ADD Consults

ADD Consults, Inc. – ADHD Directory, Resources, Consulting and Products

36 Tips for Families with ADHD

Posted on October 16, 2017

youre-driving-me-crazy

 

Statistics reveal that approximately 4% of adults in the U.S have ADHD. The majority of those affected are not getting diagnosed, nor are they receiving appropriate treatment. This is most likely due in part, to the fact that ADHD in adults was not widely recognized until the mid 1980s. Since then, researchers have found that adults with ADHD are at risk of having significant lifetime impairments, partly because they often suffer from other disorders, such as anxiety and depression in addition to their ADHD.

Keeping in mind that ADHD is highly genetic and that there is about a 50% chance of an adult with ADHD having one or more children with ADHD, it’s no wonder that families with multiple ADHD members tend to have high stress levels, marital conflicts and find parenting to be a daunting responsibility.

Consider the common symptoms seen in both adults and children with ADHD:

  • Inattention
  • Hyperactivity/impulsivity
  • Distractibility
  • Forgetfulness
  • Problems with procrastination
  • Difficulty finishing tasks/projects
  • Emotional lability

When both child and adult share ADHD symptoms, it becomes extremely difficult and challenging for all family members involved. For example, how does a distracted parent keep an inattentive child on task? How does a disorganized parent teach a child organizational strategies? How does a parent with a short fuse tend to an overemotional child?

The adult with ADHD faces the already formidable task of raising a challenging child while at the same time trying to cope with his own personal struggles. If the parents’ ADHD issues are not addressed, they will experience tremendous difficulties fulfilling their roles as effective parents. The unique needs of each individual family member must be met in order for the family to manage effectively.

The challenges ADHD families face is addressed in the article, “When Mom and Dad are Distracted, Too: Parenting When Both Parent and Child Have ADHD.” Below are specific strategies families can use to improve relationships, self esteem and family life in general.

Family Strategies for Living Successfully with ADHD:

  1. Elicit help from your spouse and work as a team.
  2. Educate yourself about the disorder by reading as much as you can about ADHD in adults and children.
  3. Knowing that ADHD is part of the family mix, begin to shift expectations of yourself and your child. Expect that there will be more chaos, disorganization and tension in your home.
  4. Get babysitting help even if you are at home.
  5. Take parenting classes to acquire specific parenting tools.
  6. Realize that suggestions from well meaning friends and relatives may work for their (non-ADHD) children, but not for yours.
  7. Make sure that both parent and child’s ADHD is optimally treated.
  8. Hire someone to do homework with your child. This will knock down the stress level immediately for the entire family.
  9. Give yourself time outs when you feel you’re about to lose control of your temper; teach your child the same tactics. Ask your spouse to take over when you feel overwhelmed.
  10. Simplify your life in all areas: learn to say NO, or get into the habit of responding to outside requests by saying, “I’ll think about it and get back to you.” This tactic forces you to think carefully about the commitment before jumping in. Stop over-committing.
  11. Delegate chores to each family member – don’t take it all on yourself.
  12. Spend time with each child, where the focus is only on FUN.
  13. Learn to see the positive traits in all family members and remember to verbalize them often.
  14. Spend time away with your spouse, friends or alone to re-charge.
  15. Hire a Professional Organizer to get systems in place. Often times, children and adults with ADHD don’t have a natural understanding of organizational methods; a professional organizer can be extremely helpful in teaching such strategies.
  16. Consider hiring an ADD coach to help with prioritizing, time management, organizing your day, etc.
  17. Whenever possible, hire outside help with such chores such as house cleaning, lawn upkeep, etc.
  18. If budget is an issue in getting outside help, consider swapping chores with friends, relatives and neighbors. Ask relatives/friends to take over, then reciprocate with something you can do for them.
  19. Have quiet time for yourself after work. Consider spending 20 minutes at a coffee shop on your way home in order to re-charge, so that you have energy for your family.
  20. Have quiet zones set up in your home to help minimize distractions and sensory overload.
  21. Allow yourself to have “messy zones” at home so that there isn’t constant anxiety and frustration in trying to keep the entire house in order.
  22. Turn off the TV and phone during meals and turn on the answering machine.
  23. Have weekly family meetings to discuss problems and ways to solve them.
  24. Find humor in ADHD mishaps.
  25. See it coming and have a plan. For example, if your child has tantrums at the supermarket, leave him/her home with your spouse or sitter.
  26. Find creative ways for the family to do chores, i.e. singing/dancing; have contests to see who finishes first; offer weekly prizes, etc.
  27. Keep a large wipe-off board and color code using markers for each family member- for schedules, chores, homework, etc.
  28. Have a “home” for daily items that typically get lost, i.e. keys, backpacks, glasses, wallet.
  29. Have things ready ahead of time so there’s not a last minute frantic dash before heading out for the day: pack lunches the night before; put briefcase and backpacks next to the door where the family exits.
  30. Place a small white board on the fridge for family members to jot down needed items from the grocery store.
  31. Remind yourself and your family that ADHD is not a death sentence and that together, you will get through this through humor, creativity and thinking outside the box.
  32. Remember the basics: exercise, good diet and adequate sleep. Some find that meditating is helpful to maintain calm and focus.
  33. Simplify meals if cooking isn’t your forte’. Allow yourself to carry dinners in, and use shortcuts to make simple, fast meals. Many kids with ADHD are very picky eaters and it’s best not to fight the issue. Some parents find that having kids develop menu ideas and helping out in the kitchen motivates them to be more interested in their food choices. Supplement poor eaters’ diets with healthy snacks and vitamins.
  34. Use checklists and other organizing strategies such as a Palm pilot or paper planner. Make sure the system works for you, rather than investing in the latest gadgets just because they are popular.
  35. Pick your battles- let go of things that aren’t all that important. Ask yourself if it’s essential that your son’s socks match at soccer practice; is it worth getting into a fight over it?
  36. As parents, be consistent with house rules and show a united front. Follow routines; children with ADHD thrive on structure.

