There are plenty of challenges with an ADHD child. Early on, we realized that parenting was going to be a very active endeavor. Ignoring, by which I mean not actively engaging, a normal child might get you a pout. Ignoring an ADHD child will result in anything from a minor tantrum to a full-on meltdown. Most ADHD children will just ignore your request for privacy/alone time and barge in anyway. And, we learned that leaving your creative ADHD child alone can sometimes result in some interesting problem solving (DIY haircut).
My husband, