14 Advantages of Listening or Reasons why we should shut up more

 Huh, what did you say? is my answer when my son is telling me something. Mama always advises me to listen more to my boys because she knows I am a chatterbox. The temptation to talk more is great so I made a list of 14 advantages of listening to make you and me shut up more.

  1. You learn more. – This is an important skill as a student, as an adult and as a parent/carer. The advice from the elders is rich with wisdom.There is information overload on the internet and with the right choices of videos on YouTube, audio on Podcasts and even the songs you listen to – GREAT IDEAS can be learned that you can apply in your life.

 

  1. You can help someone in distress just by listening. It is a way of showing one’s love. You don’t have to provide a solution to their problems. Just being there and listen can improve their well-being. It is a bonus when after the conversation, a solution may come up.

Photo by Ben White

two women crying
This is too much for me to handle…
  1. You are being proactive in preventing someone getting angry.

One of the things that can stir your anger is the person not listening to you.

Parent to a child: You were not listening to me!!! ( blah blah)

Child to parent: You don’t care, you are not listening to me! ( blah blah)

Partner to partner: I TOLD you about it but you were not listening to me! ( blah blah)

Boss to subordinates: I instructed you to do this but you were not listening! ( blah blah)

Subordinates to Boss: (grumble, grumble..) If only our boss will just listen! ( blah blah)

If you just paid attention in the first place, these people will not be MAD.period.

  1. You understand more other people.

WHY DO THEY BEHAVE THAT WAY? is the common question one is asking when you encounter persons different from you. Listening opens your mind to the reason why they speak, act, think and decide like that.  You can adapt well when you run into them.

  1. There are fewer chances of saying something foolish.

In my lifetime, I said things better left unsaid. It was TACTLESS. Looking back, I cringe every time it crosses my mind. I couldn’t take it back.

When you listen more, it creates an opportunity to stop yourself from saying things you will regret. Your future self will thank you for that.

 Photo by Abigail Keenan

woman covering her face
What was I thinking? I shouldn’t have said THAT!
  1. It is for your own safety.

Worst case scenario… There is a fire in the building. The staff said to go to the left side of the building.. you turned right. Holy moly.

Another worst-case scenario: The instruction was to cut the blue wire, you chose red. BOOM. The end.

  1. Improving your listening skills is necessary to pass an English test.

Do you need a visa or prefer to pursue higher education overseas? One of the requirements is to pass the IELTS  or the International English Language Testing System. Part of the exam is the listening test. No matter how good you are in reading, writing and speaking, if you fail the listening test, you need to repeat the assessment.

Photo by Tim Gouw

I need to get a grip on myself. What did he say: flashlight or torch?
  1. You can be efficiently assertive to get what you want.

Listening to the sales persons about the advantages and amazing deals they have to offer, you are in a position to negotiate better and grab a great bargain.

  1. As a leader, you can offer better service because you know what the community wants.

Listening to the needs of the community is one of the effective ways of giving the service that they will appreciate and enjoy. The provision matches the necessities of the people.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo

happy audience
Happy constituents are the people whose voices were heard.
  1. It promotes creativity.

Brainstorming in a group can trigger ideas that will create a masterpiece. As long as there are open-mindedness and respect in the group, the possibilities are endless.

 Photo by Climate KIC

group of people in a meeting
Based on our references, your idea is the best one!
  1. It inspires you to be the BEST YOU.

Listening to inspirational or motivational audio or videos can spark something inside you to GET BETTER. Maybe, you reached the point you got tired of being in the dump both literally and metaphorically. Listening to something uplifting can change your attitude towards life in general.

Photo by Ross Findon

 

  1. It gives you the chance to THINK MORE or REFLECT.

It is quite hard to think effectively when you are blabbering at the same time. Thinking out loud can lead you into deep waters. Listening to the opinions especially during meetings can make you compare the best suggestion that makes sense. Your own beliefs may be challenged and your mind may reconsider.

  1. You need to listen so that others will LISTEN TO YOU TOO.

Have you wondered why the people around you are not LISTENING to what you say? Maybe you are chatting, nagging, harassing or gossiping so much that you are no longer listening to them.

