Episode 094: Chat with Dr. Mona

Episode Transcription

Get ready to be inspired!

Join me for an eye-opening discussion with Dr. Mona, a pediatrician and extraordinary mom who's transforming the landscape of parenting and pediatric care, particularly in our post-pandemic reality.

Dr. Mona reveals her secrets to finding joy in parenting, even when faced with the overwhelming onslaught of misinformation and countless choices we encounter daily.

You won't want to miss this episode, it's packed with useful advice and inspiring stories!

In this honest and informative episode, I'll share:

  • Approach to Parenting and Pediatric Care: Simplifying decisions, cutting through misinformation, and bringing peace and confidence to your parenting journey.
  • Balancing Mom Life and Doctor Life: How she uses her personal and professional experience to tackle tough health issues.
  • Post-Pandemic Health Trends: Why we're seeing more illnesses now, and what it means for our kids' health.

What can you expect from this podcast and future episodes?

  • 15-20 minute episodes to help you tackle your to-do list
  • How to declutter in an effective and efficient way
  • Guest interviews
  • Deep dives on specific topics 

Find Diana Rene on social media:
Instagram: @the.decluttered.mom
Facebook: @the.decluttered.com
Pinterest: @DianaRene

Are you ready for a peaceful and clutter-free home? Watch my FREE training video “Kiss Clutter Goodbye” to learn how it’s possible! And find all of my resources here.

This transcription was automatically generated. Please excuse grammar errors. 

Diana Rene: 0:06

You're listening to The Decluttered Mom podcast, a podcast built specifically for busy moms by a busy mom. I'm your host, Diana Rene, and in 2017, I had my second daughter and it felt like I was literally drowning in my home okay, not literally, but I felt like I couldn't breathe with all of the stuff surrounding me. Over the next 10 months, I got rid of approximately 70% of our household belongings and I have never looked back. I kind of feel like I hacked the mom system and I'm here to share all the tips, tricks and encouragement. Let's listen to today's show. All right, so I am excited for today's episode because we have Dr. Mona on, and she is someone who I met on Instagram a couple of years ago and you probably are familiar with her also, I think. Especially during the pandemic, a lot of people got to know her and all of her advice on how to handle it, because nobody really knew how to handle it. So welcome to the show, Dr. Mona oh thank you for having me.

Dr. Mona: 1:16

I think we're still trying to handle it all right.

Diana Rene: 1:18

Exactly, exactly. If you could just share real quick, with everyone listening, a little bit about you and who you are and what you do.

Dr. Mona: 1:28

Thank you so much for having me. Yeah, I am Dr. Mona. I'm a board certified pediatrician, practicing for now eight years, and I love helping parents feel more calm and less cluttered no, no pun intended with your podcast, yeah less cluttered in their mind in terms of making decisions, right? So I know there's so much that we have to think about, especially.

Dr. Mona: 1:50

You know I speak from a lot of the mom lens, but for all parents, you know that overthinking the decision-making, the differing misinformation out there, right? Well, you have to do this and you have to do this. I like to take all of the things that we know and really bring more peace, calm and confidence into parenting, because I do believe that there's a lot of joy in this process, but sometimes that joy can be lost when we are in those negative patterns of overthinking or thinking that we're not good enough, and so I want to remind everyone that you're doing a wonderful job and whatever's plaguing you in motherhood or parenthood, you'll get through it, and that is my mission on my platform, Whatever's plaguing you in motherhood or parenthood.

Diana Rene: 2:27

You'll get through it and that is my mission on my platform. I love that. I love that so much. I am so curious. I'm just going to jump right into some questions for you. My pediatrician is also a mom of young kids and I said to her one day I just wish I was a doctor so I knew what to do and I knew if I needed to bring them in. And she was like, oh no, like I do, I'd maybe do it even worse because I have all of that knowledge. I second guess myself and I have to like I cannot treat my own kids. I have to figure it out with someone else because maybe even more complicated for me. Would you say you have a similar experience or different?

