As a busy mom and person with ADHD, it can be hard to feel like I’ve gotten anything accomplished at the end of the day. Fortunately I have a list of 10 very simple things that we can do to make all the difference when it comes to ‘getting it done’. In the spirit of getting stuff done, let’s get on with getting it done.
Block out time for what is going to be mentally taxing. I know I need uninterrupted time to write. If writing is what I need to do for my blog or my book, I block out time at least once a week, when I can be out of the house and I know I won’t be distracted by outside influences, IE THE KIDS. This really helps me to focus on the writing part of it.
Other tasks, such as making graphics for the blog, returning texts, making phone calls, I can do when the kids are around, but I may still need a bit of time to do it. I usually do these things when they are having screen time, or are engaged in playing, after I’ve just spent some time with them.
I also prioritize school. I try to do “Circle Time” with the younger kids, at least four days a week. I try to make sure the older girls who work more independently check in with me in the evening. I write down these times so I don’t forget.
I use alarms and timers to the Nth degree. I have timers to let the dog out, timers when it’s time to leave, and ten minutes before it’s time to leave. I put literally everything in my phone calendar, to remind me an hour ahead of time. Because it takes almost 1/2 an hour to get places from the farm, I try to set the timer for 20 minutes when I get that hour notification, because then I’ll have ten minutes to stop what I’m doing, gather what I need, and still leave on time.
If I don’t set a timer, there’s an excellent chance I’ll forget what I had very good intentions of doing, like making lunch, or bathing the littles. Yes. I forget those things.
3. SETTLE TIME
Allow yourself time to settle in to what you’re doing. I find that I have good intentions of showing up at the library to write, but after collecting all the things, making sure the kids at home have their instructions, rushing out the door, paying attention to all the stimulation while driving, dropping a child off somewhere, and then finally arriving at the library, I find I can’t focus. It is so helpful for me to allow myself some time to “waste time” or procrastinate to enable my brain to focus. Be intentional about wasting time.
4. WRITE IT DOWN (AGAIN!)
Obviously, I put appointments in my phone calendar. I put other things in my phone too, like “cut pussy willow branch for Brie” so I can remember to give it to her the next time I see her. THEN, I write it in my planner, both on the monthly page, and the weekly page. I often copy everything onto our big dry erase calendar in the dining room too. Sometimes I put notes on sticky notes and leave them for myself on the back door. The more times you physically write it down, and the more times you come across the reminder you’ve written, the better your chances for success. So please, write it down again!
Is this a lot of work? Yes. Does it help ensure I am a high functioning person? Also Yes.
5. USE SMALL MOMENTS WISELY
One of things I really dislike is house cleaning and menial tasks around the house. Now that my kids are older, I have them doing most of the chores, since they are the ones who make the majority of the messes. But they aren’t completely independent at that, obviously. When I’m heating water for my tea, or I have my coffee in the microwave, I’ll make a point to notice what needs to be down around me. I’ll write it down, so they have the visual reminder, or I’ll call them in and tell them what needs to be done and have them repeat it back to me. I also do this after I’ve been in the bathroom or walked through a room that needs tidying. A good standard that works for us is to not let them have screen time until their zones are done.
I’d rather be on Instagram while I wait for the coffee to heat, but this is much more productive.
6. DOUBLE UP
I listen to podcasts in the car when I’m alone. I do our CC memory work in the car when the kids are with me. I hold CC informational meetings or pop into the shops while the boys are in tutoring. I schedule our Walmart pick up for the minutes between tutoring and ballet. Look at your days with a new lens and try to figure out where you can double up on something while you’re out anyway, or in the bathroom anyway.
7. SAY NO
The best thing I’ve learned to do, but also something I’m still constantly working on, is saying no to extra tasks, especially when it involves kids needing to be driven somewhere. I do my best to make sure they can get rides with other families, or arrange for them to walk somewhere I’ll be anyway. I have to say no to fun things if they are too much trouble to arrange. I have to say no to myself (like being on Instagram, instead of helping the house get picked up). As an Enneagram 7, that skill has been hard won!
Google for best results, but the gist is this: Set the timer for 25 minutes. Do the task. Then take a break for 5 minutes-setting the timer! Then set the timer for another 25 minutes. Then a 5 minute break. You can do up to 4 sessions at a time, then take a 20-30 minute break. This has really worked wonders on keeping my brain engaged on boring tasks, as well as helping me stop doing something I’ve been really enjoying, both of which are extremely challenging for the ADHD brain. It also helps my 10 year old not complain (as much) when we’re working on something he doesn’t like, because he knows there’s a definite end time, and a break. He likes to go outside on his breaks, and it’s hard to get him rounded back up. In large part, because I’m enjoying the break!
9. GET RID OF THE GUILT
Do you ever find yourself saying, “I should be a better housekeeper.” “I should have made the family a nice dinner”, “I should be more organized”, or even “If I were a really good mom, I would be willing to enroll my kid in X, Y, or Z”. Focusing on the I should do this or I should have done that sets you up for being self-critical. When you “should” on yourself, you are judging yourself. When you judge yourself, you are limiting all of your potentials to grow and think openly. CHANGE THAT SELF TALK RIGHT NOW.
Instead of shoulding all over yourself, when you notice you inwardly said that, say something like, “I am the best housekeeper I can be.” “My family knows I love them, even without a home cooked dinner tonight.” “I’m as organized as I can be right now. I’m continuing to grow in ways to be organized”,
and even, “Good moms set healthy boundaries and can say no to things.”
10. YOU DO YOUR BEST
I had a counselor say to me once, when I was struggling with postpartum psychosis and depression and completely defeated by it, “If you could MAKE yourself feel better, wouldn’t you?”
and I was all “Yeah! DUH!”
“Then obviously you can’t MAKE your self better just by trying harder.”
That’s true for ADHD too. You can learn coping mechanisms. You can give yourself grace. You can implement tools for success. You can take medications. But you can’t MAKE your brain different. Love yourself and know that you really are doing your best.