I am proud to say I have successfully kept my two daughters alive and thriving for almost seven and four years respectively. I have also earned my Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in pediatrics and successfully passed pediatric board certification, so I must have this parenting thing down, right? Please hold your applause…I’m just winging it like the rest of you!
If you are a new parent or a seasoned parent encountering new obstacles, you most likely have a plethora of advice and parenting tips and tricks from family, friends and social media. It’s confusing because there’s so much conflicting information and you just don’t know how to sort through it all (trust me, I’ve been there too!) For me, the end goal is to have children who are healthy, safe, happy and loved. And, equally important, that as parents, we are also these four things. I’ve tried to identify some simple, yet important, highlights for you to think about how you can incorporate these four values into your children’s and your lives – every day.
- Fruits and veggies: No, your child won’t eat all of them, but continue to offer a variety of fruits and vegetables. And just as important, you should also eat the fruits and vegetables offered because none of us get enough!
- Sleep: Establish a bedtime routine and stick with it. Your children need sleep to grow and develop and we as parents need quality sleep to function in our busy lives as well. Children who sleep well = well-rested, happier parents.
- Poop: Every. Single. Day.
- Car seat safety: You need to restrain your kids in age and weight appropriate car seats longer than you think you could and the harnesses need to be tighter than you think they should. Car seat safety evolves over time to driver safety. Our children ride in the car with us frequently, so model safe driving behaviors such as wearing a seat belt every time and not using your cell phone anytime you are behind the wheel of a car.
- Vaccinate: It’s a beautiful thing to be able to give our children something that can literally save their lives. Here are 5 myths about the flu shot that I find helpful when talking to parents who may be unsure whether to vaccinate their kids or not.
- Read: Reading to your children not only helps language and cognitive development, but it is also a great opportunity to bond with your children and promote a sense of togetherness.
- Make memories: It can be as simple letting them pick the movie for the night to as extravagant as a trip to Disney World, but strive to make meaningful memories with your children doing activities you all can enjoy together as a family. And don’t forget to take pictures of these memories, big and small, to help them last a lifetime!
- Put the phone/tablet down and turn the TV off: Giving your children your undivided attention lets them know that you are present and engaged. One of my fellow colleagues talks about what is appropriate and not appropriate for screen time for children in this article.
- Say I love you: Tell your children each and every day that you love them and that they matter to you and the rest of the world.
We all parent differently with different life experiences and expectations. But the end goal is essentially the same: raise healthy children in a safe environment who are happy and feel loved. So, go ahead and fill in the blanks with whatever works best for your family to give your children a fulfilling childhood that is uniquely theirs!
Courtney Huston, A.R.N.P., C.P.N.P., D.N.P. - UnityPoint Clinic Pediatrics, Ankeny Medical Park
Courtney is currently accepting patients, call (515) 965-4696 to schedule an appointment!
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