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ADHD in Women

ADD mom to I have to say I need help?

I just joined this website and forum today.  I have a 2and 4 year old and I need some help from other women who understand. Please only respond if you have useful comments.  I don’t need judgement right now.

I have a meltdown about once or twice a week.  I am staying home with my kids, and I am really struggling to get a handle on everything.  The house is always a mess, and kids are a mess (because they’re little kids and fighting over toys,etc.) and I feel like I’m the biggest mess of them all. 

I can’t seem to get a handle on it all.  Laundry, dishes, and the worst sin of all, the massive clutter and disorganization.  I am not a hoarder, but I just can’t seem to figure out a way to start organizing and to keep up, since my kids pull everything back out again. 

And on particularly bad days, I land in a heap over the dishes after the kids are finally in bed and sob in frustration and exhaustion to my bewildered husband.  I feel so worthless that I can’t seem to figure it all out like a normal competent person.  He’s a great guy, but I don’t think he quite understands what my problem is, my guilt and the pressure I feel to get my house neat and tidy, even if I try to explain it. 

And the worst thing of all, I find it hard to concentrate and play with my kids.  The emotional meltdowns my kids have ( because they’re little kids) are overwhelming to me sometimes and hard for me to maneuver because I have a low frustration threshold myself.  I eventually end up yelling and frustrated and then I feel miserable at myself for losing it.  I really want to do things with my kids that connect us and have fun with them, but I can’t have fun right now when it’s a constant struggle.

Please help.  Any constructive ideas you have are much appreciated.


The main thing that helped me was when I finally started taking adhd meds. It helped drastically reduce the overwhelmed feeling and the low frustration tolerance toward my kids.

Another very helpful strategy for me has been asking my best friend (also ADHD) to come over and help me get started on one of my projects. We take turns picking an overwhelming project and trading off help at each others house.

I know how you are feeling with all of this and you are so smart to reach out now for help! Wish you the best~

Posted by Udderlycrazy on Mar 13, 2014 at 3:24am

The above are great ideas. The fly lady and others have some great suggestions on getting your house cleaned, organized one step at a time as well as a schedule to maintain it. You can search house cleaning schedule, get organized on Google or pinterest to get tons of ideas.  I a have pinterest invalueable.  Just be sure to start small and not try to do it all at once.

You might also try scheduling a play date or two for you and the kids outside of the house each week.  The opportunity to bond, connect, and create positive emotions etc with the kids might boost your mood and overall motivation.  Maybe even put a double stroller to use, find a friend to join you and get some physical exercise in as well.

Posted by CIGRACE on Mar 13, 2014 at 8:04am

The responses you received already are the best I have seen or heard since I was the ADD Mom with four kids Your responders “get it”.

Be gentle with yourself.  This is not an unfixable situation.  If you are not currently on medication, then consider getting to your doctor and talking about this with him or her.  Actually, this is probably something that I would want to consult a psychiatrist with because they know more about the ADHD meds.

Whether that doctor’s visit is immediate, or not, try starting with Flylady.  You do not start doing everything with her plan.  You start with just one thing; cleaning and shining your sink.  The “break-in” period is extended, so that you have time to figure out the things that are higher in priority that need doing and it gives you a logical starting point.

I have her plan on my computer and I have her book, too.  The system is easy to grasp and simple to create so that it applies to your home and your family’s life.  There is even a downloadable version of her “Control Journal” on her web site.

Above all, keep in mind that all mommies who are home with their children hit this situation especially when the children are so young.

Do you have a friend with young children?  Can the two of you arrange for swapping babysitting while you take care of major projects?  Sometimes you can actually help each other get the things done that never seem to get done.

Finally, although hubby was at work all day, he should be helping with the kids in the evening while you are preparing dinner.  Perhaps he could give them their baths before bed?  You can fold laundry and put it away while he tends to the baths.

Keep in mind that things get somewhat better as the kids grow older.  When they are in school all day you will have the time to get to the things that you cannot get done now.

Posted by Dianne in the Desert on Mar 13, 2014 at 8:21am

Thank you all for responding and for being kind.  I know that certainly other moms have these feelings also.  I have this critical voice in my head from many years of procrastination, (and strangely) perfectionism, putting so much pressure on myself, and then dropping the ball.  I just want to be the best mom for my kids, and I’m sure the problems I have are being magnified by this.

I looked into medication.  My PCP wants me to see a psychologist if he is to prescribe, and Thats a great idea.  If only I had the time.  My husband does help with the kids, but that’s just not enough it seems.  I think I might look into asking one of the local high school girls if they want some after school time. 

