Managing High Stress/Organized Kid Activities with ADHD

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    • #78188

      I couldn’t find this topic on the discussion board but any advice or even just knowing I am not alone in struggling with this would be wonderful. My oldest doesn’t have ADHD and is on a competitive dance team that goes to major tournaments twice a year. There are dress rehearsals, travel, and then a weekend of competition and class schedules to manage. Plus, remembering what to pack, making sure my 13-year old has food for lunch and dinner breaks and so much more that I can’t even remember right now. It’s overwhelming. She loves it and is really good at this sport.

      Like everything in life I can’t get people to understand I have to have things in writing or I can’t stay organized. If it’s not in front of me in detail I’m lost. I took a black binder with info so I could try to remember what to do at the last tournament and I still forgot several key events (or wasn’t given the info until the last minute by other mothers or the teachers). My daughter was so mad because we missed the awards and I didn’t have the right clothes for practice. She is old enough that she does help pack but she is just learning to be organized and anyone who has a 13-year-old girl knows the drama that just goes with having a 13-year-old.

      I feel so judged by these other families when I mess up or when I say exactly what I am thinking because I am stressed and don’t understand why things aren’t explained better. I have no idea how people with ADHD handle competitive sports for their kids. It’s overwhelming….

      As an added factor my husband also has ADHD and is worse at organization than I am so I feel rather hopeless right now. He’s trying and I am trying but we can’t get the dance studio or even our daughter to understand that sometimes things just aren’t going to go as planned….

    • #78376

      I totally understand. My daughter is 7, has adhd, is getting tested for dyslexia and does after school cheer. I have adhd and MS. I am crazy disorganized and so is she. We live with my 77 year old father who has macular degeneration, but refuses to admit he needs help. Dealing with my daughter is hard enough, but through in my dad and our pets-I can’t win. My dad’s house is in a very affluent area (accidentally-they bought house in 1977. For whatever reason, in the late 80’s his side of town started getting developed.) where I don’t fit at all. The cheer mom’s are very judgmental and I can’t stand them. We’re staying here because I’m totally broke since exhusband walked out 3 years ago and the elementary has excellent teachers. I’m constantly forgetting things. My older sister won’t help at all. My daughter yells at me about anything she decides I’ve done wrong. I’ve had plenty of days where she’s emotionally beaten me to the ground. I’m sick and tired of keeping a calm tone talking to her. She never raises her voice to her father. I understand why, i just don’t care about the reason anymore.

    • #78387
      Penny Williams

      Is there a fellow dance mom that you could team up with and follow her lead? It sounds like you’re doing as much as you possibly can to stay on top of these events, so the next step would be help from someone.

      Stress affects us physically and causes reduced cognitive functioning. The more stressed you are, the harder it’s going to be for you to manage the event. I know it’s easier said than done, but do everything you can to try not to get so stressed and anxious, to remain calm.

      3 Stress-Management Techniques For Adults with ADHD

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Trainer on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #78415

      Thanks for the suggestions. I am just getting to know the other parents. Some are very cliquey and judgemental but there appear to be a couple who might be willing to help. We had one competition only so far and it was incredibly stressful but at the next one I’ll reach out to those couple mothers who sympathized.

      • #78510
        Penny Williams

        That’s great. I think you’ll acclimate by knowing better what to expect as you do more of these events too. Hang in there — you’re doing the best you can with the knowledge and resources you have right now.

        ADDitude Community Moderator, Author & Trainer on Parenting ADHD, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #79300

      Hello, I do not have children so I cannot speak for the issues of dealing with them at home and that frustration. However I am a Peewee Cheer coach with ADHD. I understand all too well the enormous amounts of items we have to remember for practices and games and competition and just how overwhelming it is. I do have some children on my cheer team that also have ADD/ADHD. Something I do for them is I create a luggage tag for them. One side has listed everything they need for practice, the other side for games. Then for competition I give them a larger sheet they can attach because those items change periodically. These attach to the zipper of their bag so they are not having to keep track of a separate list. I laminate both so that if need be they can use a dry erase marker to physically check off when they pack it. This has helped tremendously for the girls to feel more prepared and responsible, and the parents have loved it because they do not have to keep remembering everything that needs to be packed at all times as well. You may want to talk to the dance/cheer coach to see if they could give you list of everything and then you make your own tag. Or while the parents are waiting during practice they could bond together by making them.

