Manage Your House

Giant in the Workplace, Tiny at Home

I do a stellar a job at work. It’s at home that I fall on my ADHD face. Here’s how I learned to do more chores without trying to become a domestic goddess.

Woman trying to do too much, holding a credit card in her mouth and suffering on the phone
Woman holding credit card in her mouth

Do you ever get a song stuck in your head that you can’t shake? The other day I saw a commercial for Green Giant vegetables, and I couldn’t get the jingle out of my brain. Over and over again, I caught myself thinking, humming, and singing “Ho, ho, ho, Green Giant.”

Instead of fighting it, I deliberately thought about green giants to trick my mind into thinking about something else. Somewhere in between my strategy and the racing thoughts of an adult with ADHD, I transitioned from giants to failing at growing a vegetable garden. It’s no secret to friends and family that I am a Betty Crocker-Donna Reed wannabe, with little success.

It made me wonder how I could be a competent business owner and founder of a learning center for kids and adults with ADHD and still be a hapless home diva who can’t put a meal together without burning it! I know I am not the only woman with ADHD facing this dilemma of running circles around others at work, but being unable to get the house clean or tackle dirty dishes and mind-numbing chores.

What I realized is that I am not comparing apples to apples. Work and home are different worlds. We are paid to perform at work and are held accountable for our actions. This increases our adrenaline levels. We must be prepared for the meeting, arrive on time, and so on. We are given immediate feedback and measured on our achievements, or lack thereof.

At home we are left to our own devices and in-and-out motivation. There is no structure to get our frontal lobes in gear to do boring tasks. The key to home success is to recreate an environment that simulates work. For example:

[Self-Test: ADHD Symptoms in Women and Girls]

Structure your day, hour by hour, slotting in things that need to get done.

  • Hold yourself accountable by reporting to someone about what you have accomplished.
  • Make deals with family members and trade off tasks that are harder for you to do. Realize that, for people with ADHD, it’s not trying harder but working smarter that is the key to success.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others. Give yourself permission to do what is reasonable for you to accomplish and take shortcuts. Allow yourself to bake those prepackaged cut-and-slice cookies instead of making them from scratch! Accept that you are doing the best you can, despite having a brain that is not working up to full capacity. Would you expect a paralyzed person to walk?
  • Give yourself a break and remind yourself that you have a neurobiological disorder. You may not be a domestic goddess, but you have other talents and positive attributes. As I say this to you, I reaffirm for myself that it’s OK to boil Green Giant frozen vegetables instead of harvesting them from my vegetable garden!

Say goodbye to Martha Stewart and embrace your ADDa Girl. You are an amazing, dynamic, determined woman with ADHD!

[“I Have ADHD? That Explains Everything!”]

Updated on July 24, 2020

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  1. I think it’s more than just lack of structure and discipline at home. Getting through a day with ADD takes twice the energy it takes for a person without. After forcing myself through an exhausting 10 hour day where I HAVE to comply with structure, struggle with tasks that I’m not capable of doing properly, can’t take the time-outs I need to recharge, the LAST thing I need is to make my home life more like my work life. In order to keep a job in the “normal” world,I have to push all of my limits to the point of exhaustion. I can do that at work OR I can do it at home and keep the house in order. It’s not physically possible to do both. I don’t skip scrubbing the floors because I’m lazy and unmotivated. I skip it because I’m exhausted. Could I put it on a schedule, and have someone nag me to do it? Sure.If I wanted to end up passing out from exhaustion at work again.

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