ADHD Lifesavers


colored wads of paper on head. ADHD. Des Moines MomADHD. I have it. I waited my entire life to find out. For thirty-eight years, part of my self-understanding lay dormant. 

I was diagnosed ADHD in January, but had been questioning if I had it eight months prior. One of my children had been diagnosed November of 2020. Since that diagnosis, I took a deep dive into what is ADHD and how does it affect my child.

As I did my research I began to wonder if I too was neurodivergent. Turns out this is how women are commonly diagnosed. First, their child is tested, then months later their parent is tested then diagnosed. Sadly, women go undiagnosed for years where many men are diagnosed as children. 

ADHD is a neurological brain condition that makes it more challenging to prioritize, focus, and plan.

Other symptoms of ADHD are impulsivity, poor time management skills, restlessness, too much activity, and low frustration tolerance. 

I am grateful for those who have gone before me and my child. There are many open books on the subject – both literally and figuratively. 

I also want to make mention that many people with ADHD are incredibly creative, artistic, and out-of-the-box thinkers. Many are great entrepreneurs. Once ADHD is acknowledged and treated, personal evolution is possible.

Over the last few months, I have taken note of what has been life-saving for me regarding me and my ADHD. Even if you don’t have ADHD, these life hacks, if you will, might be helpful to consider regardless.

ADHD Life Hacks

Menstrual Time Blocks

I’m almost thirty-nine years old and just now figuring out how to better structure my time. I want to find what works for me and what doesn’t, rather than go against the grain of my body and mind. For many years I pushed myself too hard because otherwise, I felt I wasn’t enough. This led to burnout, mood swings, resentments, and self-sabotage. 

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with painful, exhausting periods. During my PMS days, I experience extreme anger and sadness. Then two days into my period I am nothing but a bag of bones, no will to move or converse. 

I found out that ADHD and PMS can be a mega nightmare combination. Since women with ADHD already struggle with serotonin and dopamine levels, those levels are dropped even more during PMS. Mood swings can become a major factor. This has been the truth for me all of my adult life. This information has become a saving grace for me. I now have a better understanding of what my body is doing. I know it’s not something I should try and push through.

In the past, I haven’t taken the time to schedule life events around my menstrual cycle. I didn’t consider the toll taken on me by my own body. Over the last few months, I have been scheduling appointments and events around my menstrual cycle.

This might be more challenging to do if your period dates fluctuate. I have a pretty consistent twenty-eight-day cycle. I have started blocking out the two days prior to my period and two days into my period. This means I will allow myself four days of rest. I make sure to be extra present with my kids, cuddling on the couch binge-watching shows or movies. If I feel like being productive, I make sure to have work I can accomplish from the couch. 

To keep track of my menstrual cycle, I  recommend the Clue App. It also lets you keep track of your moods, exercise, skin, sex life, etc. It’s a great way to see the times of the month you have the most energy and the times you need to slow down.

Clever Fox Weekly Planner

I keep track of my period on the Clue App as well as by writing it down in a planner. I’m a bit old school. I like to write pencil to paper rather than type out my schedule. I associate writing with purging my mind. Typing doesn’t do it for me.

I love the Clever Fox Planner because it includes monthly and weekly calendars, as well as pages dedicated to reviewing each month. Questions like What were your biggest wins? Or What tasks were not accomplished and why? Can be found on the monthly review pages of the planner.

On the weekly calendar portion of the planner, you can find a space for the main goal of the week, priorities, habits/skills, along with This week’s wins and How I’ll improve next week. 

I have heard amazing reviews about the store Copy + Past in Des Moines. I want to delve into their planners for neurodivergent humans. They have every kind of planner you can think of along with crafts, gifts, home decor, and more. 

Group Accountability

Before I had kids I created collages all of the time. I made creative gifts for my friends and even some party and wedding invitations for friends and family. After having children I shut the door to that part of myself. It wasn’t the kids’ fault, but a slew of things. I needed to come to terms with my drinking issues and some mental health diagnoses. One of those diagnoses being ADHD.

I have found that people with ADHD can be all-or-nothing thinkers. This is me. In terms of creating art, I felt if I couldn’t dedicate a lot of time to it then I shouldn’t create at all.

When January of 2022 hit, I felt the urge to follow some kind of plan. I didn’t want to set resolutions, but I did want to progress in some aspect of my life. Then I remembered a book sitting on my shelf, The Artist’s Way. The book’s premise is about reclaiming creativity as a lifestyle.

The book contains a 12-week course including chapters and ideas. After refreshing myself on what the book was about I decided I would like to work the course with others. So I went to social media, posted a story inquiring if others might be interested, and boom, a group was created. 

The process of reading this book, actively creating, and meeting with a group of people who desire the same reclamation of creativity has been revitalizing. The process is slowly helping me to create self-care habits and giving me a more creative outlook.

Those of us with ADHD need accountability. I have found a significant pattern in my life. Whenever I am involved in group work, I work harder and better. If all I have is myself, I get lost in my overthinking and time management fiascos. I need a framework for my goals. In order for me to be successful, this framework includes accountability on some level.

Weekly Budgeting

Each Saturday my husband and I go over the week’s spending. Each year my husband and I set a budget then try and stick to it. My husband is a spreadsheet wizard and I’m good at telling him where all the money went. 

Our weekly budget meeting is a great way to keep track of what we value vs. what we want to value. As our family continues to evolve, so do our financial goals. Without this weekly meeting of the minds, we’d be a little lost on what matters to us as individuals, as a couple, and as parents. We are a continual work in progress!

Fly Lady App

I have been following The Fly Lady for six years. Over two decades ago Marla Cilley created The Fly Lady system. Marla thought up a great system for adults to keep their homes and personal lives on track. I was giddy when I found it!

Marla has you covered on how to get started. She makes the overwhelming process of cleaning a home, keeping it organized, and making time for self-care doable. Her step-by-step approach reminds me of the saying “Do the next right thing.” 

Recently I discovered The Fly Lady app. After years of printed Fly Lady checklists filling endless binders (lists I’d lose because out of sight out of mind) I have an app that makes checking tasks much easier.

The Fly Lady app is organized into a morning routine, afternoon routine, and evening routine. The Fly Lady maps our homes into zones. For example, one week you might be working in the laundry room and the children’s rooms. Each routine and zone includes a  checklist. Once I check a task the task disappears which is very satisfying!

Prior to therapy, diagnoses, and medication, I would feel like a failure if I didn’t check every item on my list. Now I’m able to give myself grace regarding the tasks I’m capable of accomplishing each day. Let’s be real, the to-do list is never-ending. 

I also want to mention a decluttering podcast I absolutely adore called A Slob Comes Clean. Go listen to Dana White! She’s an ADHD decluttering expert and never seems to run out of content.

Last but not least. In fact, MOST important!


I’ve been in therapy for six years. Therapy has been the space I’ve deconstructed the layers of who I thought I was. It has helped me find my values leaving behind the ones I was taught. 

Because of therapy, I have become a better parent, empathetic daughter, a more communicative partner, a sober woman. I have also developed tools for managing anxiety. And in recent months, I am learning how to manage and give creative life to my ADHD brain. 

I am grateful for a therapist who offers me a framework for decision making, time management, and self-care. If I hadn’t put in the work with a therapist I would not be where I am today. Instead, I might be divorced, drunk, or dead! 

So go find a therapist! You might need to go through one or two to find the connection you need. But oh, it’s so worth your time. Years down the line you’ll look back and see how much your therapist helped you find YOU!

I hope these ADHD life hacks were helpful whether or not you have ADHD! Cheers to continual self-evolution and expression. 


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