Screen-free Rainy Day Activities for Toddlers

It’s the rainy season here in Manila.  A couple of weeks ago, there were at least three tropical depressions that entered the Philippines, giving us more than our fair share of rain.  Just this weekend, all our plans got cancelled or postponed because of the incessant rains. 😯 This means staying indoors for most of the days — enough to give our little toddler some serious cabin fever.

J’s daily routine always would always include some outdoor play time.  It’s as simple as a stroll along our neighborhood or a walk to the store and pick wildflowers or twigs along the way.  He also loves playing ball!  Football is a natural choice especially with his elder brother.  They would take turns in being the kicker and the goalie and would only stop when one of them is tired already.

Sharing with you now some of the screen-free activities that J enjoys indoors.  I know it can be challenging to keep the little ones preoccupied without turning to the Ipad or the television so I hope this helps mommies out there:

1.  Hide and seek — My little one loves playing this game and everyone in the household would happily indulge him.  He would go looking for a suitable hiding spot as the designated “it” patiently (oftentimes very slowly) counts 1- 10 until he finds one.  It’s fun to watch him wait in anticipation until one of his siblings find him.  It’s a test of patience and how long he can quietly sit still in one place.  On most cases though, he gives away his location because of uncontrollable giggles.  This game proves how little it takes to have fun together!

2.  Building blocks and magnet tiles  — I love how both toys are very versatile.  Sometimes, J would play with his blocks by sorting them by color.  He does the same with the tiles and sorts them by shape and then practice counting.  On other times, he would try to build something like a rocket, a tower, a house or a sword.  His play switches from the blocks to the tiles, depending on his mood.  I love that these toys encourage him to be creative and imaginative.


3.  Coloring and doodling — I first introduced J to colors by making him paint.  Unfortunately though, it was not quite the hit that I hoped it would be.  I soon found out that he disliked getting messy so painting and getting his hands “dirty” did not interest him.  He, however, has a totally different reaction when I gave him a set of basic crayons.  He immediately started doodling and drawing and has since then, been part of our go-to quiet time activities with him.

4.  Reading — We started reading to J when he was still a baby and it has been an all-time favorite ever since.  He likes to identify things in his picture books and loves to listen to story books as well.  Now that he’s a toddler, our story telling time has evolved.  Sometimes, I would ask him what he thinks would happen next in the story or ask questions to see what he thought of the characters.   There are even times when he chooses a book which we’ve read for many times and then starts “reading” it to me.  I love how this activity has become more interactive over time.


5.  Singing and dancing J is such a music lover!  Put on any upbeat song and you would soon have him dancing to it in no time.  His current favorites are the soundtrack of Disney’s Cars movie and Lion King.  Just like most kids his age, he loves singing nursery rhymes.  We can go on and on with various versions of ABC and never get tired.  His sister is the biggest influence in music.  Their bonding moments include S playing the ukelele while the little one sings and dances along.


Since J is left mostly alone at home ans plays with his namny, he has a lot of individual pretend play time.  I get to see this in action when I am working from home.  He would be in the same room as I am but he will go on with his business and not bother me.  Instead, I’d get treated to a “show” as I listen to him concoct his stories and play.  Usually, it’s a big race among his cars.  Sometimes, it’s a re-enactment of a scene from a movie or a show, complete with dialogues usong different voices! I love it! 😍

During the course of the day, he will most likely watch an episode of Disney Junior’s Mickey and the Roadster Racers or maybe PJ Masks.  But these activities definitely limit his screen time without him feeling wanting.

How about you? What are your screen-free indoor activities with your little ones? Share with us in the comments section.

Cheers! 🎉



5 Reasons Why We Travel with the Kids

Travel is one of the things we like doing as a family.  We love planning for roadtrips and out of town trips during holidays.  Of course, vacations out of the country are special and takes more time (and resources) so planning is longer and more deliberate.


Our kids in one of our trips to Tagaytay

Our last trip overseas was in October 2016.  It was our first trip as a family of five and our first time in Osaka, Japan as well.  A lot of people were a little surprised that we were bringing 12-month J to the trip.  Some even suggested to leave him with my mom so that we can enjoy more.

“It’s difficult to travel with a baby.”

“Leave him with his Laly (Grandma).  He’s too young to remember this, anyway.”

I do recognize that bringing a baby with us on a trip changes the pace and even our itinerary but we really didn’t have the heart to leave him this time.

Truth be told, that trip was my first time to fly with a baby. S was already 2 years old when we first travelled by plane and it was only a 2-hour local trip.  That was also F’s first time to ride a plane and he was almost 4 years old during that time.  Admittedly, I was also a little anxious so I sought help from a friend who is a seasoned traveller with babies. Thank God for her and the tips she shared, some I really would not have thought of myself.

Many well-meaning friends advised N & I to wait when the baby is older before we bring him along in our travels.  I guess every one has their own preferences and I believe that we each should follow our gut.  But for those of you considering travel with kids, here are my five reasons why I think you should go for it (as I did) no matter what age:

1.  TRAVEL = FAMILY BONDING TIME – When we travel as a family, we are stuck with each other’s company whether we like it or not.  Inevitably, there are times when we get into each other’s nerves! Like when N would get frustrated with me when I navigate wrongly… or when F would be irritated with S and her constant bugging 😛.  For most parts though, we find it to be a great opportunity to reconnect and bond.  We get the chance to talk, have fun and create memories.

2.  TRAVEL PROVIDES for NEW & BIGGER ROLES – I remember one time when we planned a trip to Boracay with friends.  N had a business trip scheduled so we decided that it was most practical to just meet in Boracay.  This meant travelling with F & S (then 8 and 6 years old) by myself.  It was a pleasant surprise that the kids rose to the occasion and picked up after themselves.


