Aline T. Tanios, MD
Dr. Tanios is a mom of 10- and 4-year-old daughters and an 8-year-old son and a pediatric hospitalist and assistant professor at Washington University in St Louis, School of Medicine.
What’s your specialty? I’m a general pediatrician, and I take care of medically complex patients.
What’s your favorite parenting tip? Be well organized. There’s no way a house can run without organization. I never knew what multitasking was until I had kids.
Also, find out what you’re ”mothering talents” are and nurture these. My talents are my ability to multi-task and fulfill multiple family roles. I have to do this because all of my family lives overseas.
If your goal is to have a stable, happy family, you have to pay its price, which isn’t cheap at all. It costs lots of your physical, mental, emotional energies, but at the end of each day, you will find out that this is your best long term investment.
What has surprised you most about parenting? No matter how exhausted you are after a long day at work, as soon as you see your children, you forget how tired you are. Just a hug from my kids energizes me. I get energy from their hugs and smiles. Then I begin my next job—at home! For your kids, you can move mountains.
How do you get your kids to eat healthy food? We have no problem with our kids eating well. They have learned to eat healthy since they were very young. I believe that the key is to be a role model. I can’t ask them to eat a banana while I eat a cookie! If a parent offers fruits for snacks, they will learn to eat these first. Chips and sodas need to be restricted because they are not nutritionally sound selections. By adding vegetable juices to soups, you can increase their vegetable servings.
I also believe it’s important to be creative and persistent. I offer my kids healthy foods repetitively until they try them; they may not like them the first time, but most of the times they do after a second or third round. I also offer healthy foods in different ways, for example cutting them into small pieces, large pieces, or into shapes with cookie cutters.
How do you work exercise into your family’s life? Each of my kids is involved in activities. One takes gymnastics, another swims. They love it. It’s very hard for us to find the time to exercise as a family, though. We take family walks, but not frequently enough.
I try to incorporate activity into my everyday life. For example, I always take the stairs, and I park in a spot in the lot that takes me 15 minutes to walk to the hospital.
How do you recharge your batteries? I know that when our kids are young, that’s when they need us most. But I’ve tried to stop feeling guilty if I don’t spend the whole day with them. It’s the quality of time that matters, not the number of hours we spend together.
My husband and I try to have weekly lunch when the kids are still at school, but once a month or so, we go out to see a comedy. He is also a doctor and this does make our life more hectic, but we provide each others mutual support.
I talk with my mom and sisters on the phone. They are a constant support. My mom raised six kids, and no matter how overwhelmed I am, she always makes it seem doable. I also pray, and that gives me a lot of strength. Last, I enjoy going shopping all by myself.