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ADHD Victory In a Brown Paper Sack

Our ADHD-fueled morning routine was too chaotic for making my daughter’s school lunch — until this year.

Are you a proud Super Mom who successfully juggles work, family, and volunteer obligations while simultaneously keeping your laundry, dishes, and domestic environment spotless? If so, you are reading the wrong blog. So sorry to see you go.

Are you the parent of a child with attention deficit (ADHD) and/or learning disabilities? Good, you’ll appreciate why I am bragging-rights proud of a huge new mom accomplishment that I never before thought was possible: I am making my daughter’s school lunch every single day! And I’m jubilant.

As the mom of a child with ADHD and comorbid conditions, with all of the extra time and energy that requires, I’ve found there is a limit — a firm limit — on my daily productivity. The funny thing is, sometimes that one-thing-too-many task is something pathetically easy.

When Natalie was in pre-school, I invested every ounce of my energy just getting her fed and dressed, corralling her into a car seat, and herding her into school. I got her there on time, but every single day Natalie paraded past her freshly groomed classmates with a nasty case of bed-head. Brushing her horribly tangled hair, after a night of rocking her head back and forth (a self-soothing habit she developed during orphanage life), was a major chore that Natalie successfully avoided most mornings.

I just couldn’t tame the tangles before school. So, in desperation, we created a morning routine that worked for us. I kept a brush and a bottle of hair detangler spray in the car. After the long walk of shame down the school hallway, we’d head into the preschool bathroom and I’d brush her hair. She protested less loudly with friends in close proximity.

Eventually, I just left a spare brush and bottle of detangler on the teacher’s desk. Bless her heart for allowing me to do so. I was doing my best, and it was just going to have to be good enough. Does that sound pitifully silly?

For years, Natalie has been asking me to pack her a school lunch, but I always insisted she eat hot lunch instead. That way, I told her, she could eat a wide variety of foods, instead of the same old tired sandwich day in, and day out. But the biggest reason: I just couldn’t spare the energy to prepare it. Until this year.

Natalie is in fifth grade this year. Like most kids with ADHD, she’s maturing more slowly than her same-age peers. But she is slowly gaining a little independence, and that’s made our morning routine much easier. I still sort through and re-pack her backpack. I put her Tae Kwon Do uniform in its bag, and put it in the backpack, too. I find and wash her glasses. I put the toothpaste on her toothbrush. I re-brush her hair, after she gives it her best shot. And now I also make her lunch. Yay me! Funny how good I feel about conquering that. Any progress is bliss.

Does the extra time and energy required to parent a child with ADHD leave you feeling like you can’t do one more thing? Is there one thing in particular that is your one-thing-too-many? Share your advice in the Parents of ADHD Children support group on Facebook.

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