The “Hair Tie” Technique

“You can learn many things from children. How much patience you have, for instance.” ~ Franklin P. Jones

Everyday, our lil toddlers wake up bursting with energy. Working moms like us might not have the same energy to keep up all the time, so we end up stressed whenever there are tantrums or misplaced toys or attention-seeking behavior from our children. 
Ideally, we want to stay patient amidst the chaos, and avoid as much as possible to yell at our children. Sometimes, this effort is futile and we end up giving in to our emotions and end up hurting our children with words. 

Kelly Holmes of the Idealist Mom, devised a way to be more conscious of our mood and non-responsive with our quick reactions to children’s behavior— the hair tie technique.  Each day, we start with 5 hair ties in one wrist (ideally in your writing hand so it’s more visible). Every time we yell at our children or respond negatively to their actions, we move one tie to the other wrist, and do 5 loving actions to counter our negative reaction. The goal is to practice more patience so we end the day having all the hair ties in the same wrist.


Click here to learn more.

Birthday Wishes

“A birthday is just another day where you go to work and people give you love. Age is just a state of mind, and you are as old as you think you are. You have to count your blessings and be happy. ~ Abhishek Bachchan

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Birthdays are often a happy family tradition. My daughter’s favorite song-and-action activity is singing “Happy Birthday”, clapping along and blowing candles to an imaginary cake. I have always celebrated mine in a new destination or in a new restaurant, so that the novelty may create a more interesting memory.

As we grow older, the parties become simpler and the guests fewer. This year, I chose to celebrate in one whole week, giving time for my family and for myself. After all, even the material gifts seem to matter less—all I really wish for is good health, career and financial security, a more positive outlook, love and happiness. Oh, and some genuine peace and quiet! Now, we can’t buy those things in a store, can we?

I received more than my fair share of greetings in social media and SMS. And though I’m floored by the birthday wishes, it’s in the company of family and true friends with whom I am able to really celebrate and be thankful for another year of life. Real relationships are hard to find and even harder to maintain, and to have those is already a birthday gift in itself.

So to Working Moms celebrating their birthdays… take your well-deserved day off, spend time with family, pursue what makes you happy and be grateful for the blessings. Cheers!

Tales of a First-Time Flower Girl

“It will all work out in the end. You must keep faith in yourself, and leave the rest to God.” ~ Leon Brown 

For days, months, weeks, we have been trying to train and psych Sofie for her first role as flower girl. Each episode ended in tears, frustration and drama. The little girl did not want to walk nor wear her dress. Stress!

D-day came. We were readying ourselves for another fit of tears, but this time we poured drops of holy water on her bath and on her head. We prayed hard. Lo and behold, she put on her dress without a fuss! And though she did not walk down the aisle (I had to carry her), there was no drama the whole day. She even posed for the pictorials (thank you Allie for keeping her steady!). Thank you Joe and Jady for being patient with us. 

Praise God for our miracle! Prayers are truly powerful, if you just keep the faith 🙏🏻 #BastaIkawLord

When Boredom Strikes

“I want to feel something, as a person. I don’t want to be bored.” ~ Pina Bausch

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I write this in the middle of our sales rally, when my presentation is already finished and the year is almost wrapped up. It’s been a rollercoaster ride this year, and I’m glad to have the time to reflect on everything that has happened, both in the homefront and in the office.

Actually, I just seem to have free time to clear my mind in between listening to speakers.

Actually, I’m just bored.

They say mothers rarely suffer from bouts of boredom, in between juggling roles and responsibilities in the workplace, in the family and in the other roles she plays in the community. But when this happens, though rarely, it’s a gem of a blessing. It’s a moment granted to be more introspective, to clear your thoughts and let go of any worries.

The rise of social media has given millennials the chance to create their own worlds when bored. When there’s nothing to do, they can just turn on their smartphones and let their fingers explore news feeds, tweets, and snaps. For mothers, (and I myself am guilty of this), I get updated on parenting articles or catch up with my friends through Viber, or just read on the latest gossip online. When there’s no internet access, Candy Crush is also a ready option. Not too productive, but it does help to pass the time.

