I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve ‘decluttered’ over the years, organised lists, made schedules, made meal plans etc, etc. All in the name of getting organised, only to have it all fall in a heap after 2 weeks and berate myself for my chronic lack of discipline. Rinse. Repeat.
So what makes me think this year will be any different? Everything I’ve learned about how an ADHD brain works is what. That and a LOT of optimism. 🙂
So, despite promising my psych that I wouldn’t use the meds to take on more of anything, things have happened that have resulted in my going back to near full-time work this year. Not my first choice of options, but it’s happening and would have regardless of whether I was going to be medicated or not, so it is as it is.
I’m a teacher and, amazingly, the classroom is one place where having ADHD actually helps! (That’s a whole other post). Managing a home and family around it all though is a completely different story. The new school year starts in 3 weeks and I’ll admit, having not worked full-time since before we had the kids, and having a husband who is a shift-worker (which leaves me single-parenting most evenings – the hardest part of the day)….. I’m terrified! And so, being a typical ADHDer, I’ve hyper-focussed these hols on finding every strategy I can from all corners of the internet, with a few of my own thrown in, to try to achieve some mix that will see us cope with first term without finding myself in a crumpled lump in the bottom of the shower cubicle crying my eyes out by Week 5.
So here are some of the strategies I’m using.
1. Morning Routine Playlist
Same one every day, with words/themes aimed at triggering the kids memories as to what they’re supposed to be doing when – visual plan in their rooms and on fridge as a failsafe. We’ve been trialling and tweaking this during the hols, and it has changed the whole start to our day. No more nagging or frustration at the kids not following charts (you can’t ignore/forget sound as easily), just happy music and bopping along getting things done, with all of us piling into the car 60 mins later on our, ‘Hit the Road Jack’ cue. Success! (Might post the playlist down the track)
2. My wardrobe.
Yes, I lay out clothes the night before…..mostly – I did my basic Flylady training as well as the next ADHD person. What costs me time is the decision making. On the spot I can’t remember what looked ok together (I’m crap at the whole clothes thing) so a rough gist results in mind changes in the morning as things don’t ‘work’.
So I took Susan Pinsky’s (ADHD author) advice and organised a week’s worth of outfits. Except being me, I took it further, wrote the combinations on small cards (black shirt, black pants, fave Chocolaticas, pendant and bracelet to match etc) punched them, and slipped them on a keyring holder. I went through my whole wardrobe, culling some clothes and, when I liked another, deciding what to wear with it and adding it to the card ring making sure, for example, that the single white blouse I own only appeared in a combination every week or so to allow for washing etc. THEN I hung the clothes in order in the wardrobe including some jewellery bits that I like with specific outfits. I’ll add bottoms as I go, as they’ll get cycled through with different shirts. They will remain there untouched until school starts.
And now that this is all done I’ve realised 2 things….
1. That I have nearly a term’s worth of wardrobe and no decisions to slow me down in that dept for a long time (as I’ll recycle through them after that) and
2. THIS IS SLIGHTLY INSANE and I’d probably never admit to anyone that I’d done this! It seems really extreme and odd – surely no-one else operates like this?
But…. I have to. Silly as it seems, the precious amount of stress-free minutes it provides is priceless.
Spartan brand “Clutter Guard” – NOT available from Bunnings.
Not decluttering. I love those pictures of country homes with baskets and knick-knacks and table linen and flowers and pillows and…… well, we could be here a while.
The reality is, I need SUPER easy to clean and maintain. Having watched some ‘speed cleaning’ vids on Youtube, I caught myself saying, ‘Well, duh! There was nothing on your bathroom counter so of course it only took 1min to clean – cheats!
And then I realised,’Double DUH!!!!! That’s what MY counter needs to look like!’. In fact, most (I can’t do all) surfaces in my home need to be this way, and THAT will help.
So most surfaces in my home now have a maximum of 3 things on them. The baskets, drums, pillows and other decorative stuff has pretty much gone. And again two things have happened. 1. The house didn’t lose it’s warmth/ambience as I thought it would – it just looks cleaner. and 2. It IS cleaner, because cleaning is so much easier (and quicker) to do!