Thank you for the fly lady advice.  I did see her one time but I think I need to revisit.

It seems that I work better when under a deadline.  I hate the pressure, but for some reason, it’s always been the only way I can get anything done.  I don’t waste time on being perfect.  It’s so much easier to make decisions.  The pressure seems to clear the clutter and conflicting information in my head away and I can just do what I need to do.  Do you ever have the same experience?  It’s why I procrastinated on every project and paper and test I ever had.  That and I am disorganized and have trouble following a plan before I absolutely have to.  Compared to my brother, I did surprisingly well in school.  But never did well working.  My parents refuse to think that I have ADD.

Posted by Julielk on Mar 13, 2014 at 6:37pm

Is there a mothers day out program in your area?  They usually keep children 4-5 hrs one day a week.

Posted by CIGRACE on Mar 14, 2014 at 4:56am

You did recieve some great responses!  Way to support another ADD mom, ladies!

I was an ADD stay-at-home when my kids were little, and I really remember feeling like the least confident person in the world!  I was successful in my career, and when I quit my job to stay home with my kids, my ADD took over. All the systems and tools I had used when I was balancing career and family life in a full – time job, didn’t work for me when I was at home with my kids 100%.  Stuff I had no problem with before became a struggle: paying bills on time, keeping appointments, keeping up with housework, etc.

I remember thinking, “I’m a smart woman. This stay-at-home thing is not rocket science. Why can’t I seem to get it together?”  And that’s not saying anything about the GUILT! 

When those of with ADD lose or experience a significant change in external structure, that’s when we tend to struggle the most. Add to that a lack of stimulation (like when we leave a career and stay home with our kids, or retire or something along those lines) and it’s a recipe for ADD disaster!  It’s something I see all the time in my coaching practice.

FlyLady is a great way to re-create some structure in your life.  Customizing her tools to work for you is very important, of course, but I think her framework is great for most ADDers.

It’s also important for you to restore that stimulation for yourself. Whether it’s intellectual (taking a class, joining a book club, learning something new, etc), social, or physical or all of the above.  It’s really important. And staying home with my kids was sort of mind-numbing at times, honestly!!  Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t trade those years I was home with my kids for anything, but it wasn’t always fun or easy.  And it definitely wasn’t stimulating!

Good luck, and keep us posted!

Lynne A. Edris, ACG
Life & ADD Coach


Posted by ADD_Coach_Lynne on Mar 14, 2014 at 5:26am

I’m so glad you are taking the previous recommendations to heart.  They all are so good and resourceful….just like we are!!!  You are lucky to be diagnosed at such a young age.  I am in my 60s and was just diagnosed 3 years ago. And that was only because I took the time to finally see a very thoughtful and well trained psychologist (full disclosure: “took the time” means: my body and thinking broke down and I couldn’t work anymore and desperately needed help). 

I too had been the kind of ADDer who thrived on deadlines and pressure to get things done. I also had a highly acute set of organizational skills that I had diligently learned and that kept me in line.  Not only could I then see myself as extremely competent, but I also enjoyed the rush.  Plus, people both in and out of work admired me for what I could accomplish as well as for my great empathy and good spirits.  It seemed the more tasks I piled on, the riskier the situation, the better it felt…until the burnouts, of course.  Those were horrible and happened after I couldn’t physically push myself any further and then fear I wasn’t “good enough” would set in.  I would wallow in depression for as many weeks or even months as it took my body and psyche to heal. In fact, I came to congratulate myself on that uncanny ability to heal and go on; and I trusted that it would always work.

Remarkably, I usually stayed employed during the burnouts, skating on the positive results of previous years of over work.  If I did leave a job, I just found a new career that offered new challenges.  I never entered a career that I didn’t just love and they all gave me a chance to use the best of my ADD skills.  Until 10 years ago or so the burnouts were few and far between but then they began coming more often. Finally there wasn’t enough time between them to survive on past successes and I couldn’t force myself to work hard enough or stay focused long enough anymore to create new successes or even to find that new career.

The outcome is that I’m now physically older than my years.  I have severe arthritis in my hands and feet due to the hard physical work I had in two careers. Even at the end, in a non-physical job, I became unable to do much of anything, my ability to organize vanished and I had to take an early retirement or be fired.  I think back to my parents at this age, who both I now understand most likely had a form of ADD, and who just…. drifted…. away.  And that was what I was unconsciously doing until my diagnosis.  The meds helped so much but even then everyone expected to see me get going…including me.  Yet though positive and more active, I wasn’t getting a job or even doing well at my volunteer activities.  My therapist again helped by reaching out to her colleagues who were trained in ADD work.  She supplied me with information about ADDitude magazine (where I found these forums), (Children & Adults with Attention Hyperactivity Disorder), and NAMI (which is strong in our area).  It was from reading about how others cope with ADD that I’m learning too.