We have arrived in an era where being bored is not an option. You must always look busy, or do something “worthwhile”. It’s a sin to be “bored”, when there’s so much to do, so little time!  Gone are the days when boredom is actually welcomed, because it is closely related to self-control abilities, and tendencies for addiction and binge-eating. Says James Danckert in a recent study: The more self-control you have, the less likely you are to be bored.The urgency to combat boredom is now higher than ever.

When our children tell us, “we’re bored”, we stress with the need to fill the time gap with technological devices or structured activities. But we fail to give them something much more important: unstructured time, or the opportunity to imagine new worlds and expand their creative juices. This skill is vital to their development, as it teaches them to become more resourceful and mature in problem solving later on in life. Self-control is also developed during children’s downtime, as they learn to be more patient and wait for their turn.

Sometimes, it helps to learn also from children’s boredom. We can use the time not to feel anxious in doing “nothing”, but rather be grateful for the time to relax, keep calm and clear our thoughts.

Sometimes, we can even get around to writing a blog.

 

 

 

Time to Make a Choice

“Don’t let the fear of the time it will take to accomplish something stand in the way of your doing it. The time will pass anyway; we might just as well put that passing time to the best possible use. ” ~ Earl Nightingale

How do you juggle motherhood, career, marriage, friendships and ME time in a 24-hour workframe? Sometimes it seems so impossible. Some balls you are juggling are bound to fall off while you struggle to hold on to a couple or two.


When I was single, there were less responsibilities. I could always choose the fun route or the path of self-discovery. Of course travel and pampering were top of mind. I met my friends often and we’d go on soul-searching road trips or catch up on our blossoming love lives over drinks and all-nighters.

Everything changed after marriage. Much more when the bundle of joy arrived. Priorities did shift 360 (and more!) degrees. My shopping sprees were for baby stuff, and my after-work activity included storytelling and cooking at home. Sometimes, the choices are more difficult: birthday celebration with friends or family QT? Grocery shopping or Movie date? Office videoke or Nursing session? Arrive to work early but miss morning breakfast with family, or spend overtime in the office and miss saying goodnight to the LO?

Although I value all relationships in my life, the ultimate question will be: with whom do I choose to spend my limited time with? 

Sometimes, I would like to think that I can balance everything. Sure, each choice would have a consequence, but I can compromise on the option I didn’t choose. Family comes first, but I would also give time for my friends and myself too. I can still catch up with friends, but less late night gimiks and maybe opt for weekend play dates instead with their kids too. Movie dates can be spent at home, watching Netflix while the kid is sleeping. Grocery shopping and cooking together can be our weekly, domesticated family bonding too. I would be in work mode the whole day (minus the office gossip, lunch outs and social media procrastination) so I can be more productive and go home earlier to have more time with my daughter.

Whatever we choose, and how we choose to do things, would be entirely up to us. We can ultimately “rotate” our time to also give importance to other facets of our lives–health, passions, colleagues, leisure and finances. What matters is that we recognize the value of our time and prioritize the activities and the relationships which matter most to us.

This Stage of Life? It’s Hard

Here’s Hayley Hengst’s (almost) accurate account of a woman’s life in her 30s. 


