Reply To: How do you manage to run a household & family without going crazy!!

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Hi Honey18,

Your post could have been mine! Our situations are identical. I wish I could give you the magic bullet for getting on top of things but I don’t think there is one, so instead I’ll share a few thoughts that have helped me pull myself out of the despair.

Recognise that you are not your ADHD. When you forget the washing, say to yourself, ‘there goes my ADHD again’, NOT ‘I’m a hopeless person’. Be kind to yourself. The fact that you care so much about doing ‘all the things’ shows that you are caring, diligent and motivated – it’s just that your brain is not wired in a way that supports being organised and efficient.

As soon as you start feeling guilty about what’s not getting done, stop yourself! Focus on the things you have done. Celebrate every win no matter how small. And remember that no-one’s house looks like a show home most of the time – homes are for living in 🙂

Ditch all your embedded ideas about how things ‘should’ be done. Do what works for you. Embrace all your quirky habits, workarounds and shortcuts! Many of the habits and routines I learned growing up just aren’t useful to me now. I used to feel like a failure every time I found myself out at the clothesline at 11pm hanging out washing I’d forgotten about. Now it’s my usual practice – I use the daylight hours for other things and then I go out there and savour the peace and quiet just before bed.

As far as practical tips go, I’m finding a few things useful:

– Routines. For everything. The head space required for ‘new’ things is huge for us. I know whenever I’m out of routine the wheels start to fall off – I lose things, forget things, and get stressed out and irritable. School holidays take every ounce of mental energy I have!
– Have one list and one calendar, and put EVERYTHING on one or the other. I rely on my phone for the Calendar and Reminders, and set alarms for everything – even school pickup on the days I’m at home (otherwise I can get engrossed in something and not realise the time)
– Be ruthless with the clutter* (see below).
– Have just one ‘dumping ground’ if you can – at least then the chaos is contained
– Go to IKEA and invest in boxes/shelves/in-trays or whatever will enable you AND your family members to keep stuff organised – shelves or hooks for school bags/handbag/keys/phones, boxes or shelves for shoes, a basket or tray for mail/admin, etc. This has been a really slow ongoing process for me but every little bit helps.
– 2 Minute Tidy – enlist the whole family, put a timer on, and for 2mins, you all race to see how much stuff can get put away or cleaned up. Make it longer if the kids are older. And it’s never too early to delegate – search the web for ‘chores for kids by age’ if you need ideas for jobs littlies can do.

*The clutter – oh, I so feel your pain. It literally is overwhelming for our brains to see ‘stuff’ everywhere. I feel like I never get to the important stuff because I’m endlessly trying to get back to ‘square 1′ with the day-to-day stuff (tidying up, laundry, dishes, floors, cooking, life admin). It’s a constant battle to try and keep the flat surfaces clear – a battle I lose way more than I win! I think that’s what saps my energy the most – all the things that are just never-ending and never quite done. But I think that’s how most women feel whether they have ADHD or not – we’re the ones doing most of it AND carrying the mental load of all the tiny details required to keep a family and a home on track. (Yes, I’m sure there are exceptions to the rule out there somewhere! But in my personal experience I don’t know of any).

Here’s a tip I read somewhere that I’m just about to try, to manage the kids’ clutter and get them to take responsibility: Get a big tub or box. Each day, sweep in all the kids’ stuff that hasn’t been put away. Tell the kids that they need to get out anything they want to keep and put it away, and the rest will be emptied into the bin every Friday.

Last tip, which sounds ridiculous but works for me sometimes when I need to do a job that I really don’t like: I put on some upbeat music, then say to myself out loud, ‘Ready, set, GO!’ and I jump up and see how fast I can get the job/s done.
I’m always surprised at how much I can get done, as long as I don’t stop! Stopping is fatal 😉 Keep the music going and you’ll be amazed at what you can get done in 30mins.

Remember you are not alone. There are so many of us in the same boat. We have a neurological condition that makes ‘life’ more challenging for us than for neurotypical people. And even they find it hard to keep on top of managing a family, so if you’re doing even half the stuff you wish you could get done, you are doing a bloody fantastic job!

I’m so glad you posted – writing this response has reminded me of a few things that I haven’t been doing enough of but I know are helpful.

Best wishes Honey, and look after yourself!

Kirsty 🙂