October 9, 2019 at 4:10 am #130794
I’ve got a husband and two children and a part time job. My home is chaos. No matter how hard I try I cannot keep on top of everything. The house, life admin, school admin, laundry, clutter, food shopping, and the rest.
I just can’t do it and it’s now really getting me down.
I make lists and forget to look at them. I put laundry on and forget to take it out. I get distracted so easily that my mind is like a big jumble of all sorts of thoughts.
The disorganisation at home leads to stress and arguments.
My husband does his bit and helps out but he’s not the most organised person either.
I feel swamped with ‘stuff’. Everywhere I look at home there is ‘stuff’. Some of this goes with having young kids but it’s suffocating. Piles of clothes, homework, my admin that I never get round to looking at, etc etc.
I’m assuming I can’t be alone in feeing this way and would love it if anyone could give some tips as to what they do. I’m seriously starting to think that I just need to get rid of mist things!!
October 9, 2019 at 1:15 pm #130831
It’s so tough to juggling things. Know that so many women struggle with managing a household to the societal expectation (including me and I don’t have ADHD). Give yourself some grace.
These articles offer some useful strategies as well:
ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Trainer & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism
October 14, 2019 at 9:42 am #131211
My dad once gave me a piece of advice that I held onto the entire time I was raising children: Your job is to raise good people.
All I can say is that we all have different personalities. And each of us finds value in specific things and those are the things that get our attention. If the house is chaos, my guess is that the mom is feeling pressure from others to find value in what the others say is valuable. But I can’t know that for sure.
I know for me that I can read organizational tips until the cows come home,and they will never help me. My brain isn’t wired that way. I doubt many people with ADD are wired that way. If it was easy,we would have done it by now. Pick a closet. Throw it in there. Put it in a box that you toss if you never get to it. Quit looking at your house through other peoples’ eyes. Those are the tips that you’ll never read. Go online and take a Myers Briggs personality type test. If it comes back and one of the letters is P, know that any kind of planning or organization is actually against your nature. You have to work harder at it if you find value at it. And the people writing those articles probably don’t have P as letter and organizing is second nature to them. Stop trying to be everyone else. Find out who you are and be satisfied with it.
October 14, 2019 at 11:56 am #131264
I use a kitchen timer to remind me of things like taking the clothes out of the washer/dryer or checking on something cooking on the stove. I also use a timer at work to make me stop and meditate for a few seconds every 20-30 minutes. It creates structure and allows me to focus on one thing while not losing sight of others important activities that require my immediate attention.
October 14, 2019 at 3:11 pm #131330
Wow, so many of your statements hit home. Just remember, it’s ok to be you. Minds wander, everyone’s mind wanders. That is what minds do. Our minds seem to wander, squirrel, wander, squirrel, etc… Squirrel meaning that they move from one item to another without remembering the first thing.
Both my wife and I have ADHD. It’s a wonder that anything gets done around our house. We’re not filthy people, we’re not intentionally starting something planning on not finishing it. Your laundry statement made my wife send your post to me because I do that all the time. Put a load in and totally forget that I did. I’ve tried timers and alarms, still, nothing seems to work.
Since we were diagnosed a little over a year ago, we have started to laugh at ourselves for “squirreling.” It makes no sense to get upset about it because that is how our minds work. It’s made it much easier to understand each other too.
Our house becomes cluttered a day or so after we clean it. I have taken hours to clean one room just to have it cluttered up in a day or so. If there is a flat surface anywhere in our house, my wife will find it and put something on it. She doesn’t do it on purpose, it’s just how her brain works. So I try to cover our flat surfaces with things that contribute to organization. Things like file folders, small drawer or cabinet organizing items, etc. That may seem extreme but it works. The only problem with it is that there is a lot of “STUFF” in our house that other people put in drawers or cupboards. It is what it is for sure.
October 15, 2019 at 1:33 pm #131207
I feel you.
These may come across as perfectly useless suggestions at first glance, but if you really want to start, then the effort as to be made. This is what helped me take control of my mess and I hope it helps:
1) you have ADHD, You have a bad sense of time, so you need external guides IN ONE PLACE, because those million post-its are going to get mixed up, old new, high priority and low, so start a bullet journal. I seriously suggest watching Ryder Carroll’s TED talk if you want to be inspired.
2) Declutter: *prioritising* your tasks is everything, on the basis of daily need, urgency and importance. It sounds like those are all the same but believe me, they’re different. Once that is done, it frees up the time to think of the other things that have to be managed.
