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I Lied. The Real Truth About ADHD and Packing

Posted on July 30, 2014



In my last newsletter, I shared my “Super Duper Packing Tips for ADHD Travelers”, which was prompted by getting myself prepared for the upcoming ADDA conference.

Well, friends, my own advice blew up in my face. And I’m here to tell you all about it. Because if it happened to me, it can, will and probably has…happened to you.

Even with all the strategies I use to help tame my own ADD, it can still (and often does) backfire. After all, I’m only human. And so are you. And no matter how hard we try, no matter how much we understand about our ADD, it can still trip us up. Big time.

Though I started packing and planning for the conference 2 ½ weeks before I was to depart, and had started running lists of what to pack and what needed to be done before I left, I still made a real mess of things.

Here’s my story, which I shared with my attendees at my ADDA session:

  1. Though I picked out outfits weeks ahead of time, I needed to cull back on how much to pack. Did I really need 6 or 7 outfits for a 4-day event? I couldn’t figure it out! What blouse could I wear with another pair of slacks so that I could eliminate having to pack extra outfits? Which purse would work with all outfits? Which shoes? Try as I might, I couldn’t do it, partly because I can’t visualize things in my head (want proof? introduce yourself to me and ask me in 10 minutes how I met you- let alone what your name is).
  1. I didn’t take into account that I also had to get my younger daughter prepared for overnight camp. She had to be dropped off exactly one day before I had to leave for the airport. That meant, preparing two people for travel.
  1. As I knocked off one “to – do” item from my list, I added 10 more. Umm…I don’t know why there always seems to be more, not less work to be done with a strategy like that.
  1. I decided at the last minute to make a major tweak for my conference presentation. That was simply…dumb.

So what did I do?

The biggest help of all was asking my older daughter, Miss Logical Thinker, to help me figure out the outfits. It took her 2 ½ minutes to see that an entire outfit could be eliminated, along with a pair of shoes and a purse. This was magical thinking in my eyes, and I jokingly suggested she must be adopted. Actually, she is adopted, which made us both laugh, making this awful chore just a little less painful. She single handedly transformed my heap of fabric into logical, attractive outfits.

Once that was figured out, she cheerfully suggested we pack everything up while she was there to help. And I cheerfully agreed (secretly relieved beyond words to have her force me to get this part done).

So…I began to pack my stuff. That is, until she shrieked at me: “MOM, WHAT IN THE WORLD ARE YOU DOING??” I looked at her, surprised and truthfully, with my startle response, I jumped about 3 inches off the ground.

“NOW what am I doing wrong, Kate?”

“Mom! That is NOT how you pack a suitcase.”

It looked right to me! I folded things as best I could (a first clue that I was indeed doing it all wrong) before throwing, er…placing them in the suitcase. She grabbed my clothes away and began folding them neatly, in delicate 5-point patterns, more beautiful that a Sushi dinner set for 12 ambassadors. By the time she was done (40 seconds), my suitcase looked like a work of art.

Below is Kate packing and at the top, you can see the final product: my neatly arranged suitcase. I could frame this- not just because she’s my daughter, but because it could be used as a visual cue of how a suitcase should/could look. Like a template, of sorts.



So what’s my point? It doesn’t matter who you are or how great your planning strategies might be, your ADD will sometimes give you a big kick in the pants. And when it does, well, just call your daughter or son, spouse/partner or best friend, and have them lend you a hand.

What works for you when it’s time to pack for a trip? 

Share your ideas in the Comment section below.

6 Super Duper Packing Tips for ADHD Travelers

Posted on July 15, 2014



Next week, I’m heading to Orlando for the ADDA conference (you can still register HERE), where I’ll be presenting on “The Secret Lives of Women with ADHD.”

It’s an exciting time to re-connect with old friends, make new friends, network, but most of all, to be with my “tribe”- adults with ADHD. This is the only place in the world where we can be with hundreds of other adults, forgetting names, losing keys, wallets and phones, stumbling and knocking into things…without a single person batting an eye or saying something hurtful. It’s a time to rejuvenate, to laugh (and sometimes cry), sharing our ADHD stories- good and bad.

