Moms and Dads
How These Working Moms with Toddlers are Managing Without a Yaya
Our jobs can take a toll on us—especially when things get overwhelming. But what about working moms with toddlers who have no help? How do they survive the day-to-day?
The shift from taking care of an infant to a toddler can be drastic. While moms with babies and no yayas are able to get by, it’s a whole new ball game for those with toddlers. After all, toddlers are hyperactive and have longer wake windows. Not to mention—they begin showing their personalities and are developing several skills at a time. So how do working moms with toddlers and no yayas manage?
Modern Parenting sat down with a couple of working moms. Both are first-time mothers of toddler children, and they share what it’s like to balance everything.
Get to Know These Working Moms with Toddlers
Sarah “Joy” Salvio-Bituin works as a College Business Manager and Executive Assistant to the Vice President for Development of the University of the Philippines. On top of her day job, she handles various projects that involve IT, land development, and infrastructure. Her son, Aquila, is 14 months old. “He is a silly, energetic, adventurous, and headstrong boy,” Joy describes. “He likes dancing to nursery and BTS songs. Recently, he learned how to walk with minimal assistance. So he likes walking inside his play fence or around the house.”
Being a pandemic baby, Aquila spends most of his time with his parents and occasionally, his grandparents. “This is a challenge because we cannot leave him with our relatives without his mama or papa around. He is a bit clingy. Okay, very clingy!” shares Joy. “He is clingier now compared to when he was an infant. We can only leave him in his playpen to play alone for a couple of minutes. Then he starts calling out to mama or papa.”
Another working mom with a toddler is Kirae Geneciran-Salanguit. She works as an events manager and has an almost two-year-old toddler named Ellie. “The moment I found out I was pregnant, I was so sure she’d be a girl. I’ve always prayed for my very own Ellie,” Kirae says with a smile. “Ellie has been such an easy baby from the start. She feeds well and sleeps well. She’s very sweet and hands down malambing. She’s smart but also very mischievous. Super kulit, too! But we enjoy discovering her character and personality more each day. She really is a very happy, bungisngis, and joyful little girl. Always smiling, always giggling.”
A Day in the Life of Kirae
Because of her flexible schedule, Kirae takes turns with her husband caring for Ellie. “Almost every day, we wake up at the same time Ellie does—which is around late morning already. My husband, Andrew, takes care of her in the morning as his work around this time is light. I use this time to catch up on e-mails and ministry work and prepare our lunch. In the afternoon, I’m the one who tends to Ellie as most of Andrew’s meetings are scheduled at this time of the day.”
“Ellie still takes two naps—one after lunch and one before dinner. During her second nap, I usually finish cooking our dinner. We take this time to wind down as we enjoy playing and bonding with Ellie in the evening when we’re both done with work.”
“At bedtime, Ellie takes a long bath (she swims in her tub!) so Andrew gets to finish cleaning up the house and throwing out garbage. When Ellie’s down for the night, we finish whatever work we have left while watching movies or TV series. If there are other important things that need to be settled, we’d wake up a bit earlier the next morning.”
A Day in the Life of Joy
While Kirae is able to work from home, Joy, on the other hand, reports to the office daily. She describes what a typical day looks like.
“I wake up with my toddler at around 6:30 to 7 AM. I change his diapers and replace his jammies. Then, I prepare breakfast for us while he sits in his highchair. We eat breakfast together. After eating, I wash the dishes and his bottles. Then, we go and play at his play fence. At around 9 AM, I wake up his dad so I can start preparing for work and fix their lunch. I leave the house at around 9:30 AM. Aquila usually takes two naps—one in the morning at around 10 AM and another in the afternoon at around 2:30 PM.”
“My husband takes charge of Aquila while I monitor them through the CCTV until I get home at around 6 PM. That’s when I prepare dinner. We eat together as a family. After dinner, while my husband takes care of the dishes, I wash and bathe Aquila and prepare him for bed. We read some books, he takes a bottle, and he sleeps at around 9:00 to 9:30 PM. There are times when he still has some energy left for the day and walks around the house until around 10 or 10:30 PM before snoozing.”
“I am only able to work full-time and take care of our toddler because I have a supportive husband who is not only willing to share the load but gladly babysits our toddler when I am at the office,” says Joy.
“This is such a big factor. It allows us to thrive in this set-up. When I am in the office, he takes care of everything—changing Aquila’s diapers, putting him to bed for his naps, feeding him lunch and snacks, and playing with him. We have been hands-on parents ever since he was born. Establishing a routine and knowing each of our responsibilities and having the willingness to take on more, especially when our partner is sick or is extremely tired, are keys to making our set-up work. We also get help from our parents sometimes. We gladly accept any help whenever it’s available—whether it be our parents sending food, groceries, or doing some house repairs.”
Joy: “Every toddler is different.”
“Even though Aquila is just three months into the toddler life, there are a lot of changes already. I can’t say though that life is easier now that he’s a toddler. Each phase has its own challenges. When he was an infant, we were confident that he would stay inside his playpen whenever we leave him there. But he now climbs his fence when he wants to go to where mama or papa goes—even if it’s just to the bathroom or kitchen. Or when he wants to walk around the house. So what we do when we need free hands to work on something and when he doesn’t like to be left alone in his playpen is to put him on his highchair and give him something to play with. He becomes less anxious because he can still see where we are.”
