I said goodbye to the 5AM Club two years ago since I started to work from home full time. As a member of the 5AM Club, I’d get up, take a bath, take on the uniform color of the day, pack my breakfast and lunch, then brace myself for an hour of travel to Manila. I eat my breakfast in the office because the first priority of the day was to beat the traffic.
I cannot forget the very first morning of my virtual career. It was Monday. The alarm clock’s off, yet I woke up at 5AM. Then I said to myself, “Relax, self. You’re working from home starting today.” I felt my heart leaped as I breathed deeply and slept again.
Today, I wake up at 6AM, change into my running gear and do run (and walk) rounds in our village for 30 minutes a day. The first priority of the day was to see the sun and say, “Good morning, Lord. Shall we walk?”
As I do my run and walk rounds, I see my neighbors going out of our village. They are on their uniform color of the day with packed breakfast and lunch tucked in their bags. I only exchange smiles with them as they leave. Their first priority of the day was to beat the traffic.
Some were brave enough to ask me, “Tanghali na ah. Hindi ka ba papasok?” (Aren’t you reporting for work? It’s past 6AM.) To which I will always reply, “Mamaya pa po.” (Later.)
I am single. So technically, I have a lot more time than married virtual professionals that I know. Since I became a virtual professional, I saw myself deluged with a lot of time to do many things. I have experienced events that I only dreamed before becoming a virtual professional. I saw with my own eyes how I spent one Monday afternoon with my family in a mall, going to Tagaytay with friends on a weekday, and even watching a movie on an opening day.
Before, I used to think that my time was only for me. Until recently.
One morning a few months ago, one of our neighbors brought out their youngest child, around six months old, outside the house. The neighbor, the child’s father, said that his wife is busy preparing the other kids to school. He added that he‘d keep watch over the baby (a boy) for a few minutes before he prepares to go to work, too.
Before I could even think of what to say, I saw myself saying, “Could you put him in a stroller? I’d take the baby for a walk.”
The father placed the baby in the stroller while thanking me. A few minutes later, the baby and I were doing walk rounds in the village. You can imagine the neighbors taking a longer look at me! Before, they were just curious on why am I still not on my way to work. Now, I am pushing a stroller – with a baby!
Some were brave enough to ask me, “Kaninong anak ‘yan?” (Whose baby is it?) To which I replied, “Anak po ni [neighbor’s name]. Inilalakad ko lang po.” (The child of [neighbor’s name]. I am just strolling him for a few minutes.)
That morning, I did not only see myself counting steps. I also saw myself checking out on another human being if he is uncomfortable or if he properly seated in his stroller throne. Previously, I did not care how many rounds I will do my runs. That day, I took slow walks because I was concerned of the tiny being I am pushing in a stroller.
Before, it was just God, the sun, and me. That day, it was God, the sun, and the baby. I forgot about myself.
A few more rounds, our neighbors said, “O, tulog na pala!” (The baby is asleep!). I brought the baby back to their house. His father thanked me again, saying that his wife would be able to do more things because the baby is sleeping.
Wow, I did not know I could make a baby sleep. I jokingly told myself, “Can I sell that skill online? Hhmm, ‘Baby Dream Catcher’ would be a good branding.”
Then, I realized something: the tiny human being taught me a lesson: a lesson on time.
Indeed, time was one of the best things that virtual career has given me. However, I did not realize that the time that I could give to other people would mean a lot to them. That realization was something that I did not think of before. Maybe because I am single and the only thing I need to maintain is myself.
Upon realizing this, I remembered all my parent friends – virtual professionals and traditional 8-to-5 employees alike. I remembered my parents. It must be hard juggling work and raising children. Now I know why I have so much respect for them, especially the work-from-home mothers that I know.
On the other hand, I remembered what Jomar Hilario said previously. When you are a single virtual professional, you have something in your plate that is an absolute edge: time. A single person’s future spouse need not to ask for time from you, because you have a lot of it. In addition, because you have a lot of time, you have the opportunity to explore the world and know yourself more.
A few days later, I saw my mother carrying the same baby. My mother said, “Wala ang tatay n’ya. Ang nanay n’ya maliligo daw muna bago gumawa ng gawaing bahay. So kinuha ko muna s’ya.” (His dad went to work. His mom will take a bath before doing the chores. So I took him for the meantime.)
My computer was already open during that time. I have listed many to-do things and I am raving to finish all of them that day. Then, I saw the baby’s eyes looking at me. It was as if those tiny eyes were telling me, “Hello. Got time?”
I took the child from my mother, carried him and said, “Hello, kiddo. Let’s turn off the computer, shall we?”
Ann Kristine A. Peñaredondo is a social media engineer, writer whiz, content marketing strategist, podcaster and training & development specialist exceptionally rolled into one. She’s also the half of The Joy and Ann Show, an audio podcast for the Filipino Virtual Professional. When she’s experiencing a writer’s block, she laces up and goes for a run. Visit her website at AnnKristine.com.