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9 Non-Martha Ways to Survive the Holidays

Posted on December 15, 2014

Woman in a faintIt’s Chanukah this week and Christmas is just around the corner. Have you started to freak out yet? Or are you on top of your game? Do you have your plans all set? Is dinner at your house, or are you traveling? Feeling calm about everything?

Or not?

This time of year is always stressful for me. Buying gifts, getting the house in order for guests. Figuring out the meal(s), making sure there’s food in the house. And the list goes on.

If you have ADHD, multiply the stress by 100 or more. Sadly, most people, even family, don’t always understand what you’re going through.

  • “Just DO it- everyone else does”
  • “What’s so hard about setting a table?”
  • “Don’t be so sensitive over every little thing- you’re taking it the wrong way”

…etc. etc.

 Well, if you have ADHD, these things ARE difficult and our feelings DO get hurt easily. That’s all part of having ADHD.  But maybe this year, you can do things differently to make the holidays more enjoyable. Here are some ideas:

  1. Carry food in instead of cooking
  2. Consider eating out
  3. Have a potluck and ask your favorite cook to tackle the main dish
  4. Don’t invite critical people.
  5. Don’t invite any people- just have your immediate family
  6. Slow down the pace. Maybe instead of two parties, you have one.
  7. If you don’t want to GO to a party, just say no (but offer a kind excuse).
  8. Pare down the spending. Just because your kids want the latest and the greatest doesn’t mean you have to take out a second mortgage to make them happy
  9. Shop online for all your gifts and save yourself the headache (scroll down for ideas)

What can you do differently so that you can enjoy the holidays instead of stress over them? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

**Need some help? Join The Queens of Distraction and we’ll get you through this, with loads of support from your fellow women with ADHD as well as from me. Join today HERE.



So I didn’t Make a Turkey! Shoot Me.

Posted on December 01, 2014



Those of you who have been following me for a while now, know that one of my biggest ADD challenges has to do with, well…anything that pertains to the kitchen.

Just figuring out what to cook each night has been a chronic problem for me- one that dates back to when my children were little, when there was rarely a time that both liked what I put on the table.  That meant one or the other ate cereal every night. Or whatever their little hands could put together, since I refused to cook separate meals. To top it off, my husband hated pasta, which was one of two things both of my kids would happily eat. Wait, one had to have butter sauce and the other had to have tomato sauce (no meat). But hey, it was close!

One of the things I’ve dreaded the most in more recent years is holiday dinners. My mother was a gourmet cooking teacher and that always got me off the hook, as we’d have dinners at her home. But as she’s gotten older, she no longer can manage the cooking. So the task has been handed over to me, her only daughter.

In my own journey in understanding ADD and how to best work with it instead of against it, I’ve gotten to the point of accepting that it’s way too much stress to cook an entire holiday dinner (except for Chanukah, as my kids insist on the 3 staples I make each year that luckily, come out ok, if I say so myself).

But…Thanksgiving? Umm…no way. So…I order carry out Thanksgiving food and bring it to my elderly parents. You’d think that would be an easy task, right?

Not if your ADD is like mine. Which means, my executive functioning disappears as soon as I walk into a kitchen.

Carryout means heating up food. Simple enough, one would think.  But it still involves timing, organizing, planning, and all the rest. The 10 bags of food I brought into my mother’s kitchen contained two pages of instructions. Bonus! Now, that is a good deal, considering how much I spent on the food!

But still, it threw me off. Each pan required different cooking times. Some said to take the lid off. Some needed different oven temperatures. And since I don’t know my way around my mother’s kitchen as well as I should (SHOULD? That should never been in our ADD vocabulary), I unpacked the items and did what I normally do when cooking is involved.

I froze. I stared at the aluminum pans. I opened each one cautiously, peeking in carefully as if a viper might strike out at me.

If you don’t have ADD, you don’t know how embarrassing it can be for a grown woman to have no clue as to how to heat up an entire READY MADE dinner (let alone cook one). Of course, there are exceptions- many women with ADD are exceptional cooks. But not me.

Luckily, my daughters were there to help. My oldest looked at me, squinting, waiting to see if she’d be called on to bail me out. The youngest, my ADD girl, grabbed her sliced ham and microwaved it, oblivious to the rest of the options she’d have before her. She must have known it would be a good two hours before I’d figure things out. Self-preservation is the name of her game.