Joy adds that her son naps and sleeps regularly now as compared to when he was an infant. “That is one thing that has become a bit easier now that he’s a toddler.”
She notes that while Aquila’s main source of nutrition as an infant is milk, these days it’s solid food. “We need to plan out his meals during the day. While it was a challenge to breastfeed when he was still an infant, our challenge now is to keep offering healthy food for him.”
“He has been a clingy baby since birth. There was a time we could leave him with my mom so she could babysit him. Now, he knows when his mama and papa are away. So we can’t leave him with my mom or any relative or babysitter without either me or his dad. There were times I would get stressed about how other toddlers are more independent and are not so clingy. But then again, I remind myself that every toddler is different and so every parent will have to devise their own strategy to make things work. Like how people have different temperaments, so do toddlers. So, I stopped comparing my toddler with other toddlers. While some toddlers can go on for hours playing on their own, my toddler simply prefers to always see his mom and/or dad around. And that’s not a bad thing.”
“Someday, he will develop independence, and we will miss having a toddler calling out to us for help, for a snuggle, or just for having his parents around. We are his favorite people, and we are happy about that.”
Kirae: “We try to enjoy every moment we get to spend with her.”
A week after Kirae gave birth to Ellie in August of 2020, her father tested positive for COVID-19. “That meant zero visits and physical support from my family during the first few weeks of having a newborn.”
After realizing how extremely difficult and exhausting the first few weeks would be, she and her husband sat down to talk. “Andrew and I made a decision to have routines and assigned tasks. From then on, we already knew our own share of responsibilities. And it’s pretty much the same until now. We’ve also established better sleep routines as we struggled with short naps and sudden crying in the middle of the night back when she was an infant. Sleep regressions challenged us before. Thankfully, Ellie’s sleep is so much better now after she turned one. We rarely encounter hiccups. But when we do, we just stay consistent.”
“Now that she’s a toddler, I’d say we’ve become more flexible as we get to go out more. We’d have Ellie sleep in her stroller or car seat. Or I carry her sometimes. Meal times can get messed up as well when we go out or travel. But we try to enjoy every moment we get to spend with her.”
“Overall, it’s still pretty much 80% the same as it was from when Ellie was a newborn. Same bath routines, same night sleep routines, same nap routines. The only difference is her kind of play. To say that she’s more active now is an understatement. I miss the newborn stage!” Kirae laughs.
Pouring Into Their Own Cups
Because Kira’s everyday schedule has become predictable, she gets to enjoy downtime when Ellie takes her naps. “I take time to cook and prepare our family meals—which I really enjoy doing. I am also grateful that Ellie is very comfortable with both families and we can easily leave her under their care whenever we decide to go out for dates or errands.”
“When she’s still asleep in the morning, I get to go out once in a while to do the grocery or have me-time at the salon. Lastly, and most importantly, there’s GrabFood and FoodPanda! And Netflix! Find what makes you happy.”
For Joy, doing her skincare routine or watching her favorite shows after putting Aquila to sleep are her forms of self-care. “I can still do some of the things I used to do for leisure when I was single. Only now with a husband and toddler in tow. Self-care for me in this phase of life is doing leisurely things with my toddler and husband. On weekends, we go to the mall or just about anywhere together. We sometimes go to UP and stroll. Or we have playdates with friends who have babies, too.”
Tips from These Working Moms with Toddlers
Everything is a learning experience in parenting. And for both Joy and Kirae, it’s about finding what works for them and their families.
“If you have a clingy baby, try to involve him in housework. It’s an instant activity for him and you are able to get stuff done as well,” says Joy. “When I need to buy stuff at the convenience store, I babywear him or have him walk with me. Sometimes, I fold the clothes with him. He may mess up the ones I’m folding, but it’s a fun learning experience for him. You may show him how you cook his meal or involve him while you do it—such as letting him hold the eggbeater and guiding his hands while he beats the egg.”
Both moms believe in establishing a routine that works well for the whole family. “You do you,” advises Kirae. “I cannot reiterate how having routines in place saved our sanity, our sleep, and our parenthood from the beginning. We can very much attribute Ellie’s joyful demeanor to our routines as we’d like to believe she feels secure through these. We’re happier parents because it doesn’t feel like a guessing game every day and we often know what needs to be done next. Because of our routines, we get to practice self-care, schedule pasyals, and enjoy our rest, too. Happy parents, happy child!”
“Take it one day at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed,” Joy adds. “Some days are easy. And some days will be super hard you’ll find yourself crying in the bathroom. But remember that this is just a phase. It will not always be like this. The day will come when they won’t need us as much as they do now. So let’s cherish every moment and every challenge.”
“Choose to be grateful every day,” Kirae finishes. “In this pandemic season we’re in, it’s so easy to envy or compare our lives with others. It’s inevitable to feel how our lives can be so routinary because we stay at home most of the time. Counter negative vibes or thoughts by remembering every blessing you are grateful for. It could be a sumptuous meal, food delivery, good sleep, or a good work day. Big or small, celebrate every good thing and every moment that you have as a family. Every day, I am grateful that both Andrew and I are 100% hands on with our daughter. No matter how exhausting it can get.”
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