Of course, it’s also a time to learn all about the latest research and treatment and there are tons and tons of sessions that offer tremendous resources and tips for everyday issues of living with ADHD.

Though you may not be able to attend this year, I do hope you start saving for next year, because it truly is a life altering experience.

ADHD doesn’t go away, but it can be tamed. In fact, my ADHD comes out in full force when I plan my ADDA trip or traveling in general. It can take me a solid week to get everything together: materials for my session, papers printed, child care, pet sitting, etc., but…the hardest thing for me to manage is the dreaded packing.

It makes sense, doesn’t it?

It taps into all of our ADHD challenges: planning, procrastinating, prioritizing, making decisions, and all the rest. As an ADDA family “member” (I was on the board for years and still serve on the professional advisory board), I’m involved in many activities. That calls for oh, about 100 outfits to figure out and pack.

I wish I had a simple solution to offer you- it’s rarely an easy task for us- but here are some tips that have helped me; maybe they will help you, as well, as you head out for a summer vacation.

  1. Keep Records of Past Outfits

For every travel excursion, I keep a record of what I wore, what the occasion was, location and season. This way, I can go back and get ideas for future outfits without having to start from square one. You can even take a photo of each outfit- or even you in the outfit.


  1. Essentials

Keep a file on your computer of essentials you need to bring with you, ie medications, toiletries, etc. If you tend to travel a lot, keep a small bag already packed with duplicate items so you can just toss it– or even keep- in your suitcase.


  1. First Things First

Pack items you cannot travel without: eyeglasses/contacts, medications, travel documents.


  1. Choosing Outfits

Open a computer file (or jot down on paper, if you prefer), listing your itinerary, leaving space to write in your outfits. Yours might look like this:


-   Friday night dinner

Navy suit/white blouse/red flats/pearl necklace


-   Saturday daytime sightseeing

Jeans/white tshirt/long sleeve white blouse


-   Saturday night wedding

Black chiffon dress/patent heels/silver purse/silver necklace


Start with the most important outfit. For example, in this case, it’s probably the dress for the wedding. By starting with the most important (or stressful) outfit choice, you will immediately begin to calm down once that decision is off your plate. As you go through your closet and your outfit files, begin to write in the other various outfits you need to pack. Remember to write down everything: shoes, purse, accessories. Be sure to try on everything, to make sure it’s clean and not in need of any mending or alterations.


  1. Simplify

Try to simplify. In my case, I’m all about black and white. So I tend to pack one or two black/white or other neutral outfits, then add different colored blouses to go with them, trying to find tops that can work with each outfit.


  1. Stop Agonizing

Remind yourself that in most cases, if you forget something, you can find what you need at your destination.




-       Upon your return, analyze what you would have done differently and add that to your notes. Did you pack too many things? Not enough? Wrong shoes?

-       I’m finding that a lot of people have the same laptop computer as me and during airport screening, it’s easy for someone to accidentally take your computer off the conveyer belt. Purchase a removable decal to identify your computer.

-       What is it with black/ugly luggage? To make yours stand out so it’s easy to find, apply a strip of brightly colored duct tape on each side.


How about you? What tips can you share for your fellow ADD travelers? Please share in the Comment section below.


Out of Sight, Out of Mind: How to Find your Stuff

Posted on June 30, 2014



Do you suffer from OOS-OOM?

My friend, Bob, a member of the Adult ADHD Facebook Group, coined that, which is short for “Out of Sight, Out of Mind.” Don’t you love it? It sounds like a meditation mantra, doesn’t it? OOS-OOM…OOS-OOM. The only problem is, Out of Sight, Out of Mind creates stress and tension- not relaxation and peace- for those of us with ADHD. Often times if what we need is not IN OUR FACE, we have no clue where we’ve put something. And that “something” is often important, like…your cell phone, wallet. Stuff like that.

Drawers become evil. Cabinets are black pits. So we toss our stuff on THAT table or THIS nightstand, until things get out of hand and lost in the pile.  Don’t you just love it when you’re searching for some random thing and up pops Grandma Edith’s diamond brooch you’d inherited that you thought you’d put in the safety deposit box at the bank?