Dr. Mona: 2:59

Yeah, I would say that I. It depends on the issue. So the day-to-day things I think I handle really well. I dealt with some larger issues with my child, my both of my children, and for that I went to my colleagues. You know, and I think that's where the insight comes in right To know, okay, this is something like ear infection, cold cough, I can handle all of that. My child falls and hits their head. But the bigger issues, you know, my son had a stroke when he was born. My daughter struggled with some weight issues, those things I needed to go to somebody else to say hey, is this my anxiety in the front seat? Am I putting my doctor hat on and forgetting that I'm also a mom? And so having that insight has really helped me over the last four years to know what I'm capable of. And I do agree that it is a blessing to be a pediatrician because I save so much time and money in sick visits.

Dr. Mona: 3:47

Um, and I know we'll talk about that, but like I am able to say okay, and my husband's an ER doctor, so we're able to say Nope, this is fine, I can manage this at home. Versus you know what? Now I think I need to get some steroids, or I think I need to go see my colleagues so that they can double check this for me. But that took a while, you know, a few years of getting used to being a mom to get to that point.

Diana Rene: 4:07

Yeah, that totally makes sense. Is it just me, or is illness just been like even more rampant since COVID happened?

Dr. Mona: 4:16

It's not just you, it is reality, absolutely. And you know when life happens, germs are going to happen. So I see it, it is absolutely more. I've also thought that is it because I'm a mom of a small child. But no, I'm seeing a lot more sick visits. I'm seeing a lot more than we saw um 2019, you know, before the pandemic hit.

Diana Rene: 4:34

Okay. What are your thoughts on that? Why do you think that? Yeah?

Dr. Mona: 4:37

I think? Well, I think there's a reality that when we were in the pandemic, we weren't exposed to as many germs, and that's a reality. We were in isolation, we weren't interacting as much, so a few things happened. I describe it that all of us are now experiencing our own version of going to daycare. So what that means is now all of us, like you, know how, when you send your child to daycare for the first time, even before a pandemic, they get sick a lot, right, because their immune system hasn't been exposed to these germs. And now they are. And so for us, think about a year, year and a half, of not being as interactive. And now our bodies are getting used to all of these germs.

Dr. Mona: 5:13

And while while we were hanging out at home indoors, all of these common viruses decided you know what, I don't have any business. So what do viruses do to survive? They mutate. So when viruses don't have anyone to infect, they become stronger by mutating. So there's a twofold thing. One, our bodies just haven't been exposed to these germs.

Dr. Mona: 5:32

But also I do believe that there is a change in virulence of these viruses where they you know your common cold, like, let's say, rsv, or let's say a common cold virus or let's say even just a stomach bug. What it looked like that virus looked like five years ago, it morphs right and that is why things like we're going to get like hand hygiene, disinfecting surfaces you know we use Clorox disinfecting wipes whenever someone is sick in the home, because it just helps kill all those germs. Hand washing, eating right, sleeping well the holistic strategy can help us prevent all of this. But you are right on that. It is a reality and it's not in our heads. It's not like you're not strong enough and that our parents dealt with this. No, it's a reality that I do believe we're sick, way more than I saw when I started practicing pediatric medicine and also even when I was a child.

Diana Rene: 6:21


Dr. Mona: 6:21

So that kind of gives me hope, though, in a way, because if we liken it to daycare, then as was very there was, things weren't open yet, just the daycare was, our school was open and then at 18 months everything opened up Right and he was sick no joke Every week to two weeks and it was so overwhelming. I relate to that so much because I was also working full time. He would get sick. We didn't have proper childcare, this amount of stress that we all had. My husband and I were sick all the time and it was hard.

Dr. Mona: 7:06

And now he's four. He's been in childcare since he was 14 months. He gets sick, but a few things are happening. He's not getting sick as frequently, so he's not getting sick every two weeks anymore. He also has learned how to wash his hands properly. So hygiene is there, unlike a 14 month old right, and also his immune system's getting stronger. So now he gets, let's say, a common cold viruses adenovirus is a common one. His body has seen that can fight it a little bit better. Of course things can mutate and change, but he's getting his body's getting better at handling viruses. But also there is a reality that he's just been exposed to a lot of these things and there's better hand hygiene that's occurring. That is helping him keep these germs at bay.

Diana Rene: 7:47

Yeah, that makes sense. We. I had an ER doctor tell me last summer when one of my kids had croup, which I was like how does she have croup in the middle in August? But that's another story. But the doctor was like, you know, by the time, once they get out, once the youngest family member gets out of first grade, they tend to see illness go down. Because she said be honestly, she's like just to be point blank like kids are left gross by the time they get to second grade, like they're not picking their nose, they're not like licking everything they can find.

