The Challenges of Parenting with ADHD (And How to Handle Them)
By Sam Bowman
Parenting is one of life’s greatest joys. Seeing your child grow up and develop their own personality is more rewarding than any promotion, recognition, or achievement.
But, parenting is also a challenge. From the terrible twos to aloof teens, your patience can reach its limit and make you feel like a “bad” parent.
The challenge of parenting can sometimes feel insurmountable if you’re parenting with ADHD.
Experiencing brain fog, distractions, and impulsiveness can throw you for a loop and leave you feeling inadequate.
It’s important to remember that millions of parents around the globe raise their children successfully while negotiating their own ADHD/ADD.
These parents use tips and tricks that make overcoming the challenges of parenting with ADHD/ADD easier to navigate.
You can follow their example and embark on your own journey of parenting with self-love and awareness.
How ADHD Affects Your Parenting (And What You Can Do About It)
ADHD affects 5% of the population.
That means millions of parents have successfully raised children while working through the neurodiverse challenges of ADHD/ADD — even if they weren’t diagnosed at the time.
Parenting while neurodivergent is normal. However, ADHD might change how you interact with your children as you can face different challenges than neurotypical parents.
It’s important to understand neurodiversity and the way it impacts your approach to parenting.
Being neurodivergent doesn’t mean you’ll be a worse parent — it just means you have unique challenges to overcome.
As a parent with ADHD/ADD, you should be aware of the ways that inattentiveness and impulsivity impact your decision-making and day-to-day life.
If you have ADHD, you should also keep an eye on your own hyperactivity and reach out for help when you need it.
There is no “right way” to parent. However, as a parent with ADD/ADHD, you may find that regularly reaching out for help and leaning on your community makes the process easier.
1. See a Doctor for Diagnosis and Treatment
Start by ensuring that you have a formal ADD/ADHD diagnosis.
This will go a long way toward validating yourself and the struggles you may be facing.
An ADHD diagnosis — for parent and child, often — can also reduce feelings of guilt and alleviate stress.
Many treatment options are available once you’ve received a formal diagnosis. You and your doctor will agree on the best treatments to suit your needs.
2. Reach Out to Your Support Network and Other Parents
Reaching out for help remains essential once you’ve received a diagnosis and decided on a treatment.
You don’t have to do everything by yourself.
Leaning on trusted loved ones can make the process much easier. Consider reaching out to other parents with kids participating in similar activities and interests and asking them how they stay organized.
A trusted group of parents to carpool and share activities with can lighten the load.
This will save you time and give you space to work on organizational and self-development skills that make parenting with ADHD easier.
3. Look After Yourself First
Everyone’s experience with ADD/ADHD is different. However, many struggle to maintain focus and stay organized.
This can be an issue for parents with ADHD, as raising a child requires you to track and schedule their entire lives.
You can improve your focus and mental clarity by focusing on yourself first.
Take the time to exercise regularly and eat a healthy, balanced diet.
Exercise can improve cognitive performance and help alleviate stress. This will increase your ability to focus and handle the challenges of parenting.
Once you’ve taken care of your mental health, try developing your organizational skills at home.
4. Learn Organizational Skills to Reduce Clutter and Chaos
Home organization expert, Lisa Woodruff, explains that getting organized with ADHD is a skill — you can learn to become better organized just as you can learn a new language.
Start organizing your home by concentrating on the areas of your house that cause the most disruption to your day as a parent.
Tips to stay organized:
- The kitchen: Reorganize food containers that pile up and remove any that don’t get used.
- Sports gear: Place each child’s sports gear into their own plastic tubs.
- Laundry: Wash your child’s school clothes separately and all at once, so nothing gets lost.
These steps aren’t definitive but should get you thinking about ways to become more organized to support your children.
Be prepared for setbacks, but keep faith in the idea that investing in organizational skills will help you manage your ADD/ADHD.
5. Find Out If Your Child Is Also Struggling with ADHD
Although the cause of ADHD isn’t known, it tends to run in families. So your child may be more likely to have ADHD.
As an ADHD parent of an ADHD child, lean on your support network.
Coach and ADHD writer, Lis Lewis, recommends getting in touch with a therapist or doctor if you’re struggling to keep everyone on track.
Next, Lewis recommends paying attention to the way your brain works to better support your child with ADHD.
Think about what may cause challenges for you and consider the self-care that has worked previously. Your child may face different challenges than you, but working from your own experience is an excellent place to start.
Turn Your ADHD into a Parenting Advantage
Parenting with ADHD is challenging, but millions of parents are finding ways to overcome the challenges and thrive. Asking for help from medical professionals and your support network can make the process easier.
Be sure to model good behavior to your children by exercising frequently and living a healthy lifestyle to improve your focus and well-being.
Remember that you aren’t a bad parent. You have a unique perspective on life — and you can use that to your advantage when raising your child.
If you’d like to join a supportive and inclusive community of people who understand what you’re going through, check out ADDA+.