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Parenting When You Have ADHD

Parenthood is a joyful yet challenging journey; whether you're a stay-at-home parent or trying to balance your career with other responsibilities. For those of us with ADHD, these demands can be particularly overwhelming. In this article, we'll explain how ADHD affects parenting and then explore some practical tips to help you thrive in your parenting journey.

How Our ADHD Affects Parenting

As a neurodevelopmental disorder, ADHD is characterized by difficulties with attention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity. These symptoms can significantly impact various aspects of parenting, including organization, time management, and maintaining consistent routines. However, it's important to note that being a parent with ADHD also brings unique strengths, such as creativity, energy, and spontaneity, aka being the “fun" parent. But you may wonder, "How am I supposed to help my kids when I can barely keep myself organized and on track?" Here are some ways:

Practical Strategies for Parenting When You Have ADHD
  • Establish Routines: Keep a calendar, and use different colored inks for schedules.; one for you and one for your kids. Consistent routines provide structure and help manage impulsivity. Create daily schedules for yourself and your children, including set times for meals, bedtime, and activities. Also, try to be flexible and schedule downtime to re-energize. Plan time for family meetings to review the schedule and discuss potential adjustments.

  • Use Visual Aids and Breakdown Large Tasks: Visual reminders such as to-do lists and chore charts can help you stay organized and on track. Color coding or labeling can make these tools even more effective. To stay on top of things, write everything down, including phone messages, grocery lists, and date notes. Large tasks can feel overwhelming for individuals with ADHD. Break them down into smaller, more manageable steps, and celebrate progress.

  • Think Ahead: Anticipate problems and implement measures to avoid them. Do as much as possible the night before to avoid morning delays (i.e., put out clothes, pack lunches, etc.). Create an area near the door where all items needed to get out the door can be placed (i.e., books, papers, bags, clothes, etc.). Put up a bulletin board for reminder notes (i.e., appointments, "don't forget…", soccer practice, etc.) Solutions to daily problems are easier to find when the whole family is helping. Also, kids are likelier to follow rules they've helped create independently.

  • Prioritize Self-Care and Practice Mindfulness: Parenting with ADHD can be draining, so prioritize self-care activities such as exercise, adequate sleep, and relaxation techniques. Taking care of yourself enables you to better care for your children. Create quiet time/zones with rules that accommodate your needs. Many ADHD households are lively and cluttered, so parents with ADHD - especially moms - sometimes need to downshift for a few minutes of quiet space. Mindfulness techniques, such as deep breathing and meditation, can help manage stress and improve focus. Incorporate mindfulness into your daily routine to enhance your overall well-being.

  • Seek Support: Don't hesitate to ask for help when needed. Explain ADHD symptoms to your family; spouses or children may not know what they could be doing to help. Be open and honest with your children about your ADHD. Help them understand your challenges and strengths, fostering empathy and cooperation within the family. We sometimes forget to put our own "oxygen mask" on first, going out of our way to help our ADHD kids but leaving our own needs unmet. If needed, get outside help for chores that create tension. Contact family members, friends, or support groups for assistance with childcare, household tasks, or emotional support. If you take ADHD medication, you might want to consult your doctor about adjusting the dosage or incorporating alternatives to help you cover the non-friendly but necessary tasks of your "2nd shift" after you get home from work (i.e., making dinner, helping with homework, bathtime, or other chores).

  • Clutter Down: Designate homes for the things that typically pile up (i.e., magazines, empty bottles, jackets, shoes, etc.) Open the mail while standing beside the trash to toss junk mail immediately. Designate a place for mail that requires action and/or payment and schedule a day/time it will be done. Periodically schedule a 'room sweep,' get a giant garbage bag, and dump any unnecessary items from every room into it.

  • Focus on Positives: Parenting with ADHD inevitably comes with challenges, but it's essential to focus on the positives and celebrate successes, no matter how small. Have a sense of humor and laugh at your ADHD's inner voice as often as possible. If you mistake salt for sugar (or vice versa) and dinner doesn't turn out as planned, or you accidentally 'spill the milk,' don't cry. Remember that perfection is not the goal—what matters most is the love and support you provide your children.

  • ADHD Coaching: Work with an ADHD coach specializing in helping individuals manage their symptoms and improve their organizational skills. Coaches can offer personalized strategies and accountability to support your parenting journey. Parent by your book, not someone else's; use a system that works best for you and your family. —

Yes, parenting with ADHD presents unique challenges, but with the right strategies and support systems in place, it's entirely possible for both parent and child to thrive. By prioritizing self-care, utilizing practical techniques, and seeking support when needed, parents with ADHD can create a nurturing and fulfilling environment for their families. Remember that you are not alone, and resources are available to help you. Embrace your strengths, celebrate your successes, and enjoy the rewarding journey of parenthood.


Parenting When You Have ADHD (


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