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Q: “I’m Careening Toward Mom Burnout Reminding Everyone of Everything All the Time”

Mom burnout is a real consequence of reminding your kids (and spouse) of their assignments, practices, lunches, games, clothes, everything… all the time. Learn, how to teach independence with a scaffolding approach.

Q: “My 10-year-old son has inattentive ADHD, anxiety, and learning disabilities. My 7-year-old has not yet been diagnosed, but it’s looking a lot like hyperactive ADHD. Their father has it, too. I am overwhelmed with having to be everyone’s ‘memory.’

The mental load of having to remember where everyone put things and being the only one in the family who plans ahead has led me toward extreme burn out. My older son lost three prized possessions this past week that he had saved for and bought on his own. He just forgets where he puts them, and is not learning from his mistakes at all. His grief of losing them is so deep, and I can tell he’s starting to question himself, wondering what’s wrong with him.

I am looking for help in helping my family keep track of it all without losing my mind. Thank you!”

Hi LG:

The hardest parenting lesson I had to learn when my children were younger was to stop constantly telling them what to do. That lesson took time and patience, neither of which I had in abundance. For me, it was much easier to bark orders and commands than it was to let them figure out things on their own.

Let me know if this sounds familiar: I would walk in the door at the end of the day and everyone would “line up” and the conversation would read something like this: “Maddie, go get your tap shoes and grab your snack. We need to leave for dance in 15 minutes.” “Eli, your ride will be here in 5 minutes. You left your coat by the back door. Go get it.” Harried and exhausted, I would keep my eye on the clock while grabbing items, packing bags, and worrying if they had everything they needed or would get out the door on time.

[Click to Read: Improve Memory with These ADHD-Friendly Tricks]

Because of that, my children (especially my son with ADHD) relied heavily on me to tell them where they needed to be, what they needed to do, and yes, even where they put their things. In other words, I was acting as everyone’s executive functioning part of the brain — or, as you refer to it, their “memory!” At some point I realized that, if I wanted to raise problem solvers vs. direction followers, I needed to change my behavior in order to change theirs.

So how did I do that? I talked less (or, more accurately, I directed less) and questioned more. By talking less and questioning more, I empowered my kids to engage, participate, and remember what they were doing. Most importantly, I began asking the right questions — and you can, too.

Questions to Ask Your Child with ADHD

What’s Your Plan?

I love this one because you can put almost anything at the end of it. “What’s your plan after school?” “What’s your plan before dinner?” “What’s your plan for remembering where you place your jacket?” For older teens, you can even ask, “What’s your plan for studying for your two tests on Friday when you get home from soccer practice at 9 pm on Thursday night?”

The purpose of asking this question (and in this manner) is to help your child begin planning ahead — or developing a future awareness. This question is a wonderful and organic way for children to begin to formulate routines and schedules and remember what they need to accomplish in the future.

[Click to Read: Four Steps to Independence: How to Support (Not Enable) a Child with ADHD]

What Do You Need To…?

The purpose of this question is to help your child begin to build a visual checklist for what needs to be done and how do it. Here are some examples of this question alongside the “directions” they can replace:

  • “What needs to be packed in your dance bag?” vs “Go get your dance shoes, bag, towel and leotard.”
  • “What do you need to take with you to school each morning? vs “Do you have your backpack, cell phone, keys, lunch, sneakers?”
  • “How will you remember to remember where you place your jacket?” vs “Go check the mudroom to see if your jacket is there?”

By turning the tables and asking instead of telling, you are requiring your child to do some planning and memory building of their own. And therefore, THEIR executive functioning muscle will strengthen exponentially.

Good Luck!

And if you want more questions like these, please visit our website at and download our FREE parenting E-Guide, “Raising Problem Solvers: 10 Questions Every Parent Needs to Ask Their Child.”

[Read This Next: “I Can’t Do It All” — How to Manage Mom Burnout]

ADHD Family Coach Leslie Josel, of Order Out of Chaos, will answer questions from ADDitude readers about everything from paper clutter to disaster-zone bedrooms and from mastering to-do lists to arriving on time every time.

Submit your questions to the ADHD Family Coach here!