Running a household takes effort. And it can be especially challenging for adults with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
ADHD impairs executive functioning in adults (and kids), making it harder for people to plan, prioritize, organize and follow through with various tasks — especially boring ones.
Of course, that’s exactly what you need to do when everyone in the family has a demanding job, goes to school, is involved in extracurricular activities, and has other commitments.
The good news is that there are many strategies that can make organizing your household a much smoother and more productive process.
In his comprehensive book More Attention, Less Deficit: Success Strategies for Adults with ADHD, psychologist and ADHD expert Ari Tuckman, PsyD, includes these valuable tips.
As Tuckman writes in More Attention, Less Deficit, “life is easier when everyone in the family knows what’s going on.” He suggests parents have two planners: one for daytime commitments (your work calendar) and the other for evenings and weekends (your family calendar).
For instance, if your child has a dental appointment during the day, put that in your work calendar. If you have a work-related holiday party in the evening, write that in your family calendar, because it’s something you’ll need to work around. (Sometimes, you’ll need to put events on both calendars.)
Remember that “nothing is official until it’s written down,” Tuckman notes, so it’s up to everyone to include their commitments. Put your family calendar somewhere visible. Tie a pen to it. As Tuckman writes, “Having to hunt down a pen is an easy excuse to write something down later (or not).”
Use different colors for each person or each type of activity. This makes it easier to scan the calendar.
Whiteboards are a great low-tech tool to capture random bits of information. This might be anything from a shopping list to phone numbers to messages for family members.
You also can include notes to yourself and write notes to each other. Again, have each person use a different color or use a different part of the whiteboard. Be sure to erase old notes immediately.
According to Tuckman, “ADHD households are especially prone to those I told you/you never told me arguments.” He suggests meeting once a week to review upcoming events. Even if things change, it’ll still minimize stress and last-minute chaos. Plus, family meetings also provide kids with a sense of safety, and they help them to feel heard.
Tuckman suggests setting a consistent time for your meeting when everyone is available. Review your family calendar, fill in missing pieces and go over any questions or concerns. Try to get the scheduling part of your meeting done first before you move onto other topics. Because not everything will be relevant to your kids, meet with them half of the time; the other half can be reserved for adults only.
Have a place where you can scribble down notes (such as your whiteboard). These meetings also are a good time to discuss big school projects and what they entail.
ADHD can make managing a household much more challenging. But thankfully there are strategies you can adopt to simplify the process. Remember to pick tips that work best for you and your family, and simply discard the rest.