Dana S. Simpler, MD
Dr. Simpler is a mom of 25- and 20-year-old girls and a 23-year-old son and a specialist in internal medicine in private practice, in Baltimore, MD.
What’s your favorite parenting tip? I found often books held the solutions to my difficult parenting challenges. One of the biggest challenges during my kids’ toddler years was sibling rivalry. The constant fighting was so annoying. I found a book called How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk and its sequel Children without Rivalry.
It’s ironic, when I told my brother about that book, he joked, “What is that a novel?” But the books really helped me. I found often books held the solutions to my difficult parenting challenges.
What surprised you most about parenting? Now that my children are grown, I’ve been so surprised how fun it is to have grown-up children. We have so much fun together!
How do you get your kids to eat healthy food? My son was a very picky eater. My philosophy was it’s disgusting to make a person eat a food he doesn’t like. But unfortunately, that made me become a short-order cook, preparing many different foods at the same meal to keep everyone in my family happy.
In hindsight, it would have been better to say, “If you don’t chose to eat what I’ve cooked, that’s fine. But I’m not preparing you another meal!”
Keep in mind that sometimes an “old” food in a “new” setting can cause a totally different response. When my son was about four years old, my mother took him for a grandparent-grandchild camp. Each afternoon, they were given an apple for a snack. Prior to this, my son wouldn’t touch an apple. But at that camp, he decided he liked apples, and he’s eaten them ever since.
How do you work exercise into your family’s life? As my children grew up, I considered it to be a fun challenge to come up with creative ways that I could exercise with them. This way, my exercising didn’t take me away from my kids. When my kids were babies, I would hold them on my legs or in my arms and do Baby Lifts. When they were toddlers, my kids loved to swing. We’d go to a playground, and I’d push them in the swing, and as they were swinging I’d run a circle around the swing set or run underneath the swing and yell “Under Doggy.” If you do that for a half hour, you’ve gotten in some good exercise!
As my kids got older, we’d play kickball in the courtyard outside of our home. I’d be the pitcher, and when my kids kicked the ball, I’d sprint after it. The best part of this was it never felt like exercise. It felt like fun!
How do you recharge your batteries? When my kids were growing up, my husband and I didn’t want to get a babysitter so that we could go out. Instead, we did things together as a family and often with other families. I remember one night in particular that was so fun: We have three families with kids over to celebrate New Year’s Eve. We gave the kids streamers, and they threw the streamers off of our balcony at midnight. It was a wonderful memory that I’ll never forget.
On more usual evenings, after our kids were in bed, my husband and I would relax in our family room for a bit, watching TV and catching up with each other.