But there's another group of parents that doesn't get the same level of attention: parents with ADHD. It's no surprise that the demands of parenting can be even more overwhelming when you're an adult with ADHD. In this guide, we'll discuss some of the challenges parents with ADHD face and what types of solutions may help your family.
The Challenges of Being and ADHD Parent
Parenthood comes with a lot of responsibilities, and incorporating all of those additional demands into your life can be particularly difficult if you have ADHD. Many of the executive functions that people with ADHD struggle with present unique challenges for parents. Consider the following examples:
- Time management: Running late for doctor's appointments, sports practices, etc.
- Organization: Struggling to plan and prepare meals for the family
- Memory: Misplacing important items or forgetting scheduled play dates
- Attention: Distraction when children need to be monitored for safety reasons
- Emotional regulation: Angry outbursts when upset
These are just some of the many ways in which having ADHD can make a parent's job more taxing. It's not uncommon for parents with ADHD to feel overwhelmed or like they're constantly struggling to keep up. And it's not for a lack of trying. Many people with the disorder work very hard to be good parents, but the differences in the way that their brains work creates unique challenges when it comes to raising kids.
Those who have known about their ADHD for years, or maybe even since childhood, have likely come up with some effective coping strategies along the way. But having children turns your world upside down. You have an entirely new routine filled with unfamiliar responsibilities and tasks. As a result, your ADHD symptoms may feel less manageable on a day-to-day basis.
The Genetic Connection: Will Your Child Have ADHD?
Another thing that parents with ADHD often have to contend with is that their children may also have the disorder. Studies have found that ADHD runs in families and has a high heritability rate of 74%.
This may be overwhelming for parents with ADHD. After all, they know better than anyone how difficult it can be to deal with ADHD. Plus, if both parent and child struggle with the same challenges, whether it's emotional dysregulation, impulsivity, or hyperactivity, it has the potential to occasionally create a chaotic atmosphere in the home and disrupt the routines that a child depends on.
However, there's a silver lining to this situation. When a parent and child both have ADHD, they can develop greater empathy for one another. A parent with ADHD can also assist their child in developing coping strategies, and they can advocate for their child to get the ADHD treatment they need.
Tips for Parents with ADHD
To help overcome some of the struggles of being a parent with ADHD, it's important to have some strategies you can turn to when things feel overwhelming. Here are a few of our top tips to keep in mind.
Find the right treatment
On every airplane, adults are reminded to put their oxygen mask on first before helping younger passengers. The same goes for raising kids. Parents need to meet their basic needs and care for themselves in order to be the best caretakers. If you have ADHD, that means making sure you have an effective treatment plan that includes medication, therapy, and any other methods that help you manage your symptoms.
Take one-on-one time
It's easy to get distracted by a million different things when you're parenting with ADHD. To make sure you are still prioritizing your relationship with your children, try to spend some one-on-one time with them whenever you can, preferably in an environment with limited distraction. This allows you to focus more of your attention on them and create a stronger bond.
Use helpful tools
There are many devices available today that can help with some of your ADHD challenges as a mom or dad. If you want to make sure you remember to check on the kids while they're playing in the other room, set a timer to go off every 10 or 20 minutes. Use digital calendar reminders to keep your schedule organized or a meal planning app to simplify shopping and cooking. Figure out which tools work best for you and take advantage of them.
Create a routine
Another way to reduce feelings of stress or overwhelm with ADHD parenting is to add structure to your days. Sticking to a routine can be beneficial for both you and your kids and can minimize some of the confusion that comes from ADHD-related distraction, disorganization, or forgetfulness.
Like any parent, you'll feel drained or frazzled at times while raising your kids. But that doesn't mean you should ignore it if you think your ADHD symptoms are making it even harder to be a mom or dad. If you're a parent with ADHD and need some help, reach out to Done. Our licensed clinicians can help with treatment recommendations and assist you in finding the best medication to help treat your ADHD.