If you’re a parent, you’ve probably been there. Standing in front of your child, struggling to keep your voice calm while saying, “I’m going to count to five, and if you don’t stop screaming by then….” In fact, I think I just did this a few days ago.
Lots of parenting books offer suggestions for how we can help kids to calm down and listen, but there aren’t a lot of books about how parents can calm down. All parents get frustrated and irritated by their kids, but for parents with ADHD, these everyday irritations can lead to major blowups.
For the longest time, I couldn’t understand why I had days when I was perfectly equipped to manage my kids and then I had days when every little thing they did would set me off. But that’s the inconsistency of ADHD for you. I’ve also learned that there are certain “triggers” that cause me to overreact and, now that I know what they are, I’m having an easier time managing my emotions.
So, today I’m sharing a few of my personal calming tips for parents with ADHD!
Calming Tips for Parents Who Have ADHD
Identify your “buttons”.
As I mentioned above, the first thing I had to do was to pay attention to my “buttons”. You know, the ones that kids always find a way to push? 🙂 These buttons are different for every parent. Some parents are oblivious to loud noise and don’t mind it at all. Others need a quieter atmosphere.
Here’s my trigger: Noise from several sources ALL AT THE SAME TIME. And, of course, I decided to have four children who tend to recreate this exact environment. When I have one child on the floor shouting “Mom!”, while another is in the kitchen doing schoolwork and shouting “Mom!”, and two more are in the room calling “Mom!”, I tend to lose it.
So, my solution is to avoid that scenario whenever possible. I set one child up with an activity, then another, and another – until everyone has something they are assigned to do. I tell them to come and sit down in the living room quietly when they finish and then wait for me to explain the next thing. That keeps everyone from yelling “Mom!” at the same time.
Know your limits.
Stop overcommitting. Just stop it. And I know this is hard for a lot of us who are living with ADHD, because we really do want to do every single thing. But overcommitting puts such a strain on your brain, which may already be not performing at its best, that it can make you into an angry mom.
I’ve been attending college, working, and homeschooling my kids for the past couple of years. It was going fairly well until my husband went back to work full-time this past summer. He had been saving me by watching the kids when I studied. But after that, it was totally on me to keep the kids on task with their schooling, take care of the house, get my work done, and take my classes. Suddenly, I turned into some kind of Mother/Incredible Hulk hybrid. It was not pretty.
Recently, I’ve been reevaluating my choices, which I’ll talk about in a future post. And I’ll be cutting some of my obligations back, so that I can go back to happy mama mode again.
Cut out the multitasking.
Okay, this one is particularly hard for many parents with ADHD. If you have a brain that’s going in multiple directions, you’re probably used to feeling like Stretch Armstrong. (Remember those stretchy dolls you can pull in all directions?)
Unfortunately, that’s our natural inclination but it’s usually not the best thing for us. Many people with ADHD perform best when they can do lots of things in a single day, but one thing at a time. And I’ve found that to be true.
If the kids are in the living room watching TV and I’m trying to study, I’m going to be irritable when they interrupt me. (Which they will.) Now I know better. I sit out there with them and do something that doesn’t require intense concentration, like meal planning or writing a post like this. That way, I’m less irritated by interruptions, which keeps me calm.
Have you struggled with keeping your cool as a parent? Share your calming tips for parents with ADHD in the comments!
This post is part of the 31 Days of ADHD Homeschooling series! Stop by tomorrow for Day 20: How to Use Worksheets with Your ADHD Child!