Yes…we’ve all been there. No need to hang your head in shame. I’m still looking for Grandpa Dave’s silver dollars he gifted me 50 years ago.

But what’s an ADD gal (or guy) to do?

I recently read a blog post by a non-ADD adult (as far as I know, but…maybe..?) who was so sick and tired of forgetting where she put things, that she developed her own strategy. She talked to herself out loud, like this:

I’m putting my watch on the counter (repeat 3 times). Or, I’m leaving my cellphone in the kitchen. (repeat 3 times).  You get the drift.

I actually think that’s a great tip, unless you’re at work or otherwise in a setting that could disturb people.

We know that folks with ADD do well with visual cues, and I’ve talked about this a lot over the years. One of my biggest ADD nemesis is paper, as in…paper, paper, everywhere. Bills, reports, documents, etc. For years, when I needed to find an important paper, I spent hours searching, to no avail.  Once I learned of my ADD and sought out help, I hired a professional organizer who helped me set up systems. She told me that instead of fighting my need for visual cues, to instead, find ways to make it work for me. So instead of putting things in drawers, boxes, closets, knowing I’d never retrieve them again, we set up a different sort of system. And I use this system to this day.

For important but temporary papers that need to be in my FACE, like invitations, renewal reminders, appointments or whatever, I have a large bulletin board in my home office, nailed onto the closet door so that I can easily see it while I’m working. I have 3 more, but smaller, corkboards, next to that for items that need to be in my line of vision long term.  Pinned on those are passwords, my daughter’s school schedule, important phone numbers, etc.

The downside is that keeping things in view can cause visual clutter. Which is a nice way of saying piles and piles. And I’m not innocent when it comes to paper mountains. I recently found some very cool vintage wire letter bins on Etsy (an example of some are here . I’m beginning to go through my paper piles and putting them in a “do now” bin. I’ll buy a few more bins and use them for later sorting/filing so that at least, the piles aren’t such an eyesore. Before the see- through bin idea, I used manila folders but found that OOS-OOM raged on. You can’t see what’s in a folder, though I suppose the clear plastic ones could work. But for now, I’m going with the vintage look.

What about you? How do you manage your stuff that can easily end up in the black pit? How do you retrieve it without having to use a mantra?

Share your tips in the Comment section below.

Help for your ADD Panic!

Posted on June 25, 2014

04012014_matlen 018

The Queens of Distraction June Special!


Women with ADHD!

Do you want to:

  • Kick clutter to the curb?
  • See the surface of your tables again?
  • Get started on your projects and start feeling good about yourself?

Come hang out with me in a secret, private room with other women with ADD, who “get” your challenges and are there to offer support.

We meet Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays to get a handle on what is driving you CRAZY. It’s all about taking charge and finally making that decision to dive in. Be a part of this special group- we hold each other accountable but with compassion and understanding. Because we “get” it!

 Register now at our special June rates! But hurry- this won’t last!  

If you’re ready to GET THINGS DONE with fun and support of others with ADD in a fast paced action-based “no looking back” system that works, then this is the group for you.  We’re also open 24/7 for peer support.

Are you ready to:

Tackle your clutter
Kill the procrastinating demon
File and organize your papers
In two words: Get Organized?

Come connect with other women with ADHD and feel safe, accepted and understood.

Register today HERE and feel the relief of getting your life back under control. 
Welcome home!

Questions? Email me at  


Throw down: Terry VS the Self-Cleaning Oven

Posted on June 16, 2014



When was the last time you looked in your oven? I mean, really looked in your oven, not what you have cooking IN the oven.

I had out of town guests coming and though the house (main floor, anyway) was in decent shape, clutter-wise, I happened to notice that my oven was a mess. You know that type of ADD blindness, don’t you? In this case, it was my suddenly realizing that 3 inches of black muck had found a home at the bottom of what was at one time, a gray oven.

Mind you, mine is a self-cleaning oven. SELF-CLEANING and it’s still a stinking mess.

So what does every woman with ADD do when she’s faced with a cleaning/de-cluttering/organizing dilemma? Some call their moms or sisters. Or best friends (if they are ADD- friendly types). But not me. I go straight to Facebook and scream at the top of my lungs:



Terry Matlen: “Why do they call them self-cleaning ovens? I have no clue how to clean the gunk out of mine.”