Dr. Mona: 8:21

Yes, I completely relate to that, you know, and at the end of the day, I know, you know, like there's a reality of people are like well then, if it's going to happen, should we just let it happen. You know, and I'm like I people are like, well then, if it's going to happen, should we just let it happen. You know, and I'm like I think there's a balance because of course, I don't know what germ is going to come into a child. That's going to be problematic, like you said, like croup, you know things like hospitalization. So that is why it's like, don't worry so much about it, but do the basic things right. Like I said hand hygiene, disinfecting high touch surfaces, making sure you prioritize the rest and the sleep and what you're eating, and all of that. It helps so that you're hopefully understanding that this is a phase but that we're going to get through it and hopefully we won't have the serious stuff that I do see as a pediatrician, but by and large it's rare compared to us healing and being okay.

Diana Rene: 9:05

Yeah, and that's interesting that you kind of are changing, especially when they didn't have anyone to infect over COVID, because I had strep all the time as a kid and then I haven't had strep in like 20 plus years and I had it three times last winter and we're now seeing it go through my kids' school again. But what's really interesting is it's not only super contagious but like kids are having GI issues from it and like random symptoms that you never would normally think of with strep.

Dr. Mona: 9:38

I agree and you know, as clarification, I know you didn't intend this, but strep is a bacteria, so I want to make sure people know that because, yeah, I know you knew that, but I want to make sure our listeners know that strep is a bacteria but it does transmit very similarly to viruses, right Meaning, touching, sharing straws, utensils, saliva. You know that happens and you're right.

Dr. Mona: 9:57

I do see exactly what you said that the presentation of a lot of these common illnesses and I'm using strep as an example have also evolved in that sometimes I usually see your basic you know, lymph nodes, swelling in your neck, redness in the throat but now when a family comes in and they have a little hint of pink or they're telling me they have this unusual rash, I'm swapping strep left and right and it comes back positive many times. And so that is kind of why medicine is a practice right. We're constantly evolving and learning with things as viruses and bacteria evolve, and that is why it's always important to have, like you said, it sounds like you have a good relationship with your pediatrician and really understanding, you know, being able to go to someone and say, hey, I'm concerned, what do you think? Should we check this Advocate for yourself, so that you can really get to the bottom of things if something seems fishy to you as a parent.

Diana Rene: 10:49

Okay, awesome. So we know that illnesses are rampant and even, maybe even more than ever, especially with little kids. What are some things that moms can do to try and prevent for this from happening as often as possible?

Dr. Mona: 11:04

Key word is, my goal is reduction of illness and not elimination. Right, because I do not want to ever preach that. All the things that I'm going to tell you is going to make sure you have an illness-free home, because that's not possible. We are humans living in a world and so germs happen. So there's a few things Obviously, follow guidance from your pediatrician that includes their recommendations on whether your child needs certain vaccines. I know that's a personal choice, but I really want to remind that there is benefit, especially for a lot of the pediatric population, on what vaccines your child might need flu, rsv, covid, whatever it may be.

Dr. Mona: 11:37

The next step is cleaning and disinfecting your home regularly, especially when you have germs in the home. So we had a random respiratory virus go through our house so I took out our Clorox disinfecting wipes because I didn't want my daughter to get it. You know, my son got it, I got it, my husband, and so I disinfect high touch surfaces. So door handles, kitchen counters, the handle on our refrigerator, flush, you know, toilet flushes and that cell phone and that remote control, because we that is where germs can live on surfaces without us even realizing, you know we, our kid, our, your four-year-old, sneezes and then touches the remote or touches the refrigerator handle. So cleaning and disinfecting your home when someone is sick can be really helpful.

Dr. Mona: 12:19

And then establishing good hand hygiene habits. I am a stickler, so my son is four and he knows, because of the boundaries we've set, that he needs to wash his hands before he eats and that he needs to wash his hands after he comes from outside. And that is because of our repetition. So I encourage parents if that is an important boundary to you hygiene, hand hygiene it can be taught. Can a two-year-old remember to do it all the time? No, but as they get older, four or five, if you made it a point that this is a boundary that's important in our family that you have to wash your hands before you eat or after you come from outside, that's something that they'll learn.

