A few important mottos for parents

Three young girls huddled together

First, I’d like to introduce myself and say I’m so honored to be writing for the Parenting Program blog. I have three girls (that’s them above) and am pregnant with my fourth! (Yes, someone pinch me — four girls!) After 13 years of marriage to an amazing man, rigorous medical training, four difficult pregnancies, and a brain tumor, I picked up a few goals along the way to help keep me healthy, sane and happy.

As a pediatrician for more than 10 years, I’m in awe of the amazing parents I see in my practice every day. They inspire me to strive to be a multitasking, loving, empathetic, energetic mother. All of us as parents are trying our best, and we all want what’s best for our children.

Sure that comes in many shapes and forms, many ups and downs, many trials and errors, but at the end of the day we are all doing our best. And our best is good enough, it really is!

Sometimes that means taking it one day at a time (or even one hour at a time). I’ve also learned that our happiest, most “successful” children aren’t always the smartest or most athletic, but instead they are confident, loved, and emotionally secure children who have healthy relationships with their peers and parents. Those are the ones who go on to do the best in school and life.

Now on to a few important mottos I’ve learned as a parent:

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Life happens, dishes pile up, and laundry never ends. But the special moments with your children are like a blink of an eye. Learn to let go, learn to ask for help, and not feel guilty about it. Why? Your children will remember the moments you played with them more than the spotless house.

Now that isn’t to say we should neglect our duties in the house, but instead, finding a balance will make you a happier, healthier family. Better yet, get the kids involved with the chores; you get help and it helps teach responsibility, pride and appreciation for all that you do in the home and outside the home.

Talk to your children. We often want to shield them from our emotions, forgetting to let them know about our good days and feelings. But sharing our feelings in kid terms (even when you’re overwhelmed) helps children learn empathy. They emulate us and when they see us open up about our feelings with open dialogue, they will tend to feel more comfortable and forthcoming with their feelings as well.

Let go of the guilt. As a full-time working mother married to a full-time working physician father, we constantly struggle with guilt. Seriously, I still cry when I drop my older girls off at elementary school. (Let’s keep that between us, OK?) Whether you work outside of the home or work at home as a full-time parent, we all suffer from guilt in one way or another.

There are days my girls are home sick, but I’m at work taking care of other sick children. I have a commitment to both my children and my patients. Finding the balance isn’t always easy, but I learned to deal with the feelings that come my way. I learned the various sacrifices that need to be made as a physician and mother.

Learn to be kind to yourself and realize none of us are perfect. Every day is delicate balancing act as a parent. We learn to prioritize — sometimes we get it right and sometimes we don’t — but at the end of the day, we survive, learn from mistakes, and celebrate the successes of the balancing act we call “parenting.”

Take care of yourself so you can take care of your family. Oh boy, this is one of my favorites! I’ve learned just how important over the years.

As a mother, I found myself getting burnt out with my children. I hated how I felt when I would snap at them or when they sensed I was short and unhappy simply because I was exhausted and overwhelmed. There were some days I would come home and have absolutely no energy left to interact and I was struggling to find joy with my children.

Then in October 2011, I was diagnosed with a benign brain tumor and temporary lost my vision. I endured spinal taps and treatments just to get back to being healthy. But my role as a parent never stopped; we can’t just “stop” being parents. So the show went on and — although difficult — we managed. This was my aha moment, when I knew I had to change my lifestyle and take time for myself or I wouldn’t be there for my family who needed me most.

A couple smiling

My husband, Ali, and me

I started running (well, at first it was a walk) and five years later, I’m an avid runner. Believe it or not, my husband and I ran over 10 marathons in the past five years together (raising money for pediatric cancer) and more than 40 half marathons. Before then, I never did a lick of running and it has been life changing! It is my “me” time, my thinking time, my healing time, my outlet for my stressors, and a source of joy. The end result: I’m a better mother and physician, emotionally stronger, and healthier mentally and physically.

Morale of that story: Parent burn out is a real thing. Find a hobby you like and run with it (no pun intended). Take moments for yourself, have date night with your significant other, get some fresh air on a walk, turn on some loud music and dance like nobody is watching, read a good book, color, whatever it is — make time for yourself. Your children will thank you in the long run for taking care of yourself. They will learn we become less stressed, less snippy and overwhelmed with them. And the time we spend with them becomes more precious, enjoyable and special.

Final thoughts

Well if you got this far, thank you for reading my very first blog article! I’m looking forward to writing more in the upcoming months. As a pediatrician and mother, I have much to share. Above all, thank you for being the parents that you are and for to raise emotionally happy and healthy children. Remember to be kind to yourselves, you are likely doing a million times better job than you think you are! Happy parenting!

– Dr. Hannan Alsahlani, is a pediatrician, Beaumont Children’s Hospital Residency Program faculty, and associate professor at Oakland University William Beaumont School of Medicine. But my greatest title of all is Mother!

8 Responses to “A few important mottos for parents”

  1. 1 Kimberly Hunter June 2, 2016 at 9:22 am

    We love Dr. Alsahlani! Thank you for the words of encouragement and loving your treating your patients like family.

  2. 2 Anonymous June 2, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    Such an inspiration! Very much enjoyed reading this blog article. Thank you!

  3. 3 Lisa June 3, 2016 at 2:21 pm

    Such an amazing pediatrician and woman. We have had the honor of having her as our pediatrician and role model for our children . She is also a mom at our school and is very involved with the school and fundraising for our PTO .

  4. 4 Anonymous June 3, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    She is not just a fantastic mother to her 3 beautiful children, but she has become like a mother to all the students she mentors at OUWB. We love and appreciate you for who you are and all you do. Great article Dr. Alsahlani, thank you for sharing part of yourself to help others. I look forward to reading many more!

  5. 5 Anonymous June 3, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    Amazing…so beautiful ❤️

  6. 6 Jane June 3, 2016 at 7:58 pm

    I have known Dr. Alsahlani since she began her residency, she is an awesome pediatrician, women and mom!

  7. 7 Anonymous February 17, 2017 at 9:21 am

    Very well written. The Alhimiri family is blessed to have each other. Keep well.

    • 8 Jessica and James Stealth February 25, 2017 at 2:42 pm

      Such an incredible pediatrician and mother . We are so happy she opened her own practice now! Serenity Pediatrics is a beautiful place with a special doctor . Our children get so excited to see Dr. Alsahlani !!

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