They got tired of your criticisms and became numb. Their reason is WHY BOTHER? Mum never listened anyway. She is always RIGHT.

Photo by Paul

cat on the table
My human doesn’t know how to stop talking. She even forgot my FOOD.
  1. Making a habit to listen cultivates your skill in picking up the ideas NOT BEING SAID.

You know you could hear alarm bells when the person says “ I’M FINE.”

You can distinguish the feelings of the person who says “GREAT!”  with a cheerful countenance compared to someone who mentions “GREAT!” but continuously mumbling and rolling their eyes.

Body language and the tone of voice are just added hints to the person’s sentiments at the moment. A know-how in listening can equip you with the right questions to ask and advice to say if they want it.

Photo by Stefan Steinbauer

hippopotamus
How many times do I have to tell you I’m FIIIIINE!!

To sum it up, I believe that listening is an important skill that should be taught at home and school. To impress someone in a gathering, the focus is too much on speaking… how do you come across? In fact,  a listener can leave a huge impact because he/she was patient enough to make time to pay attention.

I am a work in progress in refining my talent in listening.(Note: I talk a lot.)  I could already see the difference in my life when my option was to listen. There is JOY in it. I should have shut up more when I was younger.

 

I remind myself every morning: Nothing I say this day will teach me anything. So if I’m going to learn, I must do it by listening. -Larry King

 

 

 

Just Dance 2016

guy dancing on the street

The boys excitedly handed out a  second-hand Just Dance 2016 game to me one Sunday afternoon. We tried to play the game out of curiosity. As a mother, here are my ten thoughts about the game.

  1. It is a game that hit me with the reality about the status of my weight.

I love to dance but the moves made me feel my toned fats were too heavy. I was trying to catch my breath after a more than 3-minute song! It was the day I discovered how badly I needed to lose weight. Talking about an in denial mum!

Photo by Carlos Bretón

bear
It is time to take a stand and LOSE THIS BELLY FAT!
  1. It gave me the opportunity to play a game with the boys.

I have driven for years but the boys kept giving me advice on how to drive in a Mario Kart game.

“Keep your hands still mummy.” Of course, I always fall off the cliff in that game!

Just Dance gave me the chance to shine and receive my 3 or 4 or 5 stars just following the dance steps! I no longer hear the bits of wisdom coming from the boys this time.

  1. It is an alternative to gym exercise.

It takes dedication to go to the gym, run on the treadmill and use the gym equipment until the muscles hurt.  I had the option to sweat at the comfort of my home with Just Dance video game. Fit and healthy me soon! Fingers crossed.

  1. Learning the modern dance moves made me feel young.

It really looks cool doing those moves. So this is the kind of dance they are doing now! So what if I am doing it wrong? Dancing with the boys rubbed in me their youthful energy.

  1. I discovered new songs I like to dance to.  

Gibberish by Max

Animals by Martin Garrix

Blame by Calvin Harris featuring John Newman

I can still appreciate songs of today. My playlist is not limited anymore to the songs of my generation.

  1. It is a game that makes the boys move and dance.

I try to limit the video game time of the boys. I just see them sit around staring at the monitor or television. With this game, it is like inserting exercise in their schedule!

  1. I felt good after dancing the playlist.

I could have eaten a brownie or devouring my favorite chips. NO. I used my 30 minutes to dance. It was the right decision.Raising my heartbeat and sweating away my fats felt sensational.

Based on my experience, you must have a dance buddy to push you to dance and exercise or else, excuses will start rolling in.

  1. It is another way to do family bonding time.

Weekends come by so fast. One way of spending quality time indoors is to play this game.  It was fun teasing or challenging the boys to dance a particular song we know the steps are suited for girls. My son remarked “Seriously!” after dancing to Born this Way by Lady Gaga.

Furthermore, you will encounter songs that are easy or difficult to dance with. The good news is if you keep on dancing the same song over and over with family, you will get used to it even if you have two left feet. Watching ourselves and laughing about it is time well spent.

