Being a parent to a child with ADHD can be trying. Being a mum with ADHD to a child with the same condition can be downright overwhelming.
Unfortunately, most mums don’t realise they have ADHD until one of their children is diagnosed with the disorder.
The sad fact is that most mums with this neurological disorder are undiagnosed as girls since it is more noticeable in boys due to their hyperactivity and impulsivity. On average most women are diagnosed with the condition at around 36 years of age.
With proper diagnosis and coping strategies in place, mums who have been diagnosed with adult ADHD can function and thrive. Let’s explore some useful facts and coping skills mums can use to manage their ADHD symptoms.
Adult ADHD Basics
Previously known as attention deficit disorder (ADD), Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), is a neurological developmental disorder that starts during childhood.
Often thought of as a children’s condition, ADHD is not curable and often continues into adulthood. However, with proper diagnosis, treatment and coping tools, individuals can enjoy an improved quality of life.
A missed diagnosis in childhood usually results in various mental health challenges, making it more difficult to cope with symptoms, which in turn affect numerous areas of their daily lives.
While being a mum is one of the most rewarding roles a woman can have, it does require substantial executive functioning skills. Women are expected to do ALL the things and often this comes down to the ability to be master multitaskers with wizard-like organisational skills.
Mums must have the ability to focus, organise, plan, multi-task, and carry out emotional and energy regulation – all areas women with ADHD struggle with. As a result, mums with ADHD may feel guilt and shame for not being good enough.
Adult ADHD Symptoms
There are three different types of ADHD: Inattentive ADHD, Hyperactive-Impulsive ADHD, and Combined Type ADHD.
Symptoms for each category can be mild, moderate, or severe depending on the individual, their environment, and their age at the time of diagnosis.
When it comes to parenting, you may notice the following symptoms which could be a sign of adult ADHD.
- They may be less involved with their tots
- They don’t implement positive parenting skills
- They are less consistent with discipline
- They have poor problem-solving skills and abilities
- They don’t monitor their kids’ activities effectively
- They daydream often and seem disconnected – leading children to think they are not loved
- They experience poor self-image
- They have difficulty with social obligations and relationships
- They are unable to organize tasks in a timely manner
- They can be underachievers
- Can be scattered, often switching jobs or careers
Mums with ADHD may also experience other conditions, such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, conduct disorder, tics, learning disorders, and substance abuse.
Handy Coping Strategies for mums with adult ADHD
Create a Family Calendar
A large monthly calendar placed in a common, visible area, such as the kitchen, can help keep all family activities and events in one place and prevent misunderstandings and double-bookings and will avoid forgetting events.
Check out these great organisational products to get your life sorted.
Make a Chore Chart
Keep a weekly age-appropriate chore chart to create structure, keep the home in order, and keep the kiddos involved as contributing members of the family.
Delegating chores will free up some time for you to decompress and catch up on other things.
A cluttered home equals a cluttered mind, especially for those with ADHD.
Stay ahead of paper piles by designating a schoolwork organization area, a mail area, etc., and use baskets to corral toys and random items.
Instead of taking off your clothes and leaving them on the floor or that unused stationary bike, install simple hooks on the wall to hang clothes that are not quite ready for the hamper.
Get creative and stay on top of clutter for a clear, calm mind.
While planning is not an easy skill for mums with adult ADHD, thinking of a few simple meals to make during the week can be a great stress reducer.
We all know the anxiety of having to come up with meal ideas, especially after a difficult day at work, a day full of errands, or after-school activities.
Figure out what needs to be chopped, thawed, peeled, or picked up at the grocery store. Delegate as much as you can to your kiddos or partner.
You can even meal prep during the weekend for the coming week, especially if you expect an especially busy one.
Wake a Little Early
Starting your day slowly about 15-30 minutes earlier than you need to can be quite beneficial for you.
Use that extra time to meditate, journal, review your to-do list for the day, say your affirmations, or simply drink your coffee in silence as you gather your thoughts for the day ahead.
Do One Task at a Time
As an ADHD mum, it is difficult to focus on one task at a time, especially if it’s a task you are not particularly looking forward to.
However, try to complete one task at a time. If a new task pops up or something “shiny” gets your attention, do your best to stick with the task at hand and write down the remembered tasks for a later time.
Make notes on your phone, or if you’re old school, carry a little notebook and pen with you to keep you focused and on task.
Earth to Mum
If you find yourself daydreaming often and unwillingly ignoring your children, talk to them about it. Explain your ADHD symptoms and come up with a plan to bring you back when you drift away.
You can come up with a word or phrase your kiddos can say to trigger a response from you. You can make it funny to get your children engaged.
Open communication is the best solution to avoid misunderstandings.
Make Time to Recharge
Try to carve out time for yourself each day. Everyone needs a little time for themselves, especially parents with ADHD.
Talk to your partner and schedule “me time” for each of you each day or week.
Also, don’t forget to schedule alone time with your partner, without the kiddos around.
Finally, ditch the guilt
YOu cant be ALL the things to all the people ALL the time. No one can. Mums who look like they are doing it all are most likely not doing it all either. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you have trouble focusing and don’t get anything done for the day. Or if you didn’t organise dinner (again) and rely on UberEats (again). You’re doing the best you can and that’s all you need to do.