      You could also talk to the teacher and letting her know of the ADD/ADHD issues and maybe they can come up with a better way of relaying last minute details so that you don’t miss anything or forget something important.

      I hope this helps.

    • #79342

      My 15 year old daughter is a competitive dancer. She doesn’t have ADHD, and neither do I; I read the forum for my 12 year old son. It is definitely a rigorous and sometimes stressful commitment, and I find making lists, notes in Excel spreadsheets and keeping a calendar is helpful (we use Cozi app, and love it). Another example is that our dance director makes a list of all the pieces and accessories for each costume, and we print it, cut it out, and tape it to the plastic hanger cover for that costume. Also, I don’t know where you live, but I will say that dynamics from one dance school to another do vary considerably. We are at her third school over her 13 year dance career. One was incredibly disorganized and communication was scant or confusing. The second had terrible communication AND cliquey, mean and unsupportive management and dance parents. We have finally found a school we both love and are so thrilled. So, maybe it’s time to look for a school that better suits your needs!

    • #79347
      mg mom

      I think that above tip is very useful and could probably help out many. My advice to you is to forgive yourself and to stop thinking that this is your responsibility to remember your daughter’s gear. She is 13 years old and old enough to stop blaming you for her failure to pack her stuff. You are not on the dance team – she is and if she wants to compete, she should make sure she has her stuff. I think all too many parents try to over compensate for their kids. Kids need to learn that if they want to do activities they need to be responsible for being prepared to participate. Perhaps I am old school but kids need to learn responsibility – they certainly won’t have Mom to always be running their day to day life in a few short years. Give them tools, guidance and let them try. Better now when the stakes are lower than when they get to college. They will surprise you if you let them fly.

    • #79349

      I have an almost 14 year old competitive dancer who has ADHD herself, and I feel your pain. I’ve never been tested, but I have always suspected that I have some low level form of ADHD myself. My kids are adopted so there isn’t a genetic connection in our case though I know ADHD runs in families.

      I am in my 11th year of dance with almost that many years of competitive dance. We do 3 or 4 competitions per year and travel every other year.

      My daughter loves it. I find it to be terribly stressful. Dance competitions are naturally a place where people are not going to be at their best. You have a lot of people crammed into small spaces with a lot of adolescent girls, stress of being somewhere you are not regularly at, time crunches, endless details, hair, make-up, changing decisions, and of course, competition outcomes. It all requires flexibility of you at a time when flexible is the last thing you are in the mood to be. It’s a recipe for a mess.

      A few things I have learned to do over the years have made a big difference in my ability to cope with it.

      Get organized with your info as soon as it comes out –
      This is not a natural thing for me. I am not visibly organized by nature. And, dealing with the extraordinary amount of details needed for dance is exhausting for me, but I know that I have to be on top of things right away or it will get away from me. One thing that really helped me was making spreadsheets as soon as our studio sends information to us. We have a very organized studio owner which helps with this, but I still have to be on top of things too. This means I have a running list for each dance each year that includes: costume, song, dance genre (jazz, hip hop, lyrical, etc), hair style (ponytail, low bun, high bun, side bun, wig, etc), accessories (clips in hair, feathers, hats, etc), jewelry, shoes, tights, special makeup, fake eyelashes, etc. It sounds like you have tried this with your black binder. Keep it up. You won’t be sorry.

      Get the right equipment to make this manageable –
      I caved in a few years ago and bought a Dream Duffel. It was life changing. You can buy new or off of Ebay. They are expensive, but they really help, particularly the accessories. For me, the peace of mind this has brought was worth a ton to me. If you do nothing else, get the clear plastic garment bags that have a slot for you to insert a card with all of the details for each costume. And, get two plastic boxes that look like cheap fishing tackle containers. You can buy them from the Dream Duffel people or at Walmart. It doesn’t matter that much. One is for hair supplies and the other is for jewelry. Doing these simple things really reduced my stress level and helped me keep track of everything much better. Before the clear garment bags, I was a wreck and always losing track of her stuff.

