13 Survival Strategies for Moms with ADHD

Tools for managing your child with ADHD — and your own symptoms of adult ADD.

Are you a mom with ADHD? Expert tips for organization, focus, and cleaning.

Don’t interrupt one errand with another.


When ADD Moms Are Superstars

ADD cuts both ways. Here are some ADD traits that lend themselves to optimal mothering.

Hyperfocus can help you show your love. When her son needed a new blanket for his bed, a mom gathered the yarn and needles, found a comfy chair, and finished a colorful afghan in two days. Her eight-year-old was surprised, and he felt very special.

Your intense curiosity can broaden your child’s horizons. When other moms stop asking questions, ADD moms often think about more issues to explore—and to get their children to think about. One mom turned an experiment about whether an ice cube melts more quickly in the shade or in the sun into an afternoon of enlightenment for her child.

Your natural sense of humor can defuse tension. When a child’s temper tantrum causes some moms to shout, an ADD mom’s high humor quotient can often relax the situation. One mom sticks out her tongue to calm things down.

Another says “Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” three times when her son rants about not getting enough video-game time.

Want more reasons to be proud of ADD?

Download 25 Things to Love About ADD, ADDitude's free printable handout.


If you’re a mom who is raising a child with attention deficit disorder (ADHD), you don’t need me to tell you that you have your hands full. If you’re a mom who also has ADD, well, I tip my hat to you.

Terry Matlen, author of Survival Tips for Women with AD/HD (Specialty Press), an ADD mom with AHDD children, describes the endeavor accurately:

"Imagine being asked to build a house, and, instead of having a nifty red toolbox and a cool leather tool belt, all of your tools are buried under the boards and scattered about in piles. What’s more, half of your workers — your children — have the same problem!"

JoAnne knows all about such challenges. Shortly after her son, Robert, age seven, and daughter, Karen, age eight, were diagnosed with ADHD, she found that she had the condition, too. Although medication increased her focus, and behavior therapy helped control her emotions, she was overwhelmed with raising her children and managing her own symptoms.

She would regularly “check out” at the dinner table, and, at times, felt disconnected from her family. When her children mistakenly interpreted her daydreaming as a sign that she didn’t love them, it was a wake-up call. JoAnne sought help.

An ADHD coach worked with her to find ways to replace some of the chaos and tardiness—JoAnne would occasionally forget to pick up her children at a friend’s house at the designated time—with calmness and efficiency. She learned to manage her own problems while guiding her children through their ADD maze.

Here are some of JoAnne’s strategies:

Start your day slowly.

Set your alarm for 15 minutes earlier than you need to get up, and use the extra minutes for meditating, reviewing your to-do list, and gathering your thoughts.

Don’t interrupt what you’re doing.

You start task A, then abandon it for task B, which, you suddenly remember, also needs to be done. Then task C pops on your radar screen. Sound familiar? If so, live by this motto, “Don’t interrupt one errand with another.” Complete one task before tackling the next. Just write down the other task you suddenly remembered, so you don’t forget it.

Hire a babysitter—even when you’re home.

A high-school or college student can act as a support system if your child or children are hyperactive. Student sitters have the energy to keep up with an energized child, especially if you have the inattentive type of ADD and are overwhelmed by an active household.

Be flexible at mealtimes.

Figuring out what to serve for dinner is tough enough. Don’t develop an ulcer over getting your children to sit down at meals. If they are hyperactive, let them stand up, sprawl on a chair, or lie on the floor. Mealtimes will be more relaxing for everyone — and your children will probably eat more because of this.

Make an obstacle course.

Before you go to bed, gather all the items that you’ll need the next day — keys, to-do list, briefcase, letters to be mailed. Place them on a chair in front of the entry door, so that it blocks your path.

Another option: Place must-remember items in a basket and hang it at eye level by the front door. Tie the other end of the hanger string to the doorknob.

Get a tutor.

Most moms with ADD don’t have the patience to help with homework, especially if the mom’s meds wear off at the same time as the child’s. Hire a high-school student a few days a week to take the pressure off yourself. Your evenings are bound to be more pleasant.

More Tips for ADD Moms...

This article comes from the Fall 2008 issue of ADDitude.

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