Things to Remember

Raising a family is challenging, even in the best of circumstances. Add ADHD to the mix, and the stressors can take a toll on all members involved. It’s important to recognize the special challenges these families face. Allow yourself to take a step back, to change your expectations and forgive yourself when you feel that you’re not doing a “good enough” job juggling family and work responsibilities. Think about new strategies, starting with the ones above, to help improve daily family life. Remind yourself that having ADHD is not your fault, but on the other hand, it should not be an excuse for the problems your family may be facing.

Recognize that you are doing your best, but most likely you will need outside help and support- from working with mental health professionals, to securing household help in managing some of the chores when possible. Remember to delegate household responsibilities, keep your sense of humor and get the necessary treatment for all members challenged by ADHD.

Each family member lends a special uniqueness to the family, with talents, strengths and insights; pointing this out on a regular basis will help improve self-esteem and draw your family closer together. We tend to laser-focus on the negatives which only creates more family tension and resentment.

Your job as a parent with ADHD parenting children with ADHD is extremely challenging. Keep your sense of humor and remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can.

(Originally published 2008)





When Mom and Dad are Distracted, Too: Parenting When Both Parent and Child Have ADHD (Part 1) 

Posted on October 02, 2017

Distracted Mom

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. Or, in more scientific terms, we can say that since ADHD is highly genetic: there’s a pretty good chance that a parent with ADHD will have a child with ADHD. In fact, there is approximately a 50% chance of that occurring. So what happens when mom and/or dad has ADHD? How does the family manage with multiple ADHD members?

Family life is complex enough when ADHD isn’t part of the mix. But add the common ADHD symptoms of inattention, distractibility, hyperactivity/impulsivity, disorganization, hypersensitivities and more, and one often sees chaos and distressing scenarios that can often become unmanageable. Consider the following:

How does hyperactive Johnny get his homework done if dad shuts down after a full day of work, completely depleted of all energy, and thus unable to give his distracted son the structure and support he needs?

How does inattentive mom remember to buy all the needed groceries for her family, stay on task and be organized enough to get dinner on for the kids, who, if not fed early enough, will have total emotional meltdowns, causing the whole family distress?

There are many challenges that ADHD families face and it’s important to address them by first becoming aware that they exist and understanding how they impact family life. Too often, families are in such turmoil that it’s difficult to wade through the mess and come to some sort of conclusion that not only is it the ADHD to blame, but that there are steps and strategies parents can utilize to prevent family meltdowns.

How Parents’ ADHD Impacts Family Life

Looking at the following scenarios, one can see the multitude of problems ADHD families face:

  1. If a parent procrastinates and is overloaded with last minute work deadlines, how can he help his child with homework so that the assignment is handed in on time?

 

  1. If a parent is disorganized, how can he help teach his own child organizational skills?

 

  1. If a parent is hyperactive, how can he slow down enough to enjoy one on one time with his child?

 

  1. If a parent is a daydreamer, how can she give her child her undivided attention? The child may misinterpret the inattention as the parent not caring.

 

  1. If a parent is emotionally over-reactive, how can he be patient with his child who also may have a short fuse?

 

  1. If a parent is annoyed by stimuli (noise, touch, etc.), how can she cope with the normal bustling activities of home life?