Now notice the red circle. This post received 28 comments plus the four you can see above. You’d think I was talking about some major current event…like the situation in Iraq, or worse: the Kardashian/Kanye West baby (did they really name her North?)

Some of the suggestions were:

Look it up in the manual

FIND the manual if you can, then look it up

If you cannot find the manual, check online

Ok, now…I know me. I’m not going to search for the manual because I have no idea where I might find it. Best to look online.

Some other suggestions included using vinegar (but how? You dump it in a cup and turn the oven on high? Or use it to scrub the oven?).

One of my favorites was the suggestion to replace the oven. Now that was something I thought doable, until I realized she meant not as a solution for dealing with muck, but because perhaps the self-cleaning mechanism was no longer working. Darn.

So what did I do?

My cleaning crew was due in just before my friends were to arrive. Yes, I have a cleaning service that comes to my house every week to save me from my own wrecking ball of an ADD-laden family. You see, I don’t consider this a luxury; I see it as a necessity. It’s an accommodation I have for my and my family’s ADD (ok, a few of us do not have ADD, so they will remain nameless as I don’t want to embarrass them). But some of us DO, including me, and I know that there is no way I can keep up with this house. Or any house.

So I ask for help. We budget so that we can afford a cleaning lady.

And that kind lady that is brave enough to enter my house every Thursday at 11:35 am took a look at me as I pointed to the oven with a quizzical expression on my face and immediately asked if I was going to offer her some chocolate chip cookies.

I finally communicated my desperate need for her professional help and thinking there was no way in hell she’d take something like that on, I went back to my work and promptly forgot about the whole thing. Sometimes having ADD really is a great thing, y’know?

Hours later, I started getting the kitchen ready for my company. No, I didn’t cook (don’t you know me well enough by now?), but I did need to clear and set the table for our carryout meal. It was a great evening, seeing my friends after 4 years (they live a few thousand miles away). We laughed, chatted and caught up with everything. After they left, I suddenly remembered the muck-ridden oven and took a peek to see if the cleaning lady had made any progress.

I was stunned. The oven was back to its original gray color. So I went back to Facebook and asked how that could be possible. No fumes. No puddles. Nothing. Then I saw a friend’s note that I’d missed before. She said- use a hand vacuum to gather up all the crumbly gunk, then spray the heck out of it with regular oven cleaning spray.

I don’t have oven- cleaning spray and I have no idea where the mini vacuum is.

So next week, when Galina comes, I will ask her what her secret is for cleaning a self-cleaning oven. And then I will post it on Facebook. Stay tuned.

What’s your ADD cleaning nemesis? Share it in the Comment Section below.

By the way, would you like to roll up your sleeves and de-gunk your oven? Or send in those medical insurance bills for payment? How about putting away those winter clothes? Become a Queen of Distraction and join me online, with women just like you and me, to bust the clutter out of your home, out your life. And guess what? We actually have fun doing it!

Take advantage of my special June rates while you can at



Don’t Destroy your Boat: Excerpt from “Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD”, by Penny Williams

Posted on June 02, 2014


Today’s guest blog is written by Penny Williams, an award-winning blogger. Penny is a freelance writer, author and warrior mom and the author of the new book, Boy Without Instructions, a book I’ve read and highly recommend. As the mother of a child with ADHD and other special needs, I can totally relate to the struggles Penny describes in this incredible book. Read more about Penny below the article and do check out her book  HERE.

Enjoy this excerpt from the book!

Don’t Destroy your Boat

By Penny Williams

Relationships with significant others are tough, even under the best circumstances. Throw some children and a highly-misunderstood behavioral disability in the mix, and they become exponentially tougher. When my son, Ricochet, was first diagnosed with ADHD, my husband and I leaned on each other for support. We discussed all decisions about Ricochet’s ADHD treatment. It was tough, but we were in it together.

I had been obsessed with ADHD since Ricochet’s diagnosis. I surrounded myself with ADHD books, websites, online forums, videos, etc. I was compelled to learn all I could until I had answers for my son. I spent many, many hours a day researching ADHD and an hour or two most days writing about it. Every night at dinner, I hurled ADHD facts and stories all over everyone. My husband came home from a long, hard day at work, sat down to eat dinner with his family, and listened to a diatribe about ADHD.

