There are many schedules out there for moms of ADHD children. But what about moms who have ADHD themselves?
We know that a consistent schedule is helpful for everyone, and is especially helpful when raising young children. But schedules for ADHD moms are tough to find—after all, people with ADHD aren’t necessarily “schedule people.”
If you’re anything like me, you have a love hate relationship with schedules. You hate following them although you love how efficient you are when you actually stick with them.
Over the years I’ve tried many different schedules. I usually spent a long time printing out cute labels to go with said schedules and agonized over the tinniest details. And when I finally tried following the schedule in question, I failed.
Sometimes on Day 1.
For a myriad of brain reasons—lack of motivation, procrastination, poor time management, etc. —schedules can be maddeningly difficult to follow for adults with ADHD.
When you’re a parent, the frustration may be coupled with guilt. Guilt because you know that schedules are important for children. This is even more of a truism if your own children have ADHD.
So, what’s the solution? How can moms with ADHD add structure and routine to their children’s lives successfully?
The Sandwich Schedule for ADHD Moms
I’ve found the the simpler I keep things, the more likely I am to follow-through. And over thinking systems doesn’t work. So, here is a very simple schedule for ADHD moms and younger kids. (When I say younger, I mean kids that still spend a lot of their time with and near you.)
It is perfect for moms who have a difficult time transitioning to less preferred activities or moms who tend to fixate on a few areas and ignore others. (Anyone out there know what I’m talking about??!)
Let me walk you through it quickly.
First, Pick your Anchors
What we’re going to do is anchor activities to nonnegotiables.
Meal times are good for this since everyone has to eat. So, let’s use an example of 3 meals plus a snack time.
I added in wake-up/bedtime since those are perfect opportunities to use this strategy as well. (The free download below offers several schedule templates.)
Second, Sandwich your Anchors Starting with Non-Child Activities
Now you’re going to pick an activity that will be done before and after each of these meal times—this will total 8 activities.
Let’s start with no child activities. Pick 4 activities that you want/need to do.
These shouldn’t be very long activities (30-45 min max) and they should be the most important ones for the day—the ones you want to be sure to get done. Some examples: exercise, rest, work, house chores, mindfulness breaks, etc. (I like to write down my meals, too!)
Third, Choose your Child Activities
Now you’re going to do the same thing but you will choose the most important activities you want to do with your child. OR, this may be an activity that you simply need to be involved in even if you aren’t directly interacting with your child.
This is where you will plan the activities that you want to prioritize such as being outdoors, reading, talking to grandma, practicing the ABCs, playing, etc.
And that’s it. If you stick with the same activities at the same time (with a little variation to keep it interesting), you’ll get used to pairing your meals with certain activities.
But Watch Out For These Schedule for ADHD Mom Fails
There are a few details that make this plan more likely to stick. Here they are:
1. Be Mindful of Preferred Activities
Do not plan activities you do not enjoy sandwiched together. If you dread exercising and you plan that before lunch and then after lunch you plan to read to your child and you dislike that activity as well, you are more likely to drop the schedule altogether.
2. Keep Activities Short
Keep many of the activities to a minimum time. Several of these activities should be 15 minutes or less. You MAY decide to do an activity a bit longer but consider yourself DONE once you’ve reached that 15 minute mark. This is also a good way to build consistent routines (exercising, cleaning, checking your bank account) in very small doses.
3. Keep Prep Time & Clean Up Time Short
Keep your meals simple or prepare food beforehand (or have your partner prep) so that there is only a small delay between your before food activity and the eating itself. The same holds true for clean-up: make clean-up quick before starting in to the next activity.
4. Be Flexible
Unless it works for you, don’t schedule a set time for everything to start/finish with. Just know that after lunch, you’ll do this and right before you get dinner ready, you’ll do that. No need to schedule clock time to these activities unless other people are involved.
5. Adjust as Necessary
Be okay skipping something if it just won’t work out…but consider adjusting your schedule if you find that happening a lot.
6. Schedule Down Time
Be okay scheduling in time to do nothing or to sleep or to just sit. That is TOTALLY fine!
Examples that Don’t Work
Because efficient scheduling is challenging – just ask any school administrator in charge of logistics!—let’s look at some schedules that are more likely to fail and why.
But real quickly, before we do, keep in mind that these are things to think about, not set in stone. You may want to do something totally different or may be able to make my “fail” examples work for you. If so, great! You do you!
A Few Examples of a Sandwich Schedule that Helps with Balance
Make the Sandwich Planner Work for You
There are endless ways in which you can tweak the sandwich planner. This is a basic one for times when you are spending many hours during the day with your child and need a routine so they know what to expect.
I’d love to know if this system works for you!