Photo by Simon Noh 

sign: NO MUSIC,NO LIFE.

  1. We could sing while waiting for our turn to dance.

While the song is playing, the lyrics are shown at the bottom left corner of the screen.  When we are not sure what the word we heard was, we just look at the lyrics and sing our hearts out.

  1. The little technophobe in me is gradually slipping away.

Oh sure, just press x or the circle then go up.  Trying to learn how to turn on and off and reading the options was a bit too much for me. Learning how to manipulate technology is one step away from feeling obsolete.

 

My family gave me Just Dance 2017 for my birthday. Hopefully, I could dance away the food I ate during winter time. Spring is here and it is time for new beginnings and new YOU! Are you with me?

 

10 Advantages of Having a Mums’ Night Out

shadows of three women

The definitions of mums’ night out for me are the following:

⁃ going out on a Friday night with other mums in a restaurant that will offer excellent food and service while chatting to your heart’s content then go to one of the mum’s home  for wine or coffee until late night or

⁃going out on a Friday night to one of the mum’s place with a share of food or wine, then conversing late at night while  the responsible dad takes good care of the family while mum is out or hosting

The reason Friday is the best one is that even if you come home late, you still have Saturday to do the rest of the household chores and catch up with the needed rest and sleep! You still have Sunday for family time, grocery shopping and homework if there are project materials that have to be purchased.

Photo by Yutacar

glasses of wine
Let’s drink to that!

Furthermore, the mum that will drive the rest of the group will have to make the ultimate sacrifice (for some) …drinks only one shot or stay sober for the rest of the night. We are two in the group alternating this task but she does more of the driving. It is not a big deal really because we are not into drinking and the company of the mums is what we are after. We love them so much.

So here are my 10 advantages of having a mums’ night out. Better start organizing your own because YOU DESERVE IT, my friend.

  1. You can eat food that you don’t usually get to cook or prepare.

As a mum, you get tired of the usual food you prepare daily.  Your family or other people may appreciate your meals but as a mum, it is a delight to eat other people’s cooking for a change. You are dressed up for the night and ready to try a cuisine with friends.

If all the mums were happy with the food and service then it is a guarantee that they will recommend it to friends and family. They may even go back to the same diner with their family next time. Happy and satisfied mums can spread excellent feedbacks like wild-fire when they had a wonderful night out in a particular restaurant.

Photo by Paula Borowska

oysters
Eating what I don’t prepare at home
  1. Knowledge of alcohol is enhanced.

Before, I do not have the slightest idea about the different alcoholic drinks. When mums’ night out started way back in 2013, I got the chance to try various beverages from red wine, white wine, vodka, gin and cider.  It took me just a couple of sips then stop. I do not like it. Really, you might think. Yes, really.

Alanis Morissette’s song Ironic has lyrics  There’s a black fly in my Chardonnay. I got excited to try it but I didn’t like it as well. Recently, we do not drink as much as we used to. As a mum, it is a must to think of good health long-term.

  1. Friendship is strengthened.

If there is family bonding time, there is also connecting time with friends. Household chores will always be around 24/7 but your friends may not. It is easy to say no to an invitation because there are cleaning tasks, monotonous errands or even a job requirement that demands your attention.

Looking back, I don’t regret leaving the clothes that required ironing or the messy rooms that needed organizing. I appreciate the belly laughs and tears of joy about silly things with the mums.  They have your back because they made time to see you. You are not alone in the struggle.

Photo by Levi Guzman

shadows of three women
Vacuuming is better than this! Hell… no
  1. It is a FREE outlet of unexpressed emotions, insecurities, doubts and all the issues mums deal with.

As a mum, it is normal to feel confused and overwhelmed. The responsibilities and decision-making both at home and work result in STRESS. When the plan goes awry, sometimes there are things you can say to your friends but not to your spouse. The spouse may interpret it differently. Here are the close friends to save the day. After the release of all the fears stuck in your head, it felt good because the burden became light.

There is a note of warning to this. Be careful whom you trust.  Some can be good listeners and may even give good advice throughout your discussion. After you spill your guts out, the world will know your dirty secrets in minutes.