My obsession with ADHD was ruling my days completely. I awoke thinking about how ADHD was going to make it hard to get Ricochet ready for school. I thought about what he should eat for breakfast to get the most protein to help his brain focus. I watched him walk into the school building, and hoped ADHD didn’t cause too many troubles for him that day. I came home to blog about ADHD, chat with other moms of kids with ADHD, and read, read, read all about ADHD.

I neglected housework to research. I might have taken a shower, but I was worrying about Ricochet at school as I lathered. I read books or magazines about ADHD as I sat in the car line, waiting for school to let out. I immediately asked Ricochet how his day was as he climbed into the car. I couldn’t wait to get home and read the note his teacher sent about his day, hoping for little ADHD-related comments. I fought with Ricochet about homework because ADHD made it so hard. Then his medication would wear off, and it became all about trying to control his behaviors enough to keep everyone from madness and to keep him from destroying the house. Then it was time to beg him to eat dinner because his ADHD medication made him lose his appetite. Then we had to endure the bedtime battle, a battle only because of ADHD. The only time I was not completely absorbed in ADHD was 8-10 pm each night when the kids were in bed, and I vegetated in front of the television so I could stop thinking.

It took more than three years to realize I wasn’t finding answers because I was asking the wrong questions. My burning questions, those that drove me to the point of obsession, didn’t have answers.

Why MY son?

How do I fix his handwriting?

How do I keep him from getting in trouble at school?

How do I keep him from being bullied?

How do I keep him from failing?

I was driven to an insane thirst for all things ADHD because I wanted to “fix” it, but that was an impossibility.

My obsession silently wedged between my husband and me. I saw it coming in his blank stare when I told a story about the child of a “virtual” friend on my Facebook Fan Page, or beneath his belabored sigh when I explained the contents of yet another article on ADHD. I was pushing too hard.

While my obsession was maddening for him, I realized it wasn’t healthy for me either. It was detrimental to everyone in our family, actually. Our lives couldn’t be all about ADHD all the time — ADHD might feel all-consuming, but we couldn’t permit it that power. In fact, our lives shouldn’t be about ADHD at all. For example, say I have seasonal allergies. Does my life become all about allergies all the time? Of course not. I consider my allergy to all things blooming before taking a hike in the peak of spring, but I consider it, treat it, and then go on my hike. I wouldn’t let allergies determine every facet of my life, and the same should be said for ADHD.

I knew my obsession had reached a breaking point when even I grew tired of reading, talking, and thinking about ADHD. I had given ADHD all the power in our family, and I had to make a genuine, concerted effort to regain control. I set a schedule to study and write about ADHD. I worked to think about something other than ADHD when I looked at Ricochet. I stopped feeling sorry for him, and once again focused on discovering and nurturing his gifts. I vowed not to discuss ADHD at the dinner table — if I had something ADHD-related to discuss with my husband, I would do it privately at a different time. I carved out some time to again focus on improving my real estate business. It took an enormous amount of self-awareness and effort, but ADHD no longer controlled my life.

Regaining control over the affect ADHD had on our family began to repair a broken portion of my marriage, too. There’s a wonderful quote from a parent of a child with Fragile X Syndrome that illustrates this beautifully: “I tell couples who sail into a storm and are fighting: ‘Don’t hack at your boat in a storm. If you are in the middle of a crisis, don’t take the very support you have and start whacking at it, because that is dumb. You should love, nurture, and care for the other person or you aren’t going to make it through the storm.’”

We had to stop going after each other over ADHD. Loss of support was a casualty we couldn’t afford.



