They say “friendship is the most important form of self-care” that you can invest in. This rings true even for Senator Risa Hontiveros, who says hanging out with her high school and college barkadas was her favorite form of self-care and helped her get by while raising four children as a single mom.
Risa, who is an advocate of health and women’s rights, lost her husband, Frank Baraquel, in 2005. Since then, she has been caring for her kids — Kiko, Issa, Helena, Sinta, and Issa, who are all adults now — by herself.
According to the senator, seeing her friends from time to time really helped while she was navigating parenting on her own. “Thank god I still have my college barkada, even my high school barkada,” the senator shared in an exclusive interview with SmartParenting.com.ph and other Summit Media editors called Summit Sandwich Session.
“Hanging out with them, ‘yung meron akong mahihingahan ng loob. They were, for me, the friends in the ‘get by with not a little, but a lot of help’ [category],” she adds.
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Parents often find that their life is put on hold and that their friendships have to take a backseat when the kids come along, but Senator Risa also says it’s important for moms not to forget that they also have a life outside of their home. It also helps keep our sanity intact during these times.
“Importante to have me-time, then and now. Not just being a mama but as myself. It’s really great to have different persons in my life with whom I can be the different ‘me’ that I am. And I think bumabalik rin ‘yun sa pagiging magulang ko sa mga anak ko,” she explains.
It’s also crucial for parents, especially those raising their children solo, to be able to acknowledge when they need help and then ask for it. Risa recalls a time when her children were in four different schools in four different cities and she did not hesitate to ask for assistance from colleagues just so she can still put on her mom hat for them.
The senator shares, “There was one unforgettable school year — kasi biba ako e, join-join sa mga parent-teacher associations (PTA) — when the two of them had PTA activities in the same morning. So, headless chicken mornings ‘yun. Early morning in one school and late morning in the other.”
“I got a lot of help [from] colleagues. From time to time, I really have to ask them, ‘Hey can I delegate this political task of mine?
“I told them explicitly, political tasks can be delegated, but only I can parent my children,” she explains.
With all the things that moms deal with on a daily basis, it can sometimes get overwhelming. Yet, moms are also expected to pull themselves together even through hardships.
We can all learn from Senator Risa — though she’s often been called a wonder woman, she knows that when it becomes too much, it’ perfectly ok to step back and ask for help when you need it. So, find your tribe, momma. When mom is happy, your kids can feel it, too.
Studies show that having a circle of friends is beneficial for baby’s brain development! Read all about it here.