Guest Blogs

Exploding Eggs: What Can Happen When You Fall Out of Your Routine

When life throws distractions at me, I drop the ball in a big way. Do you?

My family watches a religious conference on television every fall. The last time I watched, my 15-year-old was sick at her mother’s, so it was just my 12-year-old and I for the day. After the conference was over, there was an ad on TV in which a dad learned to take time out of his schedule to play catch with his kids, tie on and all. After watching the ad, my 12-year-old decided that we should play catch. She ran to look for a ball, then came back charged up and ready.

I told her I was too busy to play.

No, I’m kidding. We had so much fun playing catch that I forgot that eggs were boiling on the stove. Did you know that eggshells pop off when you boil away the water? Yeah, my 12-year-old thought that was pretty hilarious. I also ruined another pan.

You may think this story is about the importance of daddy-daughter time, but it’s about the importance of sticking to a routine. When I set the eggs to boil, I used my iPhone instead of the kitchen timer, as I usually do. My iPhone is the center of all my alerts and reminders, but this time it was set on silent because I was watching the conference on TV.

You don’t need ADHD to experience distraction. Life likes to throw it at us as eagerly as a kid egging cars the night before Halloween. But when you have ADHD, routine is paramount to preventing disaster. As my fun time playing catch showed, when we slip out of a routine because we’re distracted, important things can be forgotten. We don’t have to live in fear of this, however. A few tweaks to our coping strategies can help us prevent catastrophe from occurring.

[Free Resource: Parenting Guide for Moms and Dads with ADHD]

> Know what to worry about. We need to be flexible to adapt to the changing world around us. Being bound by routine, however, brings its own problems. If something comes up, take a moment to appraise whether what you were doing can be set aside safely. Working on paperwork? Make a reminder and reshuffle your workload if the new item is more important. Cooking on a hot stove? Definitely ensure you don’t forget about it. Make micro-reminders part of your coping strategies if you cannot keep tasks in mind when changing your routine.

> Make your reminders effective. When changing your routine, adults with ADHD need to be careful, because distractions can take us far afield for hours or draw our attention elsewhere at a crucial moment. In my case, I set an alarm for the boiling eggs, but I cavalierly tossed the iPhone on the couch. Worse, it slid under something. The phone being set to “silent” just added insult to injury. I should have verified I would hear my iPhone, and placed it somewhere nearby in plain view. Whatever system you use to micro-remind yourself, be conscientious about its effectiveness.

> Don’t change your routine. Adapting is one thing; tossing aside your trustworthy alert-and-reminder system to do something new on a whim is ADHD at its worst! I never use my iPhone to monitor the stove. I use the stove timer. Even if I use my iPhone to remind me of everything, this was a change that was ill conceived.

Fortunately, no harm was done (except to the pot), and my daughter had something new to giggle at me about. Sometimes, no matter how carefully you plan, ADHD happens and we have to roll with it. Coping strategies help keep those incidents to a minimum.