Dear Teen Parenting Coach

Q: How Can I Control the Chaos in Our Tiny Home?

Confined spaces and ADHD do not mix well. In our small home, 5 family members’ symptoms spiral quickly and loudly into stressful chaos. How can I help give my kids (and myself) more peace?

Q: “I have a blended family; five of us have attention deficit disorder (ADHD or ADD). We live in a tiny 1970 trailer with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. I work full-time and, between chores, homework, and family activities, it’s a chaotic home environment most of the time. I just want some peace and normality for the kids. What can I do?”

Dear California,

My best advice for you is to think in terms of setting realistic expectations — for yourself and for your kids.

Parenting a blended family in a small space is going to create a chaotic home environment, even without ADHD! When you add ADHD to the mix, well… you know what that’s like. This IS your family’s normal. So focus your attention on adding peace to your life, little by little.

Think about one area that you’d like to see changed — just one. Is it homework? Chores? Family time? Start with one area, and get really clear on what you’d like to be different. Involve your family in the conversation, and let everyone agree on ONE thing that everyone is going to focus on for a while.

[Self-Test: Is Your Clutter and Disorganization Out of Control?]

I remember when we all agreed that we were tired of yelling at each other in the mornings. We had a family meeting to discuss ways to improve it, and everyone was part of the solution. Change didn’t happen overnight, but our mornings definitely improved very quickly.

With everyone’s buy-in, you can work together as a team to accomplish the goal and let go of the expectations that you “should” all be doing something a certain way. Those shoulds won’t help you get it done better, and they begin to make you feel so bad that you don’t want to try anything.

So choose one area to focus on and try to get everyone on board. Celebrate every little success that you notice and encourage everyone else to celebrate the little things, too!

One last idea, for now: With five ADHDers at home, you’ll do well to learn the acronym GEMO — Good Enough Move On. Don’t try to make it perfect. Remember that a little chaos can be fun and even peaceful when you’re not battling to meet unrealistic standards. Post the phrase on a sticky note to remind yourself to let go of the little things and set expectations that are fair and reasonable.

[You’re Not Perfect, So Stop Trying to Be]

Do you have a question for ADDitude’s Dear Teen Parenting Coach? Submit your question or challenge here.

The opinions and suggestions presented above are intended for your general knowledge only and are not a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please consult your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your own or your child’s condition.