I’m completely convinced that medication alone will help clear our heads so that we can begin to function a little better but it won’t entirely help us heal the practical, emotional and psychological problems of ADD.  I’m too am a big fan of the Fly Lady for her practical help which I use daily (though if not aware of what I’m doing,  I can still spend 2 hours cleaning something that was supposed to take 20 minutes).  But, I have gained the most growth from learning about new research and reading the personal experiences of my fellow ADDers, of all ages and in all the stages of diagnosis, via these forums, articles and podcasts.  Also I attend “in person” support groups.  I am learning about how different meds work, options for local care and doctors, recommendations about exercise, surviving in society, surviving at work,  better ADD nutrition, tricks to organize myself, etc.  But, most importantly, I’ve learned that I am not alone. Though I still struggle daily and am facing one of the biggest challenges of my life right now, I have hope and am not forcing outcomes.

My in person groups are through CHADD (  I recommend going on their website to see if there are some near you.  Plus in some areas they also have groups for friends and family of ADDers.  I’m incredibly grateful that this wider range of help is showing me options for recovery and a future of awareness and function that my parents never could have. 

And I wish you all the best in your own personal journey of recovery.  In fact, there’s an entire community of us out here rooting you on. 

Posted by Ruthizabel on Mar 14, 2014 at 11:29am

You’re not alone! Some of what you wrote could’ve been ME writing it! I’m also a full time mom of 2 (a 1 yr old and 7 yr old). You got lots of great responses and I hope it helps you feel supported. Most of the responses were focused on concrete things you can do to get organized and get your chores done, which is very helpful. But, you need to slow down and breathe. You’re a good mom and you’re trying your best. I know you feel overwhelmed, guilty and stressed. If you’re like me, one feeling leads to another and then they snowball and pretty soon, you feel out of control and helpless. Try to let go of the perfectionism (it’s a daily struggle for me). Involve your kids in the house work in a fun way (if you don’t already). I make up little silly games like “ok, who can pick up the most blocks/books/whatever in 3 minutes?!” And I set a timer and do it with them. That way, I’m “playing” with the kids, getting a chore done and, if nothing else, modeling good behavior (put your toys away!). I also bought my son his own little broom set (a real one) and a vacuum cleaner (a toy one). That was when he was 3 or 4 but my 1 yr old loves the vac now. Now I don’t feel as guilty when I vac rather than play with her wink I have a hard time sitting still and playing with my daughter, especially in my house when chores need to be done. Therefore, I go outside with the kids. That way, I can be 100% present for them rather than distracted and scattered.

Try to cut yourself some slack. It’s a HARD JOB. I’m sorry your parents don’t believe you have ADD :( That’s a shame.  I’ve finally realized that my ADD brain, no matter how much I want it to be sometimes, is just NOT like other (non ADD) brains!  I also have a (very) low frustration threshold and an issue with impulsive anger. I feel like I’m the only mom on the planet who routinely let’s slip with “WTF?!?!”  in speaking to her child!!!! But, my mouth works quicker than my brain…thanks ADD. It’s a constant struggle for me.
Anyways, you’re not alone. Feeling guilty isn’t going to help anything so try to let those feelings go and be easy on yourself. You’re seeking help and trying your best. Pat yourself on the back.

Posted by Beachmama on Mar 14, 2014 at 8:14pm

I can totally relate to your experience, mine has been very similar. It is exhausting when children are that age, physically and emotionally. Don’t feel bad about the house being in a mess, I know it’s hard to let go of that, but you are doing your best. Putting yourself under pressure adds to your stress which can aggravate your symptoms. We need to be kind to ourselves. Unfortunately I didn’t realise that I had ADHD until now and my daughter is nine, so I was unable to get specific help for that. I have really struggled to be patient with my daughter, it has been so overwhelming for me. I have had a lot of counselling and used to go to mum & baby groups. It’s important to get moral support and often reassuring that others also struggle, even mums without adhd. I found it helped to get out of the house and be with other people when my daughter was a toddler. I am slowly being able to learn to catch my feelings building up to an outburst when I am overwhelmed, through really trying to be aware and for the sake of my daughter. I then try to slow down, sit down for 5 mins if possible and maybe have a cuppa or something to eat. Sometimes this can calm me down enough to carry on. It’s slow progress but my awareness is improving. It sounds like you’re a stay at home mum. Is it possible for you to get a little childcare or help with housework. Just because you’re not at work doesn;t mean you don’t need a break. Full time parenting is full on! When my daughter went to nursery part time it really helped my sanity. Another thing that helped us was getting a dishwasher, if that’s an option.