Photo by Rob Potter

diving airplane
May Day!May Day! My reputation is going down!

My point is trustworthy friends are treasures here on earth because they will not judge. They will accept you for who you really are, no pretensions. True friends will genuinely care about your well-being and will help you.

Moreover, they have the capacity to keep secrets no matter what. Close friends can be mums like you because they know what you are going through first hand. They will say in your face things YOU DON’T WANT TO HEAR. Ouch. Don’t be too sensitive about it. YOU COULD BE IN DENIAL FOR SO LONG.

  1. IT FEELS GOOD but preparation is important.

Isn’t it exciting when the mums’ night out is set?  Anything goes during conversations. It is an opportunity to unwind and enjoy the moment.  Because the night out is scheduled mostly Fridays, we tend to prepare EVERYTHING beforehand like the dinner of the family.

Do not forget to comfort the youngest child with the idea that mum will come back and she is just out with friends. The spouse should be well-informed like sleeping routines of the children and your whereabouts.

One good tip is NOT TO PROMISE the time you are going home.  As long as he receives texts that you are okay, it’s good. Keep the phone near if your spouse calls or texts you about urgent matters. The first mums’ night out will be a lesson learned but the following ones will get better.

Photo by Adi Goldstein

man lying in bed
So tired with the chores… Thank God the dads night out will be next week!

Alternatively, it could be the dads turn to have a night out in one of the dad’s home. You are just being fair. If it becomes a part of your social activity every year then you started a tradition that makes everyone feel good.

  1. You can get advice or another point of view.

An issue has nagged you for weeks. You blurted it out to the group and asked for an advice. Your close circle of friends will have a say on the matter and it is up to you to filter which ones will make sense.

All of you mums could be crying during the night out because the subject is upsetting. Occasionally,  there are breakthrough solutions for the troubled mum. All it took was a night out and she got an answer to a pressing matter.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez

Laughing woman
Hahaha! Why didn’t I think of that?

At times, a way will be made because the person you are talking to know someone who can help. Furthermore, your friend might say a keyword that will give you an idea. Finally, you can customize the choice you have made based on their ideas and yours. Listening to another mum about your issue wakes you up to a realization that “Hey, it is not a big deal after all. I need to relax. I can handle this.”

  1. You learn information mostly based from experience.

When the boys were younger, they always called me while I was driving.

Example:  Son: Mummy.

Me: Yes?

Son: Mummy… Mummy…Mummy… Mummy..

Me:  What? One mummy is enough… What do you want?

Son: I just saw a flying bird.

Seriously? There was a minimum of 5 mummy words before they told me what they had to say. I told them repeatedly that 1 mummy is enough.I told the mums about it one night out because it was driving me crazy! It turned out that I was not alone. Their children too even teenagers called them multiple times before saying their topic. HA! I thought I was the only one suffering from this. I rest my case.

In addition, information is available on the internet but if the data are proven with experience, then I try those tested methods first. You can learn a lot of general facts from mums’ night out. It could be about:

  • Raising children

Example:  As parents, do not contradict each other in front of the children. It results in confusion.

  • Recipes

Example: The secret is to add sugar. It makes the dish tasty. That’s the reason why.

  • Personal development

Example: The mum informed the group about a seminar about handling your finances.

  • Epic mistakes worth sharing (I don’t want that to happen to me!)

Example:  Read the fine print.

  • Sale, discounts and free stuff

Example: Hey! The rice is half-price this week.

  • Relationships

Example: Don’t forget your spouse. He needs your attention too. Experiment.

 

  1. It maintains your sanity.

One time my son was talking to me about his classmate in school. I know I could hear him but the words don’t register in my mind. I was so absorbed with my own thoughts that my son finally exclaimed, “Mum, you are not listening!”

I answered him with a weary and confused “What?” He gave a heavy sigh then continued his story. I captured random words: YouTube, handball, lunch and the word hungry. On the contrary, the keywords that wake me up no matter what are:  homework, submit, buy and problem.

Photo by Aaron Andary

bulldog
I can get through THIS!