In addition to these and many other challenges, parents often are overwhelmed with their own perceived failures as parents. Often, depression, anxiety, guilt and anger set in. Marriages become conflicted and partners lose sight of each other’s – and their own- emotional needs. And what becomes of the children’s needs? Sadly, parents who have children with AD/HD are three times as likely to separate or divorce as parents of non-AD/HD children. But there are ways parents can avoid this.

Where to Start

It’s important to first understand what ADHD is and how it manifests itself in daily life. Parents need to be armed with this information so that they can not only help themselves, but also be available to their children so that the needs of all members of the family are being met.

This can be done by:

  • Reading about ADHD in adults and in children.
  • Attending conferences, workshops and meetings, such as CHADD and ADDA.
  • Getting support from family and friends and attending support groups.
  • Getting appropriate treatment for both child and parent.
  • Letting go of the concept of the “ideal” family and embracing the idiosyncrasies of yours; ADHD and all.
  • Learning to forgive yourself and acknowledging you are doing the best you possibly can.

There are many online resources as well:

In addition, it’s imperative that parents get professional help for all family members with ADHD. Counseling, therapy and medication are common treatment modalities. Studies show that the most successful treatment for ADHD is a combination of these, plus, in the case of children, behavioral treatment. Adults often find ADD coaching to be extremely helpful. In addition, your child may be eligible for special help at school. Discuss your concerns with the school social worker or psychologist.

All in all, maintain your sense of humor. Communicate clearly with your spouse and children. Realize that though your family may have specific ADHD related challenges, each member contributes something special to the mix. Acknowledge each person’s unique strengths and gifts and come together as a family, offering encouragement and support.

Are you a parent with ADHD? Can you share some strategies that work for you? Please post in the Comment section, below.

 

Originally published On Jan 14th 2008

 

 


Pro Tips For Making Things Easier on Yourself as a Mom With ADHD

Posted on September 09, 2017

Girls

 

Check out this article from SheKnows.com. I contributed a number of comments/tips for this piece, which you can read HERE

 

 


ADHD and Adults: 8 Effective Shortcuts for Home and Work

Posted on September 09, 2017

8

ADHD and Adults: 8 Effective Shortcuts for Home and Work

 

Check out this article from PsychCentral.com. I contributed a number of comments/tips for this piece, which you can read HERE

 

 

 


ADHD in the Elderly

Posted on August 05, 2017

ElderlyCouple

When I was interviewing Betty for  my article,The Many Faces of ADHD – ADHD at 85: Betty’s Profile”, I did some research on ADHD and the elderly and was shocked when I found virtually nothing on the topic; just a few short informal articles.

As our population ages, so will those currently being treated for ADHD- our children, teens, and adults. What will happen once they reach their later years? And what about the folks right now, who are in their 70s, 80s and 90s, who continue to live with undiagnosed and untreated ADHD?

Surely, there must be many hundreds of thousands of seniors who have ADHD Like Betty, one would think they lived and continue to live with symptoms that cause tremendous problems that impact their daily lives. Now, with more living and working longer than ever before, these folks must be suffering in silence, ashamed of their struggles and living, like Betty, thinking they are less than capable. We know that there is a high incidence of depression in this population; could many also be challenged with an underlying ADHD as well? Hopefully, scientists, researchers and clinicians will begin to look more closely at this population and begin to identify and treat them.

There are special considerations one must take into account when evaluating and treating older adults. As one ages, cognitive functioning often declines. Clinicians will need better assessment tools to understand which symptoms would be attributed to ADHD vs other conditions seen in the geriatric population. For example, is the patient showing signs of memory loss and/or impairment of executive functioning? What is causing these problems? How long has it been a problem? How does one differentiate between ADHD and other cognitive problems often seen in aging?

In addition, as people age, they often have one or more medical problems that need to be treated with medications. Could those meds be causing side effects that mimic ADHD? And would those conditions and treatments make an underlying ADHD worse? Untreated thyroid disease, for example, can look very much like ADHD.

If an elderly person is lucky enough to be appropriately diagnosed with ADHD, how successful will treatment be? Typically, patients with a cardiac condition are not candidates for stimulant treatment and we know from research that stimulant medications appear to be the most helpful for treating ADHD. If stimulants are not appropriate, how do we treat them, medically? Sadly, the few older individuals with ADHD whom I’ve spoken with are not at all interested in taking ADHD medication. Perhaps they are set in their ways. Or maybe they worry about adding more medication to their regime.

Further, many continue to feel the stigma of “seeing a therapist” and refuse to consider counseling.

