The problem with having it all is that you have to organise it all! There are millions of us working mums out there trying to manage our families, show up to work with our ‘whole selves’, maintain our friendships and some semblance of a social life and trying to make it look like it’s easy. For those of us with ADHD there’s a whole load of extra hurdles to jump over as well. I don’t know about you, but this stuff does not come easy to me! How are you supposed to prioritise whether to load the dishwasher or read the kids’ school books when the evening is so short?! And why do school send SO MANY EMAILS?
I’ve put together some tips which I use to help keep all the plates spinning….
1. Get help.
This is really easy to say and REALLY hard to do. The mum guilt kicks in big time for me if I’m even contemplating this, however it’s essential and necessary and if you don’t you are very likely to just fall over with exhaustion. The biggest thing I do here is pay through the nose for a cleaner. I hate doing this because I ‘should’ be able to do it myself but honestly, I hate housework and I like having a clean house and the two are not compatible! Also, it forces me to tidy up before they come, otherwise there would be no floor for them to hoover, win win!
The other things that I think are important to get help with centre around childcare when you are not working (shocking I know). You are a person as well and you need a break from time to time. My kids actually enjoy going to after school club so that’s an easy sell. Other options are playdates with friends (you can return the favour if you’re feeling brave) and help from relatives.
2. Work out what you need to do to decompress and actually make time to do it.
So, you’ve finally agreed to get Grandma to take the kids at the weekend but what do you actually do with your free day? Sorting the washing pile is not the answer, or not for me anyway. How we decompress varies a lot from person to person. For some it’s meeting friends and getting a bit social. For some it’s having some alone time. I actually really value (and need) both of these things but when I’m feeling overwhelmed, I just want to be left alone. With very young kids (I have three) this is rare and if I don’t factor in some alone time I’m not fun to be around which really isn’t good for any of us. Try and think about how you decompress and then you can put it into practice.
3. Delegate some stuff.
It’s easy to try and do everything and it’s not usually necessary. For me, it really helps if the stuff that I’m delegating is the same every day. For example, I really try to get everything ready for school the night before because I can get a bit headless chicken in the mornings and the less I have to think about the better. So, my husband gets the bookbags and water bottles ready and I sort the uniform. It means we both know what we’re doing and it’s less likely to get forgotten.
4. Build your community.
I was absolutely convinced for a long time that everyone else was finding all the life admin that comes with the elusive work/life balance easy. This is SO not true. This is hard stuff for everyone but if you have ADHD you will likely need a little more help. Some absolute genius in my son’s reception class started a WhatsApp group for the parents. It saves my actual life at least once a week. The parents on there use it to remind each other of school events, when we need to bring stuff in, non uniform days, inset days and all the other curveball stuff that seems to be designed to trip up us working mums. Somebody will always screenshot an email that I’ve forgotten to read and there is generally a chorus of “thank you so much, I’d completely missed that!”. This is doubly good because it makes me feel better about myself and reminds me to do the thing. It doesn’t have to be the whole class but think about setting up a group of a few parents and you can work together. Or just organise trips to drink cocktails which is also VERY important!
5. Write everything down.
I really think I’ll be able to remember all the stuff but I just can’t! There’s too much going on in my head to remember which family member is doing what at any one time. It sounds really simple but you need a family planner. One box for everyone (we have a dog/sheep/rabbits box as well, don’t ask!) and everything goes on there. So when the WhatsApp heroes above tell me that we need baking stuff on Wednesday it gets written on the calendar straight away. I know that I’m very now or never, and now seems preferable. We also have a big blackboard in the kitchen with a shopping list and to do list on, along with some random doodles and lots of drawings of cats (my 8 year old daughter is currently a bit obsessed). If it’s written down in one of these places it’s much more likely to get done and the more visible it is the better.
So, that’s how I’m getting by at the moment! Not all of these tips will work for everyone (we all work differently after all) but give them a go and see what works for you.
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