Things All Moms With ADHD Understand

stressed adhd mom

 

There are moms, and then there are Moms with ADHD.

Anyone who tells you being a mom is sunshine and rainbows all the time is either lying or delusional. Only other moms with ADHD can truly understand the complexity of our situation.

There have been some really good articles and books written about women with ADHD, but most of them only touch on the, “mom” part of things. So I set out to bring that conversation into the mainstream.

Women and mothers with ADHD need a place to gather that is not on social media.

We’ve made progress but it’s important to acknowledge the things we’re all still struggling with.

things all moms with ADHD understand

 

Total Overwhelm

Most women and mothers feel overwhelmed at some point in their lives. But for you and I, overwhelm is a constant companion. No matter how hard we try we can never do enough.

See my article on productivity shame for more info on this.

Parenting feels impossible but we’re told it should come naturally . The everyday stuff feels like it requires more energy for us to do it.  And there’s an endless to-do list, so we often spin in circles unsure where to start.

The easiest thing to do is prioritize the needs of others. Your children, partner, employer.

This default to meeting the needs of others leads to burnout and you feel you have no control over your time, and perhaps even your own mind. It’s frustrating to feel like your brain is working against you but knowing you are capable of so much more.

Mommy Guilt

All moms have some level of mommy guilt. But when you have ADHD the act of parenting takes on a whole different meaning. So many people think** ADHD is caused by poor parenting that you feel like you have to do a better job just to compensate for your own diagnosis.

You might decide that becoming the BEST mother is your life’s mission and start to hyperfixate on every aspect of your parenting. While that’s a worthy goal, you don’t want to spend too much time comparing yourself to other women.

Raising children requires an enormous amount of executive function. Depending on how ADHD shows up for you there will be good days, but also some really BAD days. Practice reminding yourself that even the bad days come to an end.

One bad day does not make you a terrible mother. 

Try not to spend too much time up in your head thinking about all the ways you could potentially FAIL at mothering.

No matter how hard we try, we still feel guilty. For having ADHD, for passing on the ADHD genes, and probably for things that haven’t even happened yet.

Forgetfulness

Estrogen is actually helpful when it comes to ADHD – see my article on women’s hormones and ADHD. As estrogen fluctuates throughout our lives, so do the ADHD symptoms and how we respond to them.

The first thing most women mention is their terrible working memory.

“Why did I come into this room?”

“What was I saying….?”

I cannot leave the house without forgetting something. I go in and out of the garage three times to get my son’s backpack, my license, my water bottle. Every transition comes with forgetting the accompanying objects.

 As long as you don’t forget your child, you’re doing fine.

We don’t hold information in our minds very long. It is what it is – so we might as well develop a sense of humor about it. And sometimes a sense of humor helps break the ice when we’re feeling awkward.

Feeling Socially Awkward

Moms with ADHD tend to feel awkward around other moms.

I remember going to a local mom’s group once and feeling like I had nothing in common with any of the other mothers. I never went back. Not because they were unfriendly, they just weren’t my people.

If you happen to be an introvert with ADHD, too much social interaction is exhausting. It’s hard to listen and engage. You have to follow the string of the conversation even if it’s boring while also keeping an eye on your child to make sure they are behaving appropriately with the other children. This is a lot of pressure.

You don’t have to make friends with all the moms. I’m giving you permission to pick and choose.

It’s probably easier to find just one or two women you feel comfortable with or share something in common with, and go from there. Don’t force yourself to join school PTA or sign up to be the soccer team mom.

With that said, I know you’re probably worried that you might be perceived as, “lazy” if you don’t do ALL THE THINGS.

Being Perceived as Lazy

One of my biggest fears is that the people close to me will start to think I am some kind of loser. I have two degrees I don’t use.  And working from home people assume I have all the time in the world to volunteer or chat. (Or watch their children during a pandemic)

When I tell someone I’m unavailable I have no idea how it is perceived. But…

… it’s better to say NO, and commit to less, than it is to piss people off by now showing up at all.

You don’t really need to offer an explanation for saying no to things you aren’t able to do.

Accept that you have limited energy, and give what you have to the people and things that actually matter.

do my three things per day, and allow that to be enough.

Emotional Volatility

Because of my hormones and my ADHD I can have some errrrr… mood swings. If you relate to this I see you.

The demands of child rearing, socializing, work etc. can be a lot for us to juggle. Some of you are single parents trying to mange it all on your own. Again I see you.

