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ADHD-Proofing the House

Child-proofing tricks morph into permanent ADHD-proofing for families like ours.

The last time Natalie was away from home for a respite weekend, I realized just how many of my daily habits revolve around her attention deficit disorder.

When you’re parenting young children, you accept the need to child-proof your home. Sometimes it’s inconvenient, but you know that it’s a temporary situation. You know that as your kids grows, you’ll be able to remove the safety gates that always take two hands to open, the doorknob covers that are as hard for adults to turn as they are for children, and those darn electrical outlet plugs that add two extra steps to the chore of vacuuming.

If your child has ADHD, it’s a different story. Rather than outgrowing the need for safety precautions, child-proofing tricks morph into permanent ADHD-proofing, and the formation of long-term habits. So, at our house, respite from having Natalie at home includes the opportunity to relax those habits, temporarily.

While Natalie was away, I could drop my purse on the floor just inside the back door. What a luxury, to be able to leave it there, and know it was safe from her ADHD curiosity. I usually have to lock it inside my car, in the garage, for safe-from-Natalie-keeping. That’s not the handiest place to keep it; I might need to write checks, use a credit card for an online purchase, or use my cell phone. But convenience takes a back seat to necessity in an ADHD household.

While Natalie was away, I could toss the mail on the kitchen table when I walked into the house. When I came back to sort through it an hour later, it was waiting — in the same spot, and in mint condition. It wasn’t ripped to shreds, or scribbled on, or covered with stickers. No disconnect notice from the electric company for an unpaid bill I never saw! How relaxing!

Speaking of stickers, if left in a drawer, rather than a locked file cabinet, our postage stamps become stickers, and a paltry supply, at that — ten dollars worth, gone in 10 seconds. “Mom, I’m out of stickers. Can we go buy some more?”

My car keys are missing. We search the park. Call the restaurant. We even try the police. We finally find them — under a bed. Laundry’s unfolded… sorting’s unsorted… stored items are un-stored. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Sure, while Natalie was away, I could find my stuff. But while Natalie was away… I missed her.

Parents: What successful stuff-saving habits do you employ in your household? Please share your best ADHD-proofing strategies here!