Parenting can feel overwhelming and exhausting. Even the most dedicated among us may sacrifice their own wellbeing on behalf of our kids and that’s not the wrong thing to do but there is a better way. You’ll be a better parent when you first take care of yourself, and by learning how to balance caring for yourself and your kids, you’ll be a more confident, calmer mom or dad. It may seem impossible but it’s actually not.
In her new book, Calm and Confident Parenting, Alison Mitzner combines science-backed information with her own experience and shares proven strategies and tools for making small changes to your mindset, routine, and habits. The book guides you through manageable adjustments that improve your nutrition, focus on fitness, and critically organize your time that will make you a happier, better parent to raise your children with calm confidence and to enjoy your journey as a mother or father.
Drew Appelbaum: Hey Listeners, my name is Drew Appelbaum and I’m excited to be here today with Alison Mitzner, author of Calm and Confident Parenting: How to Care for Yourself and Your Kids through Life’s Chaos.
Alison, thank you for joining, welcome to The Author Hour Podcast.
Alison Mitzner, MD: Thanks, thanks for having me.
Drew Appelbaum: Let’s kick this off, can you give us a brief rundown of your professional background and then tell us a little bit about yourself?
Alison Mitzner, MD: Sure. I’m based in New York City and am currently a single mom. I am a board-certified pediatrician and I worked in a busy private practice here in Manhattan for about five years before I transitioned into the pharmaceutical industry where I am now. I’ve been at Pfizer for about 15 years, currently a senior director in safety and regulatory.
Alongside my career, I help parents thrive and I help them become calm and confident parents. I really wanted to share the information and the experience I have from medicine, motherhood, and wellness, and I love that I can do that for moms all across the world.
Calm and Confident
Drew Appelbaum: Now, why was now the time to share these stories in the book? Was it like you just mentioned, a lot of moms came up to you and said “Hey, you look so calm and confident, you need to share your tips and tricks with the world?”
Alison Mitzner, MD: I really did start writing alongside the time I left practice, and parents who still had a lot of questions would come to me if they felt overwhelmed and there was so much misinformation out there. I started helping them with questions and then writing for mom blogs and then slowly, editors from media started reaching out. I did feel the need, when I was pregnant, that there should be more books that were easy to understand and easily digestible by parents.
Then I did find that it was not so much the information that I always gave. Yes, they needed that but it was parents, what they reacted to most was my calmness. It always stood out to me what the ability to find the calm meant to parents. I wanted to take on writing with my experience and my medical backgrounds, along with that and put it in a book that can really help people with their parenting.
Drew Appelbaum: While you were writing this book, a lot of authors will have the idea of the book in their head but then during the writing process and digging deeper, they actually come to some major breakthroughs and learnings, sometimes about themselves, sometimes about whatever they’re researching. Did you have any of these major breakthroughs or learnings along your writing journey?
Alison Mitzner, MD: I did, even when I started writing blogs and short articles and essays and then more with this book, it was everything that I learned from my past, not only the medical background but my personal experiences, and all I learned with alternative medicine, how everything that I was doing for myself really impacted my kids and my parenting and who they’re growing up to be. The more and more I wrote, the more and more I saw that this is so true, even in my life today.
I think a lot of that came even as I had the idea of the book and then throughout writing the book, how it all is intertwined and related and so important to get through to parents where they might not know what they don’t know. I was really excited to be able to share this in this book.
Drew Appelbaum: Now, when you sat down to write the book, who exactly did you write this book for? Is this for new parents, is this parents of toddlers, single parents only, or even someone like my parents who still have to deal with me at almost 40 years old?
Alison Mitzner, MD: It is for soon-to-be parents and also new parents. They can be busy moms, whether they’re entrepreneurs or single moms. Initially, I set out thinking this would be perfect for the single moms, and I’m now currently a single mom and about how you have to deal with everything. Then I felt a lot of parents still asking me questions and it was still relevant to a lot of busy moms, stay-at-home moms, entrepreneur moms, and having their businesses and working so much.
I think it is just for parents who are so busy and a lot of times putting their kids before themselves and seeing how that impacts their parenting and their ability to enjoy the parenting along the way, so I think most parents or new parents or even soon to be parents.
Starting with Yourself
Drew Appelbaum: Now, how would you say that this book differs from other books on the subject?
Alison Mitzner, MD: I wanted a parenting book and I thought about this when I was pregnant. I was trying to research books and there were so many books out there that were textbooks and I love science and medical information, but I was falling asleep with them.
I wanted something that was easy to read, where parents would find it easy to pick up, and wouldn’t dread picking it up and not understanding. So, it needed to be easy to understand, easy to digest, simple enough that way to still get the information in a succinct way, and it also isn’t just about what you need to know about your kids and their first year of life. It could even be for second-time parents who might not have learned alternative medicine.
