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“My Morning Is Crazier Than Your Morning”: The Mantra of ADHD Families

Morning is not a time for battles. It’s not a time for trying new routines or imposing new consequences. It is a time for maintaining perspective, positivity, and a sense of humor — no matter how many outfits get discarded along the way.

Parenting a child with ADHD can be joyful, complex… and a nightmare on school mornings!

When my alarm sounds, I’ve learned to hit the floor quickly, brush my teeth, wash my face, and throw on the Mom uniform: yoga pants and a tee. Through trial and error, I’ve mastered completing this all-hands-on-deck routine before my 6 year old, who has ADHD and sensory processing disorder, wakes up.

Am I the only one who feels like she’s run a marathon before 8 a.m.?

Even though we picked out Kennedy’s pale pink sparkly unicorn tunic and leggings last night as the day’s selected outfit, I am fully prepared for the texture of the shirt or socks to bug her when she slides them on. There is a 50/50 chance she will refuse to wear them. And I’ve learned not to sweat it.

I know that no matter how gently I comb through her beautiful, chestnut-brown curly locks, she’s going to yell at me and argue that I can’t put a cute little grosgrain ribbon bow in her hair like her friends wear.

[Self-Test: Could Your Child Have Sensory Processing Disorder?]

“Leave it down, Mom,” she might say with irritation. “I like my hair natural and wild.”

But the biggest stressor of all? When I get out her morning Vyvanse pill.

“Do you want to take it in chocolate milk this morning, or a muffin?” I ask, afraid of the response.

“Neither,” Kennedy says.

After putting up a half-hearted fight, Kennedy obliges and takes her medicine in a scoop of chocolate ice cream. Chocolate ice cream? Don’t judge. Sometimes you just have to keep the peace.

[Free Parenting Resource: Manage Your Child’s Anger]

After getting her backpack and coat, and strapping herself into her car seat, Kennedy says, “Mommy, I love you! I’ll miss you and sissy today.”

And just like that my heart melts.

My sweet girl doesn’t mean to struggle in the mornings. She simply likes things a certain way, and morning routines are hard on everyone — including her.

I’ve learned what to expect and I try to keep our morning routine as simple as possible. Like most kids with ADHD, Kennedy is thrown off by any slight deviation. On this particular day, I drop off Kennedy at kindergarten, knowing she loves me and knowing we made it through another school morning with few battle wounds.

It’s almost spring break in Charlotte, which means the school year is nearing an end.

Summer in our home is a lot more lax as nobody feels the pressure to rush out the door quickly, and we can go at Kennedy’s pace even though we still try to keep a routine. I’m looking forward to a summer full of sunshine, parks, and playdates — and a break from the stressful school morning routine.

[Download: Free Sample Schedules for Reliable Family Routines]