Daily Health Tips

Notes On Holiday Parenting

Author: hillparkmedicalcenter1 December 20, 2023

by Madeleine Morrison, ND

Happy Holidays! As we dive into the Season, some parents and caregivers may have noticed that your children are having more colds and flus or tummy troubles. 

Holidays can mean bigger meals and more sweets. In addition, our kids sleep less and stay indoors more frequently. Our digestive system works best with the “rest and digest” portion of our autonomic nervous system. 

  • A few deep, slow calming breaths between bites in addition to slower eating can enhance the body’s ability to properly turn on the digestive juices. 

To enhance the immune system; 

  • Getting adequate sleep is ultra important as is exercise and outdoor time. Here in California we have access to outdoor spaces and activities and some pools are open year round. Having fun ball games outside, walks to look at colorful lights, trips to the park all enhance our immune system and help children and parents sleep better. 

Communication Tips

Notice how your kids are doing – watch for their cues. Are they overstimulated? Do they need quiet, sit down, or cuddling time for a bit? Take some time to walk around the block to take a break and ask them how they are feeling. Children tell us how they are doing primarily through their behavior, even from across the room, try to read your kids’ cues to give them what they need for smooth days.

Take Care Of Yourself 

Short tempers and anxiety often rise with seasonal, family and even friendly gatherings. Be mindful of your own energy and moods. Eat and drink smart for the season. Make time for yourself to get some exercise and sleep. 

Games and Puzzles

Games are a great way to bring the multi-generations together for fun. Have family or friends bring along their favorite game or puzzle and take turns playing or split a large group into smaller ones of mixed families to get to know new members of the group and reconnect with others. Plan a few games and be prepared and have fun!

A Note About Food ISSUES

To decrease the stress on cooks and shoppers, ask members of your party to send an email with their dietary needs. This is a great way to introduce new foods to children and have inclusion of various options. My family gathering included a person who eats no chicken, a vegan, a celiac person, and kids that eat oysters! Accommodations can be hard but parents of the kiddos and the person themself is happy to answer any questions. Many kids with food sensitivities do not appreciate being left out or made to feel different. 

Your child seems food reactive or digestively challenged 

Tummy troubles are very common and not well addressed by mainstream medical communities. As Naturopathic doctors we have extensive training in these issues. 

If you wonder why your child is a picky eater, has odd reactions after eating certain foods, or has frequent infections, ear aches, eczema, ADD/ADHD, or many other issues, this can often relate back to food sensitivities that can be tested for with a finger prick or blood draw. 

If your child has more gas and tummy aches, constipation or diarrhea, consider a comprehensive stool analysis, which provides information regarding good and bad gut bacteria, yeast, other bugs and parasites. This can also tell us how well they digest their food and looks for possible inflammatory markers. 

Taking care of these issues with children often leads to easier digestion and diet choices for them later in life. Food is our friend, not our enemy. 

With these tips and ideas you might find yourself having a more peaceful holiday season.  When you get in over your head, REST, call someone to watch the kids and if your children get sick, we are here to help.

About the Author

Dr. Madeleine Morrison is a traditional Naturopathic Doctor with a depth of family practice experience that specializes in pediatrics, women’s health, endocrinology, autoimmune diseases, and gastrointestinal conditions. She provides full pediatric care including well-child visits from birth onward, and welcomes acute and chronic family medicine concerns for patients of all ages.

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