My parents’ caregiver came up with an incredible solution. She took out her smart phone, read the directions for each pan, then set up a schedule, along with timers and beepers. She became my executive functioning as she barked out orders to me:

“Ok- put the sliced turkey in the 350 oven but keep the lid on. Throw the mashed potatoes in there, too- the lid comes off in 15 minutes and I’ll tell you when the time comes. You can squeeze in that small container of asparagus, but that only needs 15 minutes total, so I’ll tell you when to put that in.”

…and so on.

What was this? A game of Tetris?

With her help, her guidance and my older daughter’s helping hands and suggestions (“mom- don’t forget to put on the oven mitts!”), we made it through another Thanksgiving dinner.

How does your ADD impact holiday meals? Share your thoughts in the Comment section below.



Top 20 Gifts for Kids and Adults with ADHD

Posted on November 26, 2014


Copy of Santa Terry copy

Uh oh. It’s…holiday time and not always an easy time if you are a shopper with ADHD.

Relax. Avoid the mobs…the crowded parking lots, the noise, lights…it can all be too much.  Why not relax at home and do all of your holiday shopping at YOUR convenience?

CLICK HERE to see my hand-picked Top 20 Gifts for Kids and Adults with ADHD and lots of these items are on sale TODAY.

Happy Holidays!

PS: Become a member of The Queens of Distraction at 20%+ off membership until Dec. 1- register today HERE!



ADD Goes to the Airport

Posted on November 18, 2014

flustered woman


I just got back from the CHADD Conference in Chicago, where I presented on two topics: one for women with ADHD and one for parents with ADHD raising kids with ADHD.

I’ve now been working in the field of ADHD in one way or another for nearly 20 years. I’ve written two books. I’ve given many presentations locally and all around the country. I’ve been a guest on NPR, been interviewed for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Redbook, and more. I have a zillion websites on ADHD (my main ones are at and

So wouldn’t you think that I’d have a pretty good handle on my own ADD? If you could see the clutter on my desk from where I’m sitting right this minute, you’d probably say- what? What’s up with this? How can you tell ME how to mange clutter when yours is pretty out of control?

Well, I have a secret for you. Most of us ADD “experts” still struggle with clutter, procrastination, time management and all the rest. But there’s a difference: for the most part, we’ve moved on from hanging our heads in shame over it. We’ve learned coping methods. We’ve learned to forgive ourselves and realize…hey…we will get to the piles (or whatever) and until then, we aren’t going to call ourselves lazy, unfit or incapable. I’m telling you this because we ALL have our ADD “moments”- even those of us who have ADD and are psychotherapists, coaches, writers, etc.

Let me tell you a little story about how my ADD blew up in my face only three days ago.

When flying home from the Chicago CHADD conference to my home in the Detroit area, I had a horrific ADD experience at O’Hare Airport. Lately, I haven’t been asked to remove my coat, shoes, belt, phone, laptop, etc. while flying- I just get swept through the scanner and go on my way.

On Sunday, however, the security regime changed and I was told to take off my shoes and coat before heading into the x-ray machine thingie. That right there threw me off. But I did as I was told and once through the machine, the TSA fellow with the short black hair berated me loudly for having left my laptop in its case. I apologized profusely as he grabbed the bag and put it through the scanner again, while I rushed to grab my coat and pull on my shoes so I could get the heck out of there, red-faced and all. Yessiree!

Ms. ADD expert had her head hanging real good as others glared at me for holding up the line. I didn’t even have a wailing toddler to blame it on.

Dashing to my gate, which as usual was the very last one, ¼ mile away, I grabbed some lunch, bought the latest People Magazine with some big celebrity on the cover that I’d never seen before and found a cozy (?) spot where I could wait until it was time to board. While munching on the cardboard, I mean, turkey sandwich, I figured I’d check my email. After all, I had about 20 minutes and you know what 20 minutes is like with nothing to do. It’s hell!

I pulled out my computer cord, plugged it in, then grabbed the case and to my horror, realized it was empty. The TSA guy must have put the computer in a bin instead of back in its case! That meant one of two things: either it was stolen or…it was stolen.

I ran the ¼ mile back to security check, but as expected, they couldn’t find my MacBook Pro (that’s a code name for VERY EXPENSIVE LAPTOP). But the fellow with the wide grin and kind green eyes offered to look at the video to see if he could track what happened to it. Mr. Kind Green Eyes spotted it! And traced it to the security room that- alas- was locked up for the weekend.

Long story short, when I got home, I arranged for security to UPS the laptop to me, though it’ll be days before I know for sure if Mr. Kind Green Eyes really did solve the problem for me.

