Allison Bailey, MD
Dr. Bailey is a mom of a nine-year-old son and a five-year-old daughter and a Harvard-trained specialist in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. She is founder and director of Integrated Health and Fitness Associates, in Cambridge, MA. She specializes in pregnancy-related pain conditions and practices medical acupuncture.
What’s your favorite parenting tip? Sometimes you just have to let go. There is so much, as parents, we try to control to keep our kids safe, healthy and happy. But there is a lot in life we can’t control as well. I think we need to recognize our limitations as parents. Sometimes our kids are going to make decisions that we don’t think they should. I try to give my kids the freedom to do things themselves and make mistakes when it comes to things that aren’t as big a deal when it comes to their health and safety. Sometimes they surprise me at how much they can do and figure out on their own when given the opportunity.
What surprised you most about parenting? My son was such an easy-going infant and toddler that when he was young I thought I was doing a great job at parenting. Then my daughter came along. She is feisty, has non-stop energy, and is stubbornly independent. Basically none of the “great parenting” skills I had displayed with my son had any effect on her. I realized how flexible I have to be as a parent – every child is different, every day is different. I try to get to know them each as individuals and respond to them uniquely. They are very different people with different needs and that will continue to change over time…
How do you get your kids to eat healthy food? We eat healthy ourselves and have mainly healthy choices at home. When my kids want a snack, we offer fruit, nuts, whole grain crackers, cheese, yogurt, and granola as the mainstay. We don’t completely restrict junk food either though. They can have a small treat or dessert a few evenings a week or on the weekends. As long as they are mostly eating good stuff, I think that’s fine.
How do you work exercise into your family’s life? We are active people, and we try to involve our children in family activities. We swim, kayak, ride our bikes, and walk the dog together. We live in New England so we embrace winter by skiing as a family. We also require that our kids do at least one extra-curricular activity that is physically active. This comes naturally to my daughter, who loves dance and sports, but it is more challenging for my son. He would rather take theater and art classes. We make sure he is always doing something that is physical. In a way, this has been fun and allowed him to explore some unique activities since he had no interest in the typical team sports. Instead he has taken at different times swimming, skiing, martial arts, and fencing.
How do you recharge your batteries? A date evening with my husband! We are both family oriented and passionate about being great parents. But we need to spend time alone to renew our own relationship. When we take this time for ourselves, I am always reminded about all the reasons I married him and feel energized and ready to face the challenges of parenthood and medical practice.