If you could live your ideal life today, what would it look like? For me, it is a life that is happy and fulfilled, one in which my life and the lives of my family are in balance and harmony. Sometimes, that goal seemed insurmountable with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder in my family.
At first, we did not understand the challenges our daughter experienced. What caused her to feel so different from the other kids? What made her struggle in middle school when she started elementary school in advanced enrichment classes?
ADHD is characterized by inattention, impulsivity and hyperactivity. People with ADHD have difficulty organizing thoughts, following through with actions, and creating and maintaining relationships. Often, they have a hard time sitting still and staying focused.
ADHD brains are wired differently. Medicine, therapy, organizational strategies and coaching are helpful tools that can help make life happier and more productive.
How does a family create a happy, harmonious home when living with ADHD? The first step is knowledge. Learn as much as you can about ADHD. A great resource to learn more about ADHD is “Driven to Distraction” by Edward Hallowell.
Understanding how the ADHD brain works is as important for those with ADHD as for their family members. Get a diagnosis and learn exactly what the challenges are.
Most often, ADHD is also present in one or both parents of a child with ADHD. ADHD can affect the family dynamics. Create as much structure as possible, allowing older children to contribute to the planning and organizing.
Bruce Feiler, a New York times columnist and author, wrote “The Secrets of Happy Families.“ This is a fantastic resource for families looking for practical ideas to improve family life.
Participate in active family outings. Exercise is great for the ADHD brain. Sometimes, walking and talking is a great time for effective communication.
What about Mom and Dad? You are the cog in the wheel that makes the family run. Take time together to plan dates to do things each of you loves to do and put them on the calendar. Maybe try something new and exciting together like dancing, hiking or biking. Plan a trip. Go to a museum or a show.
Help children with ADHD discover what they feel passionate about. Doing activities they love will keep them engaged and improve their self-esteem.
I used to feel that I had to do as much as I could to help my family until I became burnt out. As parents, we often feel overwhelmed with our many responsibilities and caring for children with challenges.
The best gift we can give our family is caring for ourselves. Renewing our energy gives us the energy to help our family be healthier and happier, too.
How can I find the time for me? Yes, that feels impossible, sometimes. Start with a ten or fifteen minute refresher like a bath, a walk, some meditation, doing yoga or drinking tea. There are many free mediation websites for brief guided meditations.
Parents teach by example. Caring for ourselves, and taking the time to organize our own lives is time well spent.
Note to self:
- self care
- learn about ADHD
- create structure for my family
- Every day is the opportunity to make a better life.
- Ask yourself: What can I do today to create more harmony in my life?
I no longer feel burnt out all of the time. My children are adults, and they tell me the best help I can give is just to listen. A difficult skill, but one worth practice!
Whether your children are young or adults, consciously creating steps that give balance to your life will give balance to the lives of the ones you love as well.