Ask a Nurse: A Letter to New Mothers

Pamela is an RN, MSN/Ed.

Pamela is a mother of 6 amazing children ages 11 to 24. She is a nurse educator and loves to travel overseas to work in medical clinics and teach health-related topics to schools and communities. She has been married to her best friend, Steve, for 29 years. She has many different interests including reading, writing (NOT arithmetic!), baking, teaching, and spending time with her family. She lives in central Pennsylvania with her husband and two youngest daughters. To see all Ask a Nurse articles click here.

A Letter to New Mothers

Dear New Mom,

Happy Mother’s Day for the first time! For the rest of your life this day will have a special meaning to you. For many years I longed to be a mother. I figured, when I graduated college and worked for a few years, we would try to have a baby and become pregnant right away. Sadly, it was not that way for me, or for many others. Some women will never conceive, but will become a mother through adoption. For us, after over 13 months of not conceiving, we lost our first baby to miscarriage.  We finally had our first baby, Joshua, 25 years ago. Today we sat in an auditorium and watched his wife graduate from medical school! We ended up having 6 children over the years and I have learned a few things along the way (You do realize that by, “learned,” I mean, failed horribly and finally found the least painful way of doing things!).
Children are resilient. The first time you raise your voice you may feel like a failure, but raising your voice will not scar your kids for life. What happens more often is, frazzled moms raise their voices loudly and often. This usually trains the children that mommy doesn’t mean business unless she screams.  A firm and quiet voice is often more powerful.
The phone may ring all day long. Guess what? You don’t have to answer it! I cringe when I think of all the time I spent talking on the phone while trying to care for my kids. This was one lesson I learned late. It doesn’t have to be the phone, it could be the TV or computer…try to limit the time you spend on these while your kids are with you. Kids need some undivided attention; many kids will DEMAND it from you! Let your children know how important they are to you. Some parents have “dates” with one of their children every so often. That one on one time is treasured by the child; you will enjoy it, too!
Don’t feel like a failure if your child is not signed up for all kinds of organized sports, music, or art lessons. Children can turn out to be happy, athletic, musical and talented even without paying others to make sure they are! With 5 children under the age of 6, we simply could not be driving to various lessons all the time. Our kids played outside, rode bikes, learned to play the guitar from Daddy, and had their own basketball hoop. When they got older they could pick one activity per season. It was pure insanity to do otherwise. Kids will appreciate the time you spend with them playing in the yard, building forts in the house with blankets and whatever else you come up with. It doesn’t always have to be lessons and teams from the age of 3.
Mommies need a time out, too! Take from me, if you try to be super-mom, or even a regular mom without time for yourself to recharge, you will surely burn out. My second child had colic, he screamed constantly. At his 3 month checkup, the Pediatrician actually wrote on a prescription pad, “Mom is to take 3 hours at the mall, without baby!” Plan for someone to help you out occasionally. Ask a friend to watch the kids while you take a walk or a bubble bath. Play dates can be for moms, too! Talk and visit while your children play in your homes, at a park, or at a fast food restaurant with a play place. The times that I did that were really life savers for me! My area has a weekly “Mother’s Time Out” where the children are in classrooms at a church doing crafts, hearing stories, having snacks and playing, while the moms are having a speaker, crafts and snacks too! It was a great way to connect with other moms and recharge.
Ask your own mom for advice, if you can. Many things have changed in parenting over the years, but the older generation always has some advice you can use. It will make your mother or grandmother so happy to hear you ask for advice! You don’t need to follow everything they suggest, but glean what you can.
Praise your children for helping out, and give them chores at an early age. This helps you and them. Even a 2 year old can put spoons in a dishwasher! I used to let my youngest empty all the plastic dishes from the dishwasher to a bottom drawer.  Younger children can dust, put away toys, and feed the family pet while older children can do their own laundry, mow the grass, vacuum and carry out the garbage.

Your job as a mom is hard, but so rewarding! Call someone who has children older than yours when you feel worn out or at the end of your rope. Ask what worked for them. These are only a few tips, feel free to write me at  if you have any specific questions!

Happy Mother’s Day to my mom, Barbara and my Mother in law, Janet!

Oh, and thank you Josh, Caleb, Julianna, Samuel, Emma and Katja for molding me into the mother I am today-thanks for all the practice! I love you all more than you could ever imagine!

Be Well,
Nurse Pam