Motherhood & ADHD

People love the Mental Load Cartoon by Emma. It demonstrates how women are managing so many of the day-to-day ‘small’ tasks that often go unnoticed. These tasks can be making sure there is enough food, having enough clothes, researching which daycares are best etc.

‘Small’ tasks add up quickly. For moms who feel they have to do everything, and who take on the burden of care for baby and partner unconsciously, it’s one of the reasons why they become overwhelmed as a parent. This fact is hard to navigate for any mom, but to the ADHD mom brain, it can feel impossible. Why? ADHD brains ‘turn off’ (decrease in brain activity) when it comes to mundane activities. This makes it extremely challenging for many ADHD parents to handle the particular demands of child-rearing with ease, especially if they have not developed systems they need to help their brain complete these types of tasks.

TRAITS OF THE ADHD MOM BRAIN

Here are some common struggles I see with ADHD moms:

  • Feeling overwhelmed with organizing all the baby items

  • Feeling frustrated and self-critical when they can’t find things the baby needs (like a thermometer, etc.)

  • Not able to keep up with the extra laundry, dishes, and cleaning

  • Missing the energy and excitement that they used to experience when their brain was ‘turned on’

  • Struggling to maintain schedules for the kids

  • Feeling incompetent when forgetting to schedule or keep appointments, like doctor checkups

  • Struggling to self-regulate when their kid is pushing limits

On top of the largely unacknowledged mental load that is generally demanded of women in this country, society sends the message to women that they need to love being a parent and naturally excel at it, or there is something wrong with them (not the system). Hence, the ADHD brain may absorb these unrealistic messages and fall into a vicious cycle of self-criticism and feeling like a ‘bad’ mom. The truth is that many parents are not even diagnosed with ADHD until their kid receives a diagnosis—so it can take years of trying (and failing) to do what works for neurotypical brains, before getting the help they need to start enjoying parenthood.

STRATEGIES FOR THE ADHD MOM BRAIN

Once you’ve been diagnosed with ADHD, there are tips and tricks to help you feel successful:

  • Talk to your psychiatrist/doctor about medication

  • Work with a therapist that specializes in adult ADHD to help build executive function and learn skills that will make the mundane tasks of parenting work for your brain

  • Talk to your partner about the mental load and hand off tasks that are more challenging for you (like buying clothes, picking up the kids from school, etc.)

  • Check out the resources for ADHD on my website

  • Learn to focus on what your brain does best! ADHD brains have a lot of strengths that can be challenging for the neurotypical brain

Not even Wonder Woman can do it all. Ask for help when you need it. We’re all responsible for raising the next generation together.