What You Can Do

If you’re an adult with ADHD or have a child with ADHD, remember that this is a condition that is highly genetic. Look at the elders in your family and see if there is ADHD in your family tree. If they might be open to talking about the possibility of having ADHD, start off with some casual discussions on how it’s impacted your or your child’s life and see if he/she “bites.” Explain how treatment has changed lives dramatically. Go slow, though.

Consider bringing your older relative to a CHADD meeting or an ADHD conference. If they like to read, purchase a book on ADHD. Driven to Distraction, by Drs. Edward Hallowell and John Ratey is a great choice. It is also available on tape.

If you’re a senior and are wondering whether your symptoms might be attributed to possible ADHD, seek out a specialist who works with adults and consider having an evaluation. Contact your primary care physician to first have a complete medical workup to rule out any medical conditions that can mimic ADHD. If you’re cleared of any, ask for a referral to psychiatrist, neurologist or other health or mental health professional that has a lot of experience evaluating adults with ADHD. If your doctor draws a blank, call your closest teaching hospital and ask for the department of psychiatry or psychology and ask for names.

You can also contact CHADD and ask the chapter coordinator in your area for names. You can also call them at  800-233-4050 to find the chapter closest to you.

In addition, you can find online directories of ADHD specialists:

http://www.addconsults.com/

http://www.add.org/

http://www.chadd.org/

Make sure you ask many questions, including how many adults with ADHD they evaluate and if they have experience working with the older population.

It’s never too late improve your life!

Originally published On: Apr 10th 2008


The Many Faces of ADHD: Betty, a Grandmother

Posted on August 05, 2017

ElderlyWoman

She was a dancer, a dancing instructor, an art teacher and active her whole life in various community charities. Her warm smile, good sense of humor, sensitivity and a deep interest in others, made her popular amongst her peer group, from her elementary school days to the present time.

But what Betty won’t share with her friends, is the fact that she has ADHD. Betty still grapples with the devastating effects living with undiagnosed ADHD has had on her life. All 85 years. When I heard about Betty, I wanted to hear her story. There is little written about ADHD and how it affects people later in life. In fact, I was unable to find any research at all on the topic, so I wanted to learn more.

I interviewed this fascinating woman from Chicago, who shared with me some of her deepest emotions and memories of growing up with ADHD and how she still manages living with it.

Betty’s childhood was difficult. The youngest of six, her parents, immigrants from Austria, struggled to make ends meet. Sleeping two and sometimes three to a bed, Betty was lucky if there was a slice of bread in the kitchen to get her though a meal, let alone an entire day. A child of the Depression, life was hard for most in her neighborhood. Just getting through the day was a feat. But Betty had more challenges. She struggled in school. In fact, her earliest memory takes place in her Kindergarten room; a memory so etched in her mind, that she recalled it with ease. She remembered being stunned and excited at seeing an entire room full of toys and feeling nearly overwhelmed by it; for as a youngster, she had virtually no toys at home.

“I saw some delicious toys in the corner of the room, grabbed a handful and put them in the middle of the floor, then went back for more. It was like being in a candy store With my arms filled with more toys, I looked for my original pile, but couldn’t find where I’d put them just moments before.” This was Betty’s first experience of feeling different from the other children. “How could I misplace a pile of toys in the Kindergarten room? I was so lost…”

When Betty started first grade, her classmates began to learn to read. While the others were picking up sight words and sounding them out, Betty stared at the letters, not understanding how to string them together to form words. Her older siblings patiently worked with her until she had that “aha!” moment, when it came together for her. But by then, her feeling of being different from the other children began to gel and define what kind of student she would become.

Once she learned to read, she still struggled in school because, as Betty continued to explain, she lived in a deep, magical imaginary world that occupied and stimulated her creative brain. Says Betty: “my greatest pleasure was looking out the school window and picturing myself like the Lone Ranger, high on that beautiful white horse. In my mind, the children would be in awe, seeing me ride up to the school as they peered out of the second floor window.” Betty spent countless hours daydreaming, while the other students were attending to the teacher’s lessons. Of course, she got further and further behind in school because she simply could not pay attention. Her inner life was much more interesting.

As she progressed through elementary school, her grades continued to be average at best. No one understood in those days how to help a struggling student. They were seen as lazy or simply not very bright. And sadly, Betty internalized those perceptions and grew to believe them- that there was something wrong with her; that she was slow to learn.

At the age of 11, her older sister saw that Betty had a gift for dance, and found enough money to enroll her in a dance class. Their mother would save pennies in a jar so that she could continue her lessons, for, in a very short time, Betty excelled in dance and became a favorite in her teacher’s eyes.