A self-described “veteran” parent of a son with ADHD, Penny Williams is the author of the Amazon best-seller about her parenthood in the trenches, Boy Without Instructions: Surviving the Learning Curve of Parenting a Child with ADHD. She is also the creator of the award-winning website, {a mom’s view of ADHD}, and a frequent contributor on parenting a child with ADHD for ADDitude Magazine and other parenting and special needs publications. Look for her second book, What to Expect When You’re Not Expecting ADHD, in late 2014. Follow Penny and get updates about Ricochet at


10 Tips for a Peaceful Bedtime Routine

Posted on May 20, 2014

young girl going to sleep

There are many studies that show the difficulties children with ADHD – and their parents- face at bedtime. Typically, the child’s ADHD medication has worn off, causing his symptoms to reappear, often with a vengeance. As he/she becomes more hyperactive and impulsive, his body needs just the opposite: rest!

What is a parent to do?

               10 Tips for Getting Your Child to Bed


  1. Insist that all electronics and other stimulating toys and activities stop one hour before bedtime.
  2. Have a schedule and stick to it with rare exceptions. Post the schedule (in more than one place). For younger children, use diagrams or pictures from magazines.

Clearly state each step of the bedtime routine:

  • What time the child must stop playing
  • Any chores needed to be done (i.e. putting toys away)
  • Snack time, if needed
  • Wash up, brush teeth, shower
  • Change into pajamas
  • Lights out

3.  Warm milk, warm baths- they really do work.

4. Even older children love one – on – one time with parents, whether it’s reading a book together, or sharing the day’s activities. Even many teenagers find this time together calming and special.

5.  Reward your child for every positive move in the right direction. For younger children, keep a jar and add coins to it every time he follows the bedtime schedule.

6.  Remember that children with ADHD get bored with routines quickly and though you want to try and make them the same each night, you’ll need to be creative in making that happen. Once, I was so desperate to get my child to bed, I turned it into a Scavenger Hunt. I wrote each bedtime step on an index card and hid them. Each contained a clue where to find the next card, plus instructions on what needed to be done to get ready for bed. Another parent wrote all the bedtime routines on her child’s bathroom mirror using whiteboard markers. Think of other creative, novel ways to keep your child on track.

7.  Get help! There was a time when things were so difficult in my home, that I hired a sitter a few nights a week to help me. It truly saved my sanity. Insist that your spouse/partner also help. Consider trading off bedtime and morning responsibilities with your partner so neither of you becomes burned out.

8.  Sometimes the child seeks out stimulation by engaging parents in bedtime wars.

Change YOUR habits- try different tactics that remove you from the scene as much as possible. You might be surprised that your child actually gets sleepy when the conflict with you disappears.

9.  Try sensory products. When my daughter was very young, I purchased a special tent that sat on top of her bed. She loved to curl up with her stuffed animals. The security of the tent encompassing her had a calming effect. You can also purchase a weighted blanket- these, too often have a calming effect on children with ADHD. Or…pile a lot of regular blankets on her.

10. De-clutter your child’s room so that he isn’t stimulated visually by all the “stuff” in there or tempted to start playing with toys in the middle of the night.

Many children with ADHD simply cannot unwind at the end of the day. When their daytime meds wear off, their behaviors often become unmanageable and sleep impossible. Discuss with your child’s doctor whether a bedtime medication might be needed to help ease him into sleep.

Remember: you can’t force your child to sleep and you should never suggest that. But you can insist he stay IN bed and rest. Then let nature take its course.


ADHD and Mommy Guilt

Posted on May 05, 2014

overwhelmed mom


With Mother’s Day just around the corner, I thought I’d talk a bit about being a mom with ADD.

Did I ever tell you about the story…back in the day when my daughter was a perky, enthusiastic Brownie? This was years ago… She’d come home from her meetings and happily hand me a plastic baggie filled with Brownie badges. I was utterly proud of her, for she had (and continues to have) many challenges. I was ecstatic that she’d found an activity where she seemed (and that is said in very broad terms) accepted by her peers. Happy, that is, until I realized my duty as mother of the Brownie, included sewing the badges onto her brown felt vest.

Due to my nonexistent sewing skills, I was at a loss, particularly when there was little time to get those suckers attached before the next meeting. Not only have I never mastered the art of needle and thread, I passionately hate anything having to do with most domestic activities. It’s not that I’m lazy, but I’d rather be doing something creative or something that’s at least of some interest to me- and something I can do without too much self-criticism. Sewing is not one of those things. In fact, my kids knew at an early age to go to their father if they needed a button sewn back on.

