How To Stay Organized If You’re A Parent With ADHD

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Parenting with ADHDNot too long ago, I found out I have ADHD. Hindsight being 20-20, I should have figured this out a long time ago. All the signs were there going all the back to my childhood: 

  • I was a very disorganized child. 
  • I had a terrible short-term memory. 
  • I easily lost track of all sense of time.
  • I needed a strict routine to be successful.
  • I struggled with regulating my emotions.
  • I was very anxious and sad a lot.

Traditional Organizational Tips Failed Me

I have vivid memories of people trying to help become more organized and less forgetful. They would say things like, “Use a planner. Or write what you need to get done down on paper.” 

It always sounded good in theory. But I could never remember to bring my planner with me. And on the rare instances in which I did, I forgot to look at it.

As I grew older, I found ways to cope with my undiagnosed issue. I became a creature of habit. As long as I stuck to my schedule I was fine. Yes, I forgot little things here and there, but for the most part, I passed as a functional adult. 

And Then I Had Kids 🤦🏻‍♂️

You all know this, so I won’t go on and on, but there’s just so much more to manage when you’re a parent. It’s hard enough to handle the household when you don’t have a diagnosable challenge.

Luckily, I found the following 3 tools to keep me organized.

1. Embrace Your Reminders App

Find something that you can offload your random thoughts onto. Life comes at you fast when you’re a parent. So don’t waste precious mental resources trying to remember everything. Let your technology do that for you. 

I wear an Apple Watch that vibrates on my wrist whenever I need to do whatever I wanted to remember to do. Whenever a random thought pops into my head I record it in my reminders app. This way I don’t have to remember to do it later. 

For example, if I think “You know, I should pick up my prescription when the pharmacy opens tomorrow,” I create a reminder on my phone. And when I create the reminder, I make sure to have it do 1 of 3 things:

  1. Remind me when I get to a location (like home, or my kids’ school, or when I get into the car).
  2. Remind me at a specific time.
  3. Remind me when I’m messaging a specific person.

If I do this right away it increases the likelihood that I actually do whatever I wanted to do.

2. Embrace Your Phone’s Calendar

My wife and I share calendars with each other. This way, we can always be on the same page. We decided to use 4 schedules (her work, my personal, her personal, and a shared one). The color-coded calendars allow us to quickly scan our day/week/month.

But the thing that helps me the most is putting the address of the event into the calendar. Doing this allows me to enable the “Time to Leave” reminder function. 

Remember how I said I lose track of time easily? Well, if I am engaged in something and am not careful, 30 minutes to an hour can go by without me noticing. When I put the address into my calendar event, my watch will notify me 15 minutes before I have to leave. This gives me that extra cushion so I can quickly gather what I need and still make it to wherever I need to go on time.

3. Find A Good Mental Health Provider And See Them Regularly

You might be asking, what does mental health have to do with organization? A lot, actually. It’s common knowledge that proper self-care is essential for parents. Well, there’s no better self-care than seeing a mental help professional. I’ve found it incredibly helpful to work through my struggles with someone regularly. When I’m able to do this, I am much more focused and calm. And everybody benefits from this.

The Best Part?

Anyone can benefit from these tips. You don’t have to have ADHD. Pretty much every parent I know struggles with juggling the mental load of being a parent. So if you find yourself wishing you had a better way to organize your life, why not give one, or all, of these tips a try? What do you have to lose? 😊

Dan Sage
Dan was born and raised in New Berlin, WI. He is married to the most amazing woman, Dawn, and has two children, Joe (born September 2014) and Nora (born April 2017). Dan has a background in Psychology (BA from UW-La Crosse) and Nursing (BSN from UW-Oshkosh). He is currently staying at home full-time. He enjoys cooking, biking, running, and yoga. He is also an avid coffee aficionado and hopes to one day be able to roast his own coffee beans.

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