At this point I’m sure some people reading this are probably slapping their forehead and thinking, ‘She’s none to bright, this one – Captain Obvious right?’ but somewhere out there is an ADHDer who hasn’t worked it out yet…..I know it….. I can’t have been the last one!
Each to his own day. The kids are old enough to do their own. I showed them how, and while they can’t reach the outdoor line, their small loads fit perfectly on a clotheshorse. So they hang them neatly on that, and we move the whole thing outside. Simple.
Also, they’ve been taught the neat folding trick I learnt from Youtube that results in shirts being in a tidy bundle (it’s the way US soldiers pack to save space). The bonus is that, packed in the drawer, taking one doesn’t mess up the others (my kids and husband (sorry!) used to want the one 3/4 of the down the pile, yank, and there goes 10 minutes of folding…grrr!!!! Not anymore. Now their drawers look like this guys… (pic from the internet – not mine!)
Here’s the link if anyone’s interested. We came up with an even quicker way for the kids – simply fold in half lengthways, make a triangle at the top by folding the sleeve in, fold down to the bottom of the sleeve and commence rolling from there.
The link will give you rough idea.
Sure, not a creaseless result – but perfectly fine for playclothes (the creases are mild and fall out pretty fast). Special shirts can be hung on a coathanger. Did I mention I’m loosening up on my perfectionism too?
I have to admit I cheat a little too, and will throw in my clothes from the previous day with the kids loads (as they’re small) which means I don’t really have a load to do on my day and sheets/towels get done then.
5. Kids’ Lunches
Again, decision making which has me grinding to a halt. So these hols I got the kids a PlanetBox.
They are pricey, but have been tested out on the husband over the last few weeks and are a hit. There’s something about the layout that makes food really appealing. And admittedly they are green, very good quality, no leaks, no mess, the iceblock thingy does keep things fresh, and husband is happy because he discovered the glass container in his Launch version can even go under the pie-warmer at his work without suffering any damage – can’t ask for much more.
Lots of little compartments, choice and visual appeal. Here is a link (and FYI I have no ties to this company – I just really like this product) http://planetbox.com/
So now I’m slowly putting together a stockpile of small finger foody bits for lunches – recipe links to follow at some stage.
Samosas, curry puffs, mini quiches, meatballs, pasties, sandwich pockets etc. Basically, anything that can be frozen ahead of time.
Before diagnosis, I was using a stack of apps to try to get through my day. Now I just use a few and they’re helping.
Google Calendar – sends me reminders in the mornings of things like, ‘It’s library day’ ‘Hockey practice’ etc and any meetings or appointments too. Works for me, as I’m forever forgetting to actually check the calendar that’ I’ve painstakingly written down everything on – yeah, I know…. stupid, but welcome to living with ADHD.
OneNote – This one took a bit of studying and playing with, but I’m really starting to appreciate its usefulness at work and the crossover to home. I love that it syncs with everything, so when I’m out and suddenly remember I meant to put Bi-carb on the shopping list (which in the past was posted on the fridge door…no chance of me remembering when I get home again) I can pop it into OneNote on my phone, and it will be there on my computer when I do the weekly shopping on-line.
MoMo (Motivated Moms) Customisable to-do list which manages those weekly/monthly/yearly chores in such a way that just doing the list day by day gets ALL the things that need to be done, done. And if you miss a few chores during the week, you can scroll back to remind yourself of the them and do them on the weekend.
Coles Online – I will need to get in the habit of this because when I use it, its great. Wednesday is free delivery.
I love them and hate them. I know I need them, but I fall down a lot. Still, now I know it, and know why.
They are ready for work – and terrify me, because they’re tight (with not a lot of margin for variation) because of how much has to be done in a day, and even if followed to the letter, they’ll realistically only allow me an hour or so of marking/prep work per night if I’m to be good about my plan to get to bed at a reasonable hour.
That’s not nearly enough so some nights will have to be later (half a weeks worth of 8 hour sleeps will still be better than none) and there’ll be catchup on the weekends. No getting around it. And all evening routines will be out the window at reporting time – no teacher goes to be bed before 1am during those weeks.