Cleaning, organizing, cooking…all of these activities and chores do not speak to my strengths.

Anyway, with a dash of “brilliance” that first day of badge duty, it occurred to me that there must be other ways to attach Brownie badges to vests that don’t require the dreaded needle and thread. So…I took out my handy dandy stapler and began punching those badges onto Mackenzie’s vest, feeling awfully proud of myself for coming up with a unique accommodation for my sewing deficit.

Proud, until Mackenzie came home crying from school the next day, her sensitive, baby-like skin flaming red from the scratch marks those metal staples produced.

I plunged into the depths of mommy guilt. How could I, a two-time college degree earner, not be able to sew a simple piece of cloth onto a Brownie vest? Was it that I secretly and/or unconsciously hated Brownies because as a ten year old, I never ever would have joined such a group due to my own insecurities of not fitting in? Even at that young age, I knew I’d never produce projects that would cut the mustard, earning me awards and accolades, let alone a badge. I felt like a two time Brownie loser.

But back to ADD Motherhood.

I remember thinking of what a failure of a mother I was in other ways, too. School papers often didn’t get back to the teachers, signed as required. I refused to volunteer in the classroom because of my hypersensitivities to noise and commotion (and therefore felt I wasn’t doing my share of classroom duty). Every night, I prayed my kids wouldn’t ask me to play a board game or re-read Goodnight Moon for the millionth time. I did love to read but neither of my kids was a snuggler that could handle long stories or books. So it was non-stop repetitive Dr. Seuss, Hungry Caterpillar and other such books. I also couldn’t manage watching Wee Sing or Barney videos more than once without jumping out of my skin.

What was wrong with me? In those days, ADHD was literally unknown in women, so I thought I was just an incompetent failure of a mother. Now that we know so much more, it’s sad to see that many moms still feel this way, even when armed with information, treatment and support.

There is this ideal that we women try to strive for- the perfect mom with the perfect kids, baking pies and keeping the laundry in check (often while balancing a 40 hour work week). That just doesn’t (usually) happen too easily in ADD households. Actually, it’s hard enough when ADD isn’t part of the picture.

What we need to do, as moms with ADD, is to focus, of course, on our strengths. We need to focus on what we do well and get help for the things we struggle with. That might be a tall order for many women, but think of it this way: by doing so, you are modeling healthy behavior to your children. You’re teaching them that it’s ok to be who they are, whether it’s having ADD, diabetes, anxiety or a life-threatening allergy. You’re teaching them that there are work-arounds for most conditions: yes, they have to be addressed and understood, and they often require help from the outside- family, professionals, school, medication, etc. You, as a mom with ADD need to model how to ask for help. You need to show your children that you aren’t your ADD; ADD is just a part of who you are. It doesn’t define you and it doesn’t have to bring you to your knees (even if you feel that way sometimes inside).

Oftentimes, it’s best to recognize shortcomings and find alternative ways to manage things, like…hiring someone to help with housecleaning or finding someone who can help with math tutoring for your child. Who says it always has to be…you?

Thinking back, I didn’t give myself enough credit for all the things I DID do- things moms of typically developing children wouldn’t dream of doing. Like taking my daughter to weekly sessions for speech, OT, sensory integration, psychotherapy, let alone psychiatrist appointments, after school writing/reading programs and more. I founded a district-wide group for parents of children with special needs and led meetings with special ed directors, the school board and even helped organize rallies in the state capital, demonstrating for the rights of our special children. I called the big- and little- newspapers, updating them on the horrible education- and treatment- our kids received, often being interviewed by the press. All that, yet I obsessed mostly about my perceived weakness as a mom- that I wasn’t good enough, that I failed my children…because I took it personally that they refused to eat meatloaf or roast chicken. Or much of anything I tried to get on the table each night.

It’s almost Mother’s Day. Can you let go of one ideal mom- related responsibility that you WISH you could do well (or happily) and instead, accept- and embrace a workaround? Can you share one- or more- things you do well as a mom?

What might they be?

Leave your ideas or thoughts in the comment section below.


