ADHD Moms & Dads

Are You a Mom with ADHD, Raising a Child with ADHD?

Don’t stress…these tips will keep your household, his schoolwork, and both of your social lives in order. Creating a morning ritual, maintaining a family schedule and streamlining grocery shopping are just a few of these helpful ideas.

Son with ADHD on mother's back outside with arms spread out as part of game
Son with ADHD on mother's back outside with arms spread out as part of game

When adults with ADHD are also parents to children with ADHD, keeping the family organized can be especially challenging. Use these tips to set up systems to organize your household, discipline your children, support your kids in school, and just keep things under control.

How Can You Organize the Household?

Write everything down. Anything that might be forgotten or overlooked by any member of the family — phone messages, to-do lists, appointments — should be written down. Adults with ADHD should keep paper and pen next every phone in the house and date every entry to stay on top of things.

Maintain a family schedule. Get a large wall calendar, and post it for all to see with color-coding for each family member. If they’re old enough, kids should post their own appointments, due dates, etc. The more involved they are in the scheduling process, the more likely they’ll be to stay on track.

Create a morning ritual. Set up a routine so kids know exactly what to do each morning: put on clothes, eat breakfast brush teeth, and so on. If your child has trouble remembering your get-out-the-door-smoothly routine, create a poster that shows what to do in order. If your child takes medication, consider waking him up to give it to him a half an hour before he really needs to get up.

[Free Download: Routines for Morning and Night]

Get up 30 minutes early. Use the time before the kids are up to make lunch, check to see the backpack’s packed, etc. to prevent last-minute crises. If you’re an evening person, do these chores the night before.

Be consistent with meals. Set regular mealtimes for breakfast, supper, and even weekend meals. Occasionally, you may have to move mealtimes to work around sports events and other activities, but do your best to keep feeding kids with ADHD consistent.

Simplify grocery shopping. Moms with ADHD often have trouble with planning meals, forgetting what to buy — or feeling overwhelmed by all the choices at the store. Create index cards of meals you’d like to prepare that include the ingredients. Keep the cards in your purse or briefcase so they’re handy for when you get to the store. When you shop, stay focused — and save money on impulse buys — by only purchasing only what’s on the cards.

Enlist someone without ADHD to help. Be it a spouse, hired household help, trusted friend or neighbor, if you need it, ask someone else for help to get things done. Feel free to take a “time out” whenever you feel overwhelmed so you can refocus.

Organize Your Discipline

Don’t be a dictator. Let your child have a say in setting household rules and limits. Children often come up with punishments that are stricter than what you would pick, so work together to figure out what’s best for your family.

Explain your expectations. Be clear about what you expect from your child and if he doesn’t meet your expectations, discipline him by taking away one of his privileges. Explain exactly what he did wrong and how he can get the privilege back.

Pick your battles. Be as consistent as possible — but don’t be afraid to let some things go.

Be on the same page with your spouse. Make sure you agree on when and how you’ll discipline so your child doesn’t get mixed messages. Does your partner understand the particular challenges you face? If not, family therapy can help.

[Five Ways for Moms to Grab Some Me-Time]

Organize for School

Stay in the loop. Work with the teacher by staying in touch through e-mail. Establish a routine of e-mailing these four questions to her each week:

  • Tell me about my child’s week.
  • Will my child need any special materials in the coming week?
  • Is my child missing any work?
  • What is my child’s current grade status?You can also communicate through a notebook or folder that travels back and forth to school. Ask that important school papers (permission slips, meeting notices, and so on), be put in the folder so you can cut down on paper clutter and be sure to see and sign all of the necessary forms. Add school-related events to the family calendar right away.

Establish a homework routine. Children are generally less resistant to homework if they get a little downtime first. Offer your child a healthy snack that contains some protein, which helps boost mood and mental focus. If “homework wars” persist, consider asking an older student to come in and help.

Prepare for parent-teacher conferences. Make a list of the topics you’d like to discuss, and e-mail it to the teacher a week in advance of your meeting. For a better teacher meeting, place completed assignments that your child brings home in a folder that you can take along. This way, you and the teacher will have examples of his work to paint a clear picture of your child’s progress.

Talk with teachers early in the year. In an introductory letter explain the challenges facing your family, or meet with the teacher to discuss how these issues can be addressed at school.

Remain Positive

Compliment good behavior. Remind your child of his strengths, and praise your child with ADHD when you “catch him being good” (completing homework, picking up toys, and so on). If your negative comments outweigh the positive, it’s time for a change. After all, kids with ADHD hear enough negative comments outside the home.

Eliminate negative self-talk. If you complain about your own ADHD, your children will pick this up and apply it to themselves. Stop your negativity, and focus on your positive aspects.

Find what works for you. You don’t have to parent by the book. Use a system that works best for your family.

[Love, Actually! The Feedback Your Child Needs Most]