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Embracing Your Limits: Why ADHD Moms Overcommit and How to Stop

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I struggled for years with overcommitting which over time led to some pretty significant challenges for my relationships and family.

As a single person, overcommitting leads to stress and being late but it's a whole other ball game when little people are depending on you.

Like so many challenges associated with ADHD, we tend to turn inward first and think it's a character flaw. 

But learning how this tendency was connected to my ADHD has helped me course correct in a big way.

Why are we prone to Overcommit as Women with ADHD?

We like to make people happy which isn't necessarily a bad thing!  Making other people happy means a dopamine boost for our brain and we love dopamine. Saying "yes" feels way better than saying "no" and it can easily by become our default.  When this happens, I recommend owning it right away. 

Ex. “I was so excited you asked me but I actually need to discuss with my spouse before I can commit. Will you please check back with me in a few days?”

We Just Plain Forget! If you struggle with working memory, you might forget that you have conflicting plans. I know this sounds like a lame excuse but working memory is a real struggle for many with ADHD. It's like our brain just completely forgets that other obligations exist. And no, writing it down in a planner is not as helpful as you might think. That won't always help because sometimes in the moment it's hard for us to think clearly to make a decision especially if we are in a public setting with kids. I find it is more helpful to ask for an email or text with the details before committing to anything especially if I'm in mom mode during the conversation.

We Make It a Future Me Problem. Sometimes we'll even intentionally double book ourselves knowing full well we can't do both things but we just don't have the mental energy to troubleshoot the time conflict right then. So instead, we make it a problem for "future me". I did this for a long time but I've gotten a much better grasp on my capacity for adding extra things to my plate. I now take on far fewer things and my life has a very predictable rhythm so that when a conflict does happen, I have the capacity to make any needed changes. 

We Crave Novelty.  It is way more fun to say yes to the new random, exciting thing than to do our normal, daily, boring life. Our brains need challenge, stimulation and novelty. This is GOOD but it can also get us in trouble. What has helped me more than anything is intentionally pursuing novelty in small manageable ways on a regular basis.  If I'm not giving myself permission to read fun books, watch movies or learn new skills... this need for novelty will show up in ways that derail and distract me.

Chaos is Comfortable. Many are just used to the chaotic pace of life and don't know how to slow down. That feels boring and predictable. This chaos begins to take a toll especially when you add in the obligations of raising a family. I was stuck in the 24/7 hustle for years but it took a massive toll. It was comfortable but it wasn't healthy. I was trying to do life like I saw others around me doing it but ultimately, that didn't work for me. I need permission to find a pace and rhythm to my life that worked well for me. I need to slow down my life and lower my expectations so that I have margin for when life inevitably brought chaos. Therapy definitely helped me process my feeling and unpack what works best for me.

Time Blindness. We genuinely think we are able to accomplish more than is humanly possible. We don't have a good grasp on how much time and energy we need to fulfill our current obligations. This isn't a character flaw, it is how our brains are wired. Time-blocking and having a realistic daily and weekly rhythm has helped me get an accurate grasp on my time. This has by far been the most impactful tool for me in managing my ADHD. My expectations of my time and my energy is incredibly high and I've had to learn ways to visualize my time so that I don't overcommit or overextend myself.

Masking. We are really aware of what others are doing and feel obligated to keep up appearances that we are just as capable and able as them. Saying no just doesn’t feel like an option. For me, this has been the hardest habit to unlearn and is an ongoing daily work of leaning in to what works for me and my family. My family life looks different than others around me and especially from many I see on the internet but I'm learning to really, really love that.

I'm here to tell you that if your tendency is to overcommit and overextend, you aren't alone! And you aren't without hope. If I can change, so can you! :)

Join my course and community Master the Mundane and let me teach you how to understand your capacity and embrace your unique needs as a mom with ADHD.



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