June 10, 2023
10 min read

Mom by Design; Ana Maria Reynoso

Get a glimpse into the life of a seasoned traveler, academic, and dedicated mother as she opens up about balancing work, family, and personal well-being. Discover the art of creating meaningful memories that will stand the test of time.
Sefriya Team
Engineering Manager, Layers
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In a world of fast-paced schedules and never-ending to-do lists, finding the perfect balance between work, family, and personal well-being can seem like an insurmountable challenge.

However, Ana Maria Reynoso, a seasoned traveler, decorated academic and devoted mother, has mastered the art of creating unforgettable moments with her children while nurturing herself.

In this candid interview, Ana Maria shares her invaluable tips and personal experiences, offering a glimpse into the world of a travel-savvy mom. Join us as we embark on a journey of discovery and learn how to craft treasured memories that will last a lifetime.

Rest, Communication, Patience

Sefriya: Your kids seem to have traveled to more places than I have! What are your top 3 tips for traveling with toddlers?

Ana Maria: Thank you! We love taking the kids out, from short errands to local and international trips. We know that constant movement and routine breaks make them resilient, and we see the positive effects of that. Here are my top three tips:

  • First, adequate rest before traveling is non-negotiable. We go against the popular traveling tip of "tiring your kids out" so "they sleep on the flight." Traveling itself can be tiring, so we make sure everyone gets enough rest the night before. You never know what challenges you will encounter on your travel day, whether it's by land, sea, or air. Delays are inevitable, and having enough energy to tide us over any travel day is crucial.
  • Second, good communication is key. We always remind each other that traveling is fun, but it is also a lot of work, and each family member has a role to play. There are times when we have to stand in queues, walk considerable distances, carry heavy bags, and face extreme weather conditions. But we embrace these challenges as part of the adventure. In return, we enrich our lives by experiencing new cultures, landmarks, activities, and flavors.
  • Third, patience is paramount. Traveling with kids involves a lot of problem-solving exercises. No matter how much you prepare and iron out your plans, something can and will go wrong. But hey, that's perfectly fine! We charge those experiences to the adventure itself, embracing the opportunity for growth and creating lasting memories.

S: Despite having a demanding schedule, how do you still manage to spend quality time with your kids?

AM: Proper time management. After office hours and weekends are sacred times for us.

Being intentional with family time

S: When you are really swamped with work, what are the simple things that you do to still stay connected with your kids and husband?

AM: Nightly family dinners! We fill the dining table with conversations and debriefs, sometimes, short games to pass time when dining out. With two working parents, a child in primary school and one in pre-school, dinner is that hour when weLcome together after a full day.

We often get asked when we eat out how our children can sit through meal times(without toys and gadgets). The short answer is: do not expect a child to get it right the first time. This habit of ours started at home, long before they could sit upright on a high chair (as babies, my children would sit on a bouncer or carseat, and we’d seat them around the dining table) so it is now a routine for them.

Compartmentalizing the Self

S: In your opinion, how important is self-care in the roles you play in your life as a professional, a mother, a daughter, and a wife?

AM : This is a very important issue, so thank you for giving me the platform to speak on this matter. Motherhood, particularly the early stage, strips us off of self image and sense of identity, and it is very normal. Eventually, we hone a new version of ourselves – stronger and better, if I may say so myself! I am sure a lot of women can relate to that. Before we had our first born Alonso, my partner Matty and I always talked about compartmentalizing the self, partner and family entities

This is very important to our family dynamics. We recognize each entity has its own demands which must be fulfilled. By making this value central to our family life, we are able to manage our own careers, grow into our relationship and nurture a healthy family life with our children.

Self-care enables me to pause and reset; and is necessary to keep me in good shape. This way, I am able to carry out all my personal, professional and familial obligations. I presume one would ask, “what about mom guilt”, mom guilt is part of the process (mostly when I fall short on a certain task, to meet another task). I have learned to be more rational, than emotional, when it comes to mom guilt.

Path of Least Resistance

S: If a mother is really busy with work and other demands of life, what are the top 3 practical things she can still do every day to make sure she is still healthy and well?

AM: I am such an enabler, having respect for all forms of self-care. But for me -- a) A good 30-45 min daily work out , b) A good read—an article, news clip or book of interest, c) SLEEP, lots of it when possible!

Mom Ana Maria Reynoso on a family vacation at Sefriya, Batangas
Ana Maria during her visit at Sefriya

S: How do you want your kids to remember you?

AM: I want to be remembered as the Mama who always did her best. Despite trying to do it all, there are days when I fall short of my duties and my kids unknowingly blame me for things, like “forgetting” to put Yakult in their lunch boxes, or forgetting an extra shirt for PE class, when it is their responsibility too. When this happens, I remind them that “Mama is not perfect, but she does her best”.

Happy family times at Sefriya Farm in Batangas
Darling Sawyer during her stay at Sefriya

Mom by Design

S: We love your Instagram bio; “Mom by Design”! What is your most favorite part about Motherhood?

AM: Thank you! It is a little play on words because I love fashion and arts, and both are important character traits in how I“mother”. I love dressing-up as a form of self-expression (and self-care), and I will take any chance to DIY anything for my kids! Through the years, I also felt like I’ve grown into the role of mother, hence “by design”.

There is no doubt, my favorite part of motherhood is the superhuman strength it gave me—that of selflessness, sacrifice, the gift of foresight (in the sense of anticipating my family’s needs especially when on travel) and the purest form of love. Traits I never knew I had in me.

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