Posted by Janeybee on Mar 16, 2014 at 11:43pm

Also keep in mind that though the days may seem long, the years go by quickly. Your kids will soon be out of this phase.

Posted by Janeybee on Mar 16, 2014 at 11:47pm

Hi Julie, I am really sorry you are feeling so overwhelmed. I am not a mom so I can’t relate directly, but I CAN relate as an ADHD woman, and I just wanted you to know that. Even without kids, I just can’t seem to keep up with work AND housework AND my health/well being AND friends and family AND my relationship, etc.

I have breakdowns sometimes too. The thing is, I am actually good at organizing, and I need a clean, organized space to function well in. But I often just can’t switch gears like that, and I live in a smallish apartment with my boyfriend, who is totally disorganized and loves to make a mess.

My boyfriend and I are 36 and he wants two kids more than anything in the world. I am terrified because at my age, I will have to have them back-to-back. I really don’t think I can handle that. It scares me to no end. It is a huge source of anxiety for me, and I don’t even have the kids yet.

I think you just need to focus on what’s most important: that you and your kids are healthy and safe. I know what it’s like to always want to be “better,” but sometimes you just have to be “worse.” As long as the kids are eating and sleeping and not in harm’s way, you’re doing your job. If you have any family or friends nearby, you should really think about things you might be able to ask them to help you with. I like to do things myself and never ask for help (apparently yet another characteristic of ADHD!), but I think it’s the only way to really get through life.

And I have to say, I HATE playing with kids. I just don’t have the patience. I didn’t have the patience when I WAS a kid! I think that’s ok—the idea of always playing with your kids and entertaining them is a relatively new thing. When I think back, my parents really did not play with me all the time like I see my friends doing with their kids. Usually my mom would set me up at the kitchen table with a coloring book or a crafts project and she’d be doing her thing and me my thing and we’d spend time together that way.

Anyway I really empathized with your problem and I wanted to respond. Sorry I don’t have much to say with direct experience to parenting.

Posted by LLB827 on Mar 26, 2014 at 3:44am

You sound just like me! I haven’t been officially diagnosed with ADD yet but my son has and the more research I do the more I identify with it. My kids are 6 and 7 and a half (kindergarten and 1st grade). Our house has always been a mess, before kids, when they were babies, and now that they are in school. I just can’t get it together. The FlyLady method worked for a couple months and then I got a cold or something equally unmotivating, and stopped. I also got sick of all the commercials for her products that she puts in the dozens of emails she sends daily. But try it, it may work for you. Somehow I still make my bed most mornings and clean my bathroom regularly, thanks to her. I like her laidback attitude about cleaning and she knows how perfectionism can lead to a lack of motivation. She has some funny backwoods sayings too like, “Better to take a lick at a snake with a stick”, which means better to do something than nothing.

The Organizer Lady, Sandra Felton, ( ) has a book called “The Messies Manual” that uses a “Flipper” index card system instead of a control journal, and has a book specifically for women with ADD called “Organizing For Life”. She also runs support groups called Messies Anonymous which are run like AA but for people who can’t control their clutter. The groups are online and in person. I like her “15 minute tidy” (which is like the 10 second tidy from “The Big Comfy Couch” tv show back in the day.) Kids are supposed to help, even if they only manage to put one or two things away. I like to play Disney music while we clean. ... I need to get back on that. I have been ignoring it lately.

If you are a Christian, try “Who Got Peanut Butter On My Daily Planner: Organizing and Loving Your Days As A Mom” by Cindy Dagnan. It is funny and practical.

And by all means, get out of the house! Go to the park, the zoo, the library (I love storytimes, even though my son always wandered off, he was ADHD even back then, LOL!), find some other moms to meet with regularly. It helps with your sanity, I promise. Plus inviting other children over to your house means you have to clean it before they get there. How’s that for motivation? And sometimes the moms will offer to help put it back in order when you’re done too!

I was so depressed when my kids were little, about my house, about being lonely, about everything, that I have been taking antidepressants since my second child was a year old. They do help, but getting of my butt and doing things helps too. I also found out I have a thyroid disorder, which made a drastic difference too. But now that all that is in order, I have no one to blame this messy house on but myself.

I guess that’s my cue to sign off and go tackle the mountain that is our laundry pile. Good luck!

Posted by lambfour on Apr 15, 2014 at 9:04pm

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