3) I pick out a routine time to do necessary daily tasks with the help of a running WEEKLY task list, this is the simplest format I could find https://i.pinimg.com/originals/eb/1c/24/eb1c247940a4224ad7464f94ebd26efc.jpg
You can always look up video guides for running task lists, but please don’t be distracted by the pretty designs and stationery items, the original bullet journal was meant to be minimal (the fact that people have turned it into an art form is not a bad thing, but for that you have to have a lot of free time on your hands)
4)You might lose steam several times, it’s an ongoing effort, but if you keep going, customising your bullet journal to suit your needs, decluttering and giving priority to tasks in order of importance, I promise you you’ll get better at it as time passes by.
5) It looks like you and your partner will benefit if you sit together and divide specific tasks according to your work timings and capabilities, that way you waste time and effort deciding who does what every day. This won’t work 100% of the time but it’ll reduce those fights when one of you forgot something and the other has to do it.
6) This might sound corny but I got myself an Alexa and now I get all my reminders in a loud but gentle female voice five minutes before they need to be done, picking up kids from the stop, dropping them off, whatever! It’s made a real difference to all our lives.
October 13, 2019 at 6:09 am #131184
October 14, 2019 at 5:59 am #131206
No one, ADD or not, can really manage to run a household & family on their own while having to work full-time. Capitalism, together with Patriarchy was, and still is, based on relying on unpaid domestic work from slavery and from women.
That’s why the media and gender socialization has been trying to convince women that we enjoy and are good at domestic and reproductive work. Cleaning the house, cooking, taking care of the children.
That is why pay gap exists, to discourage women from pursuing careers. That is why the toys, the clothes, religions, schools and mainstream culture do everything to make women believe that we cannot be scientists, businesswomen, engineers, or pursue any career that is not related to caring of other people (which mostly mean: doing a lot of unpaid work for the “people supposed to be working ‘real careers’ – men!”).
That is also why capitalism, through mass media, magazines, tv and all the industries want women to spend so much time and money and energy in being feminine, hating their bodies, pursuing unnatainable beauty standards.
Also, the stereotype of the “super-hero moms”, with all their struggles to keep up with everything altogether, is romanticized, so that us, women, are lead to believe that it is normal and desirable to do everything themselves, for the children, the house and the whole family.
Feminism got women the right to enter the labor market, and what that means in practice is: adding one extra list to all the things women were already doing and being expected to do. So, basically, before, women were not allowed to work, therefore, what was assigned to women, is that we would take care of the house, children and family. Now women are still expected from society to do all of this, PLUS working for organizations. And, as women are working for organizations, single men are left now realizing all the time and energy it takes to care for the household, as they will have to do it themselves. Quite often, what they will do is: they will hire people to do all this work for them. Clean their house, cook for them, take care of the children, etc. But of course, whithout willing to pay fair wages, as the domestic and reproductive work is intentionally undervalued in capitalism.
October 14, 2019 at 9:54 am #131217
I create routines, your instinct to take it to bare essentials is a good one. It’s very trendy now to be minimalistic Ask yourself what needs to be done, laundry is the biggest one for me. I leave my washing in the machine as well, so I used too set an alarm, now my washing machine has an app that tells me it’s finished.
I use a timer, ALL THE TIME, so my routines are timed. I’m visually orientated so I make very colourful habit trackers. I only do things in 10 minute lots. If it doesn’t get finished it waits for the next day.
I don’t go to bed until I’ve cleared the dishes, worked out what I’m wearing, what
the kids are wearing, what meals we’re eating, where my keys are and my phone plugged in. That’s a whole hour before bedtime I allow myself to do that. I also do finances on Tuesday and fuel the car on Friday.
I love my ADHD now I’ve learnt to channel it, you’ve got this, just get your phone and put your timer on
October 14, 2019 at 10:09 am #131223
Ah this could have been written by me! I feel your pain . I think there are a few things that have helped me get my kids to the grown up stage and I’ve just about managed to survive my job in SEN education .
1. When I was / am overwhelmed with stuff as my kids put it I go “on one “ and I just throw it all out with a sarcastic “ Does it bring me joy” to which I answer “Does it f**k” and this makes me laugh, which makes me feel better.
I do the 3 pile system and I do it fast. Music can help. This releases energy , makes me feel focused and I see immediate results.
2.I always try and think that it could be so much worse and then feel guilty for all my good luck , possessions, Education system , reasonable health etc etc!! Then I flip it and do gratitude!!
Throwing stuff out with gratitude is fun too.
3. I give thanks to Fumio Sasaki
4. I changed my personality and tell everyone I’m a minimalist , even though I have hoarding tendencies …… not after Fumio
5. I apologise a lot because I do my own head so I expect I must be doing a lot of other peoples.
6. I blame the world and the systems for being too busy and red tape y and when I’m not up to par I forgive myself pretty easily.
7. I quote the serenity prayer under my breath laughing at my own hypocrisy as an atheist .
8. In the grand scheme of things which we are just a tiny micro part of and probably will be extinct anyway I just think deep breaths and does it really matter?
