"As a parent with ADHD, I refuse to dwell on all my perceived mistakes and inadequacies."

I am a mum.

You know, the person who is supposed to be organised, stay on top of everything and of course be responsible. Instead, my kids have ended up with this strange creature who is forever distracted, forgets when it’s bedtime and who constantly burns the dinner.

You see, I have ADHD, primarily the inattentive type. This means that while I would desperately like to be a mature and responsible adult, sometimes my brain refuses to co-operate.

I currently have 20 browser tabs open in my brain, am surrounded by washing I was supposed to fold yesterday and am desperately trying to remember if my appointment is today or next week.

Some days I am in a state of high anxiety. Did I feed the cat? Where is my phone? Did I give my daughter her school excursion money? What time do I even start work this week? Sh*t! I think I left the heater on!

Some people appreciate my quirks. “Your mum is so much fun!” My daughter’s friends tell her as she rolls her eyes and tells me to stop lip syncing to Brittany Spears before she disowns me.

Some people don’t appreciate them at all. My now adult son likes to constantly remind me that I am almost 40 and that I need to grow up.

adult ADHD parenting motherhood
Vanessa with her son and daughter. Image: Supplied.

We often read about children diagnosed with ADHD, but not so much about mothers and the daily struggle they face. We all know that being a mother is hard but when you throw ADHD and all its symptoms into the mix, it can be downright overwhelming.

According to ADHD Australia, adults with ADHD inattentive type are often distracted, forgetful and disorganised. This can lead to other mental health issues such as anxiety and feelings of hopelessness.

There is still much debate about whether ADHD is a real disorder or something made up by people who have no self-control.


Well-meaning people tell me I just need to stick to a strict schedule and be more disciplined. I usually just nod and smile but in my mind I have already punched them in the face ten times.

I have always obsessed over the negative aspects of my personality and spent years beating myself up over the fact that I wasn’t like other mothers. I spent many nights, wide awake, feeling guilty about how I must be the worse parent in the world.

adult ADHD parenting motherhood
"It can be downright overwhelming." Vanessa knows the joys and hurdles that come with being an parent with ADHD. Image: Supplied.

A few months ago, during a conversation with a friend, she said something that made me stop in my tracks.

“I wish I wasn’t so serious as a mum and could have fun like you do, all I do is stress over mess and getting everything done.”

Wait. What? I was incredulous. Why on earth would anyone want to be like me? In that moment I had a sudden realisation that I had spent all these years in a cloud of guilt when really, I should have tried to see all the ways having an ADHD brain made me a more interesting parent.

This led to a conversation with my daughter who confessed that while I drive her crazy, she loved my parenting style and wouldn’t change it.

I look back and remember all the times I was bored and would announce, “Let’s go on an adventure!” I never had any idea where we would go but it always ended up being a great day.

I remember always having a house filled with kids. Other parents would question my sanity, but I had so much fun braiding hair, dancing around the house and playing dress ups.

Speaking about parenting, these are things mums never say:

I flick through photos from the time I decided to quit my job and travel through Europe and the USA for two months with my then 11-year-old.

Sure, we had some mishaps. I lost her passport in Zurich, blew up my hair straightener in New York and forgot to book accommodation in Paris. Despite all of this, the memories we made will last a lifetime.


I’m the mum who thinks it’s a great idea to bake a cake at 11pm or eat dessert before dinner. I always have a joke ready, am laid back and mess doesn’t phase me. Five hundred toys on the floor? No problem, we can clean them up tomorrow. Dishes need doing? They can wait, let’s paint a canvas. You want friends over? Sure! Invite them all. I will get pizza and do their makeup.

It’s taken me a long time to get to this point of self-acceptance, of embracing the chaos that is me and appreciating the fact that ADHD makes me a more creative and interesting parent.

There are ways I try and manage: lists and post it notes, relaxation videos on YouTube and some days just shrugging and embracing the chaos.

adult ADHD parenting motherhood
"I had spent all these years in a cloud of guilt when really, I should have tried to see all the ways having an ADHD brain made me a more interesting parent." Image: Supplied.

My kids have always been fed, clothed, educated and of course loved. They haven’t been abused, starved or mistreated.

It’s our own mind that trips us up and makes us obsess over every little thing. Not anymore. I refuse to sit and dwell on all my perceived mistakes and inadequacies as a parent with ADHD.

If you’re a mum with ADHD, please remember these words:

You are uniquely wonderful, don’t ever doubt yourself, the most amazing gift you have is the ability to see the world through child's eyes.

Now go! Make a fort! Have cookie dough for dinner! Go on an adventure. Have fun. Be the amazing parent you are.

You've totally got this.

Are you a parenting with ADHD? How has it changed your experience as a parent? Tell us in the comments section below. 

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