By the time she was in high school, Betty began teaching at one of the most prestigious dance schools in the city of Chicago. Still, her grades plummeted in high school, for now, her fantasy of riding a grand white horse evolved into dreams of becoming a professional dancer. While others were learning algebra and literature, Betty daydreamed about dancing on stage while memorizing the dance routine steps in her head. The dance teachers were amazed that Betty could fly through her new routines so quickly, so easily. While the others had to practice and practice, Betty had already nailed the dances by picturing each move in her head.

By the skin of her teeth, Betty graduated high school. Though she left her classmates and teachers behind, what she took with her was the belief that she was not smart and not capable. Of course, in those days, ADHD wasn’t understood. But it found an early victim and it took hold of her for the next 75 years.

Betty continued to live with a secret that would affect her entire life. Her friends and family never knew that this vivacious, creative and bright woman was struggling with the deepest of self-doubt and lack of confidence.

After high school, Betty continued to follow her dreams and became a professional dancer. While at the local dance studio, she was the star student and later the esteemed teacher. But she wanted more; she wanted to break into show business. Just as she was about to leave for California to make that dream a reality, she met the man who would become her husband and thus, she chose instead to stay in Chicago, marry and eventually have two children.

In the 1950s and 60s, few women worked, but Betty needed a creative outlet for her artistic passions and continued to dance at charity fundraisers and later, returned to teach, eventually opening her own dance studio. As she got older, other interests drew her away from dancing and she became fascinated with the visual arts. Self taught for the most part, with a short stint at The Art Institute of Chicago, Betty began giving drawing lessons out of her home and became well known in the community, with many students signing up for her popular classes.

Yet even with all of these successes, Betty continued to doubt herself. She struggled with staying organized. Papers would get lost or misplaced. She’d be late for appointments and social events, which caused her terrible embarrassment. Worse, she would struggle to remember people’s names, even those she’d known for years. ADHD had full control over Betty, but she had no clue what it was. In her mind, it was a shameful deficiency; a flaw she needed to hide.

Years later, an amazing thing happened. At the age of 75, a friend’s daughter, whose own two children have ADHD, began talking about their struggles. Betty’s spine chilled as she listened to what sounded like her own life story unfold. Then it slowly dawned on her- could she, too have this thing called ADHD? Could her life long problem of “tuning out”, not getting projects done, constantly being late, her poor sense of direction be attributed to ADHD?

She discussed the possibility with a mental health professional who did diagnose her with ADHD. Betty was relieved. But not before disbelieving the possibility. For 75 years, she believed she was simply not bright. How would she switch that perception into believing that what she’d been struggling with her whole life was actually a neurobiological condition she had at birth and most likely, inherited from her parents?

I asked Betty what happened to her when she learned of her ADHD. She said, “I was embarrassed. But I was also relieved.” Few close to her know her secret, as she still cannot shake the stigma of having ADHD, thinking no one would believe, anyway, that this striking, capable and talented woman could possibly have struggled so hard all her life. She spent a lifetime hiding it and it was nearly impossible to accept it fully; she was still haunted with the comments people made when she was growing up: “Betty can’t do it; she’s too spacey”., etc.

Betty chose not to pursue medical treatment for her ADHD. Feeling that she has been able to compensate well enough all these years, taking meds didn’t feel “right” for her. But armed with the knowledge of what ADHD is and how it affected and continues to affect her, she has let go of a lot of that negative self image and continues to work on shifting her self-concept to a more positive one.

An important lesson can be learned from reading about Betty’s story. First, knowing the devastation and damage that undiagnosed, untreated ADHD can have on an individual, regardless of their age, might help motivate them to look into an evaluation. Study after study shows that getting the appropriate treatment early in life will improve the quality of one’s life. A lifetime of self-doubt, low self-esteem and worse, can easily be avoided if appropriate treatment is given. Had Betty received this (though at the time, it obviously wasn’t even available), her life might have been much different.

We’re fortunate that ADHD is better understood now than ever before. Perhaps Betty’s story will implore others to seek an evaluation and get treatment, avoiding a lifetime of shame, secrecy and self doubt.

* I have changed the name of the person interviewed to protect her privacy. Image credit: Chicago Tribune

 


ADDdinners: Shortcuts in the Kitchen for Women with ADHD

Posted on July 21, 2017

familydinner

 

This is an article I wrote back when my kids were teens but it has some great tips for moms still cooking for children at home (and for themselves as well!). 

When you wake up in the morning, what is the first thing that pops into your head?

1. “Am I late for work”?

2. “Are the kids going to make it to the bus on time”?

3. “Where am I”?

