Dr. Alison Mitzner somehow does it all! Like most parents, there are times when she probably wonders how she’s able to juggle so much while keeping her sanity.
The multitalented New York City pediatrician and journalist also has many years of experience as a mother and fitness fanatic under her belt, and has built a strong platform to share her knowledge.
She feels, like many parents do, that her children — daughter Serina, now 6 (“going on 16!”), and son, Penn, who is 4 — are numero uno, and says, “They are the most amazing, happy, kind, and loving kids and just so much fun! I am excited to see what the future and 2018 has in store for me and my kids.”
Offering her knowledge and views about a variety of parenting topics, Dr. Mitzner was also eager to share some interesting tidbits about her personal life and medical career with readers.
Tammy Scileppi: How do you find balance between mommyhood and your career?
Dr. Mitzner: It takes a lot of prioritizing and really budgeting my time well. I’m big on my lists! My to-do list is never-ending, but really works to help me remember many things I would probably otherwise forget. It also helps me tackle what I need to get done in a more stress-free, calming way. I try to make use of all the hours I have in the day and ensure I know what will fit in, where. It is so easy otherwise to waste time — which I don’t have time to do!
I also try to do the best I can to be present wherever I am, and whatever I am doing. When I’m at work, I give 100 percent, and when I am home, I am all about quality, focused time with the kids. However frustrating for those trying to text me in the evening, my phone is usually put away. Busy parents often worry about how they will get everything done while still spending time with their kids. I focus on the time I do have with them, on quality time (even if not long). This really shows your children how much you love and care for them. It has such a positive effect — all while making wonderful memories.
I realized after my son was born (and a bad mastitis infection from not taking the time to pump!) I needed to also take some time for myself, even if just 20 minutes. For me, working out, staying healthy, and getting sleep are the most important and make me even more energized and allow me to give the most I can for my children and my career.
In the past year [I’ve become] a single mom, [so] I also make sure I have people around me that can support and help me when I need it. I realized I need to have this support at times. I am fortunate to have found my tribe and a great group of friends and a wonderful babysitter. It isn’t easy to find a sitter you can trust and love your children like family, rather than just a job, but they are out there!
TS: How about some tips for a peaceful home, happier kids, healthy meals and snacks?
Dr. M: Stay calm! If you remain calm, you will have a calming effect on your child and a stressful situation. It is truly powerful. I’m all for peaceful parenting.
If you are calm, others around you will be calm. If you are anxious, others around you are anxious. Moods are truly contagious. Whether positive or negative — you set the tone. So as hard as it may be at times with your kids, take breaths, laugh, step away. Engaging with your children patiently and calmly, without adding more stress to the situation, is so beneficial.
Additionally, they will listen and actually hear more of what you are saying when you are teaching them what to do and not do, and they will learn from you.
Children also, as we know, learn from watching and observing their parents. We are their biggest role models. If they see you calm and reacting to stressful situations calmly. They will learn to stay calm when anxious or faced with a stressful situation.
Humor is a great way to connect with your child, too, and that connection and bond is so important when disciplining and teaching your children. When they test your patience, take a breath. Take a few minutes. But also, you can add laughter and humor. (I know, easier said than done — but it really does help!) Just always remember your child is learning. They learn from you. Use these times as a good opportunity to teach your child — with humor, if possible — patiently and calmly. They will then feel supported to learn and hear you and cooperate with you, rather than get more upset or frustrated. It also makes it a lot less stressful and more fun!
As far as meals, I am all for eating healthy, and eating at home is the best way to do that. We for sure go out to eat, but it is more the exception than the norm. I am all about choices, too, rather than forcing them to eat something they don’t like. Offering two choices (healthy options) gives the kids the control they want, yet they will still eat well. I always add things to the plate for them to try and re-introduce foods that, even if they tried before and didn’t like it, they may like this time. Often, they end up liking it.
TS: Tell us about your practice and why you find your work fulfilling.
Dr. M: After completing residency, I practiced general pediatrics for five years in a private practice here in Manhattan. During those years, I was also an attending pediatrician at multiple New York City teaching hospitals, where I admitted and examined newborns and pediatric patients. I love children, and it was always so rewarding helping patients, along with parents. I also always loved supervising and teaching residents and medical students in various aspects of clinical and academic medicine.
I have since moved into the pharmaceutical industry. I have had experience in the industry with leading safety teams and physicians and mentoring many physicians globally. I am currently senior director in Safety and Regulatory department at a large pharmaceutical company.
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!
TS: As a fitness expert, what are some tips for parent-friendly workouts?
Dr. M: A good reminder for busy parents as well as soon-to-be moms, is that even just a short amount of exercise — 15–20 minutes — can help boost your energy, lift your mood, and keep you mentally alert, besides keeping you healthy and fit. With your infant or toddler, you can go for a quick walk while they are in the stroller. If they nap and you are home, simple pushups, sit ups, and squats are good. It is also good to stay fit since you want your children to know the value of fitness, and they will if they see you exercising. As they get older, you can exercise with them, too.
I like cardio, elliptical, or jogging, along with some weight training and core strengthening. Also, starting this month, I will be training the next 12 weeks for the FitDoc competition in March.
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Dr. Mitzner believes in using alternative integrated medicine practices — like meditation and acupuncture — for a calmer, well-balanced life, and as a great way to alleviate pain and other symptoms associated with certain conditions.
She started researching and finding alternative treatments after she experienced complications and unexplained headaches from a procedure she had. She says it really helped her during that difficult time, and “I use these practices now in daily life for me, my children, and many other family, friends, colleagues, and more, and it completely changed my life for the better. It also truly helps me raise my children with many of these practices in mind, and I am raising them in a peaceful, calm way.
“This experience and learning of alternative medicine is also the reason I named my daughter Serina (meaning serene and peaceful) to remind me of all the amazing alternative practices that I did throughout my pregnancy with her.”
And sharing her daily mantra, this super-busy parent says, “I think about what I’m grateful for. Happiness is a choice we make. I’m all for being thankful, laughing, and getting rid of things that don’t make me happy and focusing my attention on things that do. Just one positive thought each morning can really change your whole day.”
To learn more about Dr. Mitzner, visit www.alison
Tammy Scileppi is a Queens-based freelance writer, parent, and regular contributor to New York Parenting.