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Published on November 12, 2013

Be Sure to Make Time for Yourself

Dr. Danielle Gindlesberger recommends taking care of yourself so you can take care of your family

This is the sixth in a series of Dr. Mom blog posts. As physicians with children, our Dr. Moms will share their personal and professional insights to help you navigate your role as a parent. Learn more about our Dr. Mom group!

A native of Lena, Illinois, Dr. Danielle Gindlesberger specializes in family medicine and obstetrics in Sun Prairie. When not tending to her busy practice, Dr. Gindlesberger spends much of her non-working hours raising her two young children with her husband and caring for her father. She also enjoys gardening, quilting and cooking in her spare time. Her profession and role as a parent have given Dr. Gindlesberger insights into raising a family and handling the challenges that come with it.

Like most parents, I often find myself relying on my own experiences growing up. Consciously and subconsciously, our past history reflects in our parenting style with our own children. It also reflects in interactions with my patients, especially in observing how their family life affects their health.

Parenting has given me much better insight into raising a family, handling bullying and other issues that arise. It has also given me a unique perspective in becoming a caregiver for my father.

Rely on a good support group

At the start of my career in medicine, I unexpectedly became my father’s caregiver. In addition to my new role as a physician, I had to juggle caring for my father and two young children in diapers, as well as being a wife. It was a daunting task to say the least.

Fortunately, my training as a physician helped me know what resources to use. With the right connections, it was much more manageable. I had an amazing group of people to help me, including the other physicians I work with.

The biggest thing to remember is that you’re not in it alone. It isn’t easy being a caregiver, mother and a spouse, so don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Start with a good support group. Loop siblings and other family members into your parent’s appointment schedule. Count on them to share the burden of transportation and other errands when you can’t do them.

Also, keep in mind that not only is your parent’s physician a resource for you, but your own doctor can be helpful as well. Acknowledge your challenges and ask for advice.

Balance your family time

Given that my work schedule can be very intense, I value the quality time I spend with my kids. Staying connected to them is very important. Sometimes being on call and lengthy deliveries cut into to my personal life. But even if I’m not able to come home on time, I make sure to talk to my kids on the phone so we can share our favorite things of the day.

My kids are also familiar with the hospital and see it as a place to meet up with mom and have dinner. We get creative to ensure we stay connected.

Date night with my husband is also very important. Thankfully my mother, who is only about 90 minutes away, loves to come and visit the children, which allows my husband and I some much-needed time together.

A good laugh always helps

Kids are funny little things. A day doesn’t go by that I’m amazed the by what they say or have learned. Even though they’re too young to realize exactly what I do, they know that I work to “help make people better.”

One of my favorite “doctor” stories has to do with my daughter when she was four. Her teacher in preschool returned from maternity leave. My daughter asked my husband how the baby came out. We had previously discussed using anatomical terms and to keep it simple when kids ask those “tough questions.” So he appropriately said that babies come out of vaginas.

About a week later when I was picking my daughter up from school, her teacher shared a good laugh with me. She said one of the kids in her class asked how her baby had “hatched.” My daughter very loudly and clearly informed the whole class, “Babies come out of vaginas and I know because my mommy is a doctor!” We still laugh about it today.

Take time for yourself

As moms, we often burn the candle at both ends. That’s why you need to give yourself a break now and then, so schedule it in your calendar or planner. This will help make you a happier and more productive person. Be sure to do it – because it’s so important.

Also, don’t forget to be active and work out. Too many women come to see me after their kids have grown and left the house and I find that they have neglected their health. As a result, they are often battling diabetes, hypertension and obesity. Don’t let it happen to you. Get outdoors with your family, join a fitness group or club or take walks with a friend or your spouse. Make it a routine and do it with someone else so you don’t forget. The most important thing is to be as active as you can when your schedule allows.

How do you take a mental break from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season (or everyday stress)? Share your tips below!

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