I won’t get too sciencey – but your brain is wired differently. When something happens and you are forced to attend to new stimuli – that will trigger an emotional reaction. Good or bad the reaction is bigger for us. Sometimes the reaction is so big we get overloaded and are unable to think clearly for several minutes.

I need you to know you are not alone in these moments of shutdown. It’s not about “fixing” it. It’s more about developing a skills set that allows you to move through the emotional overload.

Finally, consider the idea that you are enough. Even with your overwhelm, your guilty, and your emotional volatility.

You are enough as a person, and you are a good enough mother.

This is a real thing, it’s been studied.

Self-coaching around this stuff takes time and practice, but that’s what we do in the Enclave – we teach self-coaching skills to overwhelmed women and mothers.

Social support is so important on the ADHD journey. You can’t do life or motherhood alone.

Moms with ADHD need and deserve more support and safety nets.

Check out the ADHD Enclave. We have a special group just for moms!

Enclave community logo

 

 

12 comments on “Things All Moms With ADHD Understand

  1. Hi Natasha! I’m so happy you stopped by. You are correct, parenting is hard enough. When you throw adult ADHD into the mix it gets more than a little crazy. I just emailed you!

  2. Can totally relate! Especially to the feeling of constantly being overwhelmed with the most simple tasks that ‘a normal person’ and ‘every other mom’ seems to handle easily. And I like your writing style – I subscribed to your newsletter and am curious to see what it will be like.

    • Thank you so much for commenting and subscribing. I try to email consistently. 😉
      Overwhelm is the story of my life.
      If you want to meet some more wonderful ladies check out our Facebook group.
      Hope to see you around.
      -liz

  3. I may not be a parent but all these things your saying you go through, I have always feared if I become a parent. I know parenting is a huge joy and I love kids but becoming overwhelmed quickly and putting myself down because I look at non ADHD women and am so jealous they are able to perform tasks that seem easy but hard for me makes me sad. No one in my family understands my fears and understands my mood swings and why I am awkward or can’t pay attention. It’s difficult I can’t relate to others in my family but I’m so grateful for this website because I don’t feel alone anymore. I wish my family could understand me better. Your so brave and an inspiration to us all.

    • Hi Kelsey,
      thank you for commenting. I am glad that my website makes you feel less alone.
      Would you want to join our Facebook group? In there, you get some privacy to discuss these issues with other women. Let me know, I can send you an invite.

  4. Yes!!! All of this! I’ve learned that no matter how hard I try, I will never be able to keep up with everything like other nonADHD moms do. Even with medication (which honestly only helps me stay calm and feel less overwhelmed) I cannot keep up. I’ve also learned to accept it for what it is and I’ve stopped comparing myself to other nonADHD moms. I have fun with my kids! We are not perfect and never will be but we will always have fun being who we are! I work full time so I really cannot keep up with their school work along with my work. I’ve taught them to be responsible for their school work and as long as they can do that and do good they won’t have any other responsibilities at this time. That’s my way of compensating for me not being able to keep up with all their school work. I’m proud to say they have done really good. They arnt perfect straight A students but they are perfect to me!

    • Thank you so much for your comment, Jennifer!
      You are right, you will never be just like someone without ADHD. It’s so much better to be who you are and share that with your children, than to try to be something you are not. Welcome to the ADHD moms club! Glad to have you. 🙂
      -liz

  5. Just came across this blog as I sit in my children’s room listening to a guided meditation while they fall to sleep and I plan out the rest of my evening in my head because you know I have 75 things on my to do list! I also think I can get them all done between now (9 pm) and midnight or 1 am (when I typically head to sleep). But I should just go to sleep now because I know my brain will work better with more sleep, yet, I can’t go to sleep without at least crossing off 5 of the 75 things on my list. I try to turn my ADHD into my super power for getting so much done. I just wish my super power did not have a kryptonite-TOTAL EXHAUSTION! lol Thanks for sharing and helping me feel less alone, less guilty and less awkward:)

    • Hi Amanda!
      I too have a loooong to do list in my head. Meditation does help!
      To be honest, I have never considered ADHD a superpower. For me it creates more barriers than benefits. But we all need to live in the positive.
      You are certainly not alone. Let me know if you are interested in any of our online communities!
      -liz

  6. Thank you for commenting Mieke!
    You are definitely not alone. Some of us have major social anxiety and awkwardness.
    Momming with ADHD is no joke!
    I hope you stick around.
    -liz

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

1 × two =