Otter Mom Self and Love Languages

Recently took the Personality Strength Survey with four personality types Lion, Otter, Beaver and Golden Retriever and realized that my primary personality strength is that of an Otter’s. Yep, where a lion mom wants to be direct and confrontational with the type of music their kids listen to, my otter self wins and goes full gear with approaching it with story-telling and motivational type of conversations.

Attended Ardy Abello’s Communications workshop and I find it interesting that I was actually applying my learnings on how I parent. On hindsight, I feel like I have missed out on effectively parenting my kids, just because I missed to discover what my personality strengths are and missed to see how my personality, communication and decision styles affect my kids. So read on, thought of listing some of my learnings. Let us go bust some parenting myths.

Myth#1 – the best and only form of communication is talk                                        

Learned the 87-13 principle. That 87% of the information we receive comes from the eyes and only 13% of the information we receive comes from the ears. This is where critical life modeling comes from. That our kids tend to use the same words we use, respond as how we usually do, relate to dads as how mom does, relate to moms as how dad does. So basically, kids are on default imitation mode on whatever behavior you model as a parent. John Maxwell was quoted saying “I do not practice what I preach, but I preach what I practice.” Now that is communication, one that does not require you to open your lips. This goes to say that your life may be the only Bible that your neighbors will get to hear.

Myth#2 – communicating means having the ability to speak/tell                  

Communicating is not exclusive to speaking, active listening is the most important yet the least practiced part of effective communication. If you find yourself doing something else while listening, most likely you do not have full attention to the act of listening. Say you are on the dinner table and that is the only place where you and the kids get to talk (in between eating, munching and serving). No TV on dinner? With or without the TV on, you are actually competing with the long list of things happening on the dinner table. Moms, you may want to plan for a deliberate family meeting session where you have everyone’s full attention to listen. Night prayer time with kids, I would say, creates a very good avenue to communicate with them. You would be surprised how kids openly talk about their fears, their dreams, their views about everything under the sun, before prayer time.

Myth#3 – this is my communication style. Period.                                                                  

My love language (there are five: words, touch, time, gifts and service) is Words. My husband’s is service. My eldest kid Kyle’s is time. My only girl Sofia’s is touch. Inevitably, what feeds my love tank is words, my love expression is also words. But then no matter how much “I love you’s” I give my husband, his love tank may not be filled until I show it through service. I can talk to my husband all day (words) but if I do not cook for him (service), he will miss to spot that I have just expressed love. In the same way, even if my husband gets up and joins me for breakfast and drives me to the office (service) daily, but if he does not tell me “I love you” before I get off the car, my love tank is not as full as it should be. Imagine our confusion back when we did not know how love language works. Now that we do, we just have to remind ourselves about it and make the effort to meet it for everyone.

There is no rocket science formula to communicating and parenting. Moms can never go wrong with having a genuine concern over what will work for husband and kids, and not just taking home your communication style required of you from the office. If you run business reviews in the office and taking the lead in the boardroom is what‘s needed in the office, it is definitely not the same requirement you have at home. Leave your “working mom self” at the door, you can always pick it up again on your way back to the office.

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Mom of Four and Working…Wait…What?

Yes, you heard it right. I am a working mother to four kids – all under eleven years old. Managing a brood of three boys and one girl while being on top of growing a career can be quite a juggle but I just have to add another item to the long list I have to do daily…blogging.

Mornings can be a test of patience, especially if it is a school morning. You wake up with a to-do-list that will give the Executive Assistant to Bill Gates a run for her money. Then comes the breakfast table when you need to have a built-in director’s boom voice to command everyone’s attention. Working moms are also quite excellent stylists: to be able to dress up in less than 15 minutes, mindful of the things she needs to show up for at work. The higher you get to the corporate stairs, the better a working mom gets at dressing up in work clothes with less time. Working since I got married year 2003, I have got twelve years of practice and now I have become an expert to squeeze time to change bags, match shoes, accessorize and yes, choose and do a quick hairstyle from Pinterest.

Just when you think you have got it all together, it is time to pack lunch bags. This is where helpful Tip #1 comes in: Prepare school lunch bags the previous night. Ziploc bags and plastic containers are your little helpers to making this happen. Unlike our western mom counterparts, Filipino lunch bags require that our kids have rice for lunch. I highly encourage preparing any dish the previous night and if anything needs to be warmed, make sure you put them in microwave-ready containers, pop them in so it can be lunch bag-ready.

All kids dressed up, all school bags, projects, assignments, signed papers, lunch bags in tact. Tip #2: Take advantage of school buses. For those who think that taking critical time to talk on the way to school is just not applicable to this working mom. That is because my kids’ school is just a 5-minute drive away and it does not make sense to force quality conversation with my 10-year old Kyle about how he spends too much time on Dragon City. However, if driving your kids to school will not disrupt your work hours, by all means, drive your kids to school and make it work (make it to work on time, too).blogpic1

Working mom finally steps into the office and switches hat but Oooppss…. technically, it is not switching hats but learning to wear several hats: your working self and your mom self. And I haven’t even started with my wife self yet. Tip #3: Work according to your priorities. This is why it is important to clarify your values. There is just no way that you can list your priorities without a clarified set of values. For this working mom, it is God first, husband second, kids third, family, work and then everything else after. It may seem irresponsible to have work on the fifth slot but believe me, I have shuffled these items over the years and this is the only order that works. It makes sense to read God’s Word first before you start your busy day as a chef, driver, stylist, teacher, etc. it also makes sense to show up for a dinner date with husband and impact your marriage, miss a board meeting disguised as after-work socials/cocktails which will not matter in five years (which will not matter as soon as everyone in the office starts the next project).

Tip #4: It is okay to say no. Lastly, as a working mom, it is okay to accept that we are not Darna (Superwoman). There is only so much we can do with 18 hours (less 6 hours of sleep, average sleep hours of a working mom). If we do not decide what our priorities are, the internet will have a say on it, the in-laws will have a say on it, your mom friends will have a say on it, the entire world will have a say on it. Without clarified priorities, I won’t be surprised if you see yourself doing things you should not be doing and squandering time you should be spending with the things that last. Agree with your husband what priorities you will have as a family.

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