Dr. Mona: 12:54

So that's going to be useful. Avoiding the sharing of cups or utensils when sick is going to be useful. And then, of course, the basics taking care of your personal and mental health. So prioritizing sleep, hydration, exercising and movement If you can get outdoors sunlight and sunshine is so healing, especially if weather permits that and really just eating that balanced diet to support our gut health. This is that holistic approach, so that again we can keep these things at bay and hopefully deal with less back-to-backs and get into a point where you're kind of sailing and being like, oh, it's been two months since any of us have been sick. This feels like a dream, yeah.

Diana Rene: 13:34

Yeah, except you just can't say that, because then you jinx yourself.

Dr. Mona: 13:37

Oh true, very true. That is the cardinal rule of parenting.

Diana Rene: 13:40

Yeah, Then you'll get a 3 am wake up call, right? Yeah, exactly, that is true. So what do you say to the parent who may be stressing out, you know, listening to your list and thinking like, okay, these are all great things I could do, but like my kids aren't sleeping, they are picky eaters, they're not eating like anything good for them, like what? What can you say to those parents? What can they be doing, or maybe even mentally doing, in that scenario?

Dr. Mona: 14:07

Yeah, and you're to asking more when they're sick or just as a baseline.

Diana Rene: 14:10

Just as a baseline, you know, like prevention.

Dr. Mona: 14:13

Remember that it's all based on doing the best with what you have right. So it's not like you have to have this sort of 10, minimum 10 hours, 12 hours. Of course there's going to be some nuance here and also from the eating standpoint, I think people are going to be surprised, but your child is probably getting a good amount of nutrients, even if they are pretty selective. It takes a very restricted diet, like extremely restrictive, like I'm talking like in therapy for feeding issues, restrictive for them not to be getting basic nutrition. So focus on the good things your child is doing.

Dr. Mona: 14:47

So I say that because when you're in this realm of well, people are telling me to do this and that it's easy to fall into. Well, my kid's not doing this good enough. But focus on what they are doing good and what they're doing good enough and go from there. So my child is loved, my child is getting the sleep that is that they're able to get. My child is eating things that maybe they didn't try two weeks ago, but it may not be a broccoli, but it's something new, right. So focus on the baby wins. Focus on the things that might be small in your mind but actually can really help your mindset and saying you know what we're all doing. Great, it's going to be fine that it's not doesn't have to look like a checkbox, right, it can look like a big picture of how I approach my child's health and parenting.

Diana Rene: 15:31

Okay, that's great to hear. What would you say to like what do you wish more parents knew when it came to kids and their illness and you know whether or not they should bring them into the doctor or anything along those lines? Like, what would you say to a worried parent who's like I don't know if I should bring them in. I'm not really sure I don't want to, like, annoy the doctor by bringing them in. What would you say to a parent that's kind of in that scenario?

Dr. Mona: 15:58

Well, the first thing is you already, you know, going to share my Instagram and website. I created my YouTube channel for this very reason to hopefully provide guidance on each topic and when to see a clinician, so that a parent can look at it and be like, okay, I am not worried, or I am worried and go. If you don't have time for that, or you that's not your way of getting educated, or I don't have videos on all your issues. My suggestion is always going down to what you need. Don't feel like a burden. So the healthcare system exists for you to have access. It does mean sometimes that there may be a wait. Sometimes it may mean that you have to go to an ER because your doctor's not open. But if you're concerned about your child and you are just up in the middle of the night worried, I'd rather have you go somewhere and someone tell you nothing's wrong, You're going to be fine Hopefully in a nicer way than that versus you saying, oh my gosh, I'm just dealing with this because that is what I hope that the healthcare system can provide for families in that sort of you know what? Here's what I'm seeing. Here's why I'm not worried. Here is when to come back.

Dr. Mona: 17:00

So what I would say for listeners is if you're concerned, you have every right to go see somebody. If that caregiver beats around the bush or really isn't giving you what you need and you're still worried, I would encourage you to ask that clinician. Tell me why you're not concerned. What are things that would encourage you to ask that clinician? Tell me why you're not concerned. What are things that would concern you? What reasons should I come back to be evaluated and should I come back to the ER or should I come back to the office?