9. Yes if it’s people and kindness and well being. No if it’s just a pile of stuff and red tape like zappers, PE kit, dirty washing, food debris. Just keep trucking and you will find you are doing ok.
10. Just know you’re doing your best in a tricky world and if you do things with kindness and without malice you’re doing a good enough job .
October 14, 2019 at 10:17 am #131224
I have had the same experience with overwhelm and the article on Overwhelmed Mom Syndrome (mentioned above) both made me cry and gave me a sense of relief. I felt relief in acknowledging that running a neat and tidy busy household is really hard without ADHD and near impossible with it.
Much to my chagrin, I learned of my ADHD just last year (just went on medication two weeks ago) and I am 51 running a household of seven while trying to build my life coaching business and being a writer. Soooo… when I read that article, first I sobbed then I used it in my work with women experiencing overwhelm by looking back at how I survived the last 23 years of homemaking and childrearing without the help of medication or knowing what my issue was.
This is what I remembered: Early on, when I had two children, I was depressed and run down. A psychiatrist treated me for depression but also prescribed household help. So I got some support for keeping up with the house, the kids, and my mover-and-shaker executive husband (who also has ADD).
Another thing that helped me was knowing that I was a non-linear thinker and that I needed support and structure to help me focus (return to tasks that I inevitably got distracted from). After struggling to adhere to systems designed for linear brains, I began meeting with the executive functioning coach that previously had worked with my daughter who has ADHD. She helped me create a time management system that has multiple checks and balances and speaks to my visual learning needs. She also helped me create a mind map using the Simplemind App. It is a visual diagram of ALL the things for which I am are responsible in taking care of my home. With that visual (not just an endless list) I felt a sense of compassion for myself and began to face reality a little more. I was doing too much for ME, including many things I was not really very good at. It gave me a map for how to pare down my responsibilities.
I did this a few years ago and forgot about it (of course) before I was really finished but was reminded of it when I read the article on overwhelm. So I revisited and started working with it again and began teaching my clients how to use it to redesign work environments to reflect who we are and how we function best. Would be happy to share the recording of the “class” I just did introducing this process. Let me know if you are interested. Or happy to chat some more here about what has and has not worked for me….
October 14, 2019 at 10:39 am #131233
I don’t have an enlightening long rambling message to share. I can share with you what worked for me and continues to work for me. We all have our tricks and some of us have been fortunate to stumble across what works for us. You need to find what works for you. Please look up/google FlyLady. I am not trying to sell anything – just share what worked for me. She has little ways, systems, routines and advice on most the organization a home and family needs. She has ADD herself and she’s shared what has worked for her. I started years ago and it really helped me as a stay at home mom of 2. It continues to help me now that I’m a single working mom. Good luck on your journey! 🙂
October 14, 2019 at 11:46 am #131262
I can totally relate. I have managed to work on a few routines over the years but it’s still a struggle. I had been at home with kids for at least 10 years before I realized that I was making every single decision about what to do next each time I cleaned up the kitchen because I wanted to do it efficiently. Once I realized that if I follow the same script each night — leftovers away; clean dishes away; put all the dirty dishes by the sink; load the dishwasher/wash the dishes; wipe counters; sweep — even if it’s not the most efficient way, it’s not so overwhelming because I don’t have to decide what to do next. I still struggle with remembering to start the routine but once I do that, I’m on autopilot. I’ve also tried to develop rules for myself like I don’t take laundry out of the dryer unless I’m folding it directly into a laundry basket. That way, I don’t confuse the dirty and clean laundry and people can find clean clothes more easily. I also have a ton of laundry baskets. I’ve seen the advice to just have one or two baskets, but for me, I end up with piles of laundry, so instead I have at least two in each bedroom, and I keep them nested so that when one is full, I pick up the top basket and leave an empty basket behind, so dirty clothes don’t end up piled on the floor if it takes me a few days to get the clean laundry basket back in the room.
I looked at flylady a long time ago and while there was some good advice in it, I personally found it overwhelming. I really like the blog A Slob Comes Clean, I feel like she gets the overwhelm and temptation to write up a whole new, completely comprehensive system that I’m never going to be able to actually follow through on so then I do nothing.
We moved a few times in the last year and getting rid of stuff has helped tremendously. While I keep extra clothes squirreled away in bins, it helps me a lot to just have a few outfits per kid in the drawers and do all the kids’ laundry together every day or two. Then, it’s never overwhelming, and I *have* to remember to do it or they run out of clothes. We have a big bookcase by the door for shoes and all the shoes go there. That way, they’re off the floor so they aren’t cluttering the space up, and everyone knows where to put shoes away and where to look for them. Zero thought needed.
