Host, actress, author, content creator, and entrepreneur at Dimps Kitchen, Dimples Romana is above all a proud mother of two—Callie, 16, and Alonzo, 5. Productive, yes, she has been, but not until the COVID-19 pandemic struck. Life as a parent on top of her multiple jobs has been very challenging, she tells ABS-CBN Lifestyle.
As this temporary new normal makes a lot of parents and caregivers stressed and anxious, Dimples on her end considers her children's mental and physical health a top priority. As part of ABS-CBN Lifestyle's Mod Moms roster, she details how she's handling parenting at home while giving fellow moms and dads tips to cope through difficult times!
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How did you explain the coronavirus pandemic to your kids?
For the first few days ng quarantine, yun yung medyo may explanation ka pa bilang magulang kasi syempre, all this time excited sila, ito yung mga gagawin nila dahil summer na. Ngayon ang struggle pag nanay ka, is to bring the not-so-good news to them na at this point, to be able to protect our community, kailangan you stay (at) home. Kasi minsan doon napuputol yung pag iintindi ng mga bata na parang “so kung nasa bahay tayo, pinoprotektahan na natin yung komunidad?” Parang ganun yung nakuha ko sa dalawang anak ko na, “Why do we have to stay home so they would be saved?” So nandun lang yung struggle sakin bilang magulang na i-explain yun sa lebel na maiintindhihan ng bawat isang anak ko.
Callie didn’t really need much of explaining because she’s already 16. And I also wanted her to find out on her own—she would watch the news, the TV, she would ask me questions and I would answer her to the best of my ability.
But with Alonzo, I explained to him via prayer. Like, we would pray about people. And he would ask me, “Mommy, why are we praying? Why do we need the angels to guide the other people? Why do we need them to protect them?” 'Yun, parang through prayer ko ine-explain sa kanya para hindi ko maipasa yung panic, yung frustration, kasi mga bata ito eh. And I also want to protect their mental health, just the same way I am protecting their physical health. Kasi as a whole yun eh.
How do you manage your kids’ stress and anxieties during this time and how do you help them get through it?
I try to divert their minds, we would keep them busy. Mahirap kasi kapag naiwan kang nag-iisip tungkol sa mga bagay na kailangan mong i-proseso, eh paano kung yung mga nakuha mong impormasyon ay sobra -sobra? I think 'yun yung kadalasang parang nagiging challenge bilang magulang ngayon.
Kasi wala namang manual sa pagiging magulang, we all don’t know what should be done, ano bang okay. But I feel like we’ve been gifted the responsibility and obligation to raise a specific child based on how we know them kasi tayo naman yung may alam kung paano sila lumaki.
I feel like as parents, what we can do lang, is to be there for them. Let them know that we are there for them. And through the ways na, for example si Callie loves to bake, so I let her in the kitchen. Hindi ko sya pinipigilan. Kung 'yun yung ramdam nya, para makapagpa kalma sa kanya, hinahayaan ko lang sya doon.
I just let them be. Medyo ngayon mas lenient ako in terms of sleeping, in terms of the things that they wanna do. I’m not as strict, but I’m also not super out there na parang you can do out there whatever you want. Again, these are strange times and trying times and I want them to be able to have an established thought of knowing that there are other people out there who are not having what we’re having what we’re having, so dapat ipagdasal sila. Ganon ko sila kinakausap.
Also to nurture themselves kasi mahirap na i-focus masyado yung energy nila sa mga nangyayari sa labas, gusto ko kahit papaano they also work on themselves while they’re home. Like in terms of Callie, she loves cooking, she also loves art. So nagtatahi-tahi sya, nag ca-calligraphy sya, hinahayaan ko sya don. Tapos si Alonzo naman, he loves dancing. So yun yung way nya of relieving stress.
What values have you taught your kids during crisis?