This stage of life. It’s hard, you guys.
I’m talking right now to you moms who are in your early to mid 30’s. You have kids. Likely two, three, maybe four of them. They probably range in age from newborns to 7 or 8 year-olds. (Give or take a few, on all of the above mentioned stats).
In this stage of life, you are dealing with exhaustion. Mental, physical, and emotional.
In this stage of life, you are dealing with teething. With ear infections. With stomach viruses. You are juggling nap schedules, and feeding schedules and soccer schedules. A million balls you are juggling, and you probably feel like you are dropping most of them.
In this stage of life, you are dealing with guilt. Guilt over having a career, and not spending enough time with your kids, or guilt over staying home with your kids, and not doing enough to contribute financially. Guilt over being too harsh with your kids. Too lenient. Guilt that your house is clean, but your kids were ignored, or guilt that you enjoyed your children all day, and now your husband is coming home to filth. Guilt.
In this stage of life, you are bombarded daily with a whole host of decisions. Some of them life-changing, some of them not. None of them with clear cut answers. Do I vaccinate my kids? Do I not? Do I send them to public school? Homeschool? Charter school? Do I continue to breastfeed? Do I blow the budget so that I can buy all organic? Do I force my child to apologize, even though the apology will be insincere? You don’t know the answers to ANYTHING, but you feel constant pressure to figure out EVERYTHING.
This stage of life is less and less about watching your friends get married and have babies, and more and more about standing by and witnessing your friends struggle in their marriage, and even get divorced. It’s a stage where you’ve got to put in the time and the effort and the work and the energy to make sure your OWN marriage stays healthy. And that’s good, but it’s hard, too. At this point, you or someone you know has experienced infertility. Miscarriages. Loss of a child.
It’s a stage where you are buying houses, selling houses, remodeling houses, packing up houses. And then you do it all again a few years later.
It’s a stage where your hormones are all of of whack. I mean, you’ve basically been pregnant, postpartum, or breastfeeding for the last ten years, right?
It’s a stage where you are struggling with identity. Is my entire identity “mommy”? Is there anything even left of me that isn’t about mothering? Is there something more glamorous I could have/should have done with my life? I LOOK like a mom now, don’t I? I totally do.
It’s a stage where you are on a constant quest for balance, and can never find it.
It’s a stage of life where you are overloaded. Constantly. You are overloaded with questions. Your children never stop asking them. You are overloaded with touch. Someone is constantly wanting to be held, holding on to you, hanging on you, touching you. You are overloaded with to-do’s. There is so much to do. It never ends. You are overloaded with worry. You are overloaded with THINGS. Your kids have way too many toys. You are overloaded with activities. You are overloaded with THOUGHTS (thoughts about how to not be so overloaded, perhaps?).
It’s hard.
So….what do you need to do to survive it all?
You need to ask for help.
You need to accept help when it’s given.
You need to not neglect your marriage. You need to put your kids down for bed early. Sit outside on the back porch with your husband, drink a glass of wine, and have a conversation.
You need girlfriends.
You need your mom.
You need older friends, who have been there and done that. Who can reassure you that you AREN’T screwing it all up as badly as you think you are.
You need to not feel bad about using your kids nap time every now and again to just do whatever the heck you want.
You need to lower your expectations….then probably lower them again.
You need to simplify. Simplify every single part of your life, as much as it can be simplified.
You need to learn how to say “no”.
You need to practice contentment
You need to be ok leaving your kids overnight, and going away somewhere. Anywhere.
You need to do something you enjoy, every day, even if it’s for no more than 15 minutes.
You need to pray. Girl, you need to pray.
You need a coffee you love, a wine you love, and a bubble bath that you love.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, you need to remember that…..
….this stage of life is beautiful, too. Like, really really beautiful. This is the stage of life where every single older person you ever meet tells you, “you’re going to miss this”. And you already know it’s true. It’s the stage where your kids love you more than they are EVER going to love you again, for the whole rest of your life. It’s the stage where they can fit their entire selves into your lap to snuggle…and they want to. It’s the stage where their biggest problems ARE ear infections and teething and stomach viruses, and you’re not having to deal yet with things like broken hearts or addiction or bullying. It’s the stage where you are learning to love your spouse in an entirely different….harder…..better…. way. The stage where you are learning together, being stretched together, shedding your selfishness together, and TRULY being made into “one”. It’s the stage where you get to see Christmas, Halloween and the Fourth of July through your kids eyes, and it’s so much more fun and magical than it would be just through your own eyes. It’s the stage where you get to watch your parents be grandparents…and they’re really good at it. It’s the stage of life filled with field trips, class parties, costumes, swim lessons, bubble baths, dance parties, loose teeth, and first steps. And those things are so fun. It’s the stage where you are young enough to have fun, and old enough to have obtained at least SOME wisdom. It’s SUCH a great stage.

