dinner at (02) 553 9971.  Email them at reservations@ponti.ph.

Open Mondays – Saturdays from 11:00am – 2:30pm and 6:30pm – 2:00am.

June 18, 2014
by mymommyology
2 Comments

How To Become The Ideal Mother (To Each Child)

One of the more memorable and lesson-filled #BetterMe sessions we’ve had thus far was the one held last Mother’s Day at The One Core’s office on Esteban Abada.  There were about 7 of us present that morning, and unlike most of our #BetterMe sessions, it was slightly shorter, but still very much jam-packed with insights.

Photo Credit:  Mommy Fleur

Photo Credit: Mommy Fleur

Coach Pia wanted to gather some of the #SoMoms to “celebrate” mother’s day the #BetterMe way.  After all, it is our common ground, and it is the reason we choose to get together and learn as often as we do.  If we’re able to better ourselves for our children, we can be better parents and people over-all.

One thing Coach Pia said she noticed amongst us mothers (and this is may be true for moms in general), is that we are always riddled with self-doubt over the decisions we make for or in behalf of our children.  It’s hard enough being a parent, it’s harder when you (or other people around you) second guess what you’ you do.  And it doesn’t help that everyone has some form of judgement too.

But the self-doubt oftentimes is also self-imposed — particularly when you have more than one child.  Because more often than not, what worked with one, will not necessarily work with the other.  And it’s strange how some of us moms say that with a little laugh afterwards.  It’s as if these kids got one over us.

Seriously though, when I think about the first time I became a parent, I really did not know what I was doing.  I just tried to navigate it as best I could, and hence this blog.  Then when I thought I’d somehow gotten my bearings here comes Jamie and everything is out the window.  There’s this new personality, and new dynamic.  So here I am figuring things out as I go.  It’s tiring isn’t it?

During that session, Coach Pia gave us a few parameters and exercises to help rid ourselves of that self-doubt and be more confident in making the best choices for our kids.

It all boils down to accepting the fact that you are a different parent to each of your children.  The “ideal mom” is different for each child.  Each one has different needs and to be the best parent you can be to them would mean needing to be flexible and adjust.  It’s such a different parameter from the way we were raised growing up, when everyone had to conform and “adhere” to what the parents set for them, or else it was seen as a failure on the part of the child (issues much?).

Ask yourself first from their point-of-view:  If your child were to describe the kind of parent you are, how would he or she do it?

That exercise alone showed me that if I were to put myself in each of my girls’ shoes, they would really say two different things about me.  There would be similarities yes of course.  But in the way that I know them, I could already see that I played a different role in each of their lives.

Here’s an example (an excerpt from my notes):  For Sam, I felt she saw me as a friend and an equal.  She respects my authority but is not afraid to challenge it and reason out her side.  I’m someone who can put up with all her antics.  For Jamie,  I’m her shoulder to cry on; her comfort zone.  I make her feel safe.

Both scenarios can apply to both girls, but one is more predominant for one child than it is for the other.  That’s because their needs are different to begin with.  Jamie is a shy spirit and isn’t as adventurous or as outgoing as her Ate. New situations frighten her, and she would rather sit and have me wrap her in her protective bubble than go out and explore.

On the contrary, for Sam the peacock, new situations excite her.  And what she needs is a mom who will allow her to discover things on her own and not someone who’ll hold her back.  Conversely, because she also has no sense of what could be risky for her, Sam needs a mom who isn’t afraid to pull on the reigns every now and then.

The next exercise was to identify the Positive Qualities (PQ) and the Challenging Qualities (CQ) for each of your children.  It expounds on the initial exercise earlier, but now taken from your PoV as a mom.  The trick is to be as objective as possible.

Which child is more like you? Opposite of you? Which can you deal with better?

Which child is more like you? Opposite of you? And which one can you deal with better?

From there, you can make an objective assessment and answer the question:  Do I have what it takes to sustain it for the long haul?

If the answer is yes, then good for you.  But if the answer is no or maybe not (and it is okay to admit this to ourselves!)… then it’s a good time to evaluate what you need as a mom to be able to be what your kids need you to be.  Does it require having a yaya to help out with the kids (or around the house)?  Does it mean delegating — and getting a yaya to help during the day, or  getting a tutor to help with the studies so the burn out isn’t on you?  Or does it mean cutting back and cutting out those activities which give you both stress (remember, sometimes an activity is done because the parents want and it’s not what the child wants!  Watch out point for us all).  Knowing WHY you make that decision can help free you (me) from the guilt and self-doubt.