If you answered 1, 2 or 3, then you are not a kitchen phobic.

I am one of many ADD women whose nightmares begin upon awakening, rather than during the wee hours of the night. For the first thought that comes into MY mind when my eyes open at 6:45 am is….

WHAT SHOULD I MAKE FOR DINNER TONIGHT?

The thought alone is enough to make me want to reach for a Xanax. But no, I decide to fight the urge and face the fear.

The first 20 years of my marriage produced meals that were at least consistent- daily potluck surprise, I called them. Throw something in a pot, and be surprised if it came out tasty enough to pass the lips of a living soul. Dogs and cats were excluded, of course.

I don’t know why people bothered to give me those beautiful Corningware casserole dishes for my wedding shower way back then, when an ashtray would have been more appropriate.

In my 21st year of marriage, I decided it was time to conquer my kitchen phobia head on.  Collecting cookbooks became my newest addiction, and they soon piled up on my kitchen counter. They made my kitchen look homey. They also remained unopened, unstained.  And they didn’t solve the age old question that haunted me for so many years:

“WHAT SHOULD I MAKE FOR DINNER TONIGHT?”

Let’s face it. For an ADD woman, procrastination and distractibility are often issues that are faced on a daily basis. We hate to be bored and dislike chores that are repetitive. If meatloaf is the only dish that comes out of the oven looking like it’s supposed to, no cook is going to want to repeat that meal day after day. Throw in a couple of ADD kids who are fussy eaters, and you’ve really got a problem on your hands.

So in my 21st year of marriage, I came up with some solutions. My favorite was to stop cooking. That may or may not work for you, depending on whether your budget will allow you to eat or carry out every night. That resulted in daughter number one  learning how to fend for herself…until even she got sick of frozen pot pies and Scooby Do Dinners.

Since neither of those were long term options in my case, I came up with some solutions to help beat my kitchen phobia.

Plan ahead

Ugh, the ugly “P” word. It goes against every grain of my ADD body. But believe it or not, it really does work once you get into the swing of it.

I’ve since developed my “POS” (Plan Or Starve) Cards , as I fondly call them. For every day of the week, I have an index card with a full menu on it. By menu, that means there is one home made course- the main dish- and ready made side dishes. If you are like me, then preparing just one part of a meal is enough to feel like an accomplished cook.

My cards, then, look like this:

MONDAY: Meatloaf, frozen peas, mashed potatoes from a box, bagged salad

TUESDAY: Roast Chicken, canned string beans, bagged salad….and so on.

In addition to the M-F cards, (no cooking for me on Saturday or Sunday-those days are sacred) I also add a couple of Jokers (wild cards). These consist of two choices: take out, or a *really* quick and easy recipe, like cooked pasta with bottled spaghetti sauce. Or tuna on toast, topped with cheese. You get the picture.

Now, I am not beyond cheating. Not by any means. So, if I find that on a particular Monday, I will be arriving home late from a meeting, I ditch the Monday card for my wild card, which in that case, usually means stopping at a fast food restaurant to pick up burgers.

This “POS” card method solves one of the biggest kitchen phobia symptoms that I happen to suffer from- making decisions. Once that particular anxiety is out of my mind, all I have to do is to remember to have the ingredients on hand. Another “P” issue.

Self Acceptance

Why is it that some people are able to grocery shop one day a week and have an entire 7 day’s worth of menus all set to go? That is truly beyond me. So, I’ve learned to compensate and accept the fact that I will always be the type of person who will have to run to the store at least 4 days out of the week, in order to pick up ingredients for that day’s dinner.

Recruit!

I was blessed with a daughter who is comfortable in the kitchen. I was doubly blessed with a husband who cannot differentiate between the textures of shoe leather and pot roast.  So, when I’m in no mood to cook, I let my teenager fix her own dinner and let my husband fend for himself. Eating tuna out of a can never killed anyone, and besides, he likes to reminisce about his bachelor days at times. If I’m really lucky, there’s enough leftovers from my daughter’s culinary experiment to feed her younger sister.

The lesson here? Let go of your internalized expectations of needing to have a hot cooked meal on the table every night. Not only will you teach your children to become more resourceful, your husband will then pay you a million compliments the next time you follow a recipe from the back of a Campbell’s soup can.

Easy Cooking

You may have noticed that I only gave two examples of meals on my POS cards. That’s because I’ve kept the best secret for last. It’s a strategy that isn’t quite cooking and isn’t quite carry out, but it is one of my favorite tricks, aside from eating out. You can add these ideas to your wild cards for those days where you don’t want to or don’t have time to cook.

