Travel Bugs

“There is a kind of magicness about going far away and then coming back all changed.” ~ Kate Douglas Wiggin

I’m on my last leg from an assignment in Eastern Europe to attend and assist delegates in a conference. Before that, I came from another weeklong midyear conference, out of town, from which I was the lead organizer for 500 delegates. Two weeks away from my family to fulfill my duties for work. 

It’s been difficult both physically and emotionally to be away for so long. Before when I was single, I would relish the thought of traveling to new places. I’ve always wanted to visit different destinations since I was a little girl, and my work has given me opportunities to see beautiful places in my country and around the world. Travel has always been a passion and a blessing. 

But having my husband and my daughter changed my priorities. If I can limit my trips now, I would gladly take that option. Otherwise, a lot of planning and preparation ensues. As a working mom, I not only have to ensure that every detail of the trip itinerary is complete, but also stock up on supplies for the household and endorse childcare to my family.

Here are some tips when a working mom goes away on a trip:

1. Make a Laundry List.

It helps to list down your daily routine so you can go it over with your husband, yaya or the Lolo/Lola on the things needed to be done and prepared everyday. This is what you do when your child wakes up, eats breakfast at this time, goes to her nap, playtime and bedtime routine. Schedules can be pinned to the ref or anywhere that can be easily seen, so the child’s routine will not be disrupted even while you’re away. 

At work, make sure to sit down with your superior to let him know of your trip details and scheduled return to work. Update him with your tasks and things to be settled so there are no loose ends before you leave.

2. Accomplish in Advance.

Prepping is very vital prior to your trip. Plan the menu and the meal plan for the week. If you can, cook the food the weekend prior and assign days for the week for each viand. Stock up on groceries (with a little extra for emergencies). Leave some money with someone you trust in case of an emergency purchase. List down names and contacts of your pediatrician, teacher and nearby baranggay/ police station.

Meetings can be set prior to your trip so you can settle concerns with customers without worries. Submit all deliverables in advance and assure clients that they can still contact your assistant or reliever while you’re out. 

3. Go online. 

You don’t have to spend so much to call and check up on home. While away, I use different tools to keep in touch: Viber, Skype, FB messenger. Before I left home, I tested all the apps on my device and my husband’s and brother’s to make sure they’re working. We aligned time zones too so we know which is the best time to call each other. Now I’m learning to use WorldSim too so I can call home and work for a minimal rate. 

In the office, I’ve turned also my auto-reply with my email address (not mobile phone) so customers and suppliers can still reach me for urgent matters. 

I am grateful for the support system I have right now–my spouse and my parents, along with yayas and household help–that have allowed me to take on trip-related responsibilities while they take care of the home front. I’m fortunate as well to have workmates who are willing to carry some workload while I’m gone. Without them, the delicate work-life-travel balance will not be possible. So, while it’s expensive, I make sure to buy everyone little tokens of appreciation from my trip. Goodwill always goes a long way.

And while you’re at it, enjoy the trip! Let go of the guilt and take in the scenery. Each adventure truly changes you, and you leave with new life lessons.

Thankful and excited to finally go home! 


The Ugly Truth

Here’s an interesting take on the inner struggles of working moms. You want the ugly truth? Yes we do feel like a fraud sometimes for giving half hearted efforts to our work deadlines and children’s schooling. But how can we juggle all that is demanded of us when society expects us to work as if we don’t have children and raise a child as if we don’t have work?

Sometimes all we want is for someone to say: “You’re not alone. It’s not your fault. And it doesn’t have to be this way.”

The Four Burners Theory

Came across The Four Burners Theory where in our lives are sectioned into 4 burners: family, friends, health and career.

The theory says that in order to be successful, you have to cut off one of your burners, and in order to be really successful, you have to cut out two.

Interesting read on work-life balance, and The downside of being mediocre at all aspects or successful but not balanced on all burners. I think the working mom in me would want to juggle all four, and merely recognize that some burners would shine brighter and need more attention than the rest at specific times.

Yaya Sisterhood

“When you’re babysitting a kid, all you’re seeing is a version of them, a small dosage.” ~ J. B. Smoove

One of the reasons why I was not able to update this blog was because I became yaya-less for a month. Yaya Rosalie went to the province to vote and be with her family last May. She was not supposed to come back anymore as she only extended her stay with us for another year. I promised a “big bonus” so that she would consider coming back. And she did, just last week. *sigh of relief*

Ask anyone, and they would tell you how difficult it is to find a good yaya nowadays. It’s almost close to impossible to find even any kind of yaya or househelp at all. This is the usual pantry conversation among working moms: Do you know where I could find a good yaya? Mine just left a few days ago! 

But with the advent of global opportunities, more people want to work abroad instead of looking for employment in Manila households. So the scarcity of yayas increase annually, and even among friends, recommendations come far and between.

So here’s my survival guide to making it yaya-less for the interim period (until you find a new one):

1. Ask help from Extended Family 

If you have relatives with a bit of free time in their hands, consider asking their help to watch the kids while you are at work. Lolos and Lolas would be thrilled to spend time with their apos. 

2. Delegate, delegate, delegate

Learn to say no for work commitments. If you are a team leader, delegate tasks to committee members so you can have some time to focus on mommy duties. 

3. Plan the week ahead

Work around the household and work tasks. Know when you have free time to “work in advance”— cooking meals for the week, submitting deadlines a night earlier when the baby’s asleep, follow up calls during traffic. These would free up time that you need to spend time with your baby sans yaya.

4. Ask family and friends for recommendations

I always keep a mommy circle, in and out of work, where I can ask all the questions I have without qualms or worries. It is with these group (my “yaya sisterhood”) that I also ask about their experiences without yayas and how they deal with those situations. Sometimes it pays to learn about best case practices that may also be applicable at home.

For some, yayas may go and not come back. No time to be frustrated or disappointed though. In these cases, best to be ready with Plan B– to look for possible replacement already so you can move on and start training again. 

Are Women Using Work to Escape a Chaotic Home?

“The hours are long but the coffee is hot, the routine reassuring, the banter comforting. Maybe a mother could come to prefer her life at work.” ~ Mary Otto

working mom2

Sometimes, this is true for me. I blame economics, gender equality, and the terrible two’s. I wish I can lessen the guilt, but it does not take away the truth from the reality. I need my sanity break, and yes, it comes in the form of work. Am I more career woman than mother? Does that make me a bad mother? After a long day in the office, I just shrug off the evil thoughts, and still go back home, to my family.

Read moreĀ here.