As for writing lists and then forgetting to look at them, I totally get that too. I now have multiple spots and ways of writing lists (paper planner, wall calendar, small notebook in my bag, keep list on my phone, digital calendar on my phone/computer) so I don’t have to go searching for my one list when I think of something, and I consolidate them when I think about it. I also set reminders on my phone to look at them. I also send out an email to my family (ie, the people who live in my home) weekly, usually Sat or Sun or early Mon, with a quick run down of what the week looks like, plus I keep a running list of upcoming holidays, appointments, etc. at the end of the email. That forces me to sit down and look at all the different places I’m keeping info so I can share it with them. We also sit down on Sunday evening to go over our calendar for the week, so that usually helps me remember to send out the weekly email ahead of that. That kind of accountability helps me. This is also something that has taken me years to work out.
Is there a spot for homework? I find a bin for each kid helps. I use a sweater bin, they’re usually big enough for a binder and they have lids so you can stack them easily. I have to purge them regularly but I find that easier than having to keep a pile tidy every day.
October 14, 2019 at 9:22 pm #131370
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!
October 15, 2019 at 4:18 am #131391
Sounds like u r really struggling. For your admin, buy an in tray, with 3 sections, 1 to deal with today 1 in the next week and the other for things that don’t need immediate attention. Then it’s all in one place and u can’t lose it as that’s always what happened to me and it’s in view then if u place it somewhere prominent.
Next, food shopping . Make a menu, I do this every week and it allows me to be organised on what I am cooking every day.
Prepare stuff in advance, use the weekend to make and freeze food for the week, both for u and the kids. And use a slow cooker also as u can have dinner ready when u come home.
Organising yourself will get easier as the kids get older. With the cleaning, I had to restrict myself firmly to one room at a time or u and up exhausted from flitting between rooms and it never looking like you have cleaned. I still do the same now and my kids are a bit older. Cleaning can be overwhelming particularly when the house is chaos, so start small with one room at a time. And don’t forget to reward yourself when u have achieved something.
With laundry, buy a brightly coloured container and leave it in front of the machine while the laundry is in there and if the box is there in plain sight, it will serve as a reminder the machine is full as I hear u on this one.
Most importantly, u r beating yrself up for the things u r NOT doing, and u have made that list really long. Try to concentrate first on what u ARE getting done and turn that negative spiral around. I am assuming yr kids are school age, and if so, u r getting them up, fed and to school or pre-school every day. That’s a damn good start. Cut yrself some slack lovely. It’s very hard when the kids r young as they need u so much and if u r spending time with them and they r fed and clothed and happy, then u r doing a great job love and don’t be so hard on yrself. Just make a few small changes and the rest will come. Hope this helps lovely. Xxx
October 15, 2019 at 10:52 am #131395
These hints have been great; sometimes just reading what others are going through can remind you to be kind to yourself. I once told my daughter that she will have to recover from her childhood like everyone else–there are times when ANY child (or husband, for that matter) do not get what they need at a particular time. Just because you are the mother/wife, doesn’t mean THEY are ENTITLED to live a life free of frustration and struggle. We try our best like every woman. ADHD is just one thing that makes it harder. But people who are bedridden, who are in a wheelchair, who are blind or missing limbs can manage households (God knows how, but they do!). We just have to find our groove. And apologize sincerely when we fall short.
2 constructive ideas for helping manage things:
1) Call a family meeting (and allow kids to be able to do this too). Ask for assistance where you need it and suggestions from them to resolve issues in a better way for the family as a whole (e.g.”What can we come up with to take care of the laundry better, because I am just not able to keep on top of it?”). When you work as a team to manage everything there is to be done, people are a lot more forgiving–you are not the only one responsible
2) One of the voice home management data systems(i.e. Siri, echo, Alexa, etc). My daughter is now 25 and got me Alexa for my birthday last year. It takes a little bit to set up and get used to, but it is a surprising tool. So useful! Anytime I need a timer for the laundry, I just say “Alexa, set a laundry timer for 45 minutes,” as I breeze by from one room to the next with basket in hand. These devices are great for setting reminders, telling you measurements (“how many tablespoons in a quarter-cup?”), and a whole host of other things. It is like having a personal assistant–she will even tell you a joke or give you a compliment if you ask her. Playing trivia games and 20 questions helps me get through boring tasks like dishes or mopping floors. Helps keep you in the moment and not beat yourself up about the next thing that you haven’t gotten done yet. The kids are even willing to pitch in when you make it fun.
Good luck and hang in there….empty nest is a real thing and it comes so fast! Enjoy as many moments as you can and treasure even the disasters that happen in every family. These are the stories you will repeat over and over and become family memories. And pay attention to the other comments to be kind to yourself. Society tries to push us to be a woman who can “do it all”. They forget to tell you that perfectionism in one area takes time away from other things. Think about priorities and let that guide you.
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