As a mom with ADHD or a parent of a child with ADHD, it’s easy to neglect yourself. Once so much energy is evaporated in the carpool, homework, and dinner commitments etc... there is little left for ourselves. Parents of children with ADHD are more likely to struggle with their mental health if they don’t take time out for themselves. Here are some self-care tips to maintain balance.
Rather than depending on your feelings or inspiration to accomplish something, consider a reasonable, sustainable routine that will not be in conflict with your personal rhythms. Perhaps you have heard it said that your feelings are poor masters and leaders. They come and go. A routine, well established, is more reliable to accomplish the necessary tasks that life requires. Start with one small thing that you can accomplish every morning, like taking your medication at a certain time everyday or making you bed.
“If you want to change the world, start off by making your bed.”- Admiral William H. McRaven (Make Your Bed)
If necessary, set the alarm on your smartphone to remind you. Again, keep it within your personal rhythms. It would not be a good idea, for example, to try getting up an hour earlier to take your medication if it will make you feel exhausted for the rest of the day. Write everything down that you hope to add to your routine eventually. Trying to hold these kinds of thoughts in your head can be stressful and overwhelming.
Side Note: this is not to suggest that inspiration is not a critical motivator, it just is not as reliable as a routine that you are laser focused on accomplishing every day within a reasonable time frame.
Those of us with ADHD are prone to time blindness (poor awareness of time and ability to track its passing) and hyperfocus (focusing so powerfully that time passes to the exclusion of everything else). Timers are a great way to see time without letting it slip away. I also recommend analog clocks in every room.
In addition, consider your zone of optimal focus. We all have that time of day where our focus is sharper than any other. For me, this time is between 9:00- 12:00 AM. Since I can accomplish more tasks efficiently and accurately then, I like to be sitting down at my computer at that time rather than in the gym or coffee shop. However, 2:30 in the afternoon is a rather unproductive time for me. I know that I will not be worth much at this time of day, so I treat myself to a power nap or an afternoon cup of Joe to recharge instead!
Use a Family Planner
How are you keeping track of your days in addition to those of everyone else in your family? It is impossible to hold the events and commitments for all of you in your head. For some, physical day planners are the way to go. Others rely on digital family planners. There is no, “one size fits all” solution for this challenge. I recommend that you work with a coach to develop a system that works for your family. This will be time and money well spent!
Moms so often spend all of their time, energy, and resources on their family and rather than themselves. While this is understandable and commendable, is it sustainable? Parents use rewards as a tool for kids with ADHD to stimulate the production of dopamine towards getting things done. What reward would motivate you to get things done: the spa, getting your hair done, dinner with friends? How about just a little bit of time to sit down and scroll on social media? Whatever it is, use it! What would it look like if after you finish carpooling and a load of laundry, you stop to take a hot shower. Or, after completing the grocery shopping and unloading, you set your timer for a 15 minute social media break?
There is no need for me to delineate the ways in which exercise is important for our self care. So, why do some of us fail to do it? 🙋♀️
I have discovered that the only exercise I will ever do reliably is that which is done with a friend or partner. Getting proximal to others in order to get a task done can make it more fun and interesting. This ADHD hack is called Body Doubling. Can you think of a way to incorporate a friend in your exercise routine that will bring more accountability and fun?
Balance is countering those negative or stressful life experiences with positive ones. Those of us with ADHD in the family face more negativity in a day than most. We must find ways to balance our internal scales with some good. Hopefully you will find some of these tools helpful. As always, I recommend that you connect with someone who you can talk to like a coach, pastor, therapist or friend. Suffering in silence will certainly disrupt your ability to find balance. We are designed for connecting with others for the support that we need and that we can give.
Want to learn more about time management? More time means more room to relax… you deserve it. Click here to watch my Time Management Webinar.