Different ages, different stages, that’s where I’m at with my kids right now. My eldest Coby is in college, Zach is in high school, and Reese is in elementary. Zach’s classes just started today and with Coby having taken on a summer load, the summer season is officially finally over for us with all three kids back in school.
During this time, with the daily requirements of school, I feel the demands of parenting even more. Each child has his/her own schedule. We have a busy morning with everyone getting ready for the day, getting them dressed in their uniforms and school attire, prepare their baon, and make sure they don’t forget any of their materials needed for class. They come home with schoolwork to do; oftentimes there are last minute supplies to buy or projects to start on. With their sharing of stories about how their day went, I get a sense of any concerns or worries they may have, new things they are excited about or interested in and see where we can help and support. Then, we must get them to bed at a reasonable hour to make sure they have enough time to recover in time for the next day.
This is the process every single school day and to make sure each one is taken cared of, and each child is happy, healthy, and thriving, is no small feat! Sometimes I wonder how my mom did it with me and my 6 siblings! Good thing mom was a full-time homemaker. I, on the other hand, and many of my fellow moms today, have to also think about work and my businesses. To be able to fulfill all our roles, emerge not only happy and fulfilled, but also still looking good and wrinkle-free, and with our kids developing as “champions” of their own lives, here are some steps to nurture the champion in our children – steps we can take and reminders for us all passionate mamas:
1. Be organized. Every evening, I take my planner and notebook and list down all the things I need to accomplish the next day. I divide my list into Work and Personal task lists. I separate the urgent and important matters (example: talking to Reese’s teacher, buying school shoes for Zach) from the not urgent and not important ones (example: organizing photos, trying out a new recipe). I note on my planner my appointments (which are also in my phone calendar) as well as any time-bound reminders like bills to pay, tuition payments, registration schedules of the cars, and the like. Taking time to mark down these reminders unloads and clears your mind, and makes you more efficient to able to manage your busy days better.
2. Make deposits in their love banks. Being connected with our kids emotionally is something I give utmost importance to. From Coby to Zach to Reese, I make it a point to have a talk with them individually, whether formal or random. I get a glimpse of their current concerns, experiences and where they are at in their emotional and psychological development. My talks with them are some of my most cherished times and it is also my way to make deposits in their “love banks” and let them know I’m always around whenever they need me.
3. Determine each child’s most important need and focus on it. For one child, the need could be academic help, for another it could be emotional validation, for the other, it is regular bonding time. Each child has a different need. We can give time to find out what the need is, and take steps to address the needs whether it be by talking to them and processing it, or get an outside resource to help, or just giving him/ her our time.
4. Utilize your village. One of the blessings of being a mom in this country is having a “village” to help us raise our child. The extra eyes, hands, feet and hearts abound – from the lolos and lolas, titos and titas, yayas, maids and driver are there as extensions of ourselves. In our home, I give the helpers a guide on what they need to prepare for the kids the night before every school day, and in the mornings. They are the ones who will worry about getting the uniforms washed and ironed, preparing the kids’ baon and breakfast, and putting the vitamins in the assigned containers and making sure they drink it.
During instances when we’re out of town, Bita and Lola come to keep the kids’ company and take care of them. Having this kind of support makes our children feel loved and protected, and it really is a blessing to have!
5. Inject some active play. When the kids get home from school, they’re usually very tired and just want to rest. So they take a nap after a light snack, and when they wake up, before they start on homework, I think it’s a good idea to have some time for active play. Coby has fencing training three times a week, while Zach and Reese play tennis in the park.
If they don’t have these activities, a short walk to the park is always fun. For me, nothing beats being outdoors, swinging or playing catch, amidst the trees and grass. Joining events that engage us in physical activity is also always great family time.
If this isn’t possible due to time or weather, even dancing together, doing some chores at home, or playing with Jagger, our dog, gets your energy levels up and in the long run makes them healthier.
6. Ensure they have the proper fuel. Preparing the right food and drinks for our kids is one of the biggest responsibilities we have as parents. Our children’s nutritional intake today can affect not only their growth and development as children, but also their health as adults. We have to ensure that they not only to get the right amount of food, but a good selection and variety. This is to get them through their day physically and to keep their alertness level up to speed to be able to handle the psychological and emotional demands of their activities. Giving them proper food and a good variety of it, keeps them healthy and strong.
Another important thing is to make sure they have a proper breakfast. It is said that breakfast accounts for 1/3 of our children’s energy and health requirements of a child. Again my children have different preferences for breakfast and this is something to manage. Coby likes to eat rice before he leaves, Zach likes to eat rice also but prefers to eat it in the car on the way to school, while Reese likes things like pancakes and cereals.
Preparing our kids’ baon is also important- I choose to use a Tiger lunchbox so that the food is still warm when the kids’ lunchbreak comes. You could also try making Bento Baons, check out @bentomammas page for tips and inspiration. The BentoMommas composed of Kaye, Monet and April have been regular guests at our events and their creations are just always amazing.
From them I learned that making food look more fun and interesting increases chances of them eating the food that is healthy and nutritious, especially for the younger kids. Seeing their posts inspires me to get creative with my kids’ baon too! If I’m unable to do that, the least I would do is write down a menu chart which serves a baon guide for the cook so that I can be sure the food is healthy and has a variety.
Another tip is to make sure to also monitor if the kids are eating well in school. How? By checking their lunchboxes. Do they go home with lots of leftovers in their lunchboxes? If so, then I’ll make sure to talk to the children about it to discuss concerns, and remind them of the importance of eating well. Reese sometimes admits she gets engrossed in playing with classmates, and this causes her to rush through her lunch break. Reminding her of the importance of eating well will hopefully improve her intake.
Then to cap each day, we eat a balanced dinner as a family, and each child drinks milk before going to bed. Drinking milk daily has been a practice and this is because I want to ensure that they have enough calcium, potassium and vitamins that they might not have gotten from food. Remembering the statistics on malnourished children when we went to the Alaska Milk Day event reminds me all the time about how we need to give time and exert effort to our children’s nutrition.
Reading about the 7th National Nutrition survey by FNRI just makes me work harder to ensure proper nutrition at home. The said survey reveals that 2 out of 10 children among 0-5 years old were underweight and 5 out of 100 children among 0-5 years old were overweight. Also, 3 in every 10 adults are overweight and obese. The statistics is what compelled Alaska to launch its NUTRITION, ACTION, CHAMPION campaign which highlights the importance of proper nutrition and physical activity in raising and nurturing the champion in our children.
Whether the needs of my kids are physical, emotional or psychological at this stage in their lives, I do my best to fulfill those needs and to be there for them, and this is the most important mission in my life. It’s challenging managing three different personalities with different needs at this time, but seeing them happy and healthy makes everything worthwhile.