Easy cooking entails finding ready made foods at the market that look as if you’ve spent a couple of hours over a hot microwave…er….stove. I promise you that if you take the time one day to really study what is offered in your local supermarket, you will be shocked and pleased to see all the possibilities.

One of my favorites is the frozen bag that contains “everything” you need for a full meal: chicken, vegetables, and if you’re really lucky, a starch like rice or noodles. VOILE!. Buy two bags and dinner’s on the table. You can even get away without adding a salad.

Some other ideas-

* Check out the deli section for cooked chickens, ribs, etc. Grab a ready made container of potato salad or coleslaw, and you’re set.

* Scour the ethnic foods section- a great meal can be made from pita bread, hummus spread and canned soup.

* Buy large quantities of a frozen side dish you like, and make that the main dish. Instead of one box of mac and cheese, buy four. Add a salad or cut veggies and you’re set.

Break The Rules

Since when does making dinner mean having a meat, starch and veggie…every day?

Here are some ideas that will make your kids’ friends drool with envy:

* Serve breakfast for dinner. Scramble some eggs, toss a couple slices of American cheese on top- or sliced hot dogs- and dinner is ready in minutes.

* Have an appetizer dinner: buy cocktail hotdogs in a crust (in the freezer department), tator tots and if you’re really feeling adventurous, slice some fruit and thread them onto skewers.

* Make mish mosh: Pull out everything in your fridge that is one day away from turning green, and throw together into a surprise meal. There’s no reason why you can’t have a plate of cold cuts with left over soup and re-heated veggies from the night before. Be bold!

Nobody said that dinners have to be fancy. In my house, the sole purpose of a cooked meal is to fill hungry stomachs. Anything more is icing on the cake.

Remember, no one is going to suffer from your cooking shortcut methods. I truly believe that once we, as ADD women, give up the pressure of having to “perform” in the kitchen, we’ll end up actually enjoying our time there.

Now…pass the menu, please!

How about you? What kitchen/cooking tips work for you? Please share in the Comment section below.




Why Vacations Make Us Crazy

Posted on July 10, 2017

StressedFamily

 

July 4th weekend.  Everyone seems to look forward to it; time off work, family gatherings, good food. To me, it’s truly the kick off to summer and typically, I enjoy having long quiet days to enjoy being with my family and friends.

This year, the holiday was longer than usual, as it landed on a Tuesday, making for a shorter work week. But instead of enjoying the free time, I found myself feeling irritable and well…unsettled.

It got me to thinking about past summers and why I think I have a tough time with holidays, vacations and the unstructured days that go with them. Bingo! “Unstructured” being the operative word. Those of us with ADHD or with family members who have ADHD, know that what we need most is pretty much the opposite: structure!

In analyzing why the long weekend was almost as stressful as a regular work week, I came up with the following reasons:

  1. My sleep habits shifted- staying up too late and sleeping in too late.
  1. Eating habits changed. Sleeping in meant eating a later breakfast, which then interfered with the entire day’s meal schedule. Dinner was often late at night, thus disturbing my sleep. 
  1. Without a work schedule to keep me on task all day, my free time was disorienting. For most people, this time off would be considered a true vacation. For me and others with ADHD, it can become confusing and upsetting.
  1. Family, who I love beyond words, were in from out of town. Having house guests, even if they are family, are triggers for me, as it pushes me out of my regular routine. Whereas I’m often using the computer late at night, working or researching, my office was used as a temporary guest room. Again, a change in my normal schedule threw me off.
  1. I don’t exactly hide the fact that I don’t do much cooking or entertaining. It’s beyond the scope of coping with my brand of ADHD. To me, even ordering in Chinese food is a major accomplishment when entertaining friends or house guests. This year, I bit the bullet and hosted a BBQ for 7. Even with the help of my family, I was still stressed. There was food to purchase, the house to clean/declutter, prepping, cooking, serving, and of course, the dreaded cleanup. This is fun? Not for me.

 

What should have been a free, relaxing holiday week was anything but that. Why? Because my routine was interrupted.

 

I’ve heard from countless adults with ADHD who have shared the same exasperations. The family vacation they look forward to ends up being a disaster. Children are unruly, unhappy and worse. Adults become irritable, angry and bored.

It’s important to “see it coming.” If you have a change in your routine coming up, whether it’s a family vacation, children being home from school with too much free time; family reunions or any other disruptions, note to yourself how you’ve felt in the past under these kinds of conditions.

Do you get overwhelmed? Bored? Short fused? Do your children with ADHD exhibit more behavioral problems? Are they more demanding and irritable?

Take your summer “temperature” and become aware of how free time can affect you and yours and determine what steps you can take in order to make this a positive experience instead of a stressful one.

