Motherhood is a journey made better with the right circle of friends. Over the years, Mommy Mundo has built this community to ease the twists and turns that come with parenting. Its role has become more crucial this 2020 with the pandemic rocking the foundations of family life.
We catch up with the empowering moms behind Mommy Mundo, learn what keeps them grounded in these uncertain times, and see what we can expect from Expo Mom 2020 (Yes, it’s happening).
Janice Villanueva: Cherishing the Moment
“Our family migrated to Canada the day before Manila locked down,” shares Janice Villanueva, “so the first three months of our new life here, we stayed home like the whole world did.”
Putting the pandemic─plus the geographical and cultural differences—in consideration, Janice can truly attest to the big shift of pace. “Gone are my schedule-packed days, going from one activity to the next,” says the CEO and founder of Mommy Mundo. Connecting with and being surrounded by people were always a fixture in her daily life. Nowadays, work is interspersed with house chores throughout the day. Her afternoons are often spent doing work on her laptop, then moving on to laundry or dinner prep. Face-to-face interactions have been replaced by virtual talks with her team and chatting up with friends (scheduled in the morning or after dinner to suit the time difference.) After all, she still runs Mommy Mundo from oceans away. “Now I find a different kind of contentment just being productive at home,” the mom-of-three shares.
Big changes, especially in COVID-19 era, can wear people out. “Practicing mindfulness is what helps me shift up when I am feeling anxious or down,” she reveals. Janice explains that this can range from breathing exercises and meditation to opening her senses—even to the sound of rustling leaves. She finds this world situation an opportunity for growth and self-awareness. “It’s the simple things that count now. I’ve become more discerning about what I do with my time. I am more easily satisfied, even just a bit of quality time or time to connect with people I love is enough,” she says gratefully.
She also encourages fellow parents to focus on the essential. “Let’s use this time to #Maketimeforwhatmatters!” sharing about Mommy Mundo 2020 campaign which couldn’t have been launched in the most fitting time. “Let’s just learn to breathe with the challenges, flow with the uncertainties, and focus on the present. Our children always live in the present—so let’s meet them there and cherish every moment we can with them.”
Sheryn Alvarez: A Journey of Faith
It goes without saying that the pandemic has prompted parents to shift to the digital workspace. Mommy Mundo’s head of Digital and Operations, Sheryn Alvarez is not new to the work-from-home setup. The marketing and management consultant has been working remotely since she was six months pregnant with her daughter, who is now seven years old. “I wanted to raise my daughter hands-on 24/7—we don’t have a helper nor do we live with any family member—and provide a comfortable living for us,” explains the single mom.
Her time is filled with lots of bonding moments like cuddles, playtime and movie time. “The best part about being able to work at home is that I can honestly say I have never missed a single milestone or moment in my daughter’s life. I have been beside her every night she goes to sleep and beside her every morning when she wakes up,” she happily shares.
But working from home has its challenges, as more and more working moms have experienced lately. Work could interfere with family life as the physical barrier of space disappears. She admits, “It’s easy to go overtime with work all the time if work happens at home—this leads to intense mom-guilt when I realize I’ve looked at my devices more times than my daughter’s face.”
Thankfully, faith keeps Sheryn grounded, amidst the pandemic, the trials of motherhood and life in general. A constant part of her day is spent for bible reading or in quiet reflection. “God is in control and He knows what He is doing. I trust Him,” she relays. If anything, the pandemic has strengthened her spirituality. It reminds her to be humble and be appreciative of every day. “Life doesn’t, never has, and never will revolve around us,” she says. “We are made to be stewards of this world, not to use and abuse it for our self-motivated pursuits.”
Asked for her tip to stay optimistic in these uncertain times, she gives a simple yet tried-and-true answer: “Pray and obey. Show love to your children and say it just as much.”
Kit Malvar-Llamas: Conscious actions, open communication
For a lot of us, the stress of the lockdown is not just about cabin fever. It can eventually be about staying in with the same people day in, day-out.
For Kit Malvar-Llamas, Mommy Mundo’s Community Program Director, the pandemic has changed her family in a way that they have become more respectful of each other’s boundaries. “We are more intentional in planning our schedules for the day. More conscious in our conversations and sensitive about our movement around the house—from the volume of our voices, the weight of our feet,” she trails on.
The founder and CEO of Camp Explore, she has been working with her husband the past five years. And while they share an office in their home, adjustments had to be made when the quarantine was announced. Kit recalls, “Our two daughters still had two months of school left so one of the first things we needed to do was assign our own workspaces.”
The family’s current schedule is a well-planned mix of time alone and together. Her days are laden with webinars, preparing for workshops, and deliverables for her other jobs. Apart from the workshops she and her husband often conduct together, they spend time working out or meditating as a couple if their schedules permit. Family bonding would consist of shared meals, daily prayer time, card games, and movie nights.
“There are days when one of us is not in a good mood,” she admits. “We have learned how to give each other the space that we need and honor these big feelings.” She adds that the brood has practiced a lot of forgiveness these past months. For her, open dialogue is integral in staying optimistic in this age. The family co-creates agreements and revisits them periodically, checking if they work or finetuning them if necessary.
Underneath it all, Kit believes in parental evolution. “We are conditioned that how we were raised is already the same formula of how should raise our children,” she explains. As an advocate of conscious parenting, she stresses the need to unlearn these archaic conditionings that can potentially affect generations. The key is to reframe the mindset based on more effective habits and principles. She emphasizes, “It is important that parents learn to invest time and resources in their own learning and growth and practice moment-to-moment mindfulness!”
Braving the New Normal
One can find this in Mommy Mundo, which has created programs, like MomSchool and Parent Coach. Its long-running lifestyle event ExpoMom makes a name for its expert-led talks as well as well-loved childcare brands from mompreneurs. This year, the team defies geographic barriers and takes the expo online, unfazed by the COVID-19. The team brings in experts from the Philippines and around the globe to speak at the two-day conference. Online shopping also gets a lot more fun, too.
Building ExpoMom 2020 around the theme, “A Brave New Us”, Mommy Mundo shows the community that connection is possible, encourages parents to take the chance to grow, and creates a safe space for mompreneurs to be brave together. As Sheryn Alvarez explains, “ExpoMom was never just a shopping bazaar or free talks and seminars. ExpoMom has always been a holistic experience for everyone in our community.”