So what’s the point of the story? We ALL have our ADD moments. I SHOULD have checked my computer case to make sure my laptop was, indeed, in there. I SHOULD have removed it from the case to begin with. I SHOULD NOT have eaten a cardboard turkey sandwich before sprinting ¼ mile to find my beloved computer.

But the biggest lesson of all? ADD will always be with me. And without those crazy moments, hey…what would I have to write about?

How about you? What crazy ADD moment can you share? What happened and how did you get through it? Post your stories in the Comment section below.



ADD Planning Guide for Thanksgiving

Posted on November 03, 2014



‘Tis the season to start thinking about the upcoming holidays. If you get all worked up like I do, then you’ll love this! I’m excited to share with you a guest article written by my friend and colleague, ADD coach Rhonda Pawlan, MS. Enjoy!

ADD Planning Guide for Thanksgiving

By Rhonda Pawlan, MS (ADD Coach)

If you have ADD, and have decided to offer a Thanksgiving feast at your home this year, here is the way to survive the holiday – and possibly, even enjoy it.

Keep two things in mind — organization is the key, and things do not need to be perfect. Now, let’s move forward with some organizational tips that will help you get on task, and stay on task.

Start with three To Do lists — your House Preparation list, your Shopping List, and finally, the ever important Food Preparation list. Ready to get started?

House Preparation List:

Everything you need to do to get your house ready for guests goes here. This list includes things like – cleaning, straightening, perhaps setting up an additional table or getting out some folding chairs. In addition, you can get out all the dishes and silverware, (whether china or plastic), your serving pieces, and even your cooking utensils, pots, etc.

The best thing about the House Preparation List, is that these are all things you can get done in advance. Even a week in advance is not too soon to start. With so much to do for Thanksgiving, the more you can do ahead of time, the better. And as always, I recommend you assign dates in your calendar for the various tasks.

Shopping List:

Start by deciding what you’d like to serve, with the suggestion that you make reasonable choices. For instance, even though Thanksgiving brings eating to mind, it’s not necessary to go overboard. Are five side dishes truly necessary? Choose what you think appeals to most people., and stick with it. And while I’m on the topic of food choices, consider asking some of your guests to bring something along for the dinner. A side dish, a vegetable, a salad, etc., will make your load a little lighter. Be specific when asking guests to contribute to the meal, so you’ll know exactly what items are coming through the front door.

Your Shopping List may also include, any additional items you need. Some examples might be –- paper plates, napkins, a large tin in which to cook the turkey. Give yourself time to work on the shopping list, in order to avoid last minute trips to the grocery store.

Meal Preparation List:

Write a list of all the food you plan to serve and cook. Keep this list in your kitchen at all times, so you can refer to it – both while cooking, and when serving. The Meal Preparation List should also include the times you need to start preparing each dish. You can only juggle so many things, and ovens, at once. Don’t overload.. Again, make reasonable decisions and allow extra time.   Whatever dishes can be prepared in advance of Thanksgiving, be sure to do.

It all comes down to planning, keeping things as simple as possible, and doing as much as possible in advance.

Things to Remember:

Tasks often take longer than you think they will, so build in extra time for everything you do.

Assign tasks to your spouse and children. You don’t need to do everything yourself.

Neither your house nor the meal must be P-E-R-F-E-K-T. You won’t be able to enjoy family and friends if you’re frazzled. The holiday is not for impressing people, but for enjoying them.

If you follow this plan, all should turn out reasonably well. Or, you could tear up your lists, hire a cleaning crew for your house, and order the entire meal from a grocery or restaurant. Whatever you decide, I wish you a most Happy Thanksgiving!

Rhonda Pawlan, MS is a Board Certified Coach, specializing in ADHD.  She coaches adults and students around the country, helping them to get on track and reach their goals. Contast Rhonda at or

** Do you have a holiday tip to share? Or a funny or horror story? Please share in the Comment section below **

ADHD and Women: When Your Senses Are Extra Sensitive

Posted on November 01, 2014

Queen of Distraction 2D did a nice job discussing my new book, The Queen of Distraction, focusing on one of my chapters that discuses ADHD and Hypersensitivities:

“Psychotherapist Terry Matlen thought she was losing her hearing. Every time she’d talk on the phone, she couldn’t hear what the other person was saying if other sounds were present. Even a quiet TV and a loved one talking hampered her hearing.

But when she went to get tested, she actually learned that she has better hearing than most people her age.

