It’s very ironic to be writing this post tonight. (In characteristic ADHD fashion, I’m writing this about four hours before it’s supposed to go live.) Today was the first day that I actually visited an elementary school and inquired about enrolling my kids. I’ve called a few times before, but I’ve never actually gone up there.
And that is just one of the struggles of homeschooling for moms who have ADHD: consistent and unrelenting self-doubt.
In our family, both my husband and I, as well as our three oldest children, have ADHD. Personally, I had no idea that I even had it until about a year ago. That was one of the most jarring realizations of my life, because it caused me to re-examine my “normal” behaviors as more than just personality quirks.
Many of us are homeschooling kids with ADHD. But what is like to be a homeschooling mom with ADHD?
How My ADHD “Hid” From Me
First, I should explain that I am pretty much the definition of the undiagnosed ADHD girl. Sari Solden, in the book “Women with Attention Deficit Disorder“, describes the contrast between girls and boys who have ADHD during their school years.
While boys tend to show their ADHD through aggression and misbehavior, girls tend to show it by daydreaming and withdrawing. In public school, though, as long as you’re quiet and do a fairly good job of completing your work, no one will ever suspect you have ADHD.
That was me. I’m a huge bookworm, which I thought meant I couldn’t possibly have ADHD. I am capable of sitting still for extremely long periods of time, except I’m probably tapping my feet or rubbing my hands together. I daydream, but I would set aside time especially for that each day so it wouldn’t interfere with my classes. (I still do that, by the way.) I got excellent grades in school and I had a pretty normal social life.
What It’s Like to Be a Homeschooling Mom with ADHD
But as I’ve gotten older, my symptoms have worsened. I am chronically overwhelmed, usually due to a tendency to overcommit myself to projects. I tend toward what Dr. Amen calls Type 3 ADD, which means that I go into hyperfocus just about every day.
During my periods of hyperfocus, I block out everything while I work. And I mean, everything. Children run through the house screaming, dishes and laundry pile up, I go without food for six hours or more.
Naturally, this makes homeschooling a challenge. I often forget to plan our lessons in advance, which makes it hard to remember what to cover each day. I tend to be inconsistent in following our schedule, so I have one “good” day, typically followed by one “bad” day. The kids, who also have ADHD, also tend to be inconsistent. Unfortunately, our “good” days rarely align.
I constantly second-guess and doubt myself – not just because it’s hard for me to divide my attention between all four kids, but because my tendency to overcommit makes it almost impossible to live up to all of my obligations. And honestly, as my symptoms become worse, I’m not even sure that I will continue homeschooling for the long run. But that’s a topic for another day.
Generally, I give a few tips or suggestions for managing these kinds of things, but today I just wanted to say a little bit about what it’s like to attempt to manage this disorder in myself and in my kids. We’ll talk about solutions in the next couple of posts. 🙂
Are any of you homeschooling children with ADHD while dealing with the disorder yourself? How does it make homeschooling a challenge for you? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments!
This post is part of the 31 Days of ADHD Homeschooling series! Stop by tomorrow for Day 18: Homeschool Organization Tips for the Mom with ADHD!
Yup, sounds like me! Everywhere I turn I feel pulled in a different direction, but all at the same time. I want to do EVERYTHING, and do it with my whole heart. Yes! to homeschooling! Yes! to pursuing all available therapies for my kids. Yes! to making bread from scratch. Yes! to blogging and restarting my Etsy shop. Yes! to pioneering. Yes! to cuddling my kids and reading stories by the hour. Yes! to adopting siblings from another country. Yes! to sewing my own clothes from upcycled materials. Yes! to minimizing our possessions and going off to do missionary service in another place. Yes! to making a stable and loving home life right where we are. Photography, essential oils, writing… I’m exhausting to be around sometimes, even to me. And yet, those are all things I’m passionate about. How to stay passionately ME, and yet find balance. That is my question. I haven’t helped, have I? 😉
Selena Robinson says
YES to everything you said. All of the things you listed are pretty much things I’ve gotten involved in or wanted to get involved in. My husband just looks at me like I’m a nut at those times. And, thinking back, I probably sounded cuckoo…lol. It’s hard to explain it because it feels so sincere at the moment. It sounds like a whim and I guess it is in a way, but it feels so authentic that it’s downright confusing.
I’m making some very drastic adjustments personally and we’re making some huge adjustments as a family that I’ll be talking about on the blog soon. And while they’re unfamiliar and, in some cases, frightening, they may be the best thing for us right now. Even though they DON’T feel normal to us, kwim?
Thanks for stopping by!
Wow sounds just like me!! so glad to hear I’m not alone. If only there were 72 hours in a day and we only slept 5 of them!!
Oh, wow, Laura. I feel like I just wrote that comment. Every single thing you said – that’s me.
What now? It can’t keep on at this pace. Any resource suggestions?
Selena Robinson says
Hey Elizabeth! Thanks for visiting!
