Amy Barton, MD
Dr. Barton is a mom of an 11-year-old daughter and 8- and 5-year old sons and a pediatrician at St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital in Boise, ID.
What’s your favorite parenting tip? Always remember that most things are temporary phases. Your child might have a terrible, disrespectful, ugly day, but this does not define who they are for the rest of their lives.
What surprised you most about parenting? I was a pediatrician before I was a parent. Looking back on those days, I was SO wrong about some of the advice I gave parents. Parenting is much harder than I ever thought, but also much more rewarding than I ever dreamed.
How do you get your kids to eat healthy food? We have always given our kids whatever we are eating. In general, we eat a wide variety of foods, prepared in a variety of ways, and have lots of fruits, vegetables, and lean meats. These are the foods our children have eaten from the time they were introduced to table foods. These foods are normal for them.
We eat home prepared meals six days a week. The Crock-Pot is the working mother’s friend. You can find easy and healthy recipes to make in the morning. When you get home at night, dinner is already made. We all have fast food, take out, or go out on Friday nights. Of course our kids would probably rather have those restaurant type foods every night, but that is not what is good for their bodies and is not an option for them.
If one of our children does not like what we are having, we do not prepare them a meal of their own. This allows them to find one thing in what we are eating that they will eat. The advantage for us as parents (and disadvantage for our kids) is that because my husband and I are both physicians we know that if our kids do not like a meal and do not eat much one night that they will not starve to death or become malnourished. We have found now that our children spontaneously order healthier foods when we are out. This is very reassuring that we have set them up for good choices as adults.
How do you work exercise into your family’s life? We have activities that we enjoy together. In the winter, we enjoy skiing. We are fortunate to live in an area that has inexpensive easily accessible ski resorts. In the summer, we enjoy swimming. This does not mean swimming laps. Just playing in the pool or at the beach is great exercise. We like to go outside and shoot baskets, play on the swing set, or ride bikes together. Our kids participate in organized activtiies such as dance and sports.
My husband and I get our preferred work outs in by being time savvy. My husband is an excellent cyclist, so he rides his bike to work. Then after work he gets his work out ride in before coming home. I’m fortunate to be able to go to the gym during the day because many of my work shifts are at night. It absolutely takes planning to work exercise into our busy schedules, but the reward is that it is a lot of fun and we all feel better.
How do you recharge your batteries? During the day, a brisk walk and maybe a nice cup of coffee can make me feel re-energized. At night, relaxation is more of a priority. A glass of wine and a nice hot bath do wonders to calm the stress of the day.