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Surviving at home with the kids

Mar 20, 2020

Well, the world has changed quite a bit since I wrote a blog post about 10 days ago. Thankfully, my family and my friends are all well. I have three freezers and am a classically trained chef... so we aren't going to starve. I hope all of you reading this are well and secure. Of course there are many long term, societal, and economic consequences of this situation. But for those of us with kids, the battle is more day to day at this point. As there is talk of school being done for the YEAR, I'm pretty psyched my wife and I survived week one. I thought I would share some insights over the next few weeks about how to survive our sequestration with ADHD kids... and an ADHD dad. 

First check out the picture below. SCHEDULING IS KEY! It's less about the specifics or even if you stick to it. But it sure beats the, "what do we do now" discussion. That's usually when my kids go off the rails. Bear in mind that I have a relatively independent 11 year old and an extremely needy almost-six-year-old. Your needs and results may vary. 

Here are some specifics of what I try to put in my schedule every day. 
  • I need to work out every day. That can be spin bike, weights, or digging out a bed in the garden. Generally my parenting is more on point if I get my workout in earlier in the day.
  • Even though life is crazy, I'm making time to practice the drums every day. I'm not very good and haven't been playing for that long. But I enjoy it; it's "me" time; and it's reasonably physical.
  • My wife and I are insisting that we get 1/2 an hour of time together without the kids every day. We call it "rest time." Sometimes it is "rest" time. Sometimes... you can fill in the blanks. But is helps keep us sane and connected. This is especially important because we are pretty exhausted by the time the kids are in bed at night. 
  • The kids need exercise every day. And, yes, I actually took them to Milton Academy's football field and ran suicides with them at least one day this week. There has also been some gardening, biking, scootering, basketball, walks, and some playground time.
  • I also think it is important to take turns. Thankfully, I was off this week. My wife is in catering sales. So you can imagine what a S-show that has been. But we still managed to switch off a bit so that neither of us was stuck with the kids all day. That way no one gets burned out or resentful. In other words. Don't stop communicating about your needs with your partner. 
  • For most folks I'd say, loosen up the rules about screen time etc. But my kids don't respond well when they get too much screen time. We are letting them watch TV when they are eating breakfast and lunch. And, we are watching fun movies after dinner. We've already watched "School of Rock" and are working on "Back to the Future" now. If I absolutely need a break, I'll go with a cooking show or a Rick Steves with the kids. 
If anyone wants my Excel template for the schedule, just send me an email. Good luck and stay well.



Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts muh,  if at all. Please excuse typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. In my humble opinion, an imperfect post posted is infinitely better than a perfect post that goes unfinished.


Surviving at home with the kids

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In any relationship it's not always the ADHD person's fault

Mar 13, 2020

I work with many ADHD adults who have wonderful marriages / relationships. But I also work with many ADHD adults who have significant relationship struggles. It is well established that ADHD can make things difficult in any partnership, especially a romantic one. Here are a few of the highlights of how your ADHD can lead your relationship down a challenging path.

  • ADHDers often hyperfocus on new "shiny" relationship and set an unrealistic bar for excitement and novelty that can't be sustained for the life of a relationship.
  • Being an executive function disaster certainly has consequences when we're single. But when our lateness, disorganization, forgetfulness, poor time management effect our partner, it's not just our problem anymore. 
  • The more people are involved, the more complex a system is created. You, your partner (who both work,) and two or three kids is a lot of responsibility. If one partner feels like they are shouldering significantly more than half of that responsibility it will likely lead to resentment. 
  • Often ADHDers unintentionally select a partner who compensates for their weaknesses. For example, someone who is super structured and organized and runs their life like the german train system down to the minute. This usually works for a while but often deteriorates into a parent/child dynamic or learned helplessness. If the ADHD partner isn't expect to be organized, they will never learn. And that can become a burden for the non-ADHD partner. 
  • The same dynamic can often lead to resentment for the ADHD partner too. Who wants their wife to nag them just their mom did for 18 years? 
  • Lack of attentiveness in interpersonal interactions, if consistent, can make the not ADHD partner feel unheard, unappreciated, and unvalued. 
Alright, so we've established that it can be a challenge to me married to an ADHD adult. But, if you always assume that every problem that your marriage has is about the ADHD partner and their ADHD, you might be barkin up the wrong tree. As I said, a marriage is a complex system. Problems are, more often than not, more than the "fault" of one person. The neurotypical person needs to have realistic expectation for the ADHD partner. 

What I see a lot in my practice are ADHD partners who work really hard to address their weaknesses. And, in some cases, whatever they do doesn't seem to be enough for their partner. Often this is because the partner has decided that all the problems are about the ADHD and aren't willing to look at themselves and consider that they contribute to some of the relationship struggles. The things I see most often are anxiety, depression, and control issues with the non-ADHD partners. Perhaps people who run like the German train system are doing it because they are anxious or are perfectionists. 

Anyway, my point is that when a relationship is challenged or even broken, it's often not just one person's fault. Keep working on your ADHD issues, but don't assume everything is your fault.



Standard Disclaimer:  In an effort to foil my own perfectionist tendencies, I do not edit my posts muh,  if at all. Please excuse typos, mistakes, grammatical errors, or awkward phrasing. I focus on getting my content down. In my humble opinion, an imperfect post posted is infinitely better than a perfect post that goes unfinished.



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Lasting relationships

Mar 6, 2020

I was talking with a client today about relationships/mariage. And I articulated something that I don't think I've said in such a clear and concise way. So I wanted to pass it along.  

It is my opinion that much of the success of long lasting relationships has to do with finding a way to prioritize things that are of importance to your partner, even if they aren't inherently important to you. Of course this is even harder for ADHDers because we have a hard finding the time or energy for things that we aren't inherently stimulated by. 

As for how to address this... I don't know about you, but I enjoy doing nice things for my wife. And frankly, if you don't enjoy doing nice things for your partner, I'm not sure you should be together. Now you just have to figure out what's "nice" according to her, not necessarily according to you. 

This concept can apply to everything, from the mundane to the monumental. As a small example, maybe starting her car on a cold morning is something that makes her feel loved. You might not care about your car being warm, so you don't want to bother to put your boots and jacket on to do it for her? 

On a larger scale, maybe you both have very different needs on vacation and need to understand each others' points of view to be able to make it a vacation for both of you.



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New resource for parents of ADHD kids

Feb 21, 2020

I saw my ADHD Dr. on Wednesday and he told me about this new texting program that he developed with MGH to help parents manage their kids' ADHD. Anyone can use it. The first month is free. And, it may be available for adults in the future. Please check it out and let me know if you like it.
New resource for parents of ADHD kids
New resource for parents of ADHD kids

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I've only been inside myself.

Feb 16, 2020

When dealing with brain chemistry issues it can be really difficult to know that what we are experiencing isn't "normal." After all, we don't have anything to compare to how we feel. ADHD is particularly hard to identify because it doesn't develop later in life. Depression, for example has an onset. So there is an opportunity to compare how you feel when you are depressed with how you felt before you were depressed. Not to say that that is always easy. But I feel like we, as a society also have a better vocabulary to talk about depression. 

As ADHDers we also get so much negative feedback telling us that we are lazy, unmotivated, not reaching our potential, that it's hard not to internalize at least some of that. I guess my point is that you should trust yourself. How you feel is unique. Don't let anyone tell you it isn't valid. 

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Gaslighting

Feb 4, 2020

As I continue to recover, here's a low hanging fruit post. Great article on ADDitude about Gaslighting... really about how classic abusers operate. I've seen it far to often in my practice. Check out the link.


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