Yung mga values na napaka importante sakin, yung mga values na natutunan ko sa magulang ko. Siguro ako nakuha ko sa Papa ko yung pagiging madasalin nya. Yung lahat ng desisyon nya sa buhay—mapa maliit, mapa malaki, naka-ddpende yun sa klase ng faith na meron sya.
We really pray a lot and I always tell them the value of praying for other people that you do not know. Kasi diba sometimes we often pray for our families, we are grateful for our families, we are grateful for the food, for friendships and for relationships, for opportunities.
But I also want to teach my children the value of thinking for other people and praying for them, in the same way they are loving themselves. I always tell my children, “At least, if you give that kind of kindness to somebody, that somebody will think of you when they are also in that situation when that they are called to be kind to other people.” You create a net of goodness within the community. And I always feel, especially now more than ever, this is the time na nari-realize natin, how interconnected we truly are.
I always tell them na, “Wag kayong mamimili ng tao. Walang taong maliit, malaki. Dapat lahat yan tinatrato niyo ng pareho—parehong respeto, parehong courtesy, parehong pagmamahal, parehong compassion.” 'Yun yung mga core values na gusto ko sana na habang lumalaki sila, habang bata sila, alam na nila. And also, especially now, I always try to encourage freedom of speech, expression of self, pero within the context of sensitivity and compassion towards others. Kasi much as I want to encourage them to speak their minds and speak their hearts—but not all the time everybody would agree with their opinions. So, gusto ko, when they get out of the house, be in their own world, create their own net of community, I want them to have the same respect, that comes with honesty that they have.
[related: In Focus: Dimples Romana Gives Away Her Wigs For An Inspiring Cause]
How can other parents and caregivers help their children cope through a difficult time like this?
Ako, una, siguro kausapin niyo yung mga anak ninyo. Ito yung time na lahat tayo nasa mga bahay natin at may pagkakataon tayong mas makilala pa yung mga anak natin. Lalo na po kung kayo ay working parents, na lagi kayong wala sa bahay noon, at ngayon may time na tayo na nasa tahanan tayo kasama natin mga anak natin, mas kilalanin natin sila sa paraan na pinakamadali sa kanila, pinaka maluwag sa loob nila.
And kapag nakilala niyo na rin yung mga anak nyo ng lubusan, habang magkakasama tayo ngayon, ito na yung pumapasok niyo nan a pampalakas at pangpa kapit pa ng koneksyon ninyo bilang magulang sa anak. Ito yung time na pwede natin gawin yun. I would sort of elevate the kind of bonding that we have.
So, ako ang advice ko po sa inyo, kilalanin niyo po anak ninyo, mag-adjust po kayo sa mga gusto nilang gawin at suportahan niyo yun kasi doon sila nae-empower bilang tao and children are much like us. Ako feeling ko nga di na ko tumanda, feeling ko naiwan na ko dun sa panahon na I always want to learn, and it really helps me as a person because feeling ko, if you already know everything that you need to know in life, and feeling mo alam mo na lahat yun, wala ka nang pagkakataon kilalanin yung ibang tao na para makatulong sayo.
We should never put ourselves in a box, even when we are at home and that’s how it feels like. Parang nasa isang box ka, and parang you cannot move, you cannot grow. That’s not the whole thing. The idea is while you’re in a box, nasa inyong tahanan kayo, color that box. Make sure that it’s an interesting box, it’s a box that your family would want to be in. Make it a home that your family would want to be inspired with and create ideas with para hindi mapigilan yung flow of creativity. And kahit hindi ka sobrang creative na tao, yung mga bagay na makakapagpasaya sa pamilya mo, habang may pinagdadaanan kayo, kahit papaano makakapag palakas sa inyo yun, hindi lang sa katawan ninyo dahil as you know, pag malakas ang inyong pag-iisip at puso, sumusunod na ang ating mga katawan. This is our time to take care one another at home and inspire one another and strengthen our bonds through prayer, through love, through constant communication and open communication channels.
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Photos from @dimplesromana | Banner image by Karen Garcia