Parenting

What to Do When SuperMom Has ADHD

Some say being a mom is the most important job in the world. When ADHD gets involved — yours or your child’s — it’s also one of the toughest! Make it a little easier with these tips to relieve the stress.

A mother with ADHD hugging her daughter and smiling
Mother and daughter hugging with cheeks pressed together, striped shirt
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Manage Your ADHD Household

Feel like your parenting skills are less than perfect? You’re not alone. When moms with ADHD are also parents to children with ADHD, keeping the family organized can be especially challenging. Here are helpful tips to help you organize your household, support your kids, and make motherhood a wonderful, manageable experience.

A mom with ADHD at a doctor's appointment to discuss treatment
Woman in pink sweater sitting on table in doctors office
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Put Your Own Oxygen Mask on First

If you don’t address and manage your own ADHD first, your attempts to help your children manage theirs will be all the more challenging. To be as efficient and supportive as possible in the worlds of work and parenting, you need to get a handle on your own condition first. In the long run, everyone will benefit.

A mom of two children with ADHD arguing in the grocery store
Two kids fighting in the grocery store, mom watching in the background
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Anticipate Problems — and Find Solutions

As a mom with ADHD, learn to maneuver around tense situations. If your child has frequent meltdowns when running errands, for example, think about having a caregiver stay at home with your child when you're out.

[Free Download: Parenting Guide for Moms and Dads with ADHD]

A mom with ADHD checking her grocery list in the store
Woman checking grocery list with pencil
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Simplify Grocery Shopping

Moms with ADHD often have trouble planning meals because they forget what to buy or feel overwhelmed by all the choices at the store. Create index cards of meals you'd like to prepare that include a list of the ingredients. Keep the cards in your purse so they're handy when you get to the store. When you shop, stay focused — and save money on impulse buys — by only purchasing what's on the cards.

Mom with ADHD smiling at the camera
Woman smiling and wearing beige suit
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Get Outside Help

Don't feel guilty about asking for outside help. Think about hiring a professional organizer to help you clean up the clutter around your home and organize your office. It can make a world of difference.

Mom with ADHD holding hands with her child
Mother and child holding hands in a green field
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Connect with Your Partner

It's easy to get swept up into the ADHD tornado at home. Try to get away with your partner or a friend for a couple of hours for a dinner or a movie. It helps reduce stress, and it can make all of the difference in your attitude toward life — and your child — when you return!

A mom with ADHD helping her family prepare dinner
Family fixing dinner in the kitchen
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Change Your Expectations

Don't try to fit your family into the cookie-cutter mold. It would be great if your family could sit down together at dinner to discuss your day, but it might not be feasible and you shouldn't force it. If your child does better eating earlier in the kitchen, let her do this. Go with what makes mealtime happy for all of you.

[Five Ways for Moms to Grab Some Me-Time]

A mom with ADHD feeding her young child frozen yogurt
Mother feeding one of her two children frozen yogurt or ice cream
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Think About Your Sanity

When you need time and space away from mothering to recharge your batteries or pursue other interests, do it! Think about paying a high school student or a college student to help take care of your kids during the day, even if you're home. Taking time for yourself is a must.

Mom with ADHD being scolded by her mother
Older woman scolding younger woman with head in her hands
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Get Rid of Guilt

Don't allow your relatives or neighbors to judge your parenting skills. What worked for them raising a child without ADHD won't necessarily work for you. Raising your child may be a different ballgame — because of her ADHD and because of yours.

A mom with ADHD playing with her young daughter
Mom and daughter wearing white and playing together in the sunlight
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Don't Take Every Mistake Too Seriously

Laugh at the ADHD gremlins. If you burn dinner and forget to bake brownies for your child's homeroom classmates, don't beat yourself up over it. Learn to put your lapses in perspective. Whenever you screw up, make light of the situation by saying, “Guess my ADHD is kicking in again.”

[Not Neurotypical: A Survival Kit for ADHD Moms]

10 Related Links

  1. I would imagine low income families struggling with ADD have the most at stake so why do so many solutions involve paying sitters just to complete essential weekly errands or hiring life coaches? That’s extravagant even for middle class families. This article feels incredibly out of touch with the average family. We need real solutions not unaffordable means of avoiding them.

    1. Thank you for your reply…I was thinking the same thing and find this across the board in most books and published resources. It’s funny because women diagnosed with ADHD later in life are generally more likely to be underachieving, and not earn as much as her peers. I’m one of these women. I was diagnosed this year, at 33, after almost dropping out of college before graduating, then getting pregnant before I made it to grad school, followed by destroying my marriage, and now…living with my mom and nine year old son AND autistic brother. I make what is considered to be about poverty level income as a child care provider, and can’t afford my own apartment much less a personal organizer! LOL! Luckily, one of the only blessings that come with my ADHD is creativity so I devised a LOT of cheap/free hacks before being diagnosed. It sure would be nice to have the money to have those options though.