Just wanted to say that I’ve narrowed down my interests considerably by just telling myself no. “No, Selena, you don’t have the time to…”, “No, Selena, you cannot take on another project”. It stinks, but it’s helping a lot.
In our homeschool, we’ve simplified greatly and that’s helped also. My most recent post (linked below) says more about how that’s making our journey easier for me to manage. 🙂
And what’s wrong with that? There are no ‘normal’ people in the world. All of us – everyone, has a quirk. Until we name it, make it the villian of why everything goes awry in our lives, it has no strength – no way to defeat us. I’d dare to say that I would’ve been labeled as such, but I’ve made successes of all my ‘distractions’. No typical person could pull off all the things I can, nor would they want to. When people ask me what I do, and I go down the laundry list of the different ‘projects’ that I am juggling and managing, they think I’m crazy. So yes, this full-time working homeschooling momma, engineer, author, wife, and business owner (yep, I do that too on the side) is proud to be who she is – even if that means to be labled as ADHD, lol! So glad to know there are other people that have the awesome ability to feel deeply, focus greately, and take on the world.
Selena Robinson says
Hey Nita! I agree that there’s nothing “wrong”, but for me, it was something I couldn’t quite grasp. It was like I knew something was happening to my brain, but it didn’t happen all the time, which was confusing. Finding out about ADHD was a relief for me.
I think there are a lot of people who fit the symptoms of ADHD, but as I was told once, it’s only ADHD if it’s disrupting your life. Otherwise, it’s not really a disorder, kwim? So, if you have those symptoms and they work for your life, keep right on truckin! 🙂 For me, though, it’s beginning to cause real problems and that’s why I’m having to reassess a LOT of things, even our choices for our kids. But I’ll talk more about that in an upcoming post. 😉
Estelle miller says
Could have been me writing. Though I am finding the thing I tell my kids and preteen siblings when they say cleaning or something is to hard, can in the situations I need it to, work for me too. ” suck it up, buttercup.” I do try to find ways to make the things I have to get done more fun, but sometimes ya need to just plow thru it because it has to get done. Still learning this at 33.
Selena Robinson says
Hi Estelle! Thanks for visiting!
I totally and completely agree with you. In fact, we’re in the middle of a giant shift in our kids’ education for this very reason. I love the idea of facilitating their condition in our education, but I also believe strongly in helping them learn how to navigate in general society. As much as I would love them to go to a college where they can skip tests because of anxiety, that’s not going to happen and it would be shortsighted of us as parents NOT to help them understand that from a young age.
Selena, I totally understand. My brother was officially diagnosed when I was younger. We focused on his issues while not noticing that I was a girl with ADHD. It wasn’t until I was 18 yrs old and lost three jobs in a row for “forgetfulness” that my mom realized I had the disorder as well. I’ve lived my entire adulthood life with the symptoms, trying to find natural ways to cope. I make a lot of lists and schedules (that I have a difficult time following.) For example, I should have been up at 7 and starting my morning routine. But I woke up at 9, grabbed my tablet, got sidetracked from Pinterest, and here it is 10 a.m. and when we should be studying our Good News brochure I am still in “blog world” having not finished my morning routine and started our Morning Meeting with our Daily Text, etc. So today we will most likely be off by a hour and a half to two hours…again…like we did the day before yesterday. Lol! Yesterday I accepted an invitation to study our Draw Close book with another homeschooling family that lives in our complex. So math and language arts didn’t get done. So goes the story…But I have to say that it’s getting better and better. Now that I am creating our own plan that I am in love with, and fun lessons for the kids, we are accomplishing more and more all the time. But I will say that establishing a morning routine is ESSENTIAL and starts me on a good path. Behavior breeds behavior. When I accomplish my morning routine, I am ready and things start falling into place. So on days like today where I am off, I simply press the invisible “Restart” button and I go back to my room to make my bed, shower, etc. and do my entire morning routine from the beginning. It does something good for my brain.
I can’t even begin to tell you how happy I am I found your blog! I’m officially stalking you on Pinterest, too.
Well, that was certainly eye opening. I’ve suspected might be ADHD since my boys were diagnosed with ADHD, but this article rather firmly put that idea in the wall with one of those anchored screws instead of a dinky thumb tack.
Thank you for putting this “out there.” Even just identifying the problem is hugely helpful.
Selena Robinson says
Hi Deb! Yes! It was like a light being switched on in my brain. The more I read about ADHD, the more I recognized it in myself. It was the first time I understood that some of the things I’d been struggling with were not just normal personality quirks. I’m so glad the post helped you out a bit.
Thanks for stopping by!
Oh this is me! I was diagnosed as a child with it and my oldest child has it as well! This was our first year homeschooling and wow was it difficult.
I’m so glad I found your blog! We’ve been homeschooling for two years and decided to put our daughter in public school because I just couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me and why she couldn’t learn. We decided to have her tested first and it looks like she’s has ADHD and the more I read the more I’m pretty sure I do to. I’ll be checking out some of the resources you’ve mentioned for sure and maybe one day we’ll be back to homeschooling.
