I Remembered I Forgot (Just in Time)

A sleepless night playing catchup leads to deep thoughts on systems, structure, and staying organized with adult ADHD.
Family Guy |

Adults with ADHD need systems to help avert careless errors. We resist the structure at times, but nobody needs it more than we do.

— Douglas Cootey

If I thought ADHD could throw monkey wrenches into my plans before, divorce was like dumping a plumber’s toolbox on my head. It’s taken a bit of time to heal, to sort out the mess, and to know what to do with all those monkey wrenches.

My ex and I have joint custody of our daughters, so we split the duties, as well as the time spent with the kids, right down the middle. Since I am in charge of making sure my girls’ school paperwork is in order, I use my iPhone to keep things straight with the Calendar, Reminders, and Clear apps. With those apps, I keep track of everything that needs to be taken care of. My skills are awe-inspiring, assuming I remember to write things down, like that weekend last month.

The girls were at their mother’s (we switch every two weeks), and the teacher mailed me a packet of forms. It was time for my youngest girl’s reassessment. She has cerebral palsy and epilepsy, so we enrolled her in the special needs program. I used the “Put the packet out in the open, and you can’t possibly forget about it if you trip over it” method that weekend, instead of using my iPhone to remind myself to fill out the papers. Too bad I put another pile on top of the reminder pile. Around 2 a.m. Monday morning, I remembered that I hadn’t filled out the paperwork.

I worked on the psych evals and questionnaires into the wee hours of the morning. I didn’t get much sleep that night, but I got the paperwork filled out on time. I was able to preserve my reputation as an awe-inspiring, responsible father — assuming my ex doesn't read this blog. The silly thing is that I have systems in place to avoid these stressful situations. Adults with ADHD need systems to help avert careless errors. We resist the structure at times, but nobody needs it more than we do.

There are plenty of reasons why I didn't use my iPhone system that weekend. I had the flu. I was distracted. I was abducted by aliens. No one really cares. Whatever is due is due. But I didn't let anyone down, so I'm not beating myself up over it. If losing sleep was the price I paid to save my bacon, so be it. I've recommitted to my reminder system and use it more faithfully now. Until the next time I forget.

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