One kid’s due at day camp with an organic bento box, sunblock, galoshes, and 3 pairs of underwear over here. Another one has tennis, but only on odd-numbered days. Another needs a new life jacket before sailing drop-off across town. And the schedule changes totally next week. Is it any wonder ADHD moms feel taxed, trampled, and cheated by summer?
My ADHD life coach once told me that changes in routine are particularly difficult for a person with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD or ADD). This definitely explains why I sometimes feel like my grip on the mountain of family life goes from firm and reliable to sweaty and millimeters away from sending me slipping to my demise.
With four kids, these perilous slides happen when we go from one sports season to another, when we switch around extracurricular or therapy appointment schedules, when out of nowhere there’re a couple days off of school for the teachers to professionally develop (I love that teachers professionally develop, but I got a schedule to keep), when holidays mash up the norms, or even when the sun up and decides to set at 4:45pm instead of providing us leisurely light and play late into the evening. All of these changes, minute and big, require adjustments for us mamas and papas.
The thing that didn’t seem obvious until my life coach said it is that neurotypical people are a tad quicker and more intuitive than ADHD-brained people in making adjustments when changing circumstances require it. Then there’s me: “Oh! It’s not a soccer night? What’s that you say? Soccer ended two months ago? No, I don’t know where the lousy basketball shoes are for practice in five minutes. The cleats are handy… wear those instead.”
It takes me forever to switch out sports gear between seasons, to switch out routines between seasons, to switch out clothes/outerwear between seasons, to switch out transportation schedules between seasons.
And – don’t forget – to communicate all those switches to the various members in my family who manage to scatter at just the moment I’m about to make an announcement just so that I can think I said it to everybody when the one who really needed to hear had to emergency poop or ran to watch a squirrel out the front window (don’t you hate it when they do that?).
But SUMMER. Summer is by far the season when my grip on the mountain of family life slips the most. From mid-August until late May, I pretty much know which end is up and which is down, but in June and July it’s like a tornado up in my head.
In typical ADHD fashion, summer is ending and I’m just now catching up to its cumulative impact on my psyche. Summer used to = bliss; now summer = relapse. For the last few years, it has set my wellness back big time. Having a handle on why makes me feel less insane (Since I know I’ll forget, could someone please shoot this essay back to me right around Memorial Day 2020? Thanks.).
Here’s the why: For most families, including mine, each and every week of the summer brings a wildly different pattern: vacation requiring packing and travel coordinating one week; day camprequiring 40 forms, a 6-ounce snack, and immunization records tattooed behind the kid’s left ear next week; early mornings swim team practices and afternoon tennis lessons the following week. Right about the time that I have one week’s routine down, it’s the weekend. Time to reset. Different times to memorize! Different forms! Drop offs and pick ups in different parts of town! Different mamas and papas helping with the carpool! No wonder I don’t know which end is up and which is down!
It usually takes a couple hours in a coffee shop with no interruptions and ear buds to coordinate the details leading up to each bite-sized, week-long schedule (which exhausts my thinker) and then epic ninja moves to execute said bite-sized, week-long schedule (which exhausts me period).