To all Moms Who Work Nights and Used to Work Nights, This is For You!

hellokityWith more and more industries demanding 24/7 operational hours, and with more and more women being added to the workforce year on year, it makes sense to take the time to honor all the moms who get to work at night. Just as when the world is gearing up for bed to sleep, moms who work at night get to prep for transit and for an 8 or 9-hour work shift. I used to work nights myself for a collective number of 6 years and working now during the day for close to five years, I will have to say that I have enough years of experience to write about the joys and dips of working nights. Most moms who work  nights would bend over backwards just to make sure the kids will never have to notice that mom went to work while I was sleeping.  And so the vicious cycle of staying up to as much as 18 to 20 hours a day is sometimes required. Moms who work nights would get home and join breakfast, function auto pilot as if she also had 8-hour-sleep. Engage in conversation around news, how everyone will spend their days and plan for the weekends (where moms don’t get to sleep until Saturday night coming off work Saturday mornings).

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Back when I used to work nights, my day hours would stretch to noon, just in time to ensure all kids have taken a bath and your ever reliable household help angel has prepped everything for lunch. Then it is finally time to sleep. Yes, just as the afternoon sun has kicked in, in all its hotness glory, it is time to sleep. Imagine following this rigor every summer. Thank God for air-conditioning units. Unless you leave your bedroom door open, one or two hours into sleep, you hear little knocks on the door, your toddler or any of your kids wanting to cuddle. This is where you can make things work by encouraging kids to have afternoon naps with you. I just hope that what they want is cuddle and not play time because if so, you can say goodbye to your planned 6 hours sleep and ease your way off bed for a 4-hour sleep instead.

Of course, the same cycle repeats itself because before you know it, evening news is on which signals you to get going and prep for work. So how did I make it work while working nights?

  1. God is my 24/7 God – bigger than any of the things I encounter – Working at nights did not have to change the way I see my season with God. Whether you wake up at 5pm or at 5am, you can go get your Bible, read up on God’s promises and believe Him for His perfect timeline and perfect control over things that may seem overwhelming for you. Learned how not to focus on anything that can be a source of worry, doubt, discouragement or tension just by believing who God is and what He can do over my season. Doing this overtime and you certainly realize that you wake up with a fresh supply of faith, strength and joy day on day (or night on night J). Because there are a lot of things I don’t get to do myself or be on top of while I work at night,  all the more reasons that I clung on to God and have Him take care of the things I cannot control and take care of. I may not be able to keep an eye on my family at night but God can. I may not be present on everything during the day but God is present. This is the biggest assurance I had that allowed me to trust, depend and rely on God heavily.
  2.  Communication Is Also Open at Night – ways to communicate may be different, thus, most moms would find communicating challenging. You can maintain normalcy by making ‘how are you doing’ phone calls to husband anytime. If your husband is like mine, he would also be up on my 4am break just so he can ask if I already had lunch. Otherwise, you can always wait until you get home in time for breakfast. It can get challenging only if husband would have a totally opposite schedule than you do. There was a season when I would work nights and husband would be on mid-shift, making it impossible for us to share a meal for 5 straight days. Other than using the phone real-time, this was when a Logbook came in handy. Husband and I agreed to write down our thoughts when we get home and before we leave home. This sustained us for half a year. We still sometimes get back to reading the logbook whenever we thank God for sustaining us through different seasons of our marriage and family life. Where other couples would take aligned work hours for granted, this season ultimately changed the way we view our time with each other count. We would never have discovered that we can arrange a child’s birthday party via a logbook update (that’s for another writing J).
  3.  Do not be such a Darna – this is where you agree to have all the help you can get from your family and friends. Make your schedule work around what is important, knowing when to prioritize taking time off some nights to be there for kids’ milestones. It is an advantage that most school events are during the day, although the downside to it is having less hours of sleep before another worknight. Never commit the mistake of wearing the grouchy hat when you are home. Better ask help from family and friends when things get too taxing for you (e.g. after recreation activities for kids with extended family, afternoon playdate with friends, or even catch up afternoons with your kids’ ninongs and ninangs). Imagine it from your kids’ limited perspective. You never want to be the mom who is always asleep or the mom who is grouchy when awake.

momCritical to making this work is being honest with your spouse. Develop a transparent relationship with your spouse, do not be afraid to seek help or discuss your options when needed.

I am taking my hats off to ALL moms who work nights, moms whose heart for family is just as big as those who work during the day. To all the moms who stay home, work from home or step out of the house to work, thanking you for all your labor and love for all the kids who make up today’s world. For the stay at home moms whose work is equal to those who work full time, thanks for being the kind of mom you are and for showing us all that mommyhood is both fun and fulfilling. Happy Mothers’ Day to all!momsaffiliate

God’s promises whether you sleep at night or during the day:

 In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, LORD, make me dwell in safety. Psalm 4:8

When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Proverbs 3:24

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Read Up : Quick Help Here

Have you ever had instances when you needed to tell any of your kids: “Just a minute, I’ll just finish this off.” Or another version that tries to buy more time such as “Hang on, sweetie, I will be right there”. I am guilty of the same error when I choose to focus on trivial things such as checking mail, removing your shoes, taking a bath over looking over what your kids have created from school, watching the kiddos sing the latest song they have learned, helping your child get that toy on the upper shelf he can’t reach, or answering your child asking what the acronym OFW means. It is during these instances when daily helpers come in handy. It leaves you with fewer items on your head and gives you more bandwidth to focus on things that need your attention real time.

