Ask the Experts

Dear Organizing Coach: How Can I Overcome Mommy Overwhelm to Help Myself Improve?

Every waking minute of every day, you are serving another person’s needs. Making meals, cleaning house, teaching alphabets, changing diapers. You have no time for yourself, which only seems to exacerbate ADHD symptoms. Learn how to reclaim your health here.

Q: “I’m constantly working on myself as a mom with young children running an at-home daycare. I don’t like the way medication makes me feel and have weaned myself off it. Now, I’m eating right, exercising, and still desperate and sad that I can’t do this on my own. What tips do you have for Moms to stop feeling overwhelmed — and run a stronger, more confident life with an adult ADHD diagnosis?” —MommyVISION


I truly applaud you for being so open with what you want to accomplish and wanting to work on yourself! I’m guessing that, like many moms of young children, your needs are playing “second fiddle” to everyone else’s. Here are some ideas for making change.

1. Put On Your Own Oxygen Mask First

If you truly want to help yourself forge a stronger, more confident life, you must FIRST identify your own challenges and find solutions that work for you! What might that look like? Let’s say that you need an hour of exercise every morning to feel centered and to focus your brain, but you don’t have the childcare to do so. Put other work-arounds in place like swapping childcare duties with a friend or neighbor. Or perhaps household-cleaning help is what you need? Barter services so you get an hour of housekeeping in exchange for a few delicious meals cooked by you.

[Free Resource: When You Have ADHD, Too]

2. Recognize the Right to Say No

A wise woman once told me that I could do everything — just not all at the same time. You have a lot on you plate as a full-time working mom, and a new mom at that. Determine what is absolutely necessary to get done in your life at this stage and do just that. The less you say yes to, the more time you will have to focus on what is absolutely necessary.

It’s not easy to say “No” or “This just doesn’t work for me.” And sometimes we say yes to things just because we are caught off guard. So, remember, it is well within your right to say “No” — without any further explanation. A simple, “I’m sorry, but I can’t,” will work just fine.

3. Make Getting Started Simple

I know you are overwhelmed. And I know it’s tough to get started on anything when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Which makes you feel more overwhelmed with each passing day. So make your goals super small to begin. One email to write, one call to make, one drawer to organize, one pile of clothing to put away. You get the idea. Chances are good that, once you start, you’ll feel less overwhelmed and more in control.

Organization guru Leslie Josel, of Order Out of Chaos, will answer questions from ADDitude readers about everything from paper clutter to disaster-zone bedrooms and from mastering to-do lists to arriving on time every time.

Submit your questions here!