Ivanna is a mom of four and founder of EmpoweredMommies.com: Informed. Confident. Strong. Healthy.
How many children do you have? I have been blessed with four children. I have two little girls (one is 4 yrs old and in preschool and the other is 18 months old) and two sons (2 ½ yr old and a newborn). My home life is quite busy right now as you can imagine! What’s your favorite parenting tip? I’ve been fortunate to receive some wonderful advice from my own mom (who raised six kids of her own) and also from other experienced mothers. One of the most salient tips includes practicing patience every day. Kids pick up on our own mood and mental state and if we are not rested, happy, and patient, they will act up to get our attention. And I have to say, that has been my experience. Also, it’s important to strive for balance whenever possible. Take time out for yourself and your spouse/marriage. I think doing this helps you be a better mom, but I have to admit, with four small children it’s definitely a challenge.
What has surprised you most about parenting? The lack of sleep! I used to need about 10 hours to function properly, go to work, etc. Now I’m lucky if I get five hours a night. But it’s amazing how you learn to cope.
On a more serious note, the biggest surprise has been the realization that a parent’s job is never done and it’s up to you to teach your children so they can become happy and well adjusted adults. As parents, the impact that we have on these developing human beings is awe-inspiring to me and I’m humbled by the opportunity to be a parent.
How do you get your kids to eat healthy food? With my infants, I tried to establish a healthy foundation for breastfeeding for as long as I could. With my toddlers, it’s a bit more challenging, but I strive to make sure fruits and vegetables are at the core of their diet. I try to introduce new, wholesome foods several times so they adjust their taste for it. I also try to make it fun for them. I make shapes out of carrots or other veggies, and I teach my kids that sweets and other high sugar and fatty foods are reserved for special occasions and treats.
How do you work exercise into your family’s life? My husband and I love being outdoors. We always have since we started dating. When we started having kids we made it a priority to continue with that lifestyle. We live near a greenway preserve and enjoy hiking on the trails with our kids. On the weekends we spend a lot of time in our backyard and local parks, playing outside so exercise becomes a natural thing rather than simply going to the gym. We are members of the local Y and take advantage of their family programs, such as family fitness days and swimming.
How do you recharge your batteries? What’s that? Kidding….right now, I’m very busy because they’re all so small and so close in age. But I strive to spend an hour or so a day (usually after my husband and I put them down for the night) to read, listen to music, and just meditate. We have come up with a schedule where two nights a week and Saturday mornings (unless we have plans already) I’m able to do a mommy activity, such as go to the gym, get a cup of coffee, spa, or swimming. This definitely helps me maintain my sanity and recharge. I feel so much better afterward, and it shows in my approach towards my kids. A rested mommy is a happy mommy, and a happy mommy usually means happy kids.