QuickHelp#1 – Internet on your Mobile Phone  Now that summer is here, kids have more time on their hands, this can only mean, more questions to answer, more activities to prepare to keep them from staring at the TV or video games at home, or more attention from them as soon as you get home from work. With internet at home, I no longer need to step out of the house just to check office hours of the nearest payment center.  Checking what movie is playing this weekend no longer means physically going to the cinema to check it out. Of course, while you decide to take a 15-minute breather before you join kids for dinner, hand them your phone and have them play Four Pics and One Word game.

QuickHelp#2 – Booking a Cab Online   There are working moms who prefer to drive themselves to and from work, it is easier for them to run errands right after work or head quickly to drop off or pick up the kids. And then there are working moms who prefer to commute because they get to squeeze in more sleep time when they do. And then there are working moms like myself who would prefer to book cabs with a mobile app. It takes away cost you will have to shoulder for daily parking fees, takes care of waiting time you will have to spend in queue at the cab lane. Other than the additional minimal amount for using the service, you just pay for whatever shows up on the meter, and even ask for receipt if you need to reimburse transpo expenses.

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QuickHelp#3 – Bookstore Trips with Kids   If you would ever need to run on quick errands while with the kids, a quick dash to the bookstores will give you your relief. I am so thankful that my kids always have to ask when the next bookstore trip would be. They have evolved from knowing when the movie trip is (which can be expensive) or when the next toy store trip is (which is even more expensive). Activity books and story books range cheaper than any decent educational toy or a movie ticket but then you get more value out of developing your kids’ habit to read. Before I queue up to pay the bills or before I go buy that additional ingredient for tomorrow’s meals, I put my eldest son in charge as my kids (and ever reliable ‘ate’) troop to the bookstore, browse endlessly in time for you to return and pay for the books they are getting. Just make sure your kids have fully mastered the basics of not talking to strangers and ‘ate’ has developed mastery over ensuring small kids do not stray away.

QuickHelp#4 – Public Holidays   Work can be real challenging and energy-draining if done without rest. So add if you must, other than your scheduled weekly two days off work, decide to take the holidays once in a while. Never neglect to arrange coverage when you do and keep the sensitivity to know if it is time to take the holiday or if it is time to stay for coverage. After all, you wouldn’t want to become the one whom everyone has to cover for.

Feel free to add to my list. Leave your quick help tips that work for you whether you are a working mom, stay at home mom or a work from home mom.  Enjoy your summer!

Mom-Friendly Hobbies You Can Try Anytime

I have always wondered how working moms are perceived from the eyes of strong women.  So took the time to look up how strong women like Princess Diana, Maya Angelou, Anita Roddick, JK Rowling and Joyce Meyer regard playing the role of a working mom. But you know how web surfing has a way of leading you to pages that interest you? The past weekdays and weekends have been a crazy ride for me, with coffee dates on catch up plans left and right, movie dates, haircut and bookstore trips with kids, working lunches and social dinners, plus Sofia’s graduation to attend (super happy about being able to squeeze in lash extensions and nails buffed and painted). My non-thinking surfing habit kicked in after my Sunday watch work-from-home mode, and the pages reminded me that summer is just around the corner. This should give moms like me, respite from busy mornings and takes away several things off our to-do-list (e.g. PTC meetings, test reviews, contest preps with kids, join book fairs in school).

This got me started with finding out a list of options about how I will spend my spare time for summer. Alternately doing it with the scheduled swimming trips with fambam, the list below will surely give you more than enough reasons to look forward to summer.

