Driven to Distraction!

By Katherine Smith
Katherine Smith
Katherine Smith
is a licensed marriage and family therapist as well as a gifted divorce mediator in NYC. She is a former high school English teacher and college counselor with a passion for enhancing the lives of others. Additionally, Katherine has extensive training in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples, family systems, and group therapy. Readers can contact her at AskKathyMFT@gmail.com.
October 16, 2013 Updated: April 24, 2016

Dear Kathy,

     I have two great kids and  I love them to death. The problem is that  all three of us have ADD. I try as hard as I can to be organized and patient but no matter what I do my family life drives me crazy on a daily basis.

     I love them and hate myself for being so impatient but I just can’t take it anymore. I spend hours every day after coming home from a long day’s work picking up after them, helping them find lost items from keys to textbooks, and breaking up wrestling matches between them. 

     I never get any help or even emotional support from my sister who lives down the block. She just comes over and criticizes me. Her idea of help is giving me organizational tips. I feel like slapping her whenever she opens her mouth. I feel totally burnt out and hopeless.

Seeking Sanity

 

Dear Seeking,

     I hear your pain and I welcome you to my planet. I struggle with severe ADHD myself as do some of my children. The organizational challenges can be daunting at times.

     I strongly suggest that you assess the mess. By that, I mean that you inventory the specific areas of your life which are causing you the highest degrees of burn-out. Then, address them in order of priority. 

     In my case, clutter and disorganization were the two culprits that caused me the most stress. Clutter’s Last Stand and How to Make Your House Do the Housework, both by Don Aslett, helped to tame our living environment.

      Driven to Distraction and Delivered From Distraction, both by Dr. Hallowell (a psychiatrist with ADHD himself), educated me regarding ADD/ADHD symptomology and how to succeed in spite of it. Finally, healthy self-care and a good dose of grace for my foibles, as well as my children’s, has helped most of all.  At the end of the day, does it really matter if we eat dinner at the kitchen counter instead of the dining room table, too piled high with clean, unsorted laundry to be utilized?

     I think of my dying mother’s response to the rabbi’s question, “you are almost 80 years old, Dr. Baum. What have you learned in all those years?” I will never forget her answer – “I learned that big things are big things and small things are small things. I wish I had learned that earlier in my life.” 

     Sitting at a kitchen counter instead of a table every so often to share a good meal with my loved ones is definitely not worth losing any sleep over. I suggest that you spend your time between work and bed enjoying your kids as much as you can. They grow up fast. 

     For practical help, I suggest a good friend, cleaning lady, professional organizer, and/or ADD coach. As for support, I suggest that you contact CHADD. It’s a national support network for adults and children with ADD/ ADHD.

Good luck,

Kathy

Readers, please give this mom your feedback. An encouraging word goes a long way, for all of us. Send your letters to AskKathyMFT@gmail.com. It is my pleasure to hear from you!

 

                 

      

    

is a licensed marriage and family therapist as well as a gifted divorce mediator in NYC. She is a former high school English teacher and college counselor with a passion for enhancing the lives of others. Additionally, Katherine has extensive training in Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) for couples, family systems, and group therapy. Readers can contact her at AskKathyMFT@gmail.com.