Parents’ Guide to Beat the Grief of the Holidays

Dr. Robi Ludwig

The weather is finally starting to cool down just in time for the upcoming holiday season. Our schedules? Not as much. As the holidays can be merry and bright for some, for others the holiday season can be a major stressor, especially parents. Parents are often bombarded with gift lists from the kids, planning winter break vacations while the kids are home, and heightened interactions with family, including some extended family members that they did not want to see this year. Expectations of parents are extra high this time of year, but that does not mean they are not capable of tackling the busy calendar while staying calm and collected.

During this time of pressure and arranging, how does a parent keep their cool? We spoke with pediatrician, speaker, and author of #1 Amazon best-selling book, Calm and Confident Parenting: How to Care for Yourself (and Your Kids) Through Life’s Chaos, Dr. Alison Mitzner, to share some tips on how parents can stay confident and “beat the grief of the holidays.”

What made you choose to pivot from being a practicing pediatrician to the pharmaceutical industry?

While in the private practice, it was always so rewarding helping my patients and parents, and as much as I loved medicine and children, I found myself wanting to use more of the science I learned in medical school. Many times, wanting to stick with those complicated cases that were referred out to the sub-specialists. I also loved supervising, and teaching residents and medical students in various aspects of clinical and academic medicine. I started researching options available with my MD including non-clinical career paths and have since moved into the pharmaceutical industry. I am currently a Senior Director in Safety and Regulatory department at a large pharmaceutical company. I have had experience in the industry with leading safety teams and physicians and mentoring many physicians globally. I find what I do now even more rewarding, as I am helping patients not only on a small level based on who I saw in the office, but millions.

What prompted you to draft the book on calm parenting?

I did feel the need, when I was pregnant, that there should be more books that were easy to understand and easily digestible by parents. I started writing alongside the time I left practice. Parents who still had a lot of questions would come to me feeling overwhelmed as there was so much information out there and misinformation. I started helping them with questions, and then writing for mom blogs and then slowly, editors from media started reaching out. I also did notice that as much as parents needed the medical information, when they reacted just as much to was my calmness. It always It always stood out to me what the ability to find the calm meant to parents, and how I was helping parents feel calm and confident. I wanted to take this, along with my individual experiences and my medical background and put it in a book that could really help parents. Taking what I learned from my past and show how everything that I was doing for myself really impacted my parenting, my kids and who they’re growing up to be. The more I wrote, the more and more I saw that this is so true, even in my life today. I really wanted to share the information and the experience I have had from medicine, motherhood, and wellness, show how it all is intertwined and related. Parents do not know what they do not know. I wanted to teach this information and how they can parent with calm confidence. I was really excited to be able to share this all in this book.

What are some of the challenges you face as a mother and personal tactics you take to ease your and your kids’ anxiety?

There are challenges all moms and parents face. The exhaustion and sleeplessness, the anxiety and stress, the never-ending to-do lists, keeping a routine and more. There will always be changes in the plan of the day and chaos. It is making slight changes to your mindset, routine and habits that can make a real difference in your everyday life.  These things parents do for themselves make a positive impact on their parenting and role model for their children.

What do you do in your pastime to maintain a calm mindset?

Taking that time to care of yourself is so important. There are so many different pastimes you can do to maintain a calm mindset, including for example meditation, acupuncture, exercise, ensuring a healthy diet and good sleep. For me, fitness is one of my number ones. Even if it is just 15-20 minutes for the day, exercise has a ton of benefits and not just for the physical we all know of. Exercise really does keep your mood lifted and mind active and healthy. It helps the quality of your sleep, and you know when you are sleep deprived you can be irritable, moody, and impatient. Early morning workouts are a great way to start the day too. It clears your mind, wakes you up so you are more mentally alert, boosts your metabolism, regulates your appetite, and more. Best of all it makes you feel energized and increases the amount of energy you have for the day. All these benefits help tremendously to maintain the calm.

Do you think it is more difficult for moms who are single to maintain a calmer state?

Single moms may at times have separate set of challenges and for example it is important for them to have support available when needed, but all moms (new, single, stay-at-home, working, entrepreneurs) can learn the same tools, to handle their emotions and maintain a calmer state and implement into their lives.

How have you seen the pandemic has caused even more duress among kids today in terms of anxiety?

Reports have shown the prevalence of anxiety in children and adolescent during covid near doubled pre pandemic estimates. Kids had the fear and worries about covid, with nonstop hand washing, masking and social distancing, they had a change in routine which can be increase stress and anxiety especially in older kids, many families moved which can add to stress, there was the social isolation, and social media also played a role with children, for example whether with younger kids seeing frightening images or older kids hearing the news and possible misinformation. It is important to watch your child for any signs of stress and anxiety, including changes in sleep patterns, decrease in appetite, headaches, stomach aches, mood changes or clinginess. You know your child best. If any concerns, be sure to reach out to your pediatrician who can help support and suggest further resources as needed.

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