Order: The ADHD Dilemma


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Welcome to Day 3 of our 31 Day Challenge! You can find the entire index here.



So what is it about having ADHD that makes order so hard to get and maintain?

Well, quite a few things actually. Here are some of them, in no particular order.

We have poor short term memory, which means we often forget where we put something. It’s usually either in a “safe place” that we can no longer find, or it’s left out in plain sight so that we can see it.

The problem with that is that when you leave too many things out “in plain sight”, they disappear into a messy pile and you can’t see much of anything.

books It looks as though there might be some mail I intended to save in that pile, along with a notebook that I bought to help me stay organized.

Not very effective.

Now this picture is of a minor mess. Imagine an entire desktop, countertop, or other surface overflowing with stuff.

You can see how hard it would be to find anything at all.

What often happens in this case when we try to restore order is that we rush into it and often throw out important things.

When I was first married, I spent an afternoon destroying – by hand since I did not have a shredder – all of my checks from when I was single and all of my husbands as well. In my enthusiasm, I also destroyed all of the ones we had just gotten with our joint account.

It happens more than we like to admit.

Another way that ADHD interferes with order has to do with our inability to make a decision.

We are perfectionists, even if our homes and handbags do not look like it, and we want to do everything just right.

It makes sense. We have a lot of experience in things going awry or just plain failing; we always have high hopes and good intentions when we start any project, but then our ADHD and lack of decision making skills kicks in.

Because we want things to be just right this time, we waffle back and forth over the decisions to be made. Because it has to be perfect and we have to be right.

In the end, you are still left with a mess or a poorly done project because you had to slap something together at the last minute.

Almost everyone who has ADHD has a parent with it as well. For me, it was my mother.

My mom was a wonderful woman, but how could she possibly pass skills like time management and organization on to me when she struggled with them as well?

And it’s not just us.

Many of us live with people who are not neat by nature.

Maybe, like me, they were not taught such skills. As a mom with ADHD, how much did I have to pass on to my own children about keeping things neat and orderly? I tried, I still do, but I can’t help but wonder if kids who have an ADHDD (ADHD Deficit – they don’t have ADHD) mom are at an advantage.

So if you have no skills to teach your family when it comes to organization, you end up with an enormous mess and a very chaotic life.


My sweet grandson, who can make a mess at grandma’s house any time he wants. 🙂

But consider this young man’s mother, my daughter.

If you’ve had children, you know how much mess a 2 year old can make in no time. And it’s not just the children, it’s the adults too.

So my daughter, who has ADHD and a mom with ADHD, does her best to keep her home neat and under control. But she’s fighting an uphill battle, as you might be also.

Does that mean you have to resign yourself to living this way?

Not at all.

You can learn skills and techniques to keep things orderly.

You can reduce the amount of stuff you have, which will instantly make things better.

And believe it or not, you can help your family learn to change their behaviors in order to help change all of your lives.

Order doesn’t have to be an ADHD dilemma. We can learn and we can change.

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Lacy Estelle

Lacy Estelle is the writer of Lacyestelle.com and the Podcast host for An ADD Woman.

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