So it’s now March and we are quickly approaching Easter. There’s a lot going on at the moment, H is just working away on his A-Levels. F starts his GCSEs in a few months, but he has his Army College Interview this week, which went well. All being well then it’s a 2-day physical next, so weird to think he’ll be away from home in Sept. S is doing okay, good days and bad days. His EHCP is all in place and his secondary school confirmed. We are just waiting for his next assessment appointment for his ADHD diagnosis which I’m hoping will only be a month or so.
It may look like everything is under control, but I have some ADHD life hacks that really help.
No Shopping for a Year!
I’m still managing not to buy anything which has not been easy! All the new summer ranges are coming out and there are some gorgeous #DopamineDressing pieces. But I’m holding strong. I’m also slowly losing the weight that has been bothering me for so long. Unfortunately due to my age, it’s been focused around my waist and I know that this isn’t healthy. So this weight loss isn’t so much about losing weight, but more about losing inches around my waist. Although I can’t deny it is quite nice to see the scales move down.
I can’t deny that life is still utterly overwhelming at times (most of the time). But I’m so grateful to understand now that it is my brain, and not that I’m just literally rubbish at life. It has allowed me to be a little less tough on myself and also think of ways to help.
I know that I’m not alone in the everyday struggle of managing life as a neurodivergent (ND) parent with ND kids. So I wanted to share 5 of the ADHD life hacks that I have found really useful.
5 ADHD life hacks
I know that a lot of families have a family calendar or wall planner, but I kinda supersized it so that it really worked for my visual brain. I was always overwhelmed by my mum and MIL’s ability to sit down in late December/early January and transfer all info from the previous year’s calendar to the new one. So in recognising that I needed to break this down into smaller chunks, I decided to just do month by month, rather than a full year. I also knew a typical-sized calendar/wall planner just didn’t grab my eye visually, which meant I would forget to check it.
So originally I had a large whiteboard, but even that just didn’t cut it. I discovered this whiteboard ‘wallpaper’ on Amazon and I created my oversized wall planner. It’s approx. 2m by 1.5m and has space for over a whole month, as well as ‘notes’ and ‘shopping list/meal planner’. Each of us has a colour, and then there is also a colour that is ‘everyone’. I cannot tell you how much this has helped me.
Plan ahead – mornings
Mornings are always rushed, with not only myself getting ready, but 3 boys too. Having ND kids means that everything takes a little bit longer. So I plan ahead…
I do as much as I can for the next day, the night before. Look out their snacks and check the boy’s bags are packed. I still pack some of their bags for them (not H) as especially S and F have a lot to remember. Just like me, they get overwhelmed too, so we have to break it down. So, I ask the bare minimum of them, get dressed, brush teeth, shower etc. anything else and it can throw everything.
I also plan my own outfits the night before if I’m in the office, and get up half an hour earlier to get myself ready. I need as little as possible to think about in the morning so I can spend my time getting the boys up and ready for school. It’s hard to explain just how much longer this takes (at least an hour) and it isn’t just popping my head around the door and waking them up. It’s sitting in the hall and going into each of their rooms approx. every 10 mins till they are eventually up. If I try to do anything else in between then my ADHD means I forget to pop in often enough. Meaning they don’t get up in time, and then we are all late.
Sam also has to have a 5 min warning before he needs to get dressed. Which is just a hand signal to minimise overwhelm. Mornings are particularly stressful for Sam and the smallest thing can lead to overwhelm. Me being ‘too aggressive’ with my 5 min warning, i.e. speaking LOL. His socks not being the right ones, or not soft enough. Not being able to find something that he has suddenly decided he must have.
Getting this routine right has taken some time. It doesn’t always go to plan, but we seem to have hit a good system at the moment.
plan ahead – evenings
The other part of the day that is always a little manic is early evening. With homework, mealtimes and clubs/training then it’s a lot to manage. So I’ve learnt to plan meals the week ahead. This gives me one less thing to think about each night. So I can concentrate on making sure the boys have done their homework (This going online has made it so much easier I have to say, as planners do not work well for those with ADHD).
I also try and ensure that I do not do anything else until all of the above is done. If I try to do anything during this time (write a blog post, write a social post, study etc.) then I will get distracted and forget.
Phone alarms are an ADHD life hacks I cannot be without, and I use them A LOT. Currently, I have the following set up:
- 6:30am Wake Up
- 4:30pm Homework (reminder to do)
- 6:30pm Homework (check done)
- 7:00pm Remind F to put retainers in (he seems to be okay at remembering but just covers us)
I used to also have reminders for bedtime too, but now that we have BT Whole Home Discs then I can manage from my phone. I have groups set up for each child (and H&F have separate ones for their phones) This means each group has its own on and off time for WiFi, different times for weekends and weeks days, as well as for holidays. It has been an absolute game-changer! No more forgetting for me LOL.
This may sound silly, but hear me out. Fellow ADHDers will understand when I say that mealtimes can be a bit of a lottery. Quite often meals will be ruined because I’ve got distracted, forgotten something was in the oven and burnt it. I got the AirFryer for Christmas (I did ask and was v excited!) and absolutely love it. No longer can I forget about what I’m cooking, set the timer(s) and let it do the work. I can even sync what I’m cooking so it finishes at the same time without me having to remember to put something in the oven part way through.
It does rely on me remembering to put it in the air fryer in the first place, but I’m not perfect.
keep it simple
For the longest time, I’ve always done this. I never pile too much into my day, usually only having one commitment at the most if I can help it. Anything else and I get overwhelmed and paralysed by the thought of everything. I remember when the boys were tiny and I was amazed by friends who could do something in the morning, and then something else that afternoon. I always thought they were piling too much in, I didn’t realise that actually for a neurotypical this was absolutely manageable. It was that actually my brain wasn’t wired to be able to manage as much. Now I know why…
Most of all is just to remember that our brains work differently and that this world is designed for neurotypical brains. So I try now, where possible, to be a little easier on myself. Not to get so annoyed or frustrated when things don’t go to plan. It can be hard, years of being undiagnosed and perfectionism as a coping skill, mean that I am abnormally hard on myself before we’ve even started.
I still find it really difficult when things go wrong, not to focus on that. Ruminating for hours, then the RSD (Rejection Sensitivity) or Imposter Syndrome kicks in. I have started to try and look at the actualities. What will really happen if we are late? What will really happen if I forget something or make a mistake? This has really helped to allow me to let go of situations that actually there is no real big issue.
So bit of a long from me this week, but it’s been a while since I have written so I guess I had a lot to say LOL. I’d love to hear of any coping strategies or ADHD life hacks that you have found work for you and hope some of these help you guys too.
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