Finding Balance: Anielle Santos Banson, a banker


Anielle used to be my officemate for four years back when I used to work for a bank (feels like a lifetime ago!). She’s got the stop-you-in-your-tracks beauty and poise that a few people possess (and I dream to have when I grow up) but I love her because of her kind and generous pusong mamon heart. She juggles being a mom to a one-year old cutie Inigo, a wife to her hubby Rapha and an associate director with the Financial Markets department of a foreign bank. I’m sure you’re dying to know -here’s how she tries to balance it all…

1. What’s your work schedule like?

Since the Philippine market opens at 9am, I have to be at work by around an hour before to get all the administrative work out of the way. Then I have to read all the latest news articles on Bloomberg and The Financial Times, as well all the local publications. It’s important in my line of work to know what’s going on around the world, and what bits of information and news will have an impact on how the markets move. Once the market opens, my day turns into a hectic blur of calling, meeting and trading with my various clients, trying to keep up with the fast pace of the financial world. After the market closes at 4pm, I make sure all my deals have been booked and settled, and then if I do not have to head out to dinner or cocktails with clients, I try to make it a point to hurry home in time for dinner with my family.

However, since my son, Inigo, was born, I have found that my schedule has become more unpredictable because of all the unexpected things that I have to somehow fold into my day. Such as a sudden visit to the pedia’s office, or an unplanned trip to the grocery because all the diapers have run out. So I guess you can say that my typical day involves exactly that: trying to stay focused and working out an ever-changing plan so that I can make time for it all—family, clients, work, friends, household, health, etc.

2. Did you ever feel jealous of your yaya?

It’s a fact: on average, my son spends more time with his Yaya than he does with me. Because of this, she knows certain mannerisms and quirks about my child that I may not, he (in turn) becomes accustomed to the way that his Yaya does things, and she is also there to witness so many of his milestones (such as first steps and words) that I miss out on because I am at work. So yes, I have felt jealous of how much time my son’s Yaya spends with him, and the closeness of their bond. In fact, during the first few months after my maternity leave was over, there would be days when I would secretly cry in my room when my son would respond to his Yaya more than me.

However, I have found that seeing my son’s Yaya as my “competition” was neither healthy nor constructive. It’s not good to be harbouring ill-feelings towards someone who is there to help you raise your child. I’ve since made somewhat of a paradigm shift, so that I do not see my son’s Yaya as an opponent, but rather as a partner in this journey of parenthood. This shift requires both an acceptance and recognition of her role in his growth and development. After all, the saying does go, “It takes a village to raise a child.”

3. When do you typically spend time with your son?

On weekdays, I’m really only able to spend time with him at night when I get home from work. I generally have two to three hours to be with him in the evening, before he has to go to bed. I try to make up for the this during the weekend, when he is with me as much as possible, for as long as possible.

4. What do you like best about your current setup?

I’ll bargain a bit on this question and give TWO things that I am very grateful for, with regard to my setup. The first is that is my office is located very close to my home. That has made a world of a difference in terms of striking a good work-life balance for me. I’m able to maximize my time, as I do not have to account for too much travel time in my day.

Second, I am so lucky to be married to someone who picks up more than his share of the load when it comes to our son. My husband is very hands-on with Inigo, and is so incredibly helpful and understanding of my hectic schedule. When he can see that I’m at the point of exhaustion, or when he knows that I am getting overwhelmed with all the errands that need to be done, he is always there to support and help me in every way that he can.

5. What do you find tricky/so-so/really bad about your current setup?

One aspect that I wish I could change is the fact that my job doesn’t lend itself to mobility or flexibility. Because I rely on systems, applications, and machines that are in my office, I can only do my work from there. There’s no option for me to work from home periodically, which would have been a great way to be able to spend a little bit more time with my son.

6. How do you and your husband fit marriage into the balance?

Many marriages fail because couples neglect their relationship with one another. For whatever reason–kids, work, friends, family–couples put their relationship on the back burner, which will slowly chip away at the foundation of the marriage. My husband and I have realized the importance of stepping away from all our other duties once in a while, and just spending quality time with each other. We try to set one night a week to go out with friends, have a nice dinner, or just catch a movie. These date nights give us an opportunity to communicate with one another and unwind without being interrupted by spilt apple juice, a ringing phone, or the sound of Mickey Mouse’s voice singing the Hotdog Song. While it’s not always easy or convenient (because most times I just want to get into my pajamas and sleep), there’s a conscious effort from both of us to keep our relationship as a priority.

7. Do you have any time for yourself?

My “me time” now doesn’t even come close to how much time I had for myself before. Still, it’s important to keep some time to do something that you enjoy. Mind you, when you’re a working mom, quality matters so much more than quantity. Therefore, even if I can only manage to take half an hour for myself, I endeavor to do something that will help me regain that sense of self and balance that often gets lost in the myriad of roles and responsibilities I have to deal with. Personally, when I am able to manage some time to myself, I go somewhere quiet, pop in my earphones, and I listen to music. I grew up in a home where there was always music playing in the background because of my Dad’s love for all things rock and roll. Because of his influence, listening to and discovering new artists and sounds stirs my spirit, and inspires me so much!

8. What advise would you give to other moms about how to balance work and life?

A good friend of mine once told me that the task of balancing work and family life never gets easier, but that I will just get better at it in time. Four years after getting married, and one year after having my son, it’s still quite challenging to get everything done, and done well. I used to feel that I HAD to be able to do it all, otherwise, it meant that I was not a good mom, wife, friend, worker, etc. I learned that I had stop thinking of myself as having to be split into separate but equal roles.

The right division of one’s self doesn’t necessarily mean an equal division. Working moms need to remain flexible, and constantly evaluate where we ought to devote our time and effort. Now I know that setting priorities and limitations has actually helped me become a more efficient person, as opposed to a deficient one, and knowing that I cannot do everything at 100% helps me avoid letting the more important things slip through the cracks.

Thank you so much for sharing, Anielle!

Wife and mom of 3 based in London. Born and raised in Manila. Blogging about motherhood and fitness.

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