      Once a dance is done at a competition, clean up immediately –
      There are people who can leave everything in a pile until the end of the event. For me, this is asking for trouble. My daughter is extremely scattered. If I don’t locate her stuff right away after she takes it off, it will be lost. It will be in someone else’s dressing area, on the floor, randomly discarded on the walk back to the changing area, you name it. I have a fighting chance if I put it all away just as soon as the dance is over while I still remember what we started with. If I don’t, I’m in a world of hurt. There is a caveat to this advice. Sometimes, the costume changes are too fast and chaotic to allow me time to put everything away immediately because I have to focus on getting her ready for the next dance. When that happens, a pop-up laundry hamper works well to contain the chaos. Have her dump everything in there so you can put it away as soon as she’s dressed and ready to go for her next dance. These collapse into a flat package for easy storage when you are done.

      Make staying in touch manageable –
      At the start of the season, see if you can get the cell numbers of the moms on the team. That way you have a way to contact someone when you have a problem. And, problems are likely with dance. It’s the nature of the beast. I don’t have good friends among the other dance moms, but I have found a couple who sympathize with my struggles and have helped me out.

      Plan for stuff to not go smoothly –
      I start by over-packing. We have duplicates of many of our items. I also keep spare tights, extra hair supplies – especially hairnets, and a spare set of clothes –
      a pair of black dance shorts, a pair of black leggings, the dance studio jacket, sports bra, and studio t-shirt in our supplies. I have a standard set of stuff that I doubt I will ever need, but we have it just in case – like extra hair binders, hair brush, spray bottle of water, bobby pins, band-aids, small sewing kit, flat iron, and every email/handout from the studio I have received throughout the season along with a copy of my own spreadsheet.

      I also do a preemptive strike with my daughter about getting along before we get to the heat of the moment. On our way to the event, while everyone is still calm, we always talk about how we want to do our best to be nice to each other and get along. We want this to be fun, and we want to enjoy each other and the competition. We talk about how we are going to deal with the inevitable ups and downs of the day. This makes a difference in how things roll later too. It’s not foolproof. We still fight, but it’s better than if we didn’t try to lay this out beforehand.

      I hope at least some of this is useful. As a fellow dance mom, I wish you the best.

      • #79357

        Thank you! I am doing the organization thing (it exhausts me as well). I have some clear totes and buy extra dance supplies at the beginning of the year.

        I am already looking at Dream Duffles on ebay because my sanity is worth the cost.

        The studio provides photos of the pieces we need and I print those off and make a binder for myself with all the info for the event- schedule, outfits,etc.

        I have struggled on two fronts- the studio likes to use Facebook groups as primary communication which are insanely hard to follow and most of the mom’s prefer social media and didn’t want to give me cell info I have one mother’s info.

        I need a checklist and info as others have suggested and the studio owner is very nice so I don’t see the suggestion as being unheard. A checklist and not photos would be incredible.

        I also am struggling with issues of communication as my ADHD symptoms, if I don’t calm down, will manifest in just blurt things without thought. The stress of adjusting to this has been intense. Add to the fact that my daughter is African American and usually one of a handful of minority dancers at these competitions and the only black dancer on a team at her studio. It makes it hard to explain some of the special circumstances we have (tight color requests, costumes fitting differently because she has matured at a faster rate, hairstyle issues). We’re a multi-ethnic family- I’m white. She’s at the age where she’s embarrassed to note these differences and just wants to fit in and that causes stress with dance, and I have to bring it up.

        I am struggling with figuring out if I am being too abrupt and demanding by noting my daughter’s needs and my own. Before we joined this studio I was upfront about the fact we could not pay for expensive hair extensions for every competition and there isn’t anywhere within an hour of where we live that does her hair. I have to put the extensions in which is an all-day project and just adds to the chaos.

        The advice on packing, management etc. is so helpful. I just second guess my communication with the parents and teachers. I do let her make mistakes and do as much on her own as I can but the organization required for this is beyond what any 13 year old could no on their own.

    • #79352

      It certainly is tough to feel judged with the struggle you describe….Given the age of your child though, it’s important to remember that a 13 year old is old enough to take on much of the management of her own activity. I have a 13 year old daughter as well and agree that there’s a lot of drama (and mine does have ADHD). However, she participates on a team sport, and the coach tells the kids directly that bringing all of their gear and notifying her of any absences is all of the athlete’s responsibility, and NONE of the parent’s. I loved that. Of course, the coach has given the parents a copy of the instructions so that we can help the kids from a backup perspective. But, the coach has said that if things are forgotten, and communication is not made, the athlete herself must address it with the coach, and the parents are not responsible for doing that.

