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Healthy Kids
How to reduce holiday stress

Four-year-old Grayson Riley and his 2-year-old sister, Madeline, love the holidays, from the trees to the stockings to the Elf on the Shelf. Their mom, Lindsey, loves the holidays, too, but she admits that the busyness can be stressful.

"I think the key is to be flexible and be forgiving to yourself," Lindsey says. "You want to do it all and sometimes that's not possible. That's just life, especially life with two little ones and the fact that I am a full-time working mom."

Pediatrician Dr. Pilar Bradshaw says it's common for families to get overwhelmed during the holiday season, trying to do so much in such a short amount of time.

"You have all these conflicting emotions, things you remember from your childhood that you want to reenact with your children. There's a lot of stress around schedules, busyness, lack of sleep and often around travel," she says.

Dr. Bradshaw says maintaining family traditions or starting new ones is a great way to keep the reason for the season in perspective. Traditions are a great way to bond, as a family, and they not only provide stability to kids, but also wonderful memories. The Riley family visits a tree farm every year to cut their own Christmas trees.

Here are ways to add calm to the chaos that often comes with the holidays:

  • Plan ahead. Let your child know in advance when specific things will happen. Having a plan and keeping kids in the loop is a huge stress reliever for them.
  • Stick to routines, as much as possible. Regularity is comforting to children, so when it comes to things like naps, baths and bedtime, try to keep your normal schedule, especially when traveling.
  • Give back. The holidays are a great time to instill in kids the importance of helping others. As a family, find ways to donate toys or other needed items, or volunteer your time to support a nonprofit in the community.
  • Create downtime. Taking even a 15-30 minute break can give parents a breather and help kids recharge, decreasing the likelihood of a meltdown.
When schedules get busy, Lindsey makes it a point to take a time-out, not only for herself, but also for her children.

"Sometimes, we just sit together and read books, or watch a Hallmark movie or the classic Rudolph and Frosty movies. It's important to take time with our kids to just relax and enjoy our time together."

Focus on what matters most, even if that means everything on your to-do list doesn't get done. It's the time spent together and the memories that you make as a family during the holidays that matter most in the long run.

"Have conversations with your kids about why the things you do as a family at the holidays are so important. That's going to be much more meaningful to your child as they grow up, rather than just another toy under the tree."

For additional tips on reducing holiday stress for you and your kids, click here.

Eugene Pediatrics collecting donated items for Bags of Love

In a warehouse in west Eugene, volunteers gather to work on a very special project. Unlike Santa's elves, whose work is seasonal, Bags of Love is busy year-round.

"It takes a lot of people to put everything together. We have a sewing crew that does nothing but make bags and quilts for us," says Annette Brieske, warehouse manager at Bags of Love, a nonprofit that helps kids in crisis.

Bags of Love are homemade pillow cases, or sturdy duffle bags for older kids, stuffed full of essentials and comfort items for children in need due to neglect, abuse, poverty or homelessness.

What's inside a Bag of Love?
All of the items are essential to a child's health and well-being—a change of clothes, socks, underwear and pajamas, a warm coat, hat and gloves, toiletries, school supplies, books, a stuffed animal and a quilt or warm blanket— 87 percent of the items inside each bag are donated.

"When the kids open the bags, you'd think we've given them the world," Annette says. "And that's what we think about as we're filling the bags. We put our love into them."

It's estimated that nearly 1 in 4 children in Lane County lives below the poverty line. One in 25 students is homeless and others find themselves removed from their homes because of abuse and neglect.

Bags of Love partners with nearly 50 nonprofits and government agencies to get the bags into the hands of children who need them, from infants to teens. These bags serve as a lifeline to the kids who receive them, and requests for the bags continue to increase.

"We often see kids who come into our clinic carrying a toy, stuffed animal or other object from their Bag of Love," says Dr. Pilar Bradshaw. "Knowing that there are people who care enough to give them something to physically comfort themselves in their time of crisis, it's amazingly powerful."

How you can help
More than 2,200 kids in Lane County received bags last year, and the nonprofit relies heavily on donations to meet the need. Eugene Pediatric Associates will be accepting donations of items at its clinic through the month of December, including:

  • New socks, underwear and pajamas (all sizes)
  • Winter coats, new or gently used, sizes infant to adult
  • Long-sleeved T-shirts, sizes 12-adult
  • Small infant and toddler toys
  • Baby dolls
  • Journals for tweens and teens
  • Small flashlights
  • Small nail care kits
For a list of additional items and donation sites around the community, click here. Monetary donations to Bags of Love are also greatly appreciated.

Eugene Pediatric Associates offers patients continued support at the hospital

Sisters 7-year-old Brooklyn and 2-year-old Presley Ferrell are happy, healthy little girls. But not too long ago, they were each hospitalized for severe illnesses.

"It was one of the worst things you can imagine," says Jeremy Ferrell, the girls' father. "Not knowing, at first, what was wrong and seeing your child in pain—it was awful."

In spring of 2017, Brooklyn was diagnosed with a condition called cyclic vomiting syndrome, which causes sudden, repeated episodes of severe nausea and vomiting.

A year later, Presley contracted the human parainfluenza virus, the virus that causes croup. She was in severe respiratory distress and was rushed to the hospital, then transported to Doernbecher Children's Hospital in Portland. Frightened and worried, Jeremy and his wife Kimberly found reassurance in having their pediatrician, Dr. Pilar Bradshaw, there with them at the hospital, helping to determine a diagnosis.

"I was informed and I was supported. It was like she was a counselor for me," Kimberly says. "She was there to take care of my daughters, but she was also taking care of me. She was there every step of the way. And that was priceless."

These days, it's rare for families to see their own pediatrician at the hospital.

"Nationwide, there has been a big shift in pediatric medicine, as well as adult medicine, in that you have one set of doctors that takes care of you when you are in the outpatient setting and a different set when you're in the hospital," says Dr. Bradshaw.

Eugene Pediatric Associates is the only pediatric clinic in the region that still cares for their patients at Sacred Heart Medical Center at RiverBend in Springfield. They understand that this level of care is beneficial to families when their child is sick or when they are born.

"When you've just been through this amazing experience of giving birth and you have a billion questions, it's nice to see that the face walking through the door is the one you are going to see for the next 18-30 years," Dr. Bradshaw says.

The Ferrells say having their pediatrician by their side after the births of their daughters and especially during severe illness has meant the world to them.

"She knows my kids and she knows their history," says Kimberly. "It was just so powerful to talk to her and say 'I need you to tell me that everything is going to be OK,' because I wasn't sure. She literally held my hand through one of the scariest times of my life."

We're there when you need us
Your providers at Eugene Pediatrics make rounds at Sacred Heart before and after seeing patients at our clinic, and they check in on their newborn patients within a day or two of being born. This additional level of care allows our physicians to connect with families from day one, when you need us most.

"It's important to us to establish a relationship with our families, to be there with them to say, 'I'm going to take care of you, your child is going to be all right and this is what we're going to do,'" Dr. Bradshaw says. "That's very reassuring for parents, and it's very rewarding for us."

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