Simplifying parenting


AS we slowly reopen and rebuild our lives under the so-called New Normal, I hope to continue to provide more tips and concrete inspirations in simplifying our parenting life. 

Erica Cabayan is a mom of two sons and comes from a dual career household. She has worked with P&G for 13 years. Her humble beginnings started in Cebu where she first worked as a truck seller, then started selling to sari-sari stores, working her way up to becoming a supervisor and now a director.  I was lucky to have been given the chance to interview her.

What are the mindsets you can share that you use in raising your two boys to parents of today?

First, be at peace with the choices you make. This had always been my mantra, especially when I became a first-time mom to Pio. You won’t get to be everything to everyone and do everything you want to do, and that comes with choices and decisions. And when you do make those choices, follow through completely—don’t do it half-heartedly. If I choose to be with my family, I’ll be there 100 percent and not think of or do any work on the side.

Second, ask for help. It’s true when they say it takes a village to raise a child. And I mean this both personally and professionally. We’d ask help from our parents when sudden childcare is needed. We’d ask help or tips from fellow parents with children of the same age. Professionally, I’d ask help from my manager, peers, direct reports if I need to attend to something urgent at home, or if there are certain schedules that I’d like to be kept sacred.

Third, there will be bad days and that’s okay. This mindset is still a work in progress for me. I believe my two boys are the loveliest little human beings on Earth, but sometimes there are days when they can be so frustrating. These bad days take a heavy toll emotionally, but I just constantly remind myself that it’s going to be OK with the help of everyone around me.

Being in a dual-income household, are there any tips you can share on how your husband and yourself share roles and responsibilities in managing the household and raising your kids?

Rocky, my husband, is the most hands-on dad in raising our children and I am so grateful for that. In the two months since we had Caio, our second child, he’s been in charge of diaper changes, taking the “first shift” during the night, and focusing on Pio’s online schooling every morning, to name a few. Some tips I can share:

1. Leverage on strengths and personalities. For example, Rocky is more organized than I am, so he’s in charge of overall household upkeep—budget management, bills payment, groceries, etc. I’m a picky eater, so I am in charge of the daily menu.

2. Align on needed “me time” and adjust schedules and responsibilities around them—example, playing video games for me while he takes Pio to the park, jogging for him while I take care of the boys at home, etc.

3. Support each other completely in both career and personal aspirations—both of you matter, and both are as important.

4. On disciplining our four-year-old—work together and have a united front when he needs to be disciplined but agree to disagree in private. We have open discussions on how we want to raise and discipline our children, and sometimes we disagree on certain things and those are discussed and resolved in private.

As to having attained one of the highest-ranking positions in P&G, how were you able to do this while building a family?

Rocky is my biggest supporter in both my career and building a family, and I think this is the most important part. At work, it goes back to asking for help from the company when needed. I think I benefitted from the women in leadership roles before me whom I’d seen as I “grew up” in P&G. Throughout every life stage, the company has always supported me and my goals and priorities. It’s especially important to be clear on what those are and make sure your manager is aligned and aware. My manager was my biggest ally. In every conversation with my manager, there would always be a discussion on personal life goals, not just a career discussion. I am happy that P&G is a great enabler of this, and more women and mothers like me can show up in the workplace to lead.

Lastly, what top tips you would like to impart to today’s parents in raising their kids as 21st-century learners?

Learn and adapt with them. A lot has changed in the educational set-up, especially given the pandemic, and we are all learning with them to adjust and cope to the new normal.

Also, have a “flexible routine.” Encourage and nurture their changing interests. For us, our son’s general daily routine would be wake up, school, lunch, nap, play time, dinner and bedtime. Within this routine, we would be flexible on what play time would be—riding his bike, playing with his magnetic tiles, shooting a basketball, etc., depending on what interests him that day.

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