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What is Executive Functioning?


What is Executive Functioning? And How Does it Impact Motherhood?

If you have ADHD or think you have ADHD- this is concept is CRUCIAL to understand. Similarly if your spouse has ADHD, this is a MUST read.

Executive Function is a term used to describe a set of cognitive processes and mental skills that appear to originate in the prefrontal cortex and play an enormous role in how we function on a daily basis.

Those with ADHD often struggle with one or more areas of executive functioning.


These challenges have nothing to do with intelligence but they do have a significant role on our daily lives.

Motherhood in particular requires a lot of executive functioning. Let’s just take a normal school morning getting my three kids ready for school.

  •  Managing time to make sure that you get up early enough, make breakfast and get     everyone dressed on time to leave.
  • Prioritizing what chores to get done that morning depending on what time is left.    Picking out clothes to wear, and making decisions around meals.
  • Trying to remember what they need to bring to school- even if they need the same     things every day, that requires working memory to recall that… then there are those little  details  of where did the water bottle get left? Is today crazy sock day? Do we have an appointment after school?
  • I should unload the dishwasher but I really don’t want to unload the dishwasher. Trying to motivate myself to unload the dishwasher when I have zero internal desire to do that.
  • My youngest is coughing. Is she sick? Or is it allergies? Should I keep her home today    or take her to the dr?

You get the gist. Life takes a lot of executive functioning and if you have ADHD and fundamentally struggle with these mental processes, life will be harder for you IF you expect yourself to function just like everyone else.

This also explains why life gets harder the more kids you add to the mix. More people means more details and more things to manage.

But here’s the 5 things that have helped manage my executive functioning struggles.

  1. Giving myself grace AND learning to be proud of myself for doing hard things. If you don’t have internal motivation, you need extrinsic motivation and since no one is going to be giving you a sticker chart anytime soon…. you have to learn to be your own cheerleader. Stop beating up on yourself for your struggles and start celebrating doing the small hard things.
  2. Create externalized visual tools. This is alllll about low tech. Having checklists means that your brain has less to think about and less decisions to make which means you’ll have more mental energy for other things. These need to be checklists that you can use over and over again and that can guide on low energy days. Make your own or get my E-book and Canva template pack.  
  3. Focus on no more than 2-3 areas of executive functioning at a time. You aren’t a robot and can’t change everything at once. And you’ll need to find your own unique accommodations and ways of addressing those struggles. That will take time and tweaking so be okay putting some things on the back burner while you do that.
  4. Embrace automation to strategically reduce the ongoing demand for executive functioning. Each thing you have to decide about your life… what to cook for dinner, activities to attend, where you vacation, how you celebrate birthdays… these decisions all take mental energy. As I’ve created systems and automation for most areas of my life over time, I’ve gained so much mental energy back. Daily life is no longer mentally draining because I have a plan that I can live out without having to reinvent the wheel every day.
  5. Embrace redundancy. I don’t expect one tool or strategy to be the magic bullet. I need all of the things. My checklists all work together and overlap but together they’ve helped me to really get a grasp on managing my time and energy. I also have alarms synced to my computer, phone, watch and my electronic calendar.

I talk through the impacts of Executive Functioning on home management  in detail in my free training. If you haven't yet watched it, register here!


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