Mental Health

Tips for Parenting When You Have ADHD

written by BEA MOISE
Source: RODNAE Productions / Pexels
Source: RODNAE Productions / Pexels

Have you ever told yourself that sometimes you feel like you’re failing at motherhood? While forgetting to set that playdate, respond to someone’s text, or do that dreaded laundry that is never-ending, have you wondered, Am I a bad mom? Or is it something else?

Before having children, I had two buttons: do everything or do nothing. There was no in-between. I believed that everyone operated as such, and boy was I wrong. Therefore, I chose the same coping strategies when it came to parenting. I went into motherhood by doing it all. That plan quickly backfired.

Motherhood is filled with the in-betweens, the gray that is often forgotten when you have ADHD. My first child, my son, taught me that there’s no concrete plan when it comes to parenting. I had to learn who he was before I could execute any preconceived ideas about what it meant to be his mom. It was a hard transition because of my personality type and the type of ADHD I have: ADHD-Hyperactive. There are three types of ADHD—Inattentive, Hyperactive, and Combined—and each presents itself differently.


The Three Types of ADHD

The Combined presentation is the most common type of ADHD. An individual will present both impulsive and hyperactive behavior.

The Predominantly impulsive/hyperactive is not common in females, yet here I am with it. An individual with Hyperactive ADHD will need to move constantly and require lots of sensory input. In my case, I require physical and mental movement, which is incredibly exhausting and a significant reason why by 2 p.m., I am completely depleted of energy.

The Predominantly inattentive is most common in females, and is often overlooked as something else, because the child will not have stereotypical symptoms associated with ADHD. Inattentive is often referred to as ADD, with the H being removed. However, ADD is an antiquated term, and is not used with the current diagnosis.


ADHD in Women

Here are some sad but true statistics about ADHD in women. ADHD is often misdiagnosed or undiagnosed in women because of societal stereotypes about girls. First, girls are often considered lazy or dumb before someone would even entertain the idea that maybe a little girl is neurologically different.

As a woman, you are more likely to get diagnosed with depression instead of ADHD. The second stereotype is that ADHD is a boy/male thing; there’s no way a girl can have it. The more we learn about the brain, the more we realize there is no ‘right’ way or ‘only’ way for people to think or be. Neurodiversity teaches us that very fact. When girls are not diagnosed, it leads to women going through life not fully understanding who they are or how they experience life.


parenting with ADHD

Source: Ivan Samkov | Pexels


Parenting Tips When You Have ADHD

If you’re someone parenting with ADHD, you’re not alone. Here are some tips on parenting from my experience as a cognitive specialist and fellow mom parenting with ADHD.


Managing Time Blindness

Do you have a mom you compare your parenting skills against and feel like you are always coming up short? When my children were younger, I would look at moms traveling with their kids or going on a walk or, dare I say it, who talked about showering. To me, these things seemed like an impossible task. I felt as if I was underperforming as a new mom. For example, I would take a 2 a.m. shower. That’s right, 2 a.m. was the only time I felt like I had no distractions and could focus on myself.

Since I have ADHD-hyperactive, too much stimulation easily distracts me. Meaning, during the day, I can hear everything around me, and if I allowed myself to take a shower during the waking hours, I would lose track of time, which is not a good thing while breastfeeding a newborn on a nursing schedule of every two hours.

This phenomenon is called “time blindness.” I am either super early or late, and I have no in-between. It’s hard for me to tell exactly how much time I have to get to a place, and whether or not I can make it on time. Typically, if I have to be somewhere, I estimate I can make it in 30 minutes. At that moment, I am not factoring in traffic or any other issues that may cause me to be delayed. I also do not estimate that I will probably start a task before I have to leave, and assume that task is about 15-20 seconds—it is never that short.

Here are some ways to help with time blindness:

  • Timers are your best friend; keep them anywhere and everywhere.
  • Use electronic devices to remind you when you have to leave or when to start or end a task.
  • Use visual reminders and cues. For example, I program the TV to turn off 10 minutes before I have to leave to pick up the car. This is an example of how you can use your environment to help.
  • Avoid starting any tasks before other obligations.
  • Use an accountability partner, someone who can gently remind you of things you need to get done (spouse NOT recommended).
  • Have something to look forward to with the upcoming tasks. School pick-up is podcast time for me and my dopamine. Podcasts motivate me to get out of the house on time.



You name it, and you can bet I forgot about it. The parent sign-up sheet: forgot about it, school pictures: forgot about it, a permission slip for the field trip: forgot about that also. Forgetfulness is part of the ADHD brain. When new information comes into your brain, it needs to have a high-level of priority, and these day-to-day parenthood management things are not that important, at least not to your brain.

I cannot tell you how many times I walk into a room and wonder, “Why am I here?” The reason this is happening is because of working memory. People with ADHD struggle with this. Working memory is supposed to help you retain the information so you can go upstairs and remember why you are there.

Here are some ways to help you remember:

  • Whenever new information comes into the house, you have to write it down or just do it. I have to sign papers as soon as they are presented and place them back in my child’s folder, because if I don’t, I will forget about it until it’s too late.
  • Actively work on improving your cognitive strength. Use executive skills techniques.
  • Actively use an agenda and calendars, creating a system that will work for you.



Source: Molly Martin



That pile of laundry that’s been sitting there for a few days, (who am I kidding?), it’s been there closer to a month. When I finally decide to tackle it, I will do it all. I will even iron, a chore my younger self vowed never to do, yet here I am doing it. This is called hyperfocus. When you hyperfocus, your focus is intense on what you are doing, and everything else disappears—including essential survival skills like eating. Hyperfocus can happen with anything, it’s just based on what you need to get done, and what your mind has decided is of immediate importance. The problem with hyperfocus is that you feel so accomplished when it is all over, and your brain feels good, so it is a reinforcing thing that will happen again and again. The downside is all the other activities that were neglected.

Here are some ways to manage hyperfocus:

  • To not lose yourself, you have to set a solid start and stop point.
  • Take breaks in between with physical movements.
  • Create a checklist of things that will need to get done.
  • Create consistent routines that will help you ease into the next activity without feeling stressed or forgetting.


The Positives of ADHD—Your Mom Superpower

While writing this article, I went into hyperfocus mode, forgot to eat, and didn’t realize how long it took to dive deep into this topic. This happened because I wanted to write this, and hoped it would help other moms know that they are NOT bad moms, so it brought me joy.

My ADHD is my strength, and once you accept and understand how it manifests in your life, it can also become your mom superpower. It is also why I can multitask with two kids with very different neurodivergent needs, enjoy similar interests as my children, allowing them to feel connected and heard, and persevere no matter what—I keep going.

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