Wednesday, 9 March 2016

What A Working Mom Misses Out On

I've been a stay-at-home mom for two months and counting.
I haven't quit my job -- *breathe out, folks* -- I've just been on bed rest.  

It was Divine providence in many ways.  My body's stress signs were screaming for attention : shingles and early labor contractions became medical orders for isolation and complete bed rest. 
A recipe to shut down.  And I did.  Except my guilt didn't when it hit me what I had been missing.

Every working mom has her own recipe for balance and success.  Mine is having a lot of help running the household from my husband and his wonderful family, our two helpers and driver.   I love the parenting support system and the culture of working women in the Philippines!   Having a lot of help allows me to devote myself to playful parenting and Montessori at home for my daughter.     

So I always believed that quality of time made up for the quantity of time I spent at home.  
This blog is a collection of discoveries and solutions based on that.

But what of time?  Quantity of time is the guilty shortfall of working moms.
In these last three weeks, I realised how I was missing out on more than I thought because of this:

This is a picture of my girl being fed by her exasperated daddy. She is six. 

It's a long story of how we got here, starting with how doctors made us so paranoid about her growth percentile of 15% when she was a toddler.  We basically force-fed her with western-sized portions every meal as a result.  She grew up with meals as a chore, made only better with the distraction of an iPad and someone to spoon feed her.  Poor girl!    

This literally went on until last month.
When I realized how my being home made a difference.  

With a lot of time at home, I couldn't help but notice the things I never had the time, attention, nor energy for as a working mom.  My daughter didn't know how to use a fork!  Her yaya, naturally operating on convenience, would mix up her rice and meat like congee in a bowl and either feed her like a baby, or let her shovel a pre-scooped spoonful into her mouth.

I was horrified and so very sad at how I had overlooked something so simple.  Because here's the downside to the culture of working women in the Philippines: you rarely get home in time for dinner. My daughter eats early at six and then on good days I come home to play, bathe and do bedtime.

This is how I check on whether she ate well or liked her food for school:

Her yaya takes a photo when she unpacks her baon

Worse, this lack of a practical life skill was causing my Dove a lot of anxiety.  All the students in her Montessori school eat off plates while she does her Bentgo lunchbox.  I'm grateful her teachers understand her anxiety and allow her this, but she's already nervous about next school year - being in a higher grade and not being able to fit in.  

I promised her we would master eating independently in two weeks.

Day One: she practiced proper use of a fork and spoon with uncooked rice:

Our new practical life lesson!  Fork-and-spoon scooping to place in the rice in the bowl

 You know what was awesome and sad at the same time?  In the end it only took two days.  I was going to invent gradual levels of independent eating practice, but the very next day I thought oh, screw it and set up a normal place setting like the first title photo: a placemat, a small plate, a spoon and fork, her meat in a separate bowl with a serving spoon, fruit in a tiny separate plate, her water glass and a small pitcher.  

So simple.  It was a Montessori weaning table a few years late.

She ate like a grown-up for the first time in her life.  Only a few gentle reminders from me to use her fork to help guide her spoon to scoop.  The reminders included those for yaya whom I've had to closely guide until the new meal preparations became a routine for her too. 

The iPad during meals has stayed.  Baby steps!

This is just one of the things I noticed when I started paying more thoughtful attention at home.  Usually I'm just grateful for the help I receive that I overlook what I thought were minor things that took care of itself.  Good Lord.  It's like my home was a time bomb waiting to explode.

I share these thoughts as a sad truth that working moms need to acknowledge.  
So does quantity of time win over quality after all?  Maybe so in this case.

Maybe it isn't very empowering of me to write this.  This is, after all, more work we've got to do on top of everything.  But a wake up call is a wake up call, and things can only get better after that.  

Maybe the lesson is to pay attention, working mom.
What are the things you might be overlooking at home?

We don't need to quit our jobs to fix them, but we've got to pay closer attention with our time at home.
You might be surprised what you'll notice when you do.


February was the official start of my maternity leave : I'm taking mine 1.5 months early for personal reasons.  And then add two months of paid maternity leave when my second baby is born by this month.  Three and a half months --  it's the longest break I've ever had in my fifteen-year career!

I'm spending this time consciously preparing my home life for our new family life.  Find me on Instagram for more frequent updates on my whole house Konmari project and my preparations for this next baby to practice Montessori from the start!  
Renewing our family home life feels wonderful and I'm so grateful for this time.  
More on the blog?  Hopefully!  A DIY Corporate Mom is still the goal.

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