What It's Like Being a Mom With ADD

This disorder often compounds the normal pressures of motherhood

Mother multi tasking with children and laptop

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The phone is ringing. Two of your kids are arguing and yelling. The dog is scratching at the door to go out. Your toddler is at your feet crying and wanting to be picked up. The UPS guy is at the door with a delivery. Your spouse is still at work. A pot of water is boiling on the stove ready for spaghetti. Everyone is starving and cranky because you put dinner on late. You are exasperated, tired, and overwhelmed.

Being a mother is a juggling act in its own right, without a brain-based disorder such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD) creating additional stress.

Imagine you have all the regular pressures of parenthood, but you also have a condition (ADHD) marked by forgetfulness, disorganization, and impulsiveness.

At times it leads you to drop the ball on important tasks or responsibilities, like remembering to pick up your kid's soccer uniform or signing that school form he needs to submit. You forget appointments, to take the laundry out of the washer, or to give the dog his medication. You can't seem to stay focused on tasks such as paying bills or cleaning. While most mothers will have off days that consist of any number of these things, a mother with ADHD deals with this constantly—especially when the disorder is left untreated.

If You Feel Like a Bad Mom, You're Not Alone 

Moms are often the family manager, caregiver, disciplinarian, nutritionist, cook, homework helper, scheduler, taxi driver, mediator, nurse, and housekeeper. They fill many different roles and most inevitably feel that they fail to measure up. Moms can be very hard on themselves. Worry comes naturally and guilt is second nature.

While these are common feelings that most mothers experience at one time or another, a mom with ADHD feels often feels them to a greater degree and more frequently. How on earth can you take on all these roles for your family, when you struggle daily with organizing and prioritizing your own life?

Many mothers with ADHD wish they could be less hard on themselves, that others could understand how their disorder presents challenges with attention, focus, and memory, that workplaces and schools could accommodate mothers with ADHD, and that their friends and loved ones would educate themselves on the disorder. In addition, many wish their spouses could make more of an effort to understand the struggles they face daily. 

How to Cope as a Mom With ADHD 

If you are a mom with ADHD, let go of the unrealistic “supermom” pressure. Be kind to yourself. Make a list of the things you are good at and embrace these qualities. If there are areas where you are weak, such as remembering appointments, you can try visual and auditory reminders, such as setting calendar appointments in your phone or setting alarms. Or if you struggle with getting meals on the table, try using a meal planning app that you can download to your phone. Whatever you struggle with most, enlist aids in those areas. 

You may also have to release the expectation that your house should be always spotless, or that you have to do it all. Don't be afraid to ask for help from a babysitter, a tutor, your friends, or your neighbors. If you have an important task to complete at home, hire a sitter to come over for an hour or so. Assign chores to your children and spouse. Carve out downtime before the kids get up or after they go to bed. 

Educate your loved ones. Bring your husband to an appointment with your healthcare provider. You may try to explain your diagnosis, but sometimes hearing about ADHD from a doctor will give loved ones a better understanding of the condition and will help to validate what you are going through.

Together you can come up with strategies to help the home run more smoothly and give you the support you need.

Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • MomsRising.org. Parenting with ADHD. 
  • Seay, Bob. ADDitude Magazine: Inside the ADD Mind. Stop Being Supermom! 

By Keath Low
 Keath Low, MA, is a therapist and clinical scientist with the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities at the University of North Carolina. She specializes in treatment of ADD/ADHD.