When the day becomes like this, it is time to unwind and have a mums’ night out. You are tired, stressed, sleepy and cranky. After a night out with the mums, you are ready to face the world again invigorated. It took you out of your rut.

 

  1. It is one way of taking good care of yourself.

Resentment emerges when you have to sacrifice most of the time. I know you love your family but sometimes the duty that comes with it makes you sick. Going out with other mums reminds you that it is okay to treat oneself once in a while because you love yourself too. The well-being of the mum affects the overall mood of the household. The family is not anxious because they notice that mum is cheerful and not snapping everyone’s heads off.

 Photo by Krista McPhee

relax
Do not forget it.
  1. You create memories to reminisce that will make you giggle in your lifetime.

I have a friend in the group who has her smart phone ready for documentation. The selfies she was able to capture were really good. Also, we always ask the service staff to take our photos. Most of the pictures ended up posted on Facebook while the rest are not for public consumption.

There are three memories that stand out among all the mums’ night outs:

  1. We saw an adorable baby koala passing by across the road. The driver stopped the car and we just gushed how cute the koala was. The koala successfully crossed the road.
  2. We went on a road trip after eating at a restaurant. One mum recorded our non-stop laughter in the car. In the end,  we ordered chocolate loaded sundaes at Mcdonald’s just because we wanted to.
  3. When one mum was experiencing a difficult time and all the mums set up a night-out just to be with that worried mum for encouragement and support. You will schedule a time for people you love.

Photo by Joanne Turner

2 seals lying on ice
I can’t take it anymore!
I feel you friend.

 

There you have it. Mums’ night outs are the best! Our way may be different from yours but we definitely get lots of benefits from it.  I hope you will find time to organize one because it is FABULOUS.

 

What are the 10 advantages of having sons?

“Have another child. Maybe it is a girl this time.” This is the top comment I always get from acquaintances and even friends. I am happy and grateful with my three sons so I am enumerating my ten advantages of having them.

  1. Fewer mood swings

During conversations, I often hear mothers complain about their daughter’s mood swings especially during that time of the month. When girls are young, they tend to fight for what they want. As if the mother and daughter are competing to be the queen bee of the house.  I cannot relate to this. With my sons, they also have their moments but not that nasty.

  1. Big help in carrying heavy loads

They are now a great help when we decide some things are better at the dumping site. Move the furniture. Bring the ladder here or there.  Put the luggage in the car. Help mum put the bags of groceries in the trolley. Assist mum in getting the groceries from the car to the house especially the 10 kg bag of rice!

three boys in a photo
The clothes are worth it. My sons don’t care if the clothes aren’t new!
  1. Hand-me-down clothes are the norm for having three boys in the family.

You can also have hand-me-down clothes with daughters too if the clothes are still in fashion. With my boys now, it is just simple fashion: t-shirt, shorts, jeans or pants. These staple items do not go out of style. The clothes could be worn for years.

  1. Bathroom use is a lot faster.

My son told me that when he was in camp, all the boys were ready while the girls were still in the bathrooms. At home, taking a shower and brushing teeth took 12 minutes.

Having sons is also good for the environment. They can pee at the same time.  Only one toilet flush is needed.

  1. Shopping is quick.

The boys are like men. When they go to the store, there must be a purpose why they should be there. If we are in a shopping center, we will buy socks, underwear and jeans.  Those are the goals then go home. We are finished in an hour.

My boys do not want to go shopping with me especially if they know I do not have anything particular to buy. They know by heart that one hour for me is not enough.

  1. Boys can carry on the family name.

I come from a culture where I changed my last name and used the last name of my husband when we got married. I do not know about my sons’ future but if they get married, our last name will go on.

three voys on air at the beach
T-shirts, shorts and good old running shoes.. done! Let’s go!
  1. Fewer expenses for accessories

I do not have to buy makeup, bra, sanitary pads and accessories like necklaces to match the clothes.

  1. Boys don’t get pregnant.

I overheard conversations were the parents stalked their daughter while on a date because of fear the couple might do something irresponsible.  The fear is real and it is more intense with raising girls.

