Parenting Effectively When You Both Have ADHD: Tips for Success

One parent feeds children breakfast while other parent makes lunches in open kitchenWhen you have attention-deficit hyperactivity, managing the demands of adult life—working, paying bills on time, completing necessary tasks, and so on—can be enough of a challenge when you only have to take care of yourself. If you are a parent, the added responsibility of a child or multiple children can add to the potential for chaos.

What happens when the second parent also has ADHD? Is this a recipe for disaster? It certainly doesn’t have to be. Two parents with ADHD have the full ability to parent well and thrive by recognizing potential areas of difficulty, taking preemptive steps to navigate them, and exploring ways to become more organized.

Here are several suggestions that can help you keep track of the many parenting considerations you navigate on a daily basis. These ideas may make it easier to keep things running smoothly in your home.

  • Have clear guidelines on which parent is responsible for which things (always, or on specific days) and have these written down for easy reference. Does one parent make the lunches each night? Is the parent who gets home the one responsible for cooking dinner? Which parent goes grocery shopping each week?
  • For less common occurrences such as sports practices, after-school activities, and so on, make sure it is clear which parent is responsible for dropping off and picking up the kids.
  • Look at your work calendar and any other calendars you have to ensure you do not have conflicts that impact your ability to drop off, pick up, or otherwise be available for childcare-related responsibilities when you are needed.
  • Set weekly or biweekly meetings to review the schedule in order to catch any conflicts with pre-planned responsibilities or discuss any challenges that arise. Maybe one of you really hates making lunches and would be happy to do another task instead. Communication is key!

When it comes to shared parenting-related responsibilities, specific tools may help you keep track more effectively. Consider the following:

  • A joint calendar can show all activities and notes about who is responsible for dropping off and picking up the kids. If specific items (baseball bag, violin) are needed, add those in the notes section or use a notification to remind the parent to pack that item. The Family calendar on Apple Devices is often a good option because it provides a notification when a new event has been added. Another good option might be creating a shared Google account with a calendar.
  • A shared task list can be immensely helpful. Having one list for responsibilities shared between parents and another list for each parent’s responsibilities is often useful. What’s important is that all three task lists can be viewed and edited by both parents. This lets both parents see what they need to do and add tasks for the other parent if needed. This can be helpful if you have a hard time remembering to tell your partner things that need to get done. This is also a good way for parents who are divorced to share information easily. The Reminders App and Wunderlist are good options for this. GTasks is another good option, but most task list apps would work, as long as they allow lists to be shared with others.
  • Apps that track feedings, diaper changes, and naps can be helpful for parents of infants and toddlers. These apps ensure the necessary information is communicated between parents. Baby Tracker and Daily Connect are good options for tracking this type of information.
  • A kitchen whiteboard or something similar can help keep track of tasks. Depending on what needs to be kept track of and how tech-savvy you both are, sometimes it’s helpful to have a “hard copy” of the task list at home. The benefit of this type of system is that it is easily viewable at home. It does have downsides: It isn’t portable, and there aren’t any reminders or notifications!

This list of suggestions is not exhaustive. However, I hope it has given you some useful tools—or ideas, at the very least—for keeping track of parenting responsibilities more easily.

If you’re a parent, you have to keep track of many responsibilities and tasks, whether you have ADHD or not. Having ADHD can make parenting more challenging, but it doesn’t have to cause difficulty. If you’d like to further explore parenting with ADHD or believe the support of a therapist or counselor may be beneficial, I encourage you to reach out and seek help today.

© Copyright 2018 GoodTherapy.org. All rights reserved. Permission to publish granted by Carey A. Heller, PsyD, therapist in Bethesda, Maryland

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Jenn

    Jenn

    May 17th, 2018 at 8:15 PM

    The title interestedme. I was looking forward to reading this. It ended up being a disappointment as it seemed to be about a 2 parent family and how the 2 parents can organize. I’m a single mom with ADHD. This article really had little to offer.

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