Dr. Mona: 17:32

Because that is how you can advocate. One should ever make you feel like a bad person for getting help when you're not an expert in that field. Right, that is what I went to school for. I went to school to help parents with, or no one told you how to handle a cold or that you know. Why is this versus why not? Why to not use that? So really, I hope that parents can have more grace for themselves and, if they ever encounter a clinician that's not supportive, ask those questions that I mentioned, or find a new clinician so they can find that voice and that support, so that they don't feel scared to get help when they need it.

Diana Rene: 18:17

Yeah, that's great. Those are really great questions to be able to ask too. I think a lot of times we hear you know you need to be an advocate for your child, but it's hard to know exactly like how to do that. So having those specific questions that you can ask I think are going to be really valuable for a lot of people. When my just a quick story when my youngest had just turned one, like she had turned one a week before, we all got the flu. Flu.

Diana Rene: 18:45

A and she got so sick that you know she was having trouble breathing. Her fever was like 105 and it wouldn't come down. So I took her to the doctor and she actually got overdosed at the doctor not Tylenol, motrin so they advised us to go to children's ER and so we were there and she ended up getting admitted and she was on oxygen and all this stuff. So she's fine now. She's fine, everything turned out fine.

Diana Rene: 19:14

But I specifically remember my pediatrician was at the time, was texting me and like trying to get updates and he was telling me things that the ER doctor was like they were disagreeing on what she needed and so I just like broke down crying to one of the nurses, because the nurse kind of looked at me like annoyed and it was just like too much, right. So I just like broke down crying and I was like I just want her to be okay and I don't know, like I don't know anything that you guys are doing and what's important and what's not important. And I still can like visually see her sitting down in front of me and saying you are your daughter's only advocate, do not ever apologize for asking questions, and that has just always stuck with me. But I think hearing the questions that you just gave us, it just kind of puts a bow on it, because it's like oh, these are the specific questions I can be asking if I am concerned and I don't feel like I'm being heard.

Dr. Mona: 20:12

Oh, I agree with that and I'm so sorry you experienced that and I hear it all too much, and it's an unfortunate reality of a healthcare system that doesn't allow the time and resources. You would think in a country like America, if people are listening in America, that it would have that. But it's a reality and you are right on that. We are advocates. I had to advocate for my two children in hospitals and myself when I was a patient, postpartum, both times with both my kids. And so I say this not only because I've experienced it from the pediatrician standpoint, but also being on the other side as a patient having a child with medical needs that you have to advocate and sometimes there's going to be disagreement between the people who are taking care of your child. Like it sounds, like happened to you that there's a lot and it can feel so overwhelming when you're here trying to get the best for your child and people are like, well, don't do this and do this because, at the end of the day, so much of medicine is us taking a situation that may not have existed in another situation, so we may see a respiratory distress child, but we have to figure out well, how are we going to best take care of this child, even though we know protocols, even though we know different methods of treatment, and that's why there can be some opinions there too, right? Well, I think this is the best and let's do this. And so the only way that a parent is going to get informed is them to sit there and be able to have the permission to ask those questions and say are there alternatives? 

Dr. Mona: 21:31

I noticed that you did this. Is this the best? Why is this the best? And a good doctor? Because we all should be able to answer those questions, for you will either be able to say it's because of this or you know what.

Dr. Mona: 21:43

I'm going to be quite honest. We are trying something new for your child because of the situation and I want to be transparent about that, because sometimes that happens and so I'd rather have a parent feel empowered in that standpoint and know that we're not just pulling things out of our butt, that we actually there's a method to our madness, than a family to feel so lost and wonder well, what are we doing? Because that creates honesty, that creates respect of the patient, parent, pediatrician, doctor relationship, that hey, look, I'm concerned. This is a treatment that we can try for your child. Typically, we reserve this for X, y and Z, but I really would like to try it. Here are some side effects. Here are some benefits. What do you think and that is what I wish more of healthcare can go towards, because I think parents would find more benefit from the system if we did more of that.

Diana Rene: 22:31

Absolutely. I think so too. Do you ever see a possible like test coming out that we can do from home for you know, flu, COVID, RSV, like they can do in the doctor's office?

Dr. Mona: 22:43

Like meaning. Do I see anticipated it happening in the future? Yeah, I hope so, you know. I think you know like right now we have a COVID test at home. We know that right, there's no at home flu test and RSV home. We know that right, there's no at-home flu test and RSV.