Selena Robinson says
Hi! I totally understand how you feel. We’re back to homeschooling now, but we took a PS break last year. I’m glad we did it, because it gave me time to reevaluate my homeschooling style and the changes I’d need to make in order for HSing to be a success in our family. Getting a clearer picture of what’s going on is ALWAYS helpful.
Thanks for stopping by! 🙂
Kerrie McLoughlin says
Undiagnosed here also. Homeschooling 5 kids for the last 10 years … ages 6-15. Freaking out b/c oldest is starting high school at home! So true about good days and bad days. I had a neighbor who did a fabulous routine with her kids and they are all on track or beyond. That’s not who we are, who I am. I have kids behind in all sorts of subjects but I am committed and we do have fun with it! Slow and steady will win the race of their education, right? Great to find you!
I just stumbled on your blog last night. I was recently diagnosed with ADD, and though I’m still coming to terms with it… it makes me feel somewhat better knowing there’s a reason why I can get so scattered. I am grateful you shared your story here. I am interested in homeschooling my young children, and was fearful it’d be a hopeless endeavor if mom has ADD. 🙂 You’re giving me hope that’s not the case. Glad to also hear from other moms in the comments section here. All the best to you and yours.
This is so me. I’m just learning that I have and my husband and children also have ADHD. So while I’ve been hyperfocusing on ADHD videos, I’ve realized I need help learning how to homeschool with ADHD for kids with ADHD. I google searched, and all I could find was “How to Homeschool Your ADHD Child”. I was so excited when I found you’re blog. Your description of your day is my day! I just wanted to say thank you. It’s great to know that I’m not alone, and I’m excited to peruse the rest of your posts. 🙂
Selena Robinson says
Hi! Welcome! And, no you’re definitely not alone. It is so hard sometimes to keep myself on track. In fact, I need to update this post because I’ve found some strategies in the past few months that really seem to be helping.
Thank you so much for stopping by! 🙂
I’ve had ADHD (inattentive type) all my life but discovered it about 13 years (I’m 37 now). I’ve been HSing my 2 kids (4th and 2nd grade) for the past 3 years. Both of them have it too. I have a toddler too and time will tell if he turns out to have it too. I’ve been reading a book by Terry Matlen called “Queen of Distraction” for Moms with ADHD. It doesn’t address HSing of course which ups the ante of the craziness. The author herself has ADHD and is an expert consultant for ADHD. It’s well balanced information – stating both the positive and the unique challenges in moms with adhd. I have a lot of tips I need to try out. Personally speaking even though I have only HS for three years I’ll admit it’s been the best and worst 3 years of my life. Best because we learned how we wanted (for us a unit study method fit the bill). Worst bc it’s forced me to acknowledge my challenges – anger, impatience, disorganization – and to do something proactive about it. In my hyper focus I overthought and overdid curriculum- fearful that I’d miss out on something. I read the book “Teaching from Rest” which was a terrific read for my overwhelmed and exhausted spirit.
These are my thoughts thus far:
– Pick what works for you and the kids (the method, materials, etc). Is this something you’re happy doing every day?
– But also know that you need structure and routines (and maybe accountability). I use a set curriculum and tweak to fit our needs. This prevents me from overdoing it.
– You are unique and your children are unique. Don’t compare your HS kids to another. It either leads to pride or low self esteem.
– Build up your kid’s self worth and yours. We speak so negatively to ourselves it’s a wonder we do anything at all !
– Don’t let your fears drive your HS. I was so determined that my kids not have the struggles I had growing up that I’ve been pushing them to have good habits. So much so that I’m always hovering and nagging them with their chores and yelling to get stuff done. A lot of crushed spirits have resulted. My fears of not teaching well enough also led me to overbuy curriculum – so there are no possible gaps. Truth is that we can’t solve all our HS problems by our vigilance.
– Don’t hyperfocus on minutiae. If God has called you to HS and your spouse is supportive then go for it! Be faithful to the task and enjoy your kids. Make sure to teach them what really matters.
Mae Walters says
So glad to have found your blog! I especially love how you can just be real about the challenges in this post without offering an instant solution. I’m sure you are doing an amazing job.
I found out I had ADHD just before COVID hit, which would explain why I was an obsessive, eager student in school and yet almost didn’t finish college. Homeschooling my oldest since March, kindergarten age right now. We did really well when I had to email the pre k teacher every day to count as attendance, but now it’s more like unschooling most days. Sticking to a routine is the hardest thing in the world for me. Even when my son asks me to. I am torn between wanting to do this forever and fearing that he will have to repeat kindergarten when school reopens because he doesn’t want to read or count. Yet I read to him for hours every day and he loves cooking and taking long walks.
Selena Robinson says
Hi! Unschooling is wonderful for early ages! As my kids got older, both they and I needed more structure, but those early years were great. Enjoy them!
Ashley Wright says
Great read!! Thanks for sharing such a great blog.