TV host and model Bianca Gonzalez, who's married to basketball player JC Intal, is now at the "toddler stage" of her parenting journey. Her daughter, Lucia, is now 21 months old, and Bianca realizes how tough parenting a toddler can be when moms especially go through so much pressure to be “perfect.”
At the event that launched her as the new brand ambassador of Sanicare’s Baby Care Essentials line, Smart Parenting got a chance to sit down with the celebrity mom to talk about parenting skills, breastfeeding, and motherhood.
1. Toddlers require a different set of parenting skills. Bianca says she’s facing new challenges as a mom to Lucia. “Every day may bagong pakulo, may bagong antics,” she shares. Refusing to eat, separation anxiety and tantrums are just a few of the things that are giving her parenting woes at the moment.
“Manageable naman. Kapag ayaw kumain, ayan na, mag-aarte siya. I think part of it is she can’t really talk yet and can’t express herself, so she gets frustrated” says the mom. “She says a few words pero not like sentences, not phrases. She communicates through just one word, or she points, or signs in her own way. It’s hard sometimes, we have to figure it out.”
So what does Bianca do when her little one gets upset or throws a tantrum? Bianca tries to connect with her little one -- a tactic she’s learned from reading about parenting. “I don’t say things like, ‘Don’t cry.’ Allow her to feel it kasi dun niya mare-realize pa'no ma-handle yung emotions niya. Don’t negate the feelings of the baby.”
She gave an example: “I’m going to go to work 'tapos umiiyak siya, ayaw niya ako umalis.” Bianca shares she says something like, “‘I know, I know you’re sad that mommy has to leave, but you know naman I have to go to work right? It’s okay; you can play with Ate Imelda, Ate Vilma. Daddy will come home soon.’”
Experts have been giving the same advice to parents of tots. Aside from helping a child learn self-control, labeling emotions and validating a child’s feelings instill empathy that helps a parent raise a kind and caring kiddo, says psychiatrist Dr. David Sack.
2. Breastfeeding is not easy, but it’s worth the struggle. Yup, Bianca says she still breastfeeds Lucia. However, she admits that breastfeeding has been a challenge, especially because she feels like she doesn’t have a lot of milk. “Now Lucia only feeds once or twice a day, so it’s not that demanding anymore. I think she’s just breastfeeding for the comfort na lang,” she says. Lucia typically breastfeeds before her nap and before bedtime.
The mom is also thankful that the little girl isn’t picky with what she eats and also like fruits and vegetables. “Feeling ko, it’s more for the latching comfort rather than the milk kasi she really eats gulay, kanin, ulam, at kung ano-ano pa. So, ang issue ko ngayon, ‘Do I wean her or do I just ride it out?’”
Do you have the same issue? “Weaning from the breast is a natural, inevitable stage in a child’s development,” said Dr. Barbara Grueger, in a statement for the Canadian Pediatric Society. “Weaning might be abrupt or gradual, take weeks or several months, be child-led or mother-led,” she adds. But whatever the case, guidance, and support will help the mom through the process.
3. Moms today are under insane pressure. In a lot of ways, technology has changed the way parents raise their children. With the internet, parenting information is just a swipe away. And social media has made moms more connected than ever. But it’s a double edged sword, says Bianca.
“The good side of being a millennial mom is that we’re so informed. There’s so much information, we’re so hands on. But the bad side is we’re so hard on ourselves. I think the millennial mom is under insane pressure.”
Bianca says she constantly experiences “mommy guilt” where she feels that spending time away from her daughter makes her a bad mom. “Feeling ko parang I’m bad if I leave her just to have fun or because I want to go out to buy things for myself. I give it as advice to other moms who gave birth after me: Don't be so hard on yourself. But it’s also something I’m guilty of.”
Social media definitely adds to the pressure moms feel, says Bianca. “Whenever I see posts it’s always the happy, beautiful, smiling, ‘this is the best thing ever’ side of motherhood. Pero when I experienced it the first three months -- di ka naliligo, di ka kumakain on time. There are days that you cry. Sasabayan mo nalang yung baby mo kasi ‘di mo na alam kung bakit siya umiiyak. So I try to be more realistic about my posts kasi may culture shock, medyo may trauma talaga. I didn’t know what to expect,” she shared.
In a recent Instagram post, Bianca writes how motherhood really is the toughest job a woman can have. But, at the same time, it’s also the most rewarding.