Don’t accept that free time or vacation time always translates into fun time. Take your family’s ADHD into consideration well before that long holiday weekend or vacation time comes up, and use strategies to make things work for you and your ADHD.

How do you manage your summers when the days are long and schedules change? Please share in the comment section below.


Your ADHD Journey- Finding the Help you Need and Deserve

Posted on June 26, 2017

L

 

I remember when I first suspected that I might have ADHD. It was after reading a few books on how to help children with ADHD (I was looking for information to help my daughter), when I came across what, at that time- back in the early 1990s – was the only book out on adult ADHD… back when Amazon was known only as a rainforest. I think it was written by Dr. Paul Wender. Boy, what an eye opener that book was for me.

I was hungry for more but had to wait a few more years until people started becoming aware that ADHD existed in not just children, but in adults, too.

Then along came Kate Kelly and Peggy Ramundo’s, “You Mean I’m not Lazy, Stupid, or Crazy?!” which just blew me away. I followed that up with Dr. Edward (Ned) Hallowell and Dr. John Ratey’s, “Driven to Distraction” (‘OMG- I’m not the only one’) and finally- and most importantly – Sari Solden’s “Women with Attention Deficit Disorder” (‘She’s writing about ME!).

Honestly, reading those books changed my life. I began to get involved in support groups locally and volunteering my time to national ADD organizations (www.ADD.org and www.CHADD.org).

The rest is history. I wrote my own two books, “Survival Tips for Women with ADHD” and the award winning book, “The Queen of Distraction”. I’d found my muse. My calling.

You can find lots of excellent books on adult ADHD at Amazon HERE.

And books specific to women with ADHD HERE.

And…books on how to de-clutter and get organized HERE.

I’ve been working in the field for over 20 years now and what I’m most surprised about- after all these years- is how difficult it still is for adults with ADHD to find the help they need.

Here are some tips:

 

  1. Read. Just like I did. Then read some more.

  2. Visit GOOD websites, not hokus pokus ones that have no scientific or solid clinical basis to them. Start with mine! www.ADDconsults.com.

  3. Go to support groups. You can find one local to you at CHADD’s website (www.CHADD.org )

  4. Go to workshops, meetings, conferences. The next large ADHD conference- CHADD’s and ADDA’s is this coming November in Atlanta, GA. Start saving now- it will be worth every penny. Plus, I’ll be presenting on women’s issues and I would love to meet you in person! Details at www.CHADD.org

  5. If you think you might have ADHD, get evaluated by a mental health professional ** WHO UNDERSTANDS ADULT ADHD!! **  Search my directory for names, HERE.  **

  6. Get the appropriate treatment. This can include counseling, medication, working with an ADD coach and a professional organizer. 

Did you know I run a number of Facebook groups for adults with ADHD? Here are some of them:

 

 

There’s more, of course, like finding people like you, who celebrate you for who you are and staying away from toxic people who enjoy bringing you down.

What has been the best thing for you in understanding and accepting your own ADHD? Please share in the comment section, below.

 

 

 


Where’s Your ADHD Happy Place?

Posted on June 10, 2017

Picasso

 

By the time you read this, I will be back from my mini vacation to NYC, also known as my happy place. You’d think an inattentive ADHD woman (me!!) would hate the noise and the intensity, but I love this city. I can go crazy ADD-wise and not have to fight it. For example, I can go to one part of the city to look at art galleries, then hop on the subway and head to Greenwich Village to sit and people watch at a little café’. I can move on to Central Park and stroll around for a bit before heading to a show on Broadway. This city was MADE for people with ADHD!

This is an example of going “with” your ADD instead of fighting it. I think most people who come to NY have an agenda – Broadway tickets are purchased well in advance. There’s usually an itinerary that goes something like:

 

Monday:

Breakfast at Juniors

Boat tour to Statue of Liberty

Lunch at The French Cafe’

Walking tour of Greenwich Village

Dinner at Tavern on the Green

Broadway show 8pm Palace Theatre.

….etc.

Na uh. Not me. I love my freedom and love how things just happen. Then again, it can backfire. If I decide at the last minute that I’d like to see a play, well…good luck with that (though there are ways around it if you research this).

Sometimes we just have to let things go and see where things fall. It’s inherent in our neurology to have major difficulties with planning and executing those plans. Maybe we need to accept that part of us a bit more… as long as we don’t forget to take our suitcase when we leave on vacation. Oh, and the boarding pass. And hotel reservations. And…..

How about you? Are you able to ever go with the flow with your ADD? What can you ease up on? What tips can you share that have worked for you? Please share in the Comment section, below.