It’s not only from the perspective of what you see often of, “This is what you need to do to take care of your kids,” but from the angle of starting with yourself as the parent and how everything you’re doing for yourself really is impacting you, your parenting, your whole family and ultimately your kids, and what they’re learning and they were modeled and how they will be as adults.
Drew Appelbaum: For those who are not parents yet or maybe for those who are just not going to be parents in the future but they’d love to know, what is the state of parenting today if you will?
Alison Mitzner, MD: I think a lot of times, it really depends, there are so many different ways you can parent, there’s no one way or one right way. But I think a lot of times, parents think that it’s hard to achieve healthy parenting because there’s everything you need to do, and there’s so much to do for that child, and parents are putting themselves on the back burner. So, I think for modern-day parents, it’s hard to find that balance. I think there’s a lot to learn for yourself and how to care for yourself to parent.
Drew Appelbaum: Traditionally, how does anyone really know what to do as a new parent and if you think you know what you’re doing, how do you know if what you’re actually doing is right?
Alison Mitzner, MD: You’re not supposed to, which is also one of the reasons why I love so much initially, getting all these questions my way and writing because you’re not given any information. You can ask your pediatrician in the first year of life and answer all those questions about parenting but there really is no one right way. I think it goes back to what I said initially, you don’t know what you don’t know, so I wanted this book also to have that information.
These small little things that you can do in your life that can help you feel more calm and confident ultimately will help with your parenting. That goes back to the question of how do you know what you’re doing? The more you do know, the more calm and confident you will feel as a parent.
Drew Appelbaum: Yeah, speaking of calm and confident, you actually talk about that early on in your book. So, how do you suggest folks transition from absolutely, totally stressed to actually being calm, and what are the benefits of just being a little bit calmer as a new parent?
Alison Mitzner, MD: For that, and I talk about it in the book, it’s not all at once and there are all different types of people, and some are in general, more stressed or deal with their emotions in different ways. That’s why, again, starting with the parent about ways that you can handle your stress and we all have stress.
You can’t get rid of your stress, the important thing is to learn how to manage it because we know you can be moody and irritable or more anxious once you’re stressed and it can affect your physical wellbeing. It can affect immunity and disrupt your sleep, and your eating habits. All of these things you can’t change overnight.
We talk about small things that you can do, even if it’s just a little bit at a time, that ultimately can help you feel more calm and confident and then how that impacts your parenting. You can’t just do it all at once, and if there are times when you might not be able to handle stressful situations in certain circumstances, you can learn tools of how you can actually manage those situations.
Decrease Your Stress
Drew Appelbaum: Now, self-care, obviously, plays a huge role and it not only benefits yourself but it also benefits the people around you. When you talk about self-care for moms, what tips and tricks can you suggest?
Alison Mitzner, MD: There are so many and it really depends on what works for you, but it is important. Self-care is not just what people think about when they’re getting their hair done in their spa days but really, what you can do for your own physical health, whether it’s your annual checkups, and things like that, or sleep, or some acupuncture, there are different things that you can do.
For myself, I love fitting in exercise because I think that’s a huge mood booster. It helps with sleep and anxiety, but there are so many different things depending on what you prefer. Some people find going out with friends for 20 minutes, other people find just taking a walk or doing some yoga, so it really depends on you.
I like to talk about the different things that there are available for you to help decrease your stress, which again is so important because it impacts not only your overall health but also your physical health. You know when you’re stressed you won’t sleep as well, you are more moody, you’re irritable, you’re impatient, and all these things are not going to help at all with your parenting. You want to be more calm.
Drew Appelbaum: Now, I know a lot of moms will feel this way and that it might be selfish or that they’re not doing their job in a way, if they make mommy time. What would you say to them if they said that?
Alison Mitzner, MD: I often say this, but it is definitely not selfish. I think it’s selfless because you’re doing what you need to do to be a better parent. Even if it is 20 minutes in the morning where you just want to work out or do something that you need to do that you know will help you feel more calm, or you can get things done for you, ultimately throughout the entire day that’s going to make you a better parent and ultimately help your kids. I say that often, it’s not selfish at all. It is actually selfless.
Drew Appelbaum: You also mentioned that this is not a book to tell you the one right way to parent. Is there actually one right way even using science-based and backed approaches?
Alison Mitzner, MD: No. I mean, there are so many different ways to parent and we’re all unique. We’re all individuals, we all have different personalities, and we all have what we like ourselves. We know that my self-care might be very different from others. Other people might not enjoy music–we can talk about music some more and the benefits of music–everyone is a little different on how they parent, so there is no one right way.
There’s definitely not one right way to parent. What we know about science, for example, the benefits of exercise and so what you do for exercise or how you implement family fitness into your parenting can look different for everyone, but we know the benefits of exercise and all that it does for your physical health and your mental health and your emotional health. So, those are science-backed studies that will be the same but how we all parent is different.