  1. Train for a Marathon – This brings me back to times when my husband and I have taken lots of active adventures together and 12 years of marriage is not time to stop. It was a milestone to have climbed up Mount Mayon with my husband with a guide and slept at Camp 2 overnight (with our guide leaving us for the night!). I remember preparing with tons of jogging and running around to get my feet and legs ready for the 5-hour climb. Training for a hobby1picmarathon is something you can squeeze in, in the morning now that school is out, you won’t have to get up so early and spend this free time with an early run with hubby. Quality time with hubby and physical benefits in one.
  2. Create Terrariums – I’m not sure about you, but there is something that sight of hobbypic2terrarium does to me, it reminds me how beautiful any indoor or outdoor space can get as soon as you place bottled/glass-jar-plants together. Not to mention that creating one lets you express your creativity, quiets you and allows you to get the recharging you need for the week. Get soil/sand/rock of different texture and sizes, plants and you are ready to create.
  3. Furniture Makeover – Instant makeover idea I have been mulling over to have is to have uniformed black and white lace theme across the rooms in the house. It can be as simple as using a black and white lace dining tablecloth, couch upholstery with the black and white lace fabric or dressing up an accent wall. If black and white lace is not your cup of tea, you can use your preferred fabric colour and design all you like.hoppybic3hobbypic4hobbypic5
  4. Update Pictures around the House – You know when you would have all the time in your hands right after you give birth and so almost always, would update all the frames with baby pictures but then never get around to updating the pictures as kids grow up. That is the case with me. Would love to look into family gallery and get creative with how you will hang them or display them around the house. You can veer away from just putting all frames on tabletops, like I do. I am looking forward to creating a gallery wall with tiered planks, along the walls at the staircase or even print them out as a blind for the biggest window in the house.hobbypic6hobbypic7hobbypic8
  5. Recycling Projects – I actually have a long list I will work on: logs from cut and trimmed trees to be used as planters or backyard chairs. Husband’s old car tires I can turn into outdoor chairs or a mini sandbox for my David! And of course, ending a school year, there are the old workbooks that the younger kids will never be able to use. The plan is to paint all the workbooks solid white, and upcycle them as a nightstand. I can also cover and snack boxes with book pages and automatically create shabby chic accessory. hobbypic9

Hobbies do not need to be expensive, just remind yourselves that a hobby is not as fun or not as meaningful when done alone. Have your spouse and the kids join in. Take pictures and add them to your growing list of daily joy. Summer officially starts now! hobbypic10hobbypic11hobbypic13hobbypic12

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Happy, Quiet Nooks and Time Hacks

Working moms, how many of you have found yourselves spending your full day at home and waking up the following day more tired than ever? I’m sure there were times when you tried to remember what made you so tired? Mulling over these questions never pointed me to the right answers. After all, working moms wear different hats and we don’t have a way of knowing which hat we wear at a given time. One thing is certain, though, there may never have been a time when you don’t get to wear one. However, life hacks is all around us, why don’t we try to apply it on the 24 hours we have – time hacks! I have realized mine are always coupled with the happy, quiet nooks that I have grown to have and love at the comfort of my home.

Time Hack #1 First busy hours are first restful hours of the day

Wait…what? First busy hours are first restful hours of the day? Yup! The alarm clock rings as early as 4am or 5am and it is time for working moms to get up, prep breakfast and get kids to school. While everything is cooking (I mean, literally), I pick up on some reading, have my notebook and pen ready and play some Darlene Zschech. God has a way of giving us a fresh supply of strength daily through His Words and encouragement and also has a way of giving us appropriate and timely reminder we will need later part of the day. If God knows you will need encouragement and persistence later, He will tell you that ‘all things work together for good’ and that He is never late or too early in answering your prayers.

I wish I can capture the birds' chirping sound when you sit on our swing set in the morning. Happy mornings create happy days!
I wish I can capture the birds’ chirping sound when you sit on our swing set in the morning. Happy mornings create happy days!

Time Hack #2 Welcome Home Habit

There is nothing better than to put your feet up and have several minutes to yourself as soon as you get back home from work. But my reality (memorable and fun, too!) picture is four pairs of small hands embracing me and a spatter of small kisses all over my face welcomes me, sometimes as soon as I open the gate or as soon as I step into the house, depending on how early our house dog has warned the kids in the house about my presence. I have a variety of things I do that never fail to get me a little ‘me-time’ as I prep to dive into the nightly house chores. Take the options below while putting your feet up and have enough minutes to recharge for dinner.

  • kids playtime shower – put the kids in charge for Bumblebee to take a bath and Barbie to shampoo her hair
  • water the plants – have the kids use pail, hose and yes, water guns too
  • quiet box for each kid – quiet boxes can contain each kid’s favorite toy or favorite activity materials. For my boys, Geronimo Stilton books never fail and for my smaller kids, you can bring out a set of three toys every other day, this way, they can also get to play with the toys they already have
Have a shelf full of old toys? Take out a set of 3 to 5 toys every other day for kids to use. Variety of toys each day is the key and you don't even need to buy any more additional toys.
Have a shelf full of old toys? Take out a set of 3 to 5 toys every other day for kids to use. Variety of toys each day is the key and you don’t even need to buy any more additional toys.

 

Time Hack #3 Down Time is Recharge Time

I don’t think I will ever run out of creativity how to spend post-dinner time with myself or with the hubby. The options are endless. As soon as you tuck the kids to bed, (9pm on a school night for our house rules), this is when you can do recharge as part of your prep-to-bed-time.

  • finish off that bottle of sparkling grape juice while finishing up a book. If with hubby, finish off the bottle over quality life talks (no kids talk, no house talk)
  • watch an episode or two of your favorite TV series (note of caution: make sure this habit will not evolve into staying up all night just because you cannot wait to watch the entire season)
  • take a long bath. Not pressed for time, take out your face masks, your exfoliant, your favorite scented body wash and scrub away!
Countless dreams shared and answered prayers come from any of our terrace talks
Countless dreams shared and answered prayers come from any of our terrace talks

All of us have 24 hours a day but each one of us spend them differently. Spend yours wisely and start creating your happy, quiet nooks at home!

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