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Published on December 26, 2013

Spend quality time with your kids

Dr. Bhawani Ballamudi emphasizes the importance
being there for your children

Dr. Bhawani Ballamudi isn’t your ordinary Dr. Mom. First of all, she’s a

This is the seventh 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!

psychiatrist at Dean Clinic – East who specializes in child and adolescent psychiatry. So she knows a thing or two about child behavior, which gives her some added help raising her 11-year-old daughter and nine-year-old son. Dr. Ballamudi also enjoys a unique, worldly perspective, having grown up in India, attended medical school in Ukraine and earned her fellowship at the University of Wisconsin. When it comes to her family, she exhibits the familiar parenting qualities of a caring and involved mom.

My parents have a strong influence on many things I do, including my parenting. I really loved the way my father would tell jokes and make us laugh. When we were young, my sister, two brothers and I would cuddle up with our parents on their bed and tickle each other, tell jokes and laugh.
That’s the best memory from my childhood that I’ve tried to incorporate into my parenting. I like to have fun with my kids and make them laugh and roll on the floor with them.

My parents were also particular about eating at least one meal together as a family, which I try to do with my children (even though it’s not always possible with busy schedules). They were also very active in their community and kept close ties with our extended family. I do my best to instill those traditions into my parenting efforts, so my kids will hopefully also continue them.

Being a physician has its advantages

Both my kids feel very special that I’m a physician. They like the fact that they don’t have to visit their pediatrician when they come down with minor ailments because “mommy is a doctor.”

My children are also proud to tell their friends that their mom is a doctor at Dean Clinic. In fact, since she was five years old, my daughter has said she wants to be a doctor just like her mom. Now that she’s 11, she’s even narrowed it down to being a pediatrician.

Making time quality time

Regardless of what you do, balancing enough time for work and family is tough. I’ve come to realize that it’s not the amount of time but the quality time spent with my kids that matters most. Unless I’m on call, I try to put my work aside once I’m home. I ask my kids about their school experiences, stay with them during their homework and listen as they practice their musical instruments.

Usually we’re so busy with our kids’ activities and our own careers that my husband and I struggle to find time to spend with each other. But we are getting better at it. When we do have time, we enjoy watching movies and TV serials together.

No fooling Dr. Mom

In our home it’s understood that mommy is good at taking care of the human body and disease and daddy is good at computers. So my kids know they can’t fake illness with me.

But there are times they try to make a small ailment into something bigger than it is. I’m usually supportive and empathic of their discomfort but still make them go to school or to their scheduled activities. It’s taught them to be honest with me and for me to trust them when they say they’re not feeling well.

Daughter on call, sort of

When my daughter was between two and three years old, I was still a resident and on call a lot. Her dad was also on call a lot for his customers. Which means, we both had a pager with us most of the time.

Not to be outdone, my daughter insisted we get a pager for her, too. So we bought her a toy pager and she attached it to her diaper and walked around feeling very important.

Some helpful tips for moms from a mom

At the end of the day, keep in mind that we all do the best we can with the resources we have. That’s why I recommend paying attention to the quality of time rather than how much time you spend with your children. In addition, here are some other suggestions:

  • Set a schedule and help your kids stick to the schedule as much as possible. This is very important, especially as they get older and have multiple demands.
  • Plan time for family activities, such as playing board games, watching TV and taking family trips and vacations. Build family memories as often as you can.
  • Talk with your kids constantly and listen to them talk about their school, friends and teachers. Your kids may not tell you everything you want to know when you ask them, but make yourself available when they want to talk or when they need you.
  • Teach your kids the importance of giving and sharing with friends, family and community. Help them understand they can make a difference in the world.
  • Talk to your kids about bullying and the ways to handle it without getting into a fight.
  • Help your kids to be more self-confident and assertive.
  • Choose you sitters and daycare carefully. Make sure to get references before hiring them. If you think it’s needed, do a background search.

Most of all, your kids need love, attention and tender-loving care. You are the one person who can give them all that. Let them know how much you care by being with them and doing things with them.

Final words from Dr. Mom

As a physician, I discuss these important points with all my child-and-adolescent patients and their families:

  • Create as much routine and structure in their life as you can.
  • Make sure they get plenty of restful sleep.
  • Encourage adequate physical activity.
  • Be aware of safety precautions for summer and winter activities.
  • Provide a balanced diet with plenty of vegetables.
  • Limit screen time.

Finally, make special times with your children, bond with them and set gentle yet firm limits.

Share your helpful tips or ask Dr. Ballamudi a question via our comments section.

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