Erika Schwartz, MD
Dr. Schwartz is a mom of two and director of DrErika.com. She’s a general internist with more than 30 years of combined experience in emergency medicine and private practice, and she has cared for more than 100,000 patients.
How many children do you have? I have two amazing daughters. They are my best friends and I could not be more proud of them. Lisa is 32 years old, married, an attorney and works with me. Katie is 24 years old, is an Internal Investment Consultant at UBS. We all live happily near one another in New York City.
What’s your specialty? I trained in Emergency and Internal Medicine at SUNY Downstate, New York. I have been in private practice for 30 years now. Over the last 15 years, I have focused on Women’s Health, specifically the use of bio identical hormone replacement, supplement and nutritional support, and disease prevention. I consider myself first and foremost, a true patient advocate.
What’s the best parenting advice you ever received? Listen. With so many years of listening to patients and giving my advice to them, it is easy to fall into the same trap with your children. We are all individuals. We all have our own journeys and should not force our children to learn from our mistakes. Guide your children gently, always with love, understanding and support and listen to them. They will make the right decisions if you have confidence in them.
What’s your own favorite parenting tip? My favorite tip would be to be friends with your children. Learn to balance being a mother with being a confidante. From the beginning, be open and honest with your children, let them feel comfortable with you, let them know you will not judge them and they can come to you with their problems, concerns and questions in good times and bad. You need to be their rock. You are the sole person in the world to whom you children will count on, don’t let them down.
How do you get your kids to eat healthy foods? I never kept a lot of high sugar, starch, junky foods in the house. We had rye and whole grain breads instead of white breads, wafer cookies and fruits instead of chocolate chocolate chunk cookies, nuts and snack mixes instead of chips and Doritos, and ice tea and juices instead of soda. On the weekends, we had donuts and pancakes and chocolate croissants so my children never felt deprived. Needless to say, the habits stuck. If you go into either of my girls’ homes today, they have the same foods they grew up with.
How do you work exercise into your family’s life? I have always been an active person, so it was easy to bring that into the lives of my children from the time they were very little. I taught them to swim at a very young age. We played tennis as a family starting when they were quite young. Since I was an avid gym goer, I would bring my daughters with me to be exposed to that environment. And after-dinner walks, especially on family vacations, became a tradition.
I believe that a family that plays together, stays together. If you show your children good habits, they will follow, especially if you make them fun ones. Give your children options of sports and activities until they find some they really like, then make sure to help them stick with it and be their biggest cheerleader. My daughters and I are still going to gym classes together!
How do you recharge your batteries? I don’t get much down time, so my recharge time is short but powerful. I find that exercising helps me the most. I swim laps before I head to the office in the morning, I do a core fusion class at least once a week, and on the weekends I take long walks with my husband and our three dachshunds. I read before bed, instead of watching TV. I love to cook on the weekends, my favorite time being our weekly Sunday family BBQs.