Michelle Aventajado: Rest, Reset, Repeat
Michelle Aventajado, founder of Best Buddies, mother of four, and food enthusiast, whips up a special recipe for staying well.
Home is the center of the universe for Michelle Aventajado and her brood. Beyond it being a safe space to live in, it’s where many lessons from the past year have revealed themselves. The founder of Best Buddies (a non profit organization for people with IDD or Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities), begins: “We have only left the condo a handful of times. Because Gelli is immunocompromised, have been extremely careful about exposing ourselves.”
Safety and mental health come hand-in-hand
Apart from safety, the mental health of every family member is the top priority for Michelle. She shares, “Checking in on the kids individually has become more important. I ask each of them if they are okay or worried about something. I also try to find out if there is anything I can do to help make them feel better. Sometimes, it’s as simple as fulfilling a request for comfort food like lasagna.” For her daughter, Gelli, an occasion trip to the beach works wonders. These quick escapes are also regarded by the family as welcome breaks from prolonged periods of time spent on strict lockdowns.
While caring for everyone’s mental wellbeing, Michelle also stays hyper-aware of the need to keep her spirits up. She details, “I also started to slowly go back to working out. Even if I’m in my living room doing simple things to get my heart rate up, I feel better because of the happy hormones that exercising releases!” Stepping out for some fresh air and a quick and quiet walk outdoors has also been a mood-booster for the mom and food enthusiast.
Boundaries are good too!
Similarly, Michelle intimates how setting healthy boundaries and allowing for personal space has helped create a more dynamic at home. “Giving each other space helps. It can be just making time to be alone for a little while or giving my husband Nino his time to read a book. For Gia, it’s watching her K-Drama. The boys are likely to video games. We are together every walking hour. While that is amazing, it also also be trying. Space is important.”
Separating work from life
Just like everyone else, life in a time of pandemic sees the constant overlapping of home and work life. Apart from her roles as mother and wife, Michelle runs a foundation, and writes a food column for Rappler. She also very recently launched a new digital cooking show, Kitchen 143. Despite the daily grind, Michelle insists that rest is a non-negotiable. There are now days on the agenda for simply watching shows on Netflix, video games, and vegging out with the family. She ends, “I’ve learned to go easy on myself. We don’t have to fill our days with productive things to do.”. Michelle states, “it’s okay to rest. When we rest, God can work.”