Well over a year ago, I documented the “joys” of my third pregnancy in the only way I knew how: brutal honesty. If you are interested in reading the Diary of a Pregnant ADHDer, click this link. The little embryo is now a happy, red-headed one-year-old this month, and it feels like an excellent moment to follow up on the state of things. Reflecting on Felix’s first year, I’m happy to report things have gone really smoothly! No real bumps in the road I can pinpoint. Hahaha! (she laughs deliriously, drawing stares from patrons at her local coffee shop)!
Part One: Expect the Unexpected
It’s not an exaggeration to say Felix’s first six months were, indeed, exhaustingly wonderful. Connor and I soaked up all the newborn goodness in a way we weren’t able to with our first two (being terrified with number one and exhausted chasing a rambunctious toddler while caring for a newborn with number two).
Things took a turn during Fe’s next six months, which became consumed with unexpected health issues, doctor appointments, visits to specialists, and the recording of symptoms. Everything else was on the back burner while we focused on managing our baby’s health. In some ways, my dopamine-starved ADHD brain was an asset throughout all of this because, like many ADHD folks, I do well in a crisis situation. Meanwhile, the rest of life had to be just “good enough” for a while. House – pretty messy. Parent-teacher conferences – I think I made it to one? Sleep – non-existent. Romance – ha!
And suddenly, with the school year wrapped up and the warm weather finally making its way to Northern Minnesota, we’re finding ourselves transitioning to calmer waters. Felix’s health is under control; in fact, he’s thriving! Sleep is back for all of us. I feel human again. A lesson I’m drawing from the past year is that there are going to be periods where things that are important to us go out the window, and that’s ok. Being intentional about not isolating, and connecting with a therapist, helped me push through.
Part Two: Ready, Set…Go? Please? Anytime Now…
So here I am, in my favorite time of year, with newly found energy, time, and desire to focus on areas of my life that have taken a backseat. This, my friends, is called a transition, and transitioning with ADHD – even a transition we WANT to do – is hard. Where to begin when it feels like you’re starting from scratch? Prioritizing, planning, and eventually executing your plans requires a good deal of executive functioning. Since our EF is impaired, we must be deliberate during transitions and lean into how we best problem-solve. For me, this usually involves whiteboards and a lot of verbal processing.
If you are in a transition, think back to those foundational things that helped you in the past. What were the key ingredients in your “recipe for success”? Or maybe things are going really well for you right now. That’s an excellent time to reflect on what’s working for you, so you can return to those when life throws you a curveball, and it’s time to pivot.
In my case, life is always easier when I’m on top of my planning routine. As someone who loves taking my kids on spontaneous adventures, I’ve realized that planning is a necessary evil that enables us to all have more fun. Having a plan for my week and day means less strain on my executive functioning, less decision paralysis, and happier kids who like knowing what to expect. Planning time in my week for those fun, spontaneous outings makes it easier to get through the day-to-day, painfully dull responsibilities.
Planning for me looks like weekly huddles with the husband where we get everything on our giant shared calendar for all to see. So, that’s where I decided to start. Step one of my summer transition = start weekly huddles again. Easy enough.
Or not. The execution of planning in a household with three young kids, no outside childcare, and two working parents is tough. A lot can and has gotten in the way of our standing date. Being outnumbered can be straight-up chaotic (we’ve gone from man-to-man to zone defense, as they say). It’s taken us weeks of false starts to find a time that actually works for us. After experimenting with different times of day, playing around with how to make it more fun (hence easier to start when we’re tired at the end of a long day), and reaching out to neighbors about a weekly kid swap, we persisted and finally landed on a system that seems to be working.
The point here is we got there eventually. It was effortful and annoying, and we got there. We were willing to try something different, fail, and try again and again. There’s always a solution.
We crave fast solutions and big, obvious wins when it comes to managing our ADHD. In my experience, especially during times of transition, it takes time. Start small, try something out, and recalibrate as needed. Go out of your way to notice your wins – and that includes trying something out and failing! That means you’re one step closer to getting where you want to be.
ADHD Coach and Life Coach, Executive Skills Coach