      In the same vein, my other child also had a wonderful first grade teacher who was told often that, “My mom forgot ____.” She would respond, “Is your mom in first grade? I don’t think so. Who’s in first grade? You are!” So, I’m feeling empowered by this coach and this teacher that the sooner we can let our kids–ADHD or not–know that these responsibilities for class/activities are centered on them, the earlier they can start practicing their organizational skills. My teenager seems to step up more after she forgets to pack something, and is motivated enough that she doesn’t want it to happen again–so I think it’s working slowly, but surely.

    • #79362

      This is a timely post, because just yesterday I was telling a friend I needed to go to summer school for parents, to get ready for everything I’ll need to do, now that my daughter is entering High School! The advice given has been great, I struggle as an older parent, not able to keep up with the technology i.e.. planning everything via social media with other parents. And everyone making lightning fast decisions, like setting up extra practices at the last second, causing major rescheduling decisions. And of course I get blamed if something falls through the cracks.

      The best take-away from the other posts is to organize NOW as soon as you get the info., don’t take crazy notes, stick them somewhere on your calendar, and then “later” take nice notes organized in a binder. Also, get rid of (toss) everything that has passed unless its something you’ll need, like receipts.Too many times I’ve found 2 years worth of junk in a binder, now I toss right away, makes everything so much clearer and easy to find.

      My daughters synchronized swim binder (a sport involving makeup, outfits, hair etc.) is divided into finance (dues/meet fees/etc.), meet schedules, fundraising, organization charts/rosters. At the beginning of each season I add all the main moms into my phone contact list and take pictures of the entire org chart, as I never know who I may need to contact.

      I agree we need to put that responsibility on our ADD kids as much as possible (mine is 14) “but” too many times I have had to cough up money for lost items, make frantic car trips to get “must have” forgotten items at the last second etc. I know…’s a process…

    • #79364

      My heart goes out to you. I have two daughters myself and all of us have ADHD. I’m pretty sure that hubby has it too. I feel the same judging and guilt that you do. We struggle to plan meals and grocery shop on a consistent basis. My husband is celiac, I am a recovered food addict with multiple food allergies and my daughters are picky eaters. Throw in my husband’s hour long commute and shopping addiction, on top of the normal household chaos, and I can feel really hopeless. We just do the best we can. People are judgmental, they aren’t going to understand. I heard two sayings/slogans that I absolutely love: “What other people think of me is none of my business.” and “How important is it?” The people who matter aren’t going to judge you. I grew up in an immaculate house, with two organized parents, who could’ve cared less about what I wanted. I would have been happy to have them attend just one of my functions from start to finish. Loving your daughter is the important part. At least, in my humble opinion. And it sounds like you love her a lot.

    • #79413

      You are SO not alone! Cheer, dance, etc. etc. etc. It can be so overwhelming! Cheer hasn’t even started yet, the SIGN UPs start next month and already the GroupMe messages are pouring in, so much so that I had to hide and mute the group.

      People have given great advice. When cheer season rolls around, checklists and calendars are my best friends. Also tackling one thing at a time. At the beginning of the season, organize what you will need and form your own check lists. Put those in plain sight. Then think ahead. How much pre-planning do you need for the upcoming event? Does the duffel bag need to be packed the night before? Or two days before? Or three Days before? I’ll even plan out how the day of the event needs to go, when we need to wake up – when we need to eat breakfast – etc. All this planning seems extreme, but it helps me stay calm, like OKAY, we got this.

      For some sports we have multiple duffels. A practice duffel and a game day duffel. Since my kiddos are notorious about just throwing their gear wherever, when we get home the first item of business is for them to take off every piece of gear and for those pieces of gear to either be laundered and put in the duffel or for the gear to go immediately back into the duffel. Everything from the bow, to the shoes to the water bottle. The duffels don’t go into the kids bedrooms, but stay in a cubby area we have set up in the main room.

      As far as communication – I’d ask for the head coach’s email address if you find it overwhelming to discuss the uniform or hair issues in the group. I always find the big group of Moms all trying to get in their two cents a very overwhelming and inefficient experience.

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