Ann Valerie Marasigan Mom of five, and yaya free Former grade-school teacher; mom to Brando, 12, Valerie, 11, Dominic, 10, Daphne, 7, and Reijel, 22 months
1. Do everything as early as possible. “I prepare the kids’ uniforms and their baon, including my husband’s, the night before. As much as possible, I cook food good for both lunch and dinner to save time. I try to do the bulk of my chores in the morning so that when my kids and my hubby arrive home, I have time for them.”
2. Train your kids to be independent. “My kids, even Daphne, do their assignments on their own. Now that we don’t have house help, they’ve also learned how to wash the dishes and take care of their toddler sister, Reijel.
“I started training my older kids to be independent when they were just toddlers. I made sure they knew how to read before they entered school, so they could do their assignments and study for exams on their own. I could have taught them the way tutors do, but I chose not to so they could learn on their own and discover their individual learning styles.
“I also started to give my kids small tasks at home when they were only three years old, and the tasks just got bigger each year. In the kitchen, they started out with simply putting their plates in the sink after eating. Daphne now washes her own plate, while her older siblings wash the rest of the dishes. Next year, she will learn how to wash Reijel’s plate, too. It’s all about starting them young, and giving them small tasks they can easily accomplish, and then increasing the level of difficulty as they grow.”
3. Merge working with bonding and learning. “My toddler takes up most of my time. This is why I merge our bonding and learning time with my chores. I always talk to Reijel and tell her what I’m going to do. She already knows how to count until 40 and how to sight-read some words. She’s able to master colors with the use of hangers; I teach her the colors of the hangers and the shirts as I hang them.
“While I sweep, we sing together. I also count with her, and to add more interaction, I pause to let her say the next number out loud.
“We also do some spelling exercises; for example, I spell out D-O-G, and then she would answer ‘dog.’ Before cooking something, I spell to her the name of what I am going to cook. This is why she knows that E-G-G spells ‘egg’ and that an egg has white and yellow parts. I also teach her the names of veggies and fruits when we’re in the kitchen.
“I also assign her some tasks such as ‘Give something to me,’ and ‘Put something back.’ We also dance together when I take a break from my chores.”
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4. Make time for each child. “I see to it that that I bond with each of my kids. Aside from regularly checking in to ask how they are in school and with their friends, we have our individual dates. I take each of them to the mall when someone is looking after the other kids. Sometimes, I take one of the big kids to the mall with my toddler. “I also get involved in their interests. Brando and Daphne both like to play the piano; I listen when he plays, and I give her piano lessons.”
5. Make time for your husband, too. “I make sure that when my hubby arrives home, I am already done cooking and taking a bath. We also have our ‘Fri-dates,’ ‘Wednes-dates,’ or ‘whatever day’ date; when we see an opportunity, we seize it.“I am able to do the things that I do because I have a very understanding hubby who accepts that I am no superwoman, and if I miss something, he doesn’t get disappointed with me.”
Michelle Aventajado Mom of a special-needs child Yoga teacher, blogger (mommanmanila.com), and writer; mom to Gia, 15, Miguel, 13, Diego, 10, and Gelli, 3, who has Down syndrome
6. Change your perspective “Being mom to Gelli has made me much more aware of so many more developmental milestones -- milestones I took for granted with my three big kids, because with them, all these came naturally.
“Gelli has had to work so much harder to achieve simple things. Something as simple as sitting up was broken down into so many steps with the help of her therapists. I understood the entire learning process and how it’s really true for kids with special needs: You have to learn how to walk before you can crawl.
“But the truth is, being a mom to all of them is somewhat the same. I love them using each child’s own love language. I listen to them when they want my attention. I meet all of their basic needs. With Gelli, I just became more aware of how kids grow and develop.
“I also learned that Gelli would learn to do things in her own time. I finally found the ability to live in the moment. I suppose the biggest reason why I’m able to do all of these things is the huge shift in perspective that Gelli has given me.”
7. Go on dates with each child “I divide my time among my four children. Of course, Gelli gets most of my time simply because she really needs me at this age. The good thing is, the older kids are never jealous of the time I spend with her, because I spend time with each of them.
“I go on dates with each of my older kids and we do the things they like. Gia is already a teenager, so we shop, eat out, cook and bake, and even go to the spa. Miguel and I have our usual pizza dates. He’s a lot like me in many ways, especially when it comes to his love of pizza. diego likes to accompany me on my errands. It’s also the time when he likes to share what’s happening in school.