Now here’s another interesting insight from Coach Pia:  for those of us with same gender children (close in age), it’s more important to harness each one’s uniqueness above all else.

#lightbulbmoment

#lightbulbmoment

So if it means that Ate would rather not share her new Frozen doll with Jamie, then help convince Jamie to play with something else, and vice-versa.  Sharing as a value can have its own moment and place in the world.  If getting two of the same means they get to harness their own individuality, then you may want to consider it.   Otherwise, Coach Pia says it’s just a case of testing your management skills.

Objectifying makes it “easier” to see, and what an irony that is no, since motherhood can be very emotional.  It helps to remove the emotion and the “baggage” so you can see clearly how to be their best mother ever (Sam’s words).  In that way you also eliminate the self-doubt in yourself, because you know that your decision is rooted in exactly what the child needs.

I’d love to hear your thoughts (and own little experiments on these exercises!).  What do you think?

 

June 11, 2014
by mymommyology
2 Comments

Make-up and Motherhood

 As I mentioned last Monday, this week is dedicated to my #BetterMe posts which are overdue.  I’ve gotten several requests for updates on them already. (Thank you for your patience folks!)

To tell you the truth, I don’t know how to put on make-up.  I never learned because as I was growing up, I tried getting into the stuff and I would just break out in skin asthma after only minutes of having it on.  My mom as well wasn’t someone who was really into the stuff and so there was no one to model after.  And my husband, the fairly practical human being that he is, always just told me he preferred I didn’t wear it.

And then just when I thought it might be a good time to finally learn (I was old enough, my allergy had come under control, so on and so forth)… motherhood rolled in.  And I honestly didn’t have the time, the patience nor the energy to wear it or think much of it.  In the mornings as I would rush everyone out the door I’d really just spend the least amount of time on me.

And then I met the #SoMoms, and we started the #BetterMe sessions and I learned about balancing our 5 life bubbles.  The “ME” one was lagging behind quite a bit, I admitted.  When was the last time I did something using my me time, just for me?

Thankfully I have become such good friends with these #SoMoms, and we look out for each other in all aspects of our lives.  Eli (Who pens the blog The Painter’s Wife), had recently taken make-up courses as make-up is her passion and love (after son Basti of course!), and had started taking notice of my “plain” face.  Not for anything, but because she felt she could help me and teach me if I wanted to learn.  And I did!  I’d never gotten past my old make-up hang-ups, and who better group to work on it with than these wonderful mommas.

As it turned out, I was not alone in the feeling of wanting to learn make-up skills or to better the ones they already knew, and so one day 10 of us gathered at the delectable Casa Marcos (yummy food here! and they sell really good pandesal!) and Eli brought her tools and slides to give us a workshop of our own.

The one slide that stuck with me was this one:

THIS.

THIS.

Which is so…. fit.  And practical.  And such a progressive view for a category like make-up, where generally, more is better!  Growing up I’ve always had the notion that you needed a lot of make-up for such a transformation.  It needed time, perfection, effort and it had so many intimidating elements to it that made me just block it out from my conscious realm.  And when you go to a make-up store, all these beauticians who are trying to make a sale will tell you this bit goes best with that.  In the end you end up buying a whole caboodle that you have no idea how to use properly when you get home (yes, it’s happened to me.)

But Eli also puts it so simply and there is so much truth to it.  Just edit out the ones you don’t need and focus or stick to the ones you do, that’s enough.  It’s very much like how one should go through life!

A Laundry List on the Left, and Work stations on the right.  Again, pick and choose... only what your life needs!

A Laundry List on the Left, and Work stations on the right. Again, pick and choose… only what your life needs!

With my age-old make-up bag as the perfect metaphor, she emptied out its contents and checked each member of the kit.  She threw away the ones that had expired, and let me keep the basic stuff that weren’t even opened yet.  And then she gave me tips on how to care for them.  She also diagnosed that the reason for my itching was probably because the items were old, not stored properly or the brushes were not cleaned properly as well.

For that morning with the SoMoms, Eli made me her muse.  And the first product that I learned about was Cure.

Thank you to our sponsors Cure and K-Pallette!  Find them in Rustan's and Beauty Bar!

Thank you to our sponsors Cure and K-Pallette! Find them in Rustan’s and Beauty Bar!

Cure is a skin exfoliation product from Japan that works wonders, I have to say.  Use it twice a week regularly and you’ll notice your skin is less dull.  I would know:  my husband recently gave me a compliment that I must be doing something different because my skin has some rosy glow. ;)  Here’s a tip I learned at the session:  put a small amount on your finger and rub it in part by part (instead of putting small amounts all over and then rubbing them all through).