You might tell me that the boys might get someone pregnant. Yes, that is another issue. I am scared out of my wits.

  1. Aside from my husband, I have another male’s point of view three times.

Men and women think differently.  I was telling my sons“ I was just looking at the goods.” They all started giggling. “ Mum, it sounds so wrong. Looking at the goods. Hahaha.”

I was thinking about the store items and the boys were thinking about private parts.

Sometimes it is interesting to learn how boys think because it gives me a fresh perspective about what is going on in their heads.

  1. I have the power to raise loving men.

World news is filled with bad representatives of the male species. I could make a difference to society by trying my very best to raise loving, loyal, respectful, resilient, disciplined and productive male citizens. They will be future dads, husbands, uncles, friends, workers, colleagues, volunteers or possibly even the boss. Who knows? I am not a perfect mum and still learning lessons along the way. Getting all the help I need is what I will do.

mother and three boys in front of a large temple
I hope and pray I am raising them right.. so help me God.

How about you?  What are the benefits of having sons?

The advantages of choosing to be alone (for a while) in times of crisis

person walking alone in the woods

person alone at the beach

Family and friends are great especially in times of difficulties. On the other hand, there are times I choose to be alone.  Here are my thoughts about the advantages of choosing to be alone (for a while) during a crisis.

1. The silence is bliss.

When problems come like a tsunami, silence for me is a must. It can be sitting alone in the room, going for a walk in the park or sitting near the beach. The stillness calms my mind.

2. There is an option not to talk.

Concerned family and friends will come over especially when they truly feel what I am going through. Sometimes, when the issue is confusing, it is better to be quiet about it.. at first. Moreover, when the experience is too painful, words may come out which I will regret saying.

3. The internal dialogue starts kicking in.

Depending upon the dilemma, the mind will sometimes reveal the possible solutions. Well-meaning friends may offer advice but it is better when you can talk with them about your OWN ideas after being alone for a while. Depending solely on someone’s ideas may prevent the capability to think for oneself.

4. No one is judging you when you cry.

After telling everyone that I need personal space, there is the freedom to cry. There are tons of wet tissues on the bed due to bitter tears shed over a particular problem. I can win an Oscar award after the drama!

5. Praying is an activity suddenly remembered.

I am not a deeply religious person but in times of crisis, the words “Lord, Please help me.” suddenly comes out of my mouth. Then, the song of Don Moen “God will make a way” becomes a mantra.

praying hands with a cross tattoo
What am I to do?

6. It gives an opportunity to write.

Writing becomes a source of outlet for some people. It becomes free therapy because no one is judging what you are writing. All thoughts and feelings are poured out. No holds barred. Reading what you wrote gives a new perspective or even an idea in dealing with the issue.

7. Walking alone is exercise.

Some people are good problem solvers while walking. As long as they are not forgetting to stay safe, this is an advantage.

person walking alone in the woods
Huh? How did I end up here?

8. Enjoying one’s company can be explored in the privacy of one’s  room or house.

Hmmm.. it could be watching movies, funny videos on YouTube or even the episodes of a favourite show. Listening to music that perks me up or an inspirational  audio that uplifts my moods are good choices.

lady listening to music
I love rock and roll!

Singing, dancing, redecorating the bedroom,doing my manicure and pedicure, cooking and baking are also alternatives. Diverting one’s mind about the problem for a while lessens the stress.

9. It reconnects you with nature.

A lovely garden is sometimes made by someone who decided to enjoy his/her own company away from the noise of the crowd. Removing the weeds, watering the vegetables and planting a new set of flowers are activities that give peace to some. Sorry, I don’t have a green thumb but I have 4 potted plants now!

10. Visiting places not part of your routine can recharge the mind.

A road trip is another alternative for those people who love to drive. Admiring the architectural design of a building, observing the exhibits of a shop, snooping around the store you finally decided to see and appreciating natural wonders are activities that invigorate the mind because it was not part of the schedule.

lady in the shops
Hey.. what’s that?

 

However, these advantages are only good temporarily. No man is an island. Talking to someone trustworthy is still the best during a crisis.