“It’s not easy, though. There are times when I feel I’ve fallen short and that something might fall through the cracks. Having four kids is really hard—I don’t know how my mom did it with five!”
8. Get the kids to pitch in at home “The good thing is I had Gelli when my other kids were already a bit older. I do have a staff at home, but I like my children to take responsibility in helping out at home as well. They do simple tasks such as setting the table, helping prepare dinner, emptying trash bins, and putting away their own clothes. These are not chores that they get an allowance for—these are tasks that they are expected to complete, because everyone helps in our home.”
9. Lunch and laugh with a friend “I always feel like I’m being pulled in so many different directions. One of the things I do to relax is having lunch once a week with a friend. There is something to be said in a leisurely lunch with the girls where we can laugh and be silly.”
10. Know when to say yes -- and no “I’m involved in several non-profit organizations helping out individuals with special needs: the down Syndrome Association of the Philippines, Best Buddies, and center for Possibilities. I say yes only to what I know I can do. My problem is, when I get really excited about something, I want to do as much of it as I can. I have learned my limits the hard way and that everything is about balancing.
“When I feel a burnout coming, I simply take a step back, spend time with my family, and remember what life is all about, because I know this, too, shall pass.”
Shelby Bayle A new mom of multiples Mom to twins Dani and Sami, 9 months
11. Get other family members on board “I’m a mom to fraternal twins, a boy and a girl. My son dani is a typically developing baby, while my daughter Sami has down syndrome.
“I’m thankful that I have yayas and, more importantly, support from both sides of the family. On therapy days, I play longer with my son at home, and then send him to his Lola’s house when it’s time to go to the therapy clinic with Sami. After therapy, Sami gets to play with her Lola, too, when we pick up dani. I sometimes bring along dani to the clinic so we can also spend time together while waiting for his sister.”
12. Loosen up “I didn’t go out of the house when my babies were still newborns, because I was still figuring out how to manage my time. However, when some of my friends started telling me to relax, I found time to go to a nearby salon while the twins were asleep. I also started doing yoga at home, and just recently, I found myself back in the mall again, shopping at the babies’ section.”
13. Write everything down “When the twins were younger, I did tandem feeding to save time. I listed everything down so I wouldn’t mix up who fed on the left or right breast, how long each twin fed, and who slept first and how long. Everything was written down so I could identify each baby’s sleeping and feeding patterns. Then, I adjusted their schedules so they would have the same feeding and sleeping times. now that they are bigger, I pump their milk for nighttime feeding so I can have a three-hour sleep.”
14. Get them on a sleep schedule “My dear husband and I have our usual date on weekends, when the twins are already asleep. I trained them to sleep at 7 p.m. so Mama and Papa could have a nice dinner out. I would adjust their nap time from one hour to, say, 45 minutes so they could fall asleep at 7 p.m. still.”
Maricel Costales Mom of four going on five Mom to Zennia, 12, Adinna, 11, Zyra, 6, and Annika, 4; 22 weeks pregnant (at the time of the interview)
15. Enlist your older kids' help “Zennia acts as my right hand at home. We don’t have a helper. I taught her and Adinna how to do household chores; they take turns washing the dishes. I am lucky that they help me do chores without hesitation.
“To train my older daughters to do chores, first I showed them what I was doing, whether it’s the laundry, cooking, or cleaning the house. next, I let them participate by asking them to hand things to me.
“Once when I got sick, I needed to trust Zennia and Adinna to work together. I gave them instructions, which they followed correctly because they had already seen my example.”
16. Keep the little ones busy -- or snoozing -- so you can work “We have a small house that we can easily clean while the little ones are playing. Zyra and Annika love to play outside.
“I also get to do a lot of things while the little ones are asleep. To get them to nap, I lie down with them and tell them stories as part of our bonding time. Then, I promise them that they will wake up to a super delicious afternoon snack. I also explain to them why they need to nap every day, and they seem to understand.”
17. Find pockets of time for yourself “I always have time for myself—it’s not a problem. I chat over the phone with my husband, who works in canada, while doing chores. I sometimes nap with my younger kids in the afternoon. Plus, I still have time to groom my eyebrows!”
This article originally appeared as "How do you do it, Mom?" in the June 2015 issue of Smart Parenting magazine. Minor edits have been made by the SmartParenting.com.ph editors.