    2. I agree.
      I can’t seem to get close to other people and my AD/HD costs me every month a lot of money because of medication and damages that I caused.
      Getting personal organizers, baby sitters and cleaning services is not really an option for me.

    3. I 100% agree with your comment. It’s not only out of touch with anyone who isn’t wealthy, it also makes incredibly gendered assumptions about what women are doing with their days. There’s one quick mention of “work” but everything else seems to be geared toward a stereotypical upper middle-class stay-at-home mother.

    4. As a mom of six who only discovered her own ADHD after having two children diagnosed with the same disorder, and who has struggled with depression and anxiety while also raising a few kids with anxiety, I can certainly relate to the frustration of dragging children through stores and errands, and of trying to cope with so many demands on my own while my husband is at work. For so many years I thought it was a failing to ask for help with my children, and I pushed through, not always very valiantly. While I do think it is important for children to learn how to behave in situations like these, I have come to understand that sometimes mom really does need a break, a respite, in order to keep functioning and even functioning well, and that it is ok to ask for help. I cannot pay for sitters all the time, or household help, or for people to come in and organize my life, but there are still options available. I realize that my situation is very different from that of others, but maybe one of my ideas will help you find your own solutions. If you have family members close by, or relatively close by, that you would feel comfortable leaving your children with for a little while, ask them for help. Both my parents and parents in law worked full time when my children were younger, so I had to space out when I asked for their help, but that was a budget-friendly option that also allowed them to still spend time with their grandchildren. Also, get to know your neighbors. I know it is super hard to reach out to others sometimes, but getting to know other moms with kids who would like to trade off play dates or babysitting is so, so helpful. Even having someone who makes you get out of your house once in a while can make all the difference. And there are even moms whose kids are older that might love to have younger children around for a little while, or grandmas who don’t get to see their grandchildren very often who would be thrilled to help out. I have found people like these over the years, and I don’t know what I would do without them. They have saved me when I needed to get one of my kids to a therapy visit without the others or I had an appointment of my own, or even when we needed a long-overdue date night. If you don’t feel comfortable with your neighbors, if you belong to a faith congregation, you may find people like these within that group that can provide some help. Another option is your local YMCA (we don’t have one close to us, but a cousin told me how wonderful her YMCA was). They sometimes provide help for moms who need a break and also have inexpensive classes and activities for moms and kids. Another place you can look for is a crisis or respite nursery. These are usually run by a government entity or non-profit group (and even some faith congregations) to help parents who need some time away from their kids or who find themselves in an emergency situation. Care is absolutely free, and their goal is to make sure parents don’t get to the breaking point, but that they can get a break and at the same time help the kids feel safe. If you don’t have any of these resources available to you, please, please call your city or local Department of Child and Family Services. They will help you find the resources you need. Nobody needs to go through this life alone!

      1. One more thing. If your child’s or children’s ADHD behavior embarrasses you or distresses you so much that you don’t want to reach out to others, know that there are others who do understand you and that aren’t going to judge you or your child or children. I avoided social situations for years, but I was blessed to find a few friends I could trust to watch out for my kids with no judgment, and who really clicked with my kids. Don’t let your own anxiety or discouragement keep you from reaching out or from continuing to look for people who you can relate to and/or count on. It is worth it!

    5. I totally agree! I have 3 children, 2 of whom have ADHD, and the third is too young to tell, at only 2.5 yrs. My husband earns just enough to cover the basics, and I have a side business that is very unpredictable in nature, so money is very tight for us, as well. I’m very thankful to have family relatively close, and take advantage of their willingness to keep my kids, when I can, but they also have busy lives and we go for weeks or even months without seeing each other. I would *LOVE* to hire a house keeper or maid, even just once a month or so, but that’s so far out of my budget, it’s laughable. Basically, you have to be rich to afford to need help, and you have to be self-sufficient to get rich! It’s totally a catch-22!

  2. Do Dads with ADHD count?
    How about instead of writing articles with “mom” or “dad”, we use “parent”? As a Dad with ADHD trying to raise my son with ADHD, it’s very frustrating to see an OVERWHELMING amount of information directed at moms. I’m here, I’m doing this and we ALL deserve to be acknowledged. Using “parent” addresses all of us – including (and sometimes especially) those “step”-parents out there – and how Super we all are.

  3. As a stay-at-home mom with ADHD raising kids with ADHD who spent so many years agonizing over her inability to function like a “normal” person, I very much appreciate this wonderful article. I also appreciate the validation of my work and of the superhuman effort it requires not only to raise children, and not only to raise children with disorders, but also to do it while struggling with one’s own disorder. I wish I had or had known about this wonderful magazine (and honestly, my own diagnosis) years ago. I am so thankful so many moms, dads, and others won’t have to go through what I went through because they will have the help and reassurance they need. Even if someone doesn’t have ample resources, there are always solutions if you take the time to look and/or ask. Thanks for empowering ADHD brains every day!

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