Leena Shrivastava Dev, MD
Dr. Dev is a mom of 14- and 10-year-old sons, an assistant professor of medicine at the Drexel University College of Medicine, and a general pediatrician, in Philadelphia.
How many children do you have? I have two sons, ages 14 and 10.
What’s your specialty? I’m a general pediatrician and also I assist in the medical evaluation of child abuse.
What’s your favorite parenting tip? When you have to go back to work, you’re going to miss some things. You might not be there when your baby smiles for the first time, or when he first crawls or walks. You can’t beat yourself up about it. It’s not important the first time they do it; what matters is the first time you see them do it!
What has surprised you most about parenting? As your kids get older, it might get easier in some ways, there will always be new challenges. You might not have to change their diapers anymore, but now you have to explain why algebra is important! But what is also amazing is that each child has their own insights and opinions and it is so fun to see all that develop from such a young age up until you can actually talk to them about it as “grown-ups.”
How do you get your kids to eat healthy food? We don’t “go to” junk food first. Now that my sons are older, they know junk food exists, but they tend to want healthier foods, such as yogurt for snacks, first. Our rule is they can have some junk food after they eat healthy food.
I also keep cut-up fruits and vegetables accessible on our kitchen counter. They are just as crunchy and sastisfying to munch on. I must be doing something right because the other day, I set out a very limited amount of vegetables, and my son asked, “Mom, where are the red peppers? You’ve got me addicted to red peppers!”
How do you work exercise into your family’s life? My husband is a marathoner, and I do triathalons. I think it’s important for us to model healthy behavior for our sons. We take them to the gym even if they stayed in the playcare area. I worked out through medical school and residency even. Now my older son is old enough to work out with his dad, and that’s a great bonding experience for them. My younger son and I will take some time each weekend to do abs and stretching together – since he is a gymnast, its amazing what I learn from him too!
How do you recharge your batteries? After I finished residency, I felt really badly that I didn’t remember much of my son’s first year. I was so sleep deprived and exhausted all of the time.
After that, my husband and I decided that I would work part-time if at all possible. I work 80% time, so I have one day off each week. That’s usually my workout day now that my sons are in school. I also get some time to myself and get chores done, like cleaning up the house, going to he grocery store, and going to doctors appointments. Its not a day at the spa to recharge (that is reserved for Mother’s day), but it gives me time to organize myself and the families needs in a calm way.