Matlen, like many women with ADHD, is especially sensitive to stimuli. Women who have the inattentive type of ADHD tend to have a difficult time tuning out noise (any extraneous sounds), hearing sounds that no one else seems to hear, writes Matlen, also an ADHD coach, in her newest book The Queen of Distraction: How Women with ADHD Can Conquer Chaos, Find Focus and Get More Done.”

Read the entire article HERE.

Last Week to Sign up at Special Rates: The Queens Clear Clutter!

Posted on October 27, 2014



The Queens of Distraction ADHD Awareness Month Special!



Do you want to:

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

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

We meet throughout the week 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- we live it!

Imagine a place where you could be yourself. A place with accountability and support. A place where you don’t have to hide or feel ashamed of your ADHD habits. A place that celebrates the best in you and that helps you deal with the worst. That place is Terry Matlen’s Queens of Distraction Group! There, you will find encouragement and understanding along with the needed accountability. It is nice to not feel so alone with this thing called ADHD! 

- Paula 

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. But hurry! Special rates end October 31!

Welcome home!

ADHD Awareness Expo Starts NOW through Nov 1. Listen to my session!

Posted on October 26, 2014

The 5th annual ADHD Awareness Expo is being held the week of October 26th through November 1st and the best part about it is that there’s no travel required. That’s right – it’s held virtually, so all you need to do is grab a comfortable seat at your computer and explore all the ADHD products, services and options available to you.

Some of the top ADHD experts in the country will be sharing information via short videos, plus there’s an exhibit hall with even more information and resources. I’ll be there! You can watch my session on Tuesday, Nov. 1 at 1pm, where I’ll be sharing some secret tips on how to handle stress when you have ADHD. Plus, all session attendees will receive a free gift!  Mine is a secret, but I think you’ll like it.

The Expo is such a great opportunity to gather information, find out more and simply interact with the ADHD community – did I mention attendance is free? That’s right, all of this information, at your fingertips, from the comfort of your own home – free.

I’d love to “see” you there! Just follow the link to register and claim your free spot to attend:

Watch my Webinar: “How Women With ADHD Can Conquer Chaos, Find Focus, And Get More Done!”

Posted on October 25, 2014



On Oct 22, 2014, I hosted a webinar and Q/A: The Queen of Distraction:  “How Women With ADHD Can Conquer Chaos, Find Focus, And Get More Done!” I shared real tips on how to stay focused and get organized (and more)…and fielded GREAT questions from the audience. Nearly 300 signed up for the event and it was a blast!

If you missed the live event, you can watch it HERE.   Two lucky attendees won copies of my book, “The Queen of Distraction“. Check back here soon and find out who the lucky winners are. Or subscribe to my newsletter HERE - where the winners will also be posted shortly.

Didn’t win? You can order the book on Amazon HERE.

Stay tuned for more contests!

Does Everything Annoy You? You’re Not Alone

Posted on October 20, 2014



People say I’m an extremely patient person. But you know what? I’m not. Things annoy me. Lots of things- just ask my husband. And if you think I’m just a good natured sort of gal, always smiling and engaging, you might be surprised to know that I’m most likely totally distracted and annoyed by:


  • The sticky glob on the floor that my unfortunate foot just stepped on.
  • Hearing someone talking on their cell phone while I’m trying to hear what you’re saying.
  • Having to wait in line.
  • Hearing mouth breathing over the phone by the computer tech guy.
  • Smelling the perfume on some gal coming towards me… a block away.
  • The tiny irregularity of my newly crowned molar that my tongue can’t seem to leave alone.
  • The driver ahead of me going 30 in a 50-mph zone.
  • The food stain on your chin that I cannot stop staring at.
  • Mosquito bites.

……….and the list goes on. And on and on and on. And it drives me crazy.

I was reading a thread on Facebook the other day where a woman posted how she goes bonkers when she hears mouth noises. Smack. Smack. Chew. Chew. And you know what? I totally get it.

But why is this? My experience is that these irritating  annoyances are very commonly seen in people with ADHD. Of course, we are a distracted bunch and it makes sense that such things would drive us off course (and want us to drive over a cliff).

Could there be more to it? Is it that we simply notice more things than others? Then why is this called Attention DEFICIT? Is it that we’re wired to feel and experience things more strongly and thus, we react too strongly?

Is it being impulsive and not being patient enough to just let things slide?

Or is it all of the above?

What drives you over the edge? And how do you deal with it? Please share in the Comment Section below.