5 Tips To Stop Procrastination NOW

Posted on April 22, 2014

Secretary overwhelmed

Why is it so hard to get started on a dreaded chore or project? Why do we keep putting it off and putting it off? The sad thing is, by putting things off, we end up spending even more of our time and energy worrying, obsessing and feeling awful about it, then the actual time it takes to finish the chore! What gives? Why do we do this to ourselves?

In my online coaching group, The Queens of Distraction, we tackle all kinds of projects, from clearing off the cluttered dining room table to paying bills to getting dinner on the table every night. Time and time again, I hear the same concern: “Why can’t I get started? Where do I even begin?”

With ADD, when faced with an unpleasant task or one that seems to be too taxing on our brain, we end up procrastinating- waiting until the last minute until that bolt of adrenaline finally hits as we realize we have (1 hour, 1 day, etc.) to get something done.

You’d think we’d know BY NOW that the stress of waiting until the last minute takes its toll on us. We intellectually KNOW better, yet…we repeat this behavior over and over again.


If you have ADD, then you have an aversion to boredom. Menial tasks are unbearable. Pair that with distractibility, poor sense of time, fatigue (often seen in inattentive women with ADD), and impaired executive functioning (where do I start? What happens next? How do I DO this?) and it becomes an almost impossible feat to do seemingly simple tasks.

It helps to know why you have difficulty managing chores and other activities you avoid, but…what can you DO about it?

Terry’s Top 5 Secret Tips for Getting Things Done

  1. Yea, yea, yea, you’ve heard this before: make a list. But this list is different. Instead of just listing all the things that need to be done, try this:
  • List only the things that need to be done for that day.
  • Instead of prioritizing, like all the organizing books instruct you to do, read each item and put a star next to the one that is making you feel anxious, sick or just plain crappy about. Think: which of these to-do items would make me feel GOOD- no, ecstatic and relieved-  once it’s done?
  • Go through the list and continue marking the items that are making you crazy. In other words, go from the inside out. Whichever tasks would make you feel GOOD or at least a lot better- THOSE are the things to address first- not the things you see around you, like piles, unfinished chores, etc.

       2. Now that you have a few items on your list that need your immediate attention, try this:

  • Write down in your planner a specific time to work on your project.
  • If you have more than one thing pending, color code or use other symbols cuing you as to which needs to be done first, second, etc.

3. Take a deeper look at why you are avoiding the task. Is it that you need to buy supplies before you start? Are there any other obstacles getting in your way? Note them, attack them and move forward.

4. Remind yourself, again, of your feelings- think about HOW YOU WILL FEEL once the chore/task is done, VS how much you are hating the idea of doing it. You’ve read a million times to reward yourself for a job finished. My take on that is you’ll already be rewarded because you’ll feel a zillion times better.

5. Break it down in to chunks. You’ve heard this one before, too. So let’s take it a bit further: look at the big picture and have a plan. Work 10 minutes at a time, with plenty of breaks (or if you find you can’t stop the momentum, go with it! Keep going until it’s done!). Set a timer and make it into a game of beat the clock.

There’s lots of ways to help you get through the banality of chores, especially those that seem never-ending, such as laundry, dishes, housework, paperwork.

What works for you? Share your tips in the Comment section below.


ADDA Conference! Early Registration Discount Ends 4-18-14!

Posted on April 14, 2014

25th Anniversary International ADULT AD/HD ConferenceADDA graphic

Come to ADDA’s 25th Anniversary International ADULT AD/HD Conference!
July 24-27 in Orlando, Florida

ADDA is celebrating its 25th Anniversary in grand style.  The speaker lineup is amazing!  Over

50 professionals, including keynote speakers, Sari Solden, Tom Brown, Ned Hallowell and

Rick Green, will be addressing virtually every topic that could be of interest to adults with ADHD.

** I will be presenting on The Secret Lives of Women with ADHD: What your Mother, Grandmother and Teachers Never Told You.

If you’re an adult with ADHD, if you live with an adult with ADHD or if you’re a professional serving adults

with ADHD, you do not want to miss ADDA’s 25th Anniversary International Adult ADHD Conference

in Orlando, Florida.

Discounted rates for Early Registration (before April 18, 2014) !!

Register TODAY HERE!