Our ADHD-Parenting Real Mum: Melanie!

Gosh I love this series! How fun and interesting is it to read the real stories of other mums, and share their experiences with them? This next gorgeous mumma I met through social media – and while it is called “social media”, I know many people are skeptical of the opportunity it gives us to meet and socialise with new people. For Melanie and I, this wasn’t the case. We connected on Instagram and I was drawn to her bubbly personality and beautiful heart. After she spent some time reading the Real Mums series, she decided she wanted to share her story as a mum to a child with ADHD, as well as her own struggle with Anxiety. She is an inspiring and stunning mumma, and I hope you enjoy her storytelling style as much as I did when chatting with her. Grab your cuppa, relax and enjoy x 

Hi Melanie! Thank you for joining us this week of our #RealMums blog series, it is such a pleasure to be able to chat with you today! Firstly, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your family?

Thank you Mumma Morrison for taking the time to include Lion Fox & Co in your #RealMums series. Firstly, I think it is important to try and keep the Sisterhood alive amongst Mother’s, especially since it can be an overwhelming and exhausting period of your life.

I am a 32-year-old Mother and Wife from Mandurah WA. I have a loving husband, whom I have been married to for three years, and two wonderful sons aged 5 years and 7 months. The reason for the large age gap between our two children is because my husband is in the Navy. Unfortunately, he has spent more time away at sea during our relationship which has made it very difficult to expand our family.

I am currently on Maternity Leave, which I am absolutely loving second time round. Currently, my role is a Regional Assessor for Home and Community Care. I assess people’s needs based on their disability, and ascertain what support is needed in the home. It has been a very rewarding period of my life, and it is satisfying to know that I have created a positive impact upon people’s lives.

What does an average week look like in your household?

Well I have a school aged child, so it is mostly focused on the dreaded school runs. However, with my time spare I am either playing or nursing my son Flynn. Most recently I have commenced working as a sole trader for an educational company that teaches children about Australian critters and wildlife. I will be working from home, focusing on their PR and social media. Plus, when my husband is home on the weekend, we ensure that we have quality family time.

You mentioned one of your sons has ADHD. Can you talk us through the process of getting a diagnosis for that and how it has impacted your family life?

So to give this question a bit of context I’ll explain to you some ADHD facts as quoted from the Royal Children’s Hospital website.

‘Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a developmental problem which results in poor concentration and control of impulses. The three most common symptoms of ADHD are inattention, impulsivity and overactivity. It can impact upon children’s learning and social skills, and also family functioning. Every 3-5 in 100 children in Australia have been diagnosed with ADHD and it is far more common in boys than girls.’

Our biggest issue to date with Lucas is his impulsivity. Last year, when I was heavily pregnant with Flynn, Lucas went on a walkabout. We have a tall Colorbond fence down the side of our home, and Lucas decided to open it and take our pets for a walk. After an hour of searching for him, we knew we had to contact the police. There is a massive golf course that runs through our suburb and my fear was that he would decide to go for a swim and likely drown. Once the police arrived, they had a helicopter on standby in case it was needed. Thankfully I always ensure that our pets are tagged and this is how he was located. A lady called me to say that not only did she have our dogs but also our son who invited himself in for a cold drink of water.

Lucas had been on a pediatrician wait list for roughly 8 months before he was assessed. This was by the request of his kindergarten teacher, after she expressed some concerns about how he behaves in the classroom. It had been a very long year for all of us and I have described in an earlier post on our blog that he can be quite an exhausting little boy. I was fairly anxious prior and during his appointment. It only took 45 minutes to diagnose him with ADHD.

There is still room, lots of room, for improvement from our part. We try so hard, but our own ignorance and frustrations taint our ability to be patient with him. It’s a big learning curve for us, and we try hard to ensure that he is on the right track. He does not consume processed or refined sugars and he eats a mostly plant based diet. We supplement magnesium to help him control his behavior. We try and give him a structured day so he knows what to expect, we give him small goals to complete so he feels accomplished and has something to work towards. We try to avoid negative words like don’t, didn’t, isn’t and wasn’t. Most important of all though is that we tell him we love him.

How does parenting a son with ADHD impact your role as a mother, do you think?

There are days, today included, where I am psychologically and emotionally spent. Don’t get me wrong as I absolutely adore Lucas, but I am glad to see the back of him when it comes to our bed time routine. Currently, we are going through a phase where he is so adamant on his decision that nothing you can do can change it.

I do question my ability on being a Mum, but you see, I am my harshest critic. Lucas is well loved and well cared for, plus having another child has opened up another chapter of motherhood for me. It may sound a bit cliché, but I feel like a Mother reborn.

You’ve also been open about your life with anxiety. What does that look like in your life as a woman and a mum? How might other mums recognise the signs in their life?

Sadly, I have dealt with anxiety for most of my life. But it was only within the last 18 months that I was formally diagnosed by my GP. My anxiety was getting that bad that I was barely able to function with simple day to day tasks. The worst of my symptoms were my heart palpitations. It would literally stop me in my tracks. Some days it would cause me to hyperventilate and on a couple of occasions would cause a panic attack.

What triggered my anxiety was surgery to remove my gall bladder back in 2014. There were several complications which resulted in three days in ICU, and later transferred to another hospital for further procedures. After I was discharged it just kind of spiraled from there.

Recognising the signs of anxiety is not always easy, as you can have anxiety without the symptoms of having depression. Some symptoms that stood out to me was..

Heart palpitations, irritated easily, nausea, difficulty sleeping, dizzy spells, trembling, dry mouth, sweating, feelings of dread.

It was truly an awful experience, but I am so thankful that my husband came with me as support to speak with my GP. These days I manage my anxiety with medication, and blogging has helped ease my stress. It can be very healing.

You have some challenges to face (as all mums do). What are your tips or advice for overcoming these challenges?

My husband is my best friend, and being able to openly communicate with him has made these challenges far less scary. Let’s face it, parenthood is a team effort.

You started a blog with your husband called Lion Fox and Co. How did you come up with the idea to start this blog, and what is it about?

As quoted by my husband..

“Our site started innocently enough. Mel was in the bath, Chris was trying to cop a perve (as usual) and ‘we’ (Mel) decided it would be a great idea if we had our own blog! The conversation went a little like this;

‘I think we should start our own blog, so that we can blog about stuff together and that would be fun!’

Translated from womanese into manspeak means something along these lines;

“I want you to work out how to create a website for me to blog on, so that I can replace one distraction (phone) with another (blogging). I’ll let you have a sneaky look at my boobs so that you get hypnotised and comply with my every whim.”

So here we are. In a short few months, we have gone from zero followers on Instagram and Facebook and we’re now attracting new likes and follows daily. We are by no means experts, or perfect, nor do we pretend to be.”

If you could give some encouragement to new and prospective mums, what would you share with them?

Be kind to yourself. That’s it! There is no manual on parenthood, so just do what works for you and your family. Go with your gut Mama’s.

Thank you so much for sharing your amazing story with us Melanie! If you’d like to follow her, Chris and their family’s journey, read their blog HERE, visit their Facebook page HERE or visit their Instagram page HERE.

About Fi Morrison

Fi is a mum to her beautiful, 1-year-old baby boy who she affectionately calls Starfish. She started Mumma Morrison as a way to document her life with her son, but also aims to create a supportive and encouraging community for new and prospective mums. She is returning to part-time teaching in July. Fi and her family live in Sydney.

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