Rachel Paterson, RN
Tell us about your own journey and how your experiences have changed the way you look at motherhood and parenting.
I married my wonderful husband in 2014 and we welcomed our son, James, in early 2017. I believe that no matter the preparation that goes into becoming a parent, it is near impossible to predict how your individual experience will be. Each child and each parent differ, and the world is full of different experiences and stressors on every family unit. I have learned that there is absolutely no "one size fits all" when it comes to parenting; and in reality, this is true of the nursing profession as well. Motherhood and parenting are both such beautiful, difficult, challenging journeys that are full of moments of pure joy. We need to support one another to lessen the burden of the challenges and celebrate the priceless moments.
Tell us a little about your nursing career.
I didn't always know that I wanted to be a nurse. However my early career aspirations usually involved helping others in some way and eventually, life lead me to the path of nursing. After nursing school and then working in the hospital, I made the switch to community nursing in 2015. Working in the community gives me the opportunity to engage with parents and families; providing support, education, and encouragement along the way.
What are the two most important lessons you've learned working with moms, babies, and families?
Working as a community nurse has given me a lens that allows me to support entire families, not just my patients. Even though this may sound like an easy task, I assure you it is not! Being able to bring forward all concerns and address every member's needs to create a happy, functioning, complete family is difficult. I have learned that this is so important to create lasting and meaningful change. Another important lesson I have learned is to always be patient and be open to the changes the family is willing and wanting to make. As a health professional, it is too easy to fall into the role of telling someone what is best and what they should be doing. In reality, the best way to support moms and families is to help them determine and the reach their goals, not my goals for them.
If you had one bit of advice to give to a new parent, what would it be?
One piece of advice I would give to new parents is to not sweat the small stuff. I was guilty of this. It is very easy to become consumed with tasks like keeping your house clean etc. The special and memorable moments with your children can be fleeting, especially when parents are working outside of the home. Enjoy the time with your little ones, because you can't get it back!
Self-care is a big challenge for parents. How do you maintain your own energy and outlook?
I believe that self-care doesn't have to be what you see on social media - late night bubble baths and a glass of wine. Self-care is anything that allows you to physically and mentally rejuvenate to be fully present with your family and for yourself. That being said, one thing I do for self-care is focus on eating nutritious and well-balanced meals. I also enjoy a fun evening out with my husband or friends to relax.
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