Though they may insist otherwise, children with ADHD desperately need and often thrive with reliable daily routines — particularly in the morning and at bedtime. Why? Many children with ADHD exhibit executive function deficits, which means they have a hard time organizing tasks in their minds — making it difficult to figure out how much time it will take to brush their teeth, take a bath, or choose an outfit.
Systems and structure don’t come naturally to your child with ADHD. And if you have ADHD, too, you know that it takes a lot of work to keep track of all life’s details. To ease the burden, here are helpful strategies for creating structure in your home so each day doesn’t feel like a whole new scattered experience.
And stick to them! The series of tasks needed to get you out the door should remain consistent from one day to the next. To reduce morning stress, you may need to get clothes and lunch ready the night before. Think about setting bowls and spoons on the table to minimize morning confusion, too. To keep things moving, assign a time limit to each task, such as 5 minutes to get dressed, 5 minutes to brush teeth and hair, 20 minutes for breakfast, 5 minutes to gather backpack, lunch box and put on shoes.
Do the same for the bedtime routine. Start it at the same time each night, and go through the series of events in the same order so nothing is forgotten. This doesn’t only apply to your children. As the adult, choose your clothes the night before and place them in the same spot every night. Choose your accessories and have them ready for the morning. Do the same with your keys, shoes and jacket.
The Woes of Homework
Homework is a dreaded word. Just the thought of homework makes children and parents alike shudder. Yet, it is a reality with which we must contend. After school, allow your child to decompress for 30-45 minutes and then it’s time to get down to work. Help your child choose a fun activity to do once homework is completed. This will help your child work steadily and with motivation to complete the assignment.
Use a whiteboard to write down all the assignments due the next day. Cross off or erase each one as it is completed to gain a sense of accomplishment and forward movement. Use a bigger whiteboard to keep track of upcoming assignments, events, and activities for the month. Color-code it — academic stuff is written in green and fun stuff is in red!
Losing motivation? Set a timer and let your child work against the timer. This also sets a finite amount of time to an assignment that your child feels like will ‘never end!’
The ADHD Homework System We Swear By
Consistency, Consistency, Consistency
Engaging in the same strategies or routines means that ultimately you don’t have to think about it — you just do it! Starting and stopping routines doesn’t help you feel grounded, but rather uncertain and forgetful… not a good feeling! If you would like to set up a different routine for the weekend and school breaks, that’s great, but otherwise, stick to the routine you’ve created. It will pay off!
Creating a daily routine provides the external organization children with ADHD need to focus, manage their time, and wind down without stress.