The Struggles of Motherhood While Living with ADHD
The struggles of motherhood when living with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) can leave you debilitated. Picture this: it's the crack of dawn, and the sun has yet to rise. You awaken from your slumber because, according to the youngest child, "It's wake up time." The kids are ready to watch a slew of morning cartoons, argue about who got the most cereal, and then leave the same bowl of soggy half-eaten Frosted Flakes on the table next to a trail of milk. Kid number one can't find the Legos they hid from kid number two, so a meltdown erupts--and it's only 6:55 a.m. The rest of the morning goes something like, "Mom, don't forget to pack my lunch," and a whiny, "Mom, I want fruit snacks, too," so the monster mother I told myself I wasn't going to be today emerges. Quickly, my little reserve of patience begins waning. Now I'm yelling, overwhelmed, and to add to the stress, late dropping kid number one off at school--as always.
If the scenario raised your blood pressure even a little, you just experienced a glimpse of the struggles of motherhood in the morning. For a mom without ADHD, the described scenario may be an expected part of the role. But for a mom like me, whose ADHD accompanies depression or anxiety, those mornings are downright debilitating.
Struggles of Motherhood and the ADHD Brain
When you understand how the ADHD brain works, and the skills necessary to raise kids, you can begin to understand why mothering with ADHD is so challenging. Motherhood often requires using the executive functions ADHD brains notoriously struggle with like prioritizing, shifting focus, time management, and organization1 ("ADHD Symptoms: Signs and Symptoms of ADHD"). Kids also thrive in environments with structure because of those things.
But when you have ADHD, trouble arises because your brain operates in the "want" versus the "need."2 So getting around to scheduling appointments or cooking a timely dinner gets buried underneath persistent forgetfulness and your attention shifting to more pleasurable tasks.
Shutting Down to Cope with Demands
For me, raising my kids is a daily tug of war. Their high energy and demanding nature mixed with my chronic fatigue make for a whirlwind of stress. I'm overwhelmed easily, which leads to more fatigue, which then leads to self-soothing or overindulging to eliminate the discomfort.
Important things aren't getting done because I just need to decompress. And other times, my mind isn't concerned with paying that bill online because it just doesn't feel more important than checking my email for the third time or daydreaming.
The Plus Side to Being a Mom With ADHD
However, the struggles of motherhood aren't all-encompassing. I'll admit that a lot doesn't get done in my home. And when it does, it's long overdue. But one thing my unstructured nature has allowed for is flexibility. Since I don't operate on a rigid schedule, my kids are free to watch TV one minute, color, dance, or play dress-up the next. I welcome the silliness and unfiltered play the kids bring into the living room as long as it's not too loud.
When we go to fun places, I'm the parent in the middle of the ball pit yelling "rawr" at all the kids. Maybe it's a personality trait, or perhaps it's the ADHD--but I'm never too old to play like a kid again. Plus, it always beats having to do understimulating housework.
Tell me something: Do you or maybe even your kid have ADHD? Describe your home life. How do you work around the barriers of completing tasks with a brain that rather do the things they like instead of the things they have to do? How are the struggles of motherhood with ADHD affecting you? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
- The Understood Team, "What Is Executive Function?" Understood.org, Accessed February 13, 2020.
- Dodson, W. M.D., "Secrets of Your ADHD Brain." ADDitude, February 18, 2020.
Ansah, T. (2020, February 11). The Struggles of Motherhood While Living with ADHD, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2023, June 6 from https://www.healthyplace.com/blogs/livingwithadultadhd/2020/2/the-struggles-of-motherhood-while-living-with-adhd
Author: Tonie Ansah
I so relate! You're describing me as a mom !
I have been reading about this subject all day and want to get a diagnose. Until now I could compensate because I'm gifted but couldn't understand why I struggle so much to live a normal life. ADS makes so much send to understand my life and struggles !
To help me complete boring tasks on time I make a game out of it: I write things down on tiny bits of paper and mix them in a bowl with pleasurable things. Then I choose one and set a 15 minutes timer to do the task. If I'm lucky I pick something like read my favorite blogs, and if it is pay a bill I do it as fast as possible to get the chance to pick something else right after... This game serves me well but has its limit for instance at work...
I feel like I am reading a page out of my own life. I have recently discovered I hold a lot of traits of ADHD. I haven’t been clinically diagnosed yet, but I’m in this state of “I’m not alone as I thought” due to people like you who share. I’m in such a mix of emotions.
I want to cry. I feel relief that I may soon have answers so in turn I can get help and continue to better myself so I can be better for my sons. I’m happy. Sad. Sad that it has taken to to 39 years old to finally finding answers and validation of who I am as a person and that there isn’t anything “wrong” with me, but I hope it is enough time for me to be a better mom and a better person.