22 May 2012

{Super Mom} Neva Arboleda-Santos of ManilaBaby Shop

I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
Philippians 4:13
Being a mom, wife, daughter, and being able to work eight hours (or more!) a day, maintain a household and still find time to do something you are passionate about is not easy.  As a first time mom, I am still adjusting to my new role.  Juggling it with all my other roles require discipline, commitment and A LOT of love!  The key, according to Stephen Covey, is not to prioritize what's on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.  Super Mom is a Cruisin' Mommyhood's blog feature where I interview moms who can give inspiration and empowerment to working moms like me.

Aside from reading the book What to Expect When your Expecting, I read parenting and mommy blogs while I was pregnant.  I was on Google looking for tips on what to bring on that D-Day and I came across Neva's blog.  She provided a detailed list, not just for the mom-to-be but for daddy and baby too.  Manila Mommy was one of the few blogs I read at that time.  Ever since I started reading Neva's blog, I instantly felt a connection.  And it's not just because we are both working moms.  I'll tell you a secret.  Not too many people know this, not even my closest friends.  Like Neva, I watch Sharon Cuneta movies!  Sharon Cuneta was my local Julia Roberts.  (Okay, not comparable, I know, but I'm just saying that I am a fan of Sharon as much as I am a fan of Julia.)

Seriously, Neva is truly an inspiration to first time working moms me.  Needless to say (but I will anyway), her blog is very helpful, inspiring and encouraging.  She works more than eight hours a day, a loving wife and mother, takes care of her household and the family business but still manages to write blogs about her experiences with the objective of helping other moms and moms-to-be.  Now, that is a Super Mom!

Describe your schedule.  What is your daily routine?

I wake up at 7, take a shower and go through my morning rituals. DW [David] is still asleep at this time. If there is time, I eat breakfast, if not, we rush to Makati and go to the McDo greenbelt drive-thru for my usual egg muffin and hot chocolate :)

I spend at least 10 hours in the office, but in between all those hours, I draft blog posts, answer queries from our shop and go on twitter…and yeah, work din hahaha. I go on a lot of twitter breaks to break the monotony of my day so I engage with fellow mommy bloggers and friends online all the time.  Email is a godsend and makes all things possible. I coordinate with our partners and customers for ManilaBaby Shop, my co-bloggers  and all other things while I’m just sitting here at my workstation.

BDW [Dan] and I live in QC and work in Makati. We spend at least 3 hours in traffic everyday so we use that time to bond, talk about us, our family and our business. By the time we get home, we spend the few hours before DW’s bedtime reading to him, asking him about his day and playing with him. We all sleep in the same room (actually on the same bed) so we all just lie there and rest together. I sleep later though because as soon as DW falls asleep, I turn on my laptop to answer emails, publish and/or schedule blog posts and book shipments for our shop.  I usually sleep at around 1 or 2. Sometimes though my brain gets so wired with ideas that I sleep at  3 :P I wake up at 7 and the traffic going to Makati affords me the chance to sneak in a few ZZZs before heading to the office to start another day yet again.

How did Manila Mommy and ManilaBaby Shop start?

I've actually been blogging since the early 2000s and have tried out different blogging platforms even deleting a blog that caused a major fight between me and BDW while we were still dating :P When I tried out multiply (my blog was the Girl is Gone) I figured I'd use the site's blog feature and to write again. By that time BDW and I were already planning our wedding and I listed all the stuff we were going through, including tips, our suppliers, our mood board, everything!  It was really the encouraging comments that made me continue because a lot have thanked me for sharing our experiences. The realization that my blabber was actually helping out other couples made me want to do more and write more. Then of course, DW came and I just kept writing about my pregnancy up to his birth. DW and being a mom gave my online life focus and relevance. I made the switch to Manila Mommy when I enrolled in Anton Diaz's internet marketing class at AIM. I knew I wanted to take my blogging to the next level and for me to do that, I needed the right resources. Taking Anton's class gave me the extra push to buy my domain, switch to wordpress and to host my own site. The critique and of course my batchmates in that class provided me with insight and constructive critiques that allowed me to finally launch  Manila Mommy  :)

ManilaBaby Shop began as an accident. BDW and I were looking for diaper bags that he could carry (ergo no cartoon, no flowers) [that] was functional while still being affordable.  We knew the owners of FabManila so I emailed them and asked them if they'd be doing diaper bags soon because I could give them a few ideas. They emailed back and asked if I wanted to partner with them and launch a new line just for kids. I said yes right away. It was an opportunity that I didn't want to miss. So I invested and BDW and I designed the first collection and the rest is history :D Our 3rd collection is coming up soon by the way :D Our guiding principle is to make fun, functional and fashionable bags for kids and moms that won't break the bank. We keep our prices reasonable and the designs original. We test our bags ourselves too and won't release products that we won't use ourselves.

scanned elephant pic

Your blog talks about your discoveries and (mis)adventures as a mom.  What is your best discovery so far? What is your favorite (mis)adventure with your family?

The discovery I can probably say that I'm most proud of is finding my voice and the courage to do this post.  It took me a long time to finally come out and say the things I said in that post but it allowed me to connect to other moms and to let them know that everything's going to be alright (even if it doesn't seem like it at first). If we're going by things we found in Manila there are so many! I really couldn't choose just one, but finding out about Don Day in MaginhawaStreet, an area near where we live is probably one of my favorites. Mainly because it meant that one doesn't need to go far to discover good food. Exploring one's own neighborhood is actually fun and can unearth hidden gems like this restaurant. (Seriously, 400 for unlimited korean bbq, buffet and drinks, san ka pa?!) 

Travelling with the DWs have always been great learning experiences so DW's first plane ride was a really memorable experience for all of us. I think we were more anxious than DW who rode the plane like a seasoned traveller :D

What time management tips can you give to working moms?

I wrote about some tips here.  If I could choose one from the five, it would be the last one which is to "simplify and see the bigger picture"  One of my writer heroes, Erma Bombeck said it perfectly: “No one ever died from sleeping in an unmade bed. I have known mothers who remake the bed after their children do it because there is wrinkle in the spread or the blanket is on crooked. This is sick.”  It's really about letting go of the small stuff that stand in the way of time with your loved ones :) 

Who is your role model?  How has your role model influenced the way you are as a parent?

My mom is my role model. She was able to balance her corporate life with raising three kids while running the household.She was selfless but never forgot to take care of herself. And she always laughed at herself too. The last part I've perfected but it's the balancing the career with family time that I have yet to master :)

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