Nothing could have prepared me for motherhood — especially motherhood with ADHD. Some days, I feel like a chicken running around with my head cut off. Have I showered? Have I brushed my teeth? It’s noon — have I eaten breakfast yet? Did I take my ADHD medication? More times than not, the answer is no.
Being a new mom is exhausting and exhilarating. At times, it’s even lonely and frustrating. And the only way to prepare for it is to lean in and rely on your strengths. For me, many of those strengths stem from my ADHD.
Without a doubt, motherhood is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. And some days, I don’t quite feel like myself. But I’m embracing this journey for what it is, and for what it’s taught me. And that has made all the difference for me. Here are three things I’m learning as a new mom with ADHD.
1. Asking for help.
Having clear communication is a lesson my husband and I both learned early on. Before becoming parents, we could typically predict what the other person wanted or needed. That all changed once our baby arrived, and I no longer had the time, or energy, to read minds.
Asking for help hasn’t always been easy for me to do. I used to think I was inconveniencing people when I asked for help — even when they had asked to help me first. But after a few arguments with my husband over who would get up at 3 a.m. to change a diaper, it was clear that I needed to silence that thought. My husband and I both needed to.
So, instead of yelling at each other, we now schedule daily check-ins. We take at least five minutes to see how the other is feeling. And how we can best support each other.
Advocating for our needs extends beyond our home, too. We’re getting more comfortable with asking for help from family and friends. When someone offers to help us with a specific task, we take them up on their offer.
2. Letting go of my own expectations.
While I was pregnant, I had high expectations of what I thought this new chapter would be like. In my mind, I would be energized and happy each day. I would rest at night and be productive during the day while the baby was asleep. But once the baby arrived, I realized my expectations were not my reality.
Immediately, I fell right into the new-mom comparison trap. I was seeing other new moms post on social media about how much milk they have been able to pump. And how much weight their baby had gained. It made me feel like I was doing something wrong. Or like my ADHD was getting in the way of my parenting skills.
The truth is, I wasn’t doing anything wrong. I just needed to adjust my expectations for myself — and of my new life. Parenting looks different for every mom, and there are many ways to raise healthy children. I was, and still am, doing my best for myself and for my baby. And that’s what I continue to focus on.
3. Celebrating the small victories.
Finding at least one thing each day to be proud of has been a game changer for me. It can be hard to notice progress as a new parent while you’re in the thick of it.
Did the baby poop today? Great! His tummy must be feeling better. Was he a little less fussy on the car ride to the supermarket? That’s progress from the last time. Both are wins in the motherhood book. But what about my personal wins?
After the first week of parenthood, I made two promises to myself. The first was to shower daily. And the second was to go for a 10-minute walk each day. No matter how hard the day was, or what else was going on, I vowed to do these two things. Because taking care of myself would help me be an even better mom to my baby. And mapping out my success helps me to feel more confident.
Being a mom with ADHD is hard. Sometimes, it can feel like I’m the only one who has no idea what to do or how to do it. But I know that’s not true.
So, when I wake up to a screaming baby at 4 in the morning, I remind myself that I’m not the only mom in the world that is doing the same thing at that time. I take a deep breath. And I whisper to myself: “You’re doing an amazing job.”