Boracay with F & S (2011)

During this recent Japan trip, S was such a helpful assistany to me, especially when taking care of baby J.  On the other hand, F was a willing helper to his dad, carrying our luggage and even navigating around the city.  They also learned how to be more responsible with keeping their own tickets, buying their meals and keeping their own stuff.

3.  TRAVEL TEACHES ADAPTABILITY and FLEXIBILITY – We all know that the most well thought-out travel plans can still go wrong.  Delayed flights, missing baggaes, weather abberations.  These things will teach our kids how to adjust and make the most out of unforeseen situations.  In this trip, we initially wanted to go to Universal Studios mainly for the Harry Potter experience.  After checking though, the crowd estimate was outrageous!  I actually still wanted to give it a try (being a HP fan that I am).  It was F who put things in perspective — that it would be difficult for J and that we would not really enjoy if there is waaaaay too much people.  S said that since they’ve been to two other Universal Studios anyway, they’re willing to wait a few more years till J is ready for theme parks. How is that for flexible?

4. TRAVEL LETS US DISCOVER THE WORLD FROM A DIFFERENT ANGLE –  Experiencing a diffent culture first hand helps us appreciate better those things that are different from what we’re used to.  Personally, I used to dislike Japanese people (think World War II and how the Japanese invaded the Philippines).  But having been in close contact with them in this trip showed me how they are nice people,


Snippets from our Japan trip (2016)

courteous, polite and very helpful.  I believe that when we expose our children to more of the world and its varying cultures, they will become more inclusive and accepting of others.  They will accept and appreciate diversity much easier.


5.  TRAVEL PROVIDES A BETTER LEARNING EXPERIENCE – Learning about a city or country by reading about it is so much different from actually experiencing it.  Travelling gives the kids a better learning opportunity as they see, feel, touch and taste what a place has to offer.  That was the case when they went to Times Square in New York or ate fresh sushi at the Kuromon market or rode the elephants in Thailand.  The experience makes everything more tangible and memorable.


Times Square at night (2014)

And so, while there may be real inconveniences travelling with kids, for me, the benefits outweigh them by leaps and bounds that we will travel with the kids as often as we can 😊

Back to (Baby) Basics

It’s been four months since we welcomed our Baby J.  Those four months seemed to have flown by before my eyes!  A decade has passed since N and I experienced baby parenting so everything feels very new again.  There are even times when I feel like a first time mom as I grapple with things I’m supposed to do.

Truth be told, this has been the most exhausting time for me as a mom.  For one, this is the only time I’ve given exclusive breastfeeding a fair chance.  I also breastfed and when they were babies, but in hindsight, I think I gave up too easily and mixed-fed too early.  With J, I told myself that I will try as much as I can to feed him with breastmilk only.

It wasn’t a walk in the park, I can tell you.  First of all, the milk didn’t come instantaneously.  I think it was on the 3rd (or maybe 4th?) day when the milk flowed.  The lactation nurses in the hospital would visit and encourage me to still nurse often and be patient.  Sadly, the lack of milk in the first few left me and Baby  J frustrated.  He would cry and I would cry with him.  I would feel upset not being able to nourish him 😢.  Patience, they said, patience.  True enough, the milk did come!  But by this time, I’ve already got sore and cracked nipples.  Every feeding time was an ordeal!  I truly wanted to give up already because it was very painful.  But I endured…one feeding at a time.  And then slowly, it became more tolerable until one day, the pain was gone and we were  happily breastfeeding from then on.

It is still not easy.  It requires a little bit more from me —like watching what I eat to make sure I don’t consume allergenic foods like shrimp paste or eggs; or withholding my glass of wine for a little bit longer just to be sure ☺.  Then, there is also the round-the-clock feeding or pumping to make sure that the milk supply remains adequate.  Sleep has been (and still is) a luxury that I terribly miss.

True, exclusive breastfeeding is demanding and draining that it sometimes it leaves me feeling exhausted.  Despite this, I choose to do this until J is at least 6 months old.  Difficult as it may be, I cannot express the fulfillment that it gives me.  It may be one of the most rewarding feeling I’ve experienced as a mom.

 Baby J and I have been inseparable during his first weeks of life.  We didn’t have a yaya until he was about 2 months old already so it was mostly him and me for most times.  A baby can be a handful but thankfully, J was not very hard to take care of.  He is generally a happy baby and easy to deal with.  It also pays that N is very hands-on as a dad and the two older kids love taking care of the little one too.

Of course, there were times when I wanted to take a break and go out of the house.  But as soon as I get the chance to do so, I would be raring to go back home to J.  Talk about mommy separation anxiety! Haha 😯  I think it hit me the hardest a few days before my first day back at work.  Just the thought of leaving J made me sad and weepy! How I feel for all working mommas who had to go through the first day back at work after a maternity leave!

I’ve been back at work for over a month now but there are days when I still struggle with separation anxiety.  It is especially difficult to leave in the morning when he is in a playful mood.  I muster every ounce of willpower to go to work when this happens.  We just try to go back home as early as we can so we can have quality bonding moments with the little one.  On weekends, we are either full of kids’ activities or just home, catching up with each other.

Yes, it feels like we’re back at square one with the addition of Baby J to the family.  A lot of adjustments are made and in some ways, we are still finding our way around.  It feels like one big adventure and it’s one that we’re happy to embark on together as a family 😊.  We’d be delighted too if you’d keep us company! 😊