Twenty-four hours in a day just isn't enough for a mother to do all her tasks. Just like any mom, TV host Melai Cantiveros often has to juggle family life and her career, and when she needs to make adjustments, she reveals that the first thing to go from from her list of priorities is time for herself.
"Hindi ko na masyado nabibigyan masyado ng me-time ang sarili ko, but then again, iba namang happiness ang nabibigay kapag naaalagaan ko ang mga anak ko," the Magandang Buhay co-host told Pep.ph at Nestogrow's Grow Happy event last September 1.
Sacrificing me-time is worth it in favor of the kids, as all moms would agree, but the mom of two recognizes and acknowledges that prioritizing self-care is also essential—a fact that many moms overlook. "Kaya lang minsan, kailangan mo din bigyan ang sarili mo ng time kasi paano kung ikaw naman ang magkasakit," she said.
How to spend those precious 24 hours is a constant struggle for moms. The kids almost always take the top slot, and then everything else is a toss-up between the husband, career or home, and oneself. Melai not only works hard to achieve for work-life balance, but also making sure she spends quality time individually with husband Jason Francisco and daughters Amelia "Mela" Lucille, 4, and Stela Rosalind, 1.
How does she do it? First, Melai makes sure that not only are the kids' needs met, but also that they're happy. "Hindi enough na maging healthy lang ang ating mga anak. Dapat lumaki rin silang masaya dahil kapag masaya ang disposition ng isang bata, nagiging mas masaya ang kanyang paglaki," Melai added.
She also carves out time to talk to and bond with her husband about their day before prayer and bedtime. "Day by day, ginagawa ko ang best ko para ma-balance ang pag-aalaga ko sa mga anak ko, sa work, siyempre sa husband ko rin, at sa sarili mo," the 30-year-old celebrity mom said.
Melai admitted that Stela takes up her time way more than older daughter Mela. "Pag-uwi ko, Stela agad ako. 'Tapos yung isa naman, puro, 'Mama, mama, mama!'" Melai shared, adding that her youngest is still on a demanding diva phase. "Kahit mag-CR nga hindi ko na magawa dahil kay Stela," she added. "Tapos itong [si Mela], 'Mama, do you love me?' Ginaganon niya ako," Melai said. She assures her 4-year-old by answering, "'I love you! Hindi lang love! Love na love!'"
Whenever there's a tiny bit of sibling jealousy brewing, Melai uses it as a teaching opportunity for her panganay. Mela is learning to be a responsible and patient ate. "Sobrang proud ako sa kanya bilang ate... Kung ano yung kinukuhang laruan ng kapatid niya sa kanya, binibigay niya," the mom shared proudly.
"Ang turo ko sa kanya, 'Magpakumbaba ka sa kapatid mo. Para yung ginawa mo sa kanya... gagayahin niya yung ugali mo," Melai shared. "Ang mga bata kasi, hindi ginagaya kung ano yung sinasabi mo. Ginagaya kung ano yung ginagawa ng elders nila. So yun ang ginagawa ko sa kanila," the mom of two stressed.
Melai also credits Jason for instilling discipline in their children, describing him as "sobrang strict," "sobrang over-protective" and "very dedicated" to their kids. She shared with Pep.ph that Jason limits Mela's screen time by using a timer whenever the little one uses a gadget.
Rules are vital in maintaining peace and order in their household with two young kids. "Kasi ang bata kasi pag hindi mo bibigyan ng [rules], hindi yung susunod... Hindi naman yan susunod sa ibang tao e, sa inyo lang magulang," Mela explained.