“My Daily Schedule is in Tatters!” How to Build Routine and Boundaries Now
Without commutes and errands and sports practices, many parents and adults with ADHD feel they should have more time. But instead they just have more work, more distress, and more disorientation — a feeling of being ungrounded and unfocused due to all that unstructured time. Perhaps more than ever before, it’s critical to carve out a schedule that balances work and home life. Here’s how.
Our boundaries are obliterated. We are employees, parents, teachers, house cleaners, personal assistants, and playmates to our children — all at the same time. Each day feels like ‘some’ day; the labels ‘Tuesday’ and ‘Friday’ are just quaint reminders of the schedules we used to keep.
Without commutes and errands and sports practices, many parents and adults with ADHD feel they should have more time. But instead they just have more work, more distress, and more disorientation — a feeling of being ungrounded and unfocused due to all that unstructured time. Perhaps more than ever before, it’s critical for adults with ADHD and parents of children with ADHD to carve out a schedule that balances work and home life. Right now, routine is the secret to giving you back a sense of the time of day as well as the day of the week, not to mention your goals and priorities.
Daily Schedule Fix #1: Set Up a Separate Workspace
Set up a defined workspace in a room in your house, if possible. If you must work from a table or makeshift desk in a more open space in your home, that can work, too. (Just avoid using your bedroom or your bed as your desk.)
Wherever you are, load up a basket with all of the items you may need and place it within easy reach. Having to leave your workspace and find the stapler will likely distract your train of thought or your focus. If you’re anything like me, it’s during these little sojourns that I notice the sink is full and needs to be transferred to the dishwasher, which then leads me to taking out the garbage and so on.
Also, bring with you a few bottles of water or a pitcher of water as well as a few snacks that you can reach for when your stomach starts to growl. Self-care, even while you are working, is important.
Daily Schedule Fix #2: Set a Start and End Time
Decide what time you will start and end your workday — and stick to it. Of course, you have the flexibility to work more or less depending on the demands of the day or week. However, determine what time you will begin listening to voicemails and reading emails. Just because you’re awake doesn’t mean you need to start your workday. Instead, savor your cup of coffee, listen to a podcast, exercise, meditate, or stare out the window. This is important self-care and helps restore boundaries.
When you are done with your workday, turn off your computer, turn off the notifications for your email and texts on your phone, close your office door or throw a sheet over your workspace if it’s in the middle of the house. Very intentionally separate from your workspace and bring the day to an end.
Daily Schedule Fix #3: Set Aside Time for Lunch and Home Schooling
If you’re an ‘eat lunch at your desk’ kind of person, that’s fine. You may decide to pack a small Tupperware container with leftovers from the night before or make a sandwich for yourself. Whatever you do, don’t skip lunch; nourish your body throughout the day so that you feel energized and cared for.
With your partner, decide how much time you will dedicate each day to homeschooling your children and note in your schedule the half-hour or hour that you can work on a particular subject with your child. Engage older children to help with homeschooling younger children and offer an incentive if needed.
Daily Schedule Fix #4: Set Aside Time for Quiet and Family Time
Just because we are no longer commuting doesn’t mean you need to fill that morning and evening time with work. Instead, end your workday and give yourself that old ‘commuting time’ to decompress from the workday. Build in time to prepare dinner, and time to come together as a family, even if it’s only for 30 minutes. Connecting each day with your family gives you all the opportunity to share how your day went, even if you are all in the same house all day long.
It’s very easy for this time to create distress due to the lack of boundaries between work and home. We are in one home environment, yet our roles are many now. Try to enact a few of these strategies to help you find your work and home life balance.
Daily Schedule Help: Next Steps
- Read: Organizing Projects that Spark Joy in the Quarantined ADHD Brain
- Learn: How to Tackle Your Toughest Daily Transitions
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