Drew Appelbaum: Now again, you start off the book with being calm and confident but after all of that, how do you maintain your focus and confidence through crisis moments, those moments of pure chaos?
Alison Mitzner, MD: There are going to be many of those and there are times when it’s really hard to not get upset, excited, or stressed, but taking what you know in situations. That’s why I feel like the more you know, the more calm and confident you can be. Knowing how to be prepared at home for certain situations, for example, if your child is sick in the middle of the night. Or where you know how to handle when you’re getting upset and handling your own emotions when you’re feeling a certain way.
Learning about your own emotional health and teaching that to your kids so they start to learn how to handle their emotions. There are different tools that you can learn about handling emotions and handling your stress that can help in those times of crisis. But again, like I said when under stress, you react in a certain way. You can never just be calm all the time, but it is how you’re handling it and managing it that’s important.
Drew Appelbaum: Now, in the end, clearly there’s a lot of work that has to be done, and going through the book and practicing and really working on yourself, so is it worth it, and will it really lead to a better parenting experience, not only for you but also for the children?
Alison Mitzner, MD: Without a doubt. Yes, you don’t have to just read it and do everything all at once. That’s impossible, but there are things that you might not have known to pick up on that you can try. Maybe it’s a couple of things a day or maybe it depends on the age of your kid or maybe you’re now pregnant having your second child and you learn things about having the siblings together.
There are so many different ways. I wrote this wanting parents to utilize it in a way that they can but it would definitely help you to learn things that you might not have known otherwise, to feel more calm and confident. When you do, when you are in situations, you ultimately will be able to enjoy those moments as a parent more than if you were just stressed out all the time.
It is hard to enjoy it during those times, you’re just so worried, or you have so much to do, or so much on your plate. Or, when we spoke in the beginning, parents that feel like everything has to be done for their kid, forgetting themselves. It is really hard to enjoy your parent time and your family time and that quality time, which is really the best part. That’s really what your kids are going to remember too, right? Not the times you’re multitasking on your computer and trying to get things done, but even that small amount of quality time that you’re with them where there are family games or the times that you really engaged and enjoying.
Drew Appelbaum: Well, what is the impact that you hope your book will have on a reader when they finish and I know you just said, you can’t obviously take all those steps at once but how about for the first steps? What are the first steps that you hope a reader will take after finishing the book?
Alison Mitzner, MD: That there really is a way to enjoy it. We all know that it’s so stressful, it’s so overwhelming. I mean, there are times we’re thinking, “Oh my God, how are we going to get this all done or figure this out? Parenting is so hard.” There really is a way to enjoy it, as hard as it is going to be at times, and when you’re feeling overwhelmed and buried and swamped. Everyone’s in the same boat so it’s okay to feel that way, but there are things that you can do to feel, “Wow, I can do this, I can feel confident about it and really start to enjoy it and not feel stressed out all the time.”
That’s my hope, that they really take away just having these tools even if it’s just a little bit at a time without having to go through what I went through to really learn all these things. They will have that from reading this book.
Drew Appelbaum: Now, you do have a website, can you talk about what the address of the website is and what resources that readers and listeners can find there?
Alison Mitzner, MD: Yes, I have a lot of articles on different topics and a blog for parents to read whether for pregnancy, post-partum, wellness, now for pandemics, for all different topics that they can read. I have a couple of workshops and seminars that I like to give on these topics now. There’s a small community if parents want other parents and myself involved.
There’s a lot of different things on the website and tools for parents to utilize with a lot of the same information, because like I mentioned, there’s so much information out there and I’m finding the ones that hadn’t reached out to me, they’re so overwhelmed about where to go and who to trust because there is some information out there that’s just misinformation.
I wanted a place where I can really have a resource hub for moms on pediatric parenting, fitness, alternative medicine, for all of that in one spot on my website.
Drew Appelbaum: Well Alison, we just touched on the surface of the book here but I wanted to say that writing a book for parents about how to live better and also how to parent better is no small feat, so congratulations on having your book published.
Alison Mitzner, MD: Thank you so much, thanks for having me. I’m so excited.
Drew Appelbaum: This has been a pleasure and I’m excited for people to check out the book. Everyone, the book is called, Calm and Confident Parenting, and you could find it on Amazon. Alison, besides checking out the book and your website of course, where else can people connect with you?
Alison Mitzner, MD: On social media, my handles are consistent across the board on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, @dralisonmitzner, and on my website, they can reach me through chat or through messaging, and soon, I’ll have another community like I mentioned, for my blog and my parenting community. There are all different ways that they can reach out to me and I really love helping and supporting parents so feel free to reach out and I look forward to continuing to get to know some of the parents across the world.
Drew Appelbaum: Well, Alison, thank you so much for giving us some of your time today, and best of luck with your new book.
Alison Mitzner, MD: Thanks so much.