But man, it’s hard.

To the Thirtysomething Mums

Beautiful piece by Littles Love and Sunshine


Dear fellow thirtysomething mum,

I see you in the supermarket, I see you at the playground. I see you at the school drop-off, I see you on the train and in the kid-friendly restaurants. Sometimes you see me too, and we exchange a little smile, an eye-roll, an “I get it” moment. More often you don’t see me – you are chasing your toddler down the aisles, watching your pre-schooler like a hawk as she climbs higher than you’d like, admonishing your kid for pinching her brother, reaching for a wet wipe, mopping up a spilled drink.

A few days ago I was at our public swimming pool, and if ever there was a stark metaphor for life as a mum in her 30s, the public swimming pool has to be it. There we all are – the stereotypes we swore we never would be – wading knee-deep in the kiddies’ pool, eyes locked on our littles – and genuinely delighted by their antics. Although we may be there in pairs or groups, our conversations are piecemeal, we cannot relax. Our focus is entirely on our children. We are tired. We are distracted. Our tankini-clad bodies are battle-scarred and utterly not what they used to be. 

Up on the hill are the shiny twentysomethings. They are flipping through magazines, chatting to their friends, Facebooking and selfie-snapping on their iPhones. They are rested. They are toned. They are magnificently oblivious to what is coming their way in the future. They don’t even see us. Or if they do, they swear they will never be us.
It’s okay. We were there once, and we know better than to be offended.

You see, the truth is, we thirtysomethings have let ourselves go. No. We have let our SELVES go. We have small children and for the next little while, our SELVES will not come first. We will be sleeping (or not) according to the timetables of our toddlers and/or newborns and/or a combination of the above. Our hair will not be washed as often as we’d like. Sit-ups? What sit-ups? We will be wiping noses and bottoms and messes from the walls. We will be cooking what feels like continuously from breakfast to supper time and not leaving the table until at least a forkful of peas have been eaten. We will spend hours a week kneeling by the side of the bath and then reading “just one more” bedtime story until we pass out on the edge of the toddler bed. We will be fluent in the language of Paw Patrol, Sofia the First, Peppa Peg and Doc McStuffins, and will use said characters shamelessly as threats, bribes, or as digital babysitters so we can dash upstairs to grab a shower. We will find ourselves negotiating with terrorists even though we swore we never would. We will answer to “Uppy” and “More” and “I don’t want to”, and we will say “What’s the magic word?” more times a day than we ever imagined possible. This is thirtysomething. It’s not easy – and that’s the truth.

But there is another truth. Up there on the hill, nestled subtly amongst the twentysomethings, are the fortysomethings. They too are rested. They too are toned. They are alone, quietly reading a book. They see us, and they are sympathetic but also a bit smug. They’ve been there and done it and they know it doesn’t last forever. Girls, fortysomething is the holy grail. Fortysomething is coming.
The decade we get our SELVES back.

Not that I want to wish away the time. Although thirtysomething so far is a bit of a blur, it’s also a kind of magic. Never again will I feel a squidgy cheek rest on my chest in the middle of the night. Little arms reaching up to me after a fall. The delicious baby smell and the little pairs of skinny jeans and sparkly trainers. The scooter rides and monkey bars and the bed time stories with a small person in the crook of each arm. Hearing “I want Mummy,” and “Please can you help me?” and “I want to huggle you.”

Yes, fortysomething is coming, and it’s going to be bliss. But don’t let it come too fast. If I’m to lose my self for a decade, motherhood sure is a delicious thing to lose it to.

Love, Catherine