The Sunday Solution for Busy Families with ADHD
Schedule a weekly meeting each Sunday to help your ADHD family coordinate calendars, deadlines, logistics, and more.
Suppose you could wave a wand and drop an automatic “plan ahead” module in your child’s brain? This would eliminate last-minute surprises, reduce everyone’s anxiety, and improve your family’s productivity and relationships. There is no wand that grants those benefits, but a Sunday meeting might.
Schedule 10 Minutes a Week
We discovered the Sunday meeting out of necessity. My fiancé and I were working full-time, planning our wedding, buying a house, teaching weekend study skills workshops, and going to grad school, all while living on opposite sides of town. To keep coordinated, we’d find a café on Sundays and organize our week ahead.
The Sunday meeting streamlined our lives so well, it became a strategy in our workshops, too. Now, 20 years later, we’ve encouraged thousands of students and families to use it. The meeting is the linchpin holding our family — all with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) — together.
It’s simple: Gather your family together at the top of the week to plan out the daily schedule. That’s it! You’ll discover previously unforeseen conflicts. For example, your child needs a ride to softball practice on Tuesday, but you have to work late. Your significant other has scheduled an oil change on Wednesday, so you’ll have to swap vehicles.
The Sunday meeting forces you to think forward. It will trigger your child to remember that she needs a poster board for Friday, rather than telling you that on Thursday night at 10:26 p.m. You have time to make adjustments. Your son can ask friends for a ride home. You can set a reminder on your phone to take “work stuff” out of your car on Tuesday. Your daughter can get her poster board when you go shopping later that afternoon (and help you with the groceries).
Don’t Overlook, Don’t Overcomplicate Your Schedule
We have learned a few things in holding these meetings during the last two decades that will make sure your Sunday meeting is productive:
- It’s a conversation, not an interrogation. Start by sharing your plans. Focus mostly on what affects the family, but include some extra details, such as the big deadline that will keep you at work late on Wednesday. Sharing the same types of details you expect from your children will make them equal contributors to the conversation, rather than feeling like they’re on the wrong end of an inquisition.
- Keep it short. Your objective is to coordinate plans for the following week. If you slip into scope-creep, I guarantee your children will let you know.
- Tie the meeting to a routine. The meeting works best as part of a regular Sunday routine, such as the ride home from church, the ride to visit Grandma, your morning visit to the donut shop.
- A captive audience is the best audience. At home, someone always wanders out of the meeting and toward a distraction. Kids do less wandering when they’re buckled into the car or stationed at a seat in a restaurant.
- Make it visual. Planning is an invisible task, but you can make it visible. Everyone should have his or her own planner, or at least a calendar, in front of them.
Families tell us that Sunday meetings have transformed their relationships. With a weekly family schedule template, parents no longer deal with last-minute surprises, and children feel their responsibility to become more cooperative.
Our family has missed some Sunday meetings in the last 20 years, and we always paid the price the week after. Our biggest tripping point is when our Sunday routines are altered — when a grandparent passed away after years of Sunday morning visits, the donut shop closed, or our teen became too difficult to wake up on weekends.
No matter how many weeks we miss, the Sunday meeting is a beacon that we can trust to get us back on track.
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Updated on October 8, 2020