By: Ronna Capili Bonifacio
I’m a work-at-home mom, better known as a WAHM. I’m a writer for fashion, beauty and parenting publications, a columnist for Interaksyon.com, and a book editor. I also have a personal blog, beautyencounter.ph. I have a 2-year-old daughter and a son who’s due in June. And I’ve been happily married to my husband, Bojo, a Kids Pastor for Victory, for almost 4 years now.
We were both working full-time when I found out I was pregnant in 2012. Instantly, Bojo and I were dealt with the big question: When will you get a yaya? And often, many were surprised that the answer was we were not planning to. It surprised us that the question was a matter of when, rather than if we were going to or weren’t going to.
Of course as a new mother, I received a barrage of unsolicited advice, one that even went as far as saying that we couldn’t do it “alone”, and that we should move back in with either of our folks especially right after giving birth. We chose to stay put and I gave up working full time.
We chose not to hire a yaya and househelp because we’d always think about how other families in other countries are able to do it, so why can’t we? Sometimes I think the more I was told I couldn’t do it, the more determined I was to do it! But the real reason we did not hire a yaya was we wanted to be the primary influencers of our children. We believe that the early years of childhood, when they are most impressionable, is crucial for setting foundations as to the person we hope and pray they can be. I also wanted to experience being the primary care giver to our children.
We did not hire a yaya because we wanted to be the primary influencers of our children. – Ronna
However, it did become more challenging when Vera began needing interaction. When I needed her to stay put when doing house chores, I would put on a video for her. We don’t have cable so it’s whatever videos or movies we have available. In a way, I prefer that she knows that the videos end and she can’t watch cartoons endlessly. Thankfully, Vera is capable of entertaining herself with her toys, crayons and sketch books, or books. For some, it can be difficult to just allow their children to do anything they want because it creates a lot of mess. But I figure the trade off to the mess is that it allows her to explore her surroundings. I would prefer that to having a clean home but have Vera attached to gadgets at a very young age.
When it comes to work, I find that utilizing my best working hours, which is often late in the afternoon until evening, to be the most productive. That means I spend the rest of the morning and early afternoon interacting, playing, and taking care of Vera. Sometimes when my husband is home during early evenings, he and Vera play while I do a bit of work. But when I have to go out for interviews and events, I usually ask my mom or mother-in-law to watch Vera somewhere near where I have to be.
I am happy that I get to be my child’s teacher and I can do it any time of the day. I am also glad that part of my work breaks include drowning my daughter in kisses or playing with Peppa Pig stuffed toys. I think all mothers will agree that nothing beats being able to witness every developmental milestone rather than getting a report of it at the end of the day. I hope to be able to continue this setup even after giving birth to our second child.
I know our setup isn’t for everyone. But if you decide to go the same route, know your reasons for going yaya-less so that when the days become tough, you’re reminded why you are doing it. Don’t put unnecessary stress on your relationship with your husband or children by blaming them for opportunities you might miss because of your decision.
Manage expectations of yourself, your husband, and your children. Appreciate them more. My husband and I try to say “thank you” to each other even for the small things. But most especially, cut yourself some—or lots—of slack. You don’t need to be a perfect wife or mom. Your family just wants you to be there for them.
And yes, you CAN do it alone. You just have to commit to your decision, have a lot of faith and a whole lot of support.
Juggling Tips From A Work-From-Home Mom
Accept that your home will never be 100% clean.
There will always be something that needs to be washed, cleaned, scrubbed and something undone. But think about what you were able to do instead, maybe your child learned to count or she learned to sing. She’s happy and your house is livable. There’s always tomorrow to clean it up.
You can’t do everything, even if you try.
I’m a work-at-home mom but I still need the help of people around me to be able to do the things I want to do. I also can’t be everything to my child, even if I am there almost all the time. It’s great for her to learn from others too, like your family or other adults you trust. And maybe even Peppa Pig.
Find a way to do household concerns with the least supervision possible.
My husband and I love our oven and slow cooker, because we just prepare the food, stick it in there, and we are able to do other things while lunch or dinner is being cooked. It’s the same logic with sending our laundry out, we “delegate” what we can so we can focus on the things only we can do—parent our children. And don’t feel bad when you order in or eat take out. It doesn’t make you a bad mom or wife.
Don’t forget yourself.
Even if the entire household relies on you, don’t be afraid to ask for time off for yourself. I like to meet up with my girlfriends once in a while or go to the salon. My husband and I try to have date nights as often as we can and we allow our family or friends who are very willing to watch Vera for a couple of hours. It can be easy to make the child the center of the family, especially when the setup is like ours, no yaya plus giving up full time work. But the best gift we can give our children is a strong marriage. And to me a strong marriage also works when husbands and wives are fulfilled individually.
Dress up even if you’re working from home.
I always find it hard to get myself to work when I haven’t bathed or changed out of my house clothes. It just doesn’t happen.
Photos: Ronna Capili-Bonifacio
What do you think of this essay? Let us know in the Comments.