Pandemic parenting 101  

Nurture, support and provide — these are just some of the many roles that motherhood entails. However, more than the tradition of providing primary care within the household, the roles of most mothers have evolved over time to support their families through self-earned income.

With women composing a huge chunk of the Philippine working population, a percentage of whom are moms that have taken the balancing act of working a 9 to 5 office job while making sure they are home just in time for dinner. No stranger to this balancing act is Ninja Van Philippines’ sales and business development head Sabina Lopez-Vergara, who leads a 50-strong team while raising her 11-year-son alongside her husband.

As WFH becomes the new normal for working professionals, even those with families, Sabina shares her secrets to being a mother while simultaneously driving a team amid COVID-19.

  • Nurture. Be a teacher who empowers and disciplines. Schools across all levels have leveraged the power of technology to host their modules online and enable homeschooling. Sabina highlights that it is important to communicate to children that the community quarantine is unlike any school holiday, using it as an opportunity to empower children to continue learning their lessons.

She recommends parents to strictly implement the same schedule as they would if they were going to school physically, from the minute they set foot in class, recess to dismissal time.

Sabina Lopez-Vergara and son Samuel: “Be a mother who is present” especially when working from home.

“My husband and I allot a time every night to check our son’s homework and his progress with school. In normal circumstances, we imposed a strict no-gadgets-rule but since the quarantine began, we make sure that the use of gadgets is heavily regulated, only to be used as a means of learning,” shares Sabina.

By adhering to a strict schedule, children’s minds will continue to be stimulated amid the distractions offered by recreational items found at home such as the TV, games or the internet. For Sabina’s son, his daily activities outside of school include one hour of movie time, one hour of walking around their apartment compound as well as household chores.  As a mother to a budding teen, Sabina also encourages parents to use this time spent indoors as an opportunity to teach children critical life skills such as self-awareness and empathy, highlighting the value of having the  bayanihan spirit during a crisis.

  • Support. Be a mother who is present. Pre-pandemic, career moms are considered lucky if they are able to bond with their family over dinner on a weekday, after having spent most of the day at the office. Physical presence is often sacrificed in order to provide for the family, supplementing their spouse’s income or to some, fulfilling the role of a breadwinner.

With the implementation of the work-from-home policy by most companies, parents are now given the opportunity to be physically present, attending to the needs of their children who would otherwise be left in the care of their kasambahays, relatives, or sometimes on their own. Sabina emphasizes that she has taken advantage of the quarantine to offer a support system for the whole household, taking on more chores with her son so as to enable their kasambahay, who is also a mother, to take more breaks throughout the day. Sabina emphasizes the essence of solidarity in the household, be it through sharing hobbies, helping with a school project or exchanging simple conversations from breakfast to dinner.

“I am thankful that Ninja Van is a company that greatly believes in work-life balance by means of family-friendly work arrangements that allow me to  fulfill my role as both a mother and a corporate professional.”

She adds that setting designated family times, albeit short, throughout the day has helped her solidify her relationship with her son even more, recommending parents in similar situations to do the same, especially those with “tiny colleagues” who demand a lot of attention.

“It doesn’t matter how short they are, what matters is that you show that you are there for them and that you are physically available when they need you.”

  • Provide. Be a mother who is able. With working moms being financially capable, Sabina remarks that while parents should continue to show that they are physically present, setting boundaries is also a factor that needs to be considered.

Sabina shares that at the start of her day, she communicates her scheduled calls to her son, when Mom would be off-limits, ensuring that he understands the reason behind her working – to be able to provide for the family alongside dad.

“It is essential that they don’t get the wrong idea that you value your work more than them. Make them understand that the work that you do is always for them.”

Being able to build a family while pursuing a career is a luxury that wondermoms like Sabina is fortunate to experience. To some, a mother means solely on focusing on their family. As we celebrate our Nanays, Mamas and Mommies this Mother’s Day, let us remember to recognize mothers in all forms who remain to be the beacons of light in every situation.