Being an overseas Filipino worker or OFW is never easy; working abroad and starting a family in a new country can be challenging but rewarding. If you’ve been abroad for years and are thinking of starting a family or giving birth to a baby, sometimes it can be overwhelming.
Many OFWs can bring their families abroad and guide and watch them as they grow, while others have families in the Philippines, and both can be challenging. For those who decided to raise their families abroad ; here are practical tips for OFW parents to help you out.
1. Being hardworking is not a bad thing
You’ve probably heard about mom guilt, and its a real guilt that most mother’s feel. Mom guilt is when mother’s feel guilty for prioritizing their careers over raising their children. The mom guilt can also occur when a woman is having alone time and having fun in their own tranquil company away from their children or family.
Let’s face it, being an OFW is not for the fainthearted, let alone being parents in a foreign country and juggling to raise a family can be tough. Working abroad is one of the reason why you are there in the first place, and now that you’re a parent, having a steady career and flow of income is a must to not only survive abroad as a family but thrive. You’re there after all, to give your children or family a good future, whether in Spain or Australia.
Being hardworking or career-oriented is not necessarily a bad thing, as parents, you have to make your children understand the beauty of making sacrifices for love. Letting them understand that going to work is a must and showing them the importance of having a great work ethic can help them in life. However, you must draw the line between being workaholic and passionate in your work. You must be sensitive to your family’s needs and spend quality time with them as much as possible. Mothers or fathers can help their children understand the importance of being hardworking and make them know the reality of being an OFW and living abroad.
2. Being the breadwinner is tough
There’s nothing wrong with being the breadwinner, in fact, most OFWs are breadwinners of their families, which is why they are abroad in the first place. If you’re an OFW single parent and is also a breadwinner, juggling can be tough; however, know that your sacrifices will not be in vain if you’re serving your children faithfully. Being a breadwinner has become a badge of honor, especially for single parents struggling to raise their children abroad and being both a father and mother to their children.
There’s no shame in knowing that you need help nor letting your children understand when you have to send them home since it’s much more practical, and most OFWs do that too.
3. Multitasking is a norm
It is normal for OFWs to multitask; some of them juggle many side hustles aside from their main day job, while other OFWs with families abroad juggle their roles as parents and employees. It’s always challenging to multitask since it can leave you burnout and, at most times, homesick.
Multitasking can be the norm at work and in our society, but you don’t always have to conform to the patterns of this world, but you can also offer yourself grace if you can’t do so. You can’t do everything on your own. You will need help, and as the adage says, it takes a village to raise a child; being an OFW, there will be times when you have to leave your child to your trusted friends or a temporary babysitter just to go to work.
To avoid burnout, you can ask your older children to help you with the household chores, train them to have values, and make them understand the things on your plate. If you just had a baby, it would be wise not to do any work and focus on the current season that you’re in. You must focus on healing and nurturing your newborn and spend more quality time with your family at home.
4. Sometimes unexpected things happen
You have to expect the unexpected if you’re an OFW parent; it would be wise to have savings for rainy days, accidents, or anything that might come your way. Being an OFW, one of the unexpected things that happen is losing your job, having visa problems, your children not fitting in the country’s culture, and more!
Being an OFW parent, its your responsibility to foresee the future and prepare; it can be easier said than done since it can be expensive to let your children go to school abroad, which is why you don’t have savings, or your family in the Philippines need money due to emergency, you must be wise with your spending and save as much as you can.
For example, you have not anticipated getting pregnant again after a year of giving birth; your finances are not yet in order, and it seems like being pregnant is a mistake. What you can do is discuss with your husband what the next plans will be and accept that some things will take you by surprise.
5. You need a supportive partner
It would be easier for an OFW parent to juggle being a mother or a father with their spouse or partner. Having emotional and physical support will make a huge difference. Working abroad can take a toll on anyone, but having someone to help you and share the workload can make it easier.
Support is really important for anyone, just not parents; OFWs in general, will have highs and lows, and you need to have someone by your side in all seasons. Salute to OFW single parents who are managing to do all the work despite all odds.
6. Accept your priorities will change once you give birth
Yes, you have to accept that once you give birth or have children, your priorities will change, and your life, in general, will never be the same. Moving abroad to work is already a life-changing decision; what more, having children? You have to reprioritize once you become a parent. Yes, your career will give you all the basic necessities, but your lifestyle should change, and you should learn to work around it.
7. It’s important to have a strong support system around you
Having your spouse or partner is essential, but having a solid support system is another thing; it would be best if you’re a mother to have other women or mothers near you. Not only you’ll gain friends and feel less lonely abroad, especially if you’re navigating the rollercoaster ride adventures of parenthood.
8. Having a supportive workplace is important
It’s a blessing if you have an employer that supports you during the early stages of pregnancy until the time you’ve given birth. After all, most OFWs spend most of their time and energy at work. Supportive colleagues and bosses make a huge difference, especially for women.
9. Parenthood can be scary
It can be daunting to do things that are new and completely out of your control. It can be scary the first time you work abroad or got into your first relationship, let alone having children and raising them as an OFW, you might worry whether your culture will be passed on, or what if you fail as a parent? All of these concerns are entirely normal, but let us not limit ourselves since we shouldn’t fear everything in life.
Sometimes, you must surrender and know that being a parent is all about serving and building a family for a much greater purpose than you can think of. One of the best things you can look forward to is watching your children grow up while you’re working as an OFW since most OFWs can’t bring their families with them abroad, but also have fulfillment in life by providing a different ambience and better opportunities for your children!
10. Self-care is essential
No doubt being a parent requires sacrificial love and is often a thankless job; sometimes, juggling being a parent and an OFW can lead to burnout. What can you do to prevent this from happening? The answer is self-care, yes, being a parent means it is a 24/7 job than your 9-5 job or flexible schedule as a freelancer, but the point is you need to set some time for reflection and self-care habits. If you don’t prioritize self-care, you will get sick or be highly exhausted, making you feel incapacitated and cranky with everyone else.
11. Being vulnerable is normal
You don’t have to pretend you have it all together when you can’t keep up. Being vulnerable about your struggles as an OFW and a parent is okay. You will encounter unique challenges with your family and priorities, but it all boils down to your intention. You can wear your heart on your sleeves and open up with your friends and family, so having a supportive partner and an encouraging community can help you thrive.