Eli is big on skin care and she says that the first thing you have to do is make sure you take care of your skin.  I totally agree and it made me reflect on my current regimen.  Since then I’ve taken steps to upgrade and change it up because I do believe — that’s something I need in my life at the very least!

Baby steps, these two first. ;)

Baby steps, these two first. ;)

Anyway, Eli cleaned me up and put on some primer, showing the difference between a face with primer and one without.

My friend Jen learning while doing:  feeling the spots of my face with primer.

My friend Jen learning while doing: feeling the spots of my face with primer.

She also explained how to pick a foundation (not on your wrist, put it on the base of your neck!), and how to use basic eyeliners.  Cheryl of K-Pallette had joined us and given us some liners to use and learn.  “At the very least”, Eli says, “fix the kilay!”

Eli says K-Pallette stays on for 24 hours!

Eli says K-Pallette stays on for 24 hours!

Eli also told us that eyebrows need not be totally the same, which is a big stress point for those of us who do not know how to work the eyebrow pencils and liners and all.  “Like sisters, they’re not totally the same, so treat each one appropriately.”  I think that eased a lot of our concerns about learning how to enhance our eyes.

The biggest surprise for me was how quickly Eli was able to transform my face (sans the lessons in between of course), and do it so effortlessly.  And I didn’t feel much of an itch too, so her theory on the care for the materials used on me was correct (Eli takes impeccable care of her make-up things).  I got so many compliments too about my “no make-up’ make-up look.

Eli says that the reason she does this and loves make-up is because she sees how she can help people feel better about how they look.  And it’s a wonderful activity to do with friends — I just felt a lot calmer and safer to be a muse (and to be poked at!) there than I ever did, because I knew I was around friends who wanted to learn as I did.

Why we work as a group:  because we learn together.  And from each other! :)

Why we work as a group: because we learn together. And from each other! :)

Once you feel better about yourself, it’s easier to take on the world.  We don’t only become better versions of ourselves, but we also look better while doing it too!  So thank you Eli, for making make-up more mommy-friendly!  ;)

Eli is currently one of the talented members of the hair and make-up team of Priscilla Manila, on stage at the Newport Theatre in Resorts World Manila until July 16.  She does make-up workshops for private groups anywhere from 5 people to 10. 

Contact her at 09178173547 or eliza.santiago@gmail.com.  We love you Eli! :)

June 9, 2014
by mymommyology
1 Comment

#BetterMe Back-to-School Week

This week I dedicate to a sharing of lessons I’ve learned.  It’s more like a review  really since I haven’t been able to talk about them much in the last few months.   It is back-to-school season anyway, and as you know this is my own version of studying.  Motherhood is the primary role in my life right now and I want nothing more than to do it to the best of my abilities (of course, while still being able to do other things for myself).  The juggling act of parenting; it never ends.  So I look for ways to learn and do things that will help us move forward on this road to raising children in the best way I can.  And after all, aren’t we all students of parenthood?

#BetterMe was a term Kris of OcMominManila coined last year when we first got the SoMoms together.  Because really, who doesn’t want to be a better version of themselves?  And it doesn’t stop at just one aspect — we tackle all the 5 life bubbles that Coach Pia has talked about over and over again.  We spend more time on some areas than on others, and depending on the state of our lives it will tend to shift here and there, but essentially, the goal is to ensure that each one is inflated equally.  It’s really about finding ways, means and people who can lead you towards that goal.

And this is in turn the reason why I choose to attend these sessions, and share what I’ve learned here.   I’ve always hoped that through this process and this blog, I am able to learn from your experiences too.

So far this year, the #BetterMe sessions have been a constant in each month.  And the reason why #BetterMe sessions continue to exist, is because it is powered and supported by people, groups,  brands and businesses, who share similar goals and values as that to which we aspire to be.

We all want to be #BetterMe's -- and hopefully through us we can help others be the best versions of themselves too.

We all want to be #BetterMe’s — and hopefully through us we can help others be the best versions of themselves too.

The #SoMoms are often my companions through these sessions because we share that common goal of wanting to continuously learn and improve ourselves.  It’s the reason we get together — because in each person’s unique experience, there is always some way the lesson will fall to help them in just the way they need.  Amazing right?

So here’s to our journey of continuous learning, and continuous self-improvement.  May we never stop striving to be better versions of ourselves, so that we too in turn, can help others (like our children, and the people we touch!) be the best that they can be.

 

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