Dr. Mona: 22:55

I think it may be beneficial but at the end of the day, when it comes to viruses and children and especially, I don't care what virus they have, truly, if it's causing them distress, if it's causing them distress, meaning difficulty, breathing, dehydration, they're completely irritable and inconsolable. They're going to need to get seen whether they have RSV, covid or flu. So from a parenting standpoint, there's not much utility in knowing what virus it is, because viruses don't have treatment right. All viruses are all supportive care. So if you know that your child has RSV versus COVID versus flu, yes, it can help for you know if the child's really unwell. But if your child's borderline, you know, hydrated and doing well at home, knowing what virus it is isn't going to really change your management, which is why I don't think they're really going to ever come out with something.

Dr. Mona: 23:43

The reason why we had COVID at home tests is because COVID was new and to prevent it from spreading. You know, from a public health standpoint it was very useful to have those testing at home, so you're not unintentionally infecting people. But in terms of having those tests, I think with the rise of telemedicine we may see more of those If someone's linked into a telemedicine practice, like at-home strep tests, things like that. But it all comes down to how effective and sensitive are those tests, because I would hate that they don't pick it up and then the child has it and then the family was gallivanting around town when the child had strep and so then it becomes. Well, is our testing in house more effective and sensitive than an at-home test? So we don't have the best at-home test right now for strep and other illnesses, but I think technology is advancing and I hope in my lifetime it's going to happen and I feel it will that would be great, especially strep.

Diana Rene: 24:39

I'm considering going and getting a strep test because I'm borderline enough, and that's the weird thing is it presents so differently every time. It feels like that you're never really quite sure, and so it would just be very nice to be able to do it at home. But I also could see how that could potentially cause more issues.

Dr. Mona: 24:56

Yeah, I agree, and I love us looking at science and technology as an innovative thing, right, like, where can it have its place? And I'm a big believer that we have to utilize tech and science in a positive way and also to be more efficient with the healthcare system, like you said. Like, if I can have a family swab themselves and it's an efficient swab I'd rather have them do that than waste their time for an hour and a half when I could have used that time for a child who was unwell, you know, or a well check, you know, um, and so it really has a huge impact on everyone's happiness, I think, in the system.

Diana Rene: 25:26

Yeah, absolutely Well, it was so much fun talking to you. I think this was super helpful um for me, but I think it's also going to be super helpful for everybody listening again, I really, uh, really really love those questions that you gave us, and I'm going to we're going to outline bullet point those in the show notes for everyone, because I just think they are so valuable to be able to kind of like have in your back pocket when you are at the pediatrician if you are just struggling with kind of how the appointments going or how the you know information is or is not being relayed to you. And so I really want to thank you for not only those, but just for your time here today and for coming on and for helping us out with all of this.

Dr. Mona: 26:06

Absolutely. I love chatting. Obviously, I know our conversation circled around the hygiene and the illnesses, but also these really impactful take-home points that I think help just approach parenting in a better way, and that's what I'm all about.

Diana Rene: 26:22

So I'm happy to be here with you guys today. Absolutely Okay, and we're going to put in show notes where everyone can find you, but if you want to just quickly also say here yeah.

Dr. Mona: 26:28

Thank you so much. So pedsdoctalk it's P-E-D-S-D-O-C-T-A-L-K, like a pediatrician doctor talking. So pedsdoctalk on Instagram and then also my website is pedsdoctalk. pedsdoctalk.com, and I'm also on TikTok. I have a podcast, I have a YouTube. I'm pretty much everywhere to disseminate all this information however people like it. So my website and my Instagram are my home. So check those two things out awesome.

Diana Rene: 26:52

Well, if you're listening to this and you found today valuable, please shoot Dr. Mona a DM on Instagram and let her know what your best takeaway was. I'm sure that would be great for her to hear. But again, Dr. Mona, thank you so much. Thank you. Thanks for hanging out and listening to The Decluttered Mom podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, it would mean the world if you could write a review or share this episode with a friend or your Instagram stories. And if you're on Instagram, be sure to follow me at thedeclutteredmom and send me a DM to say hi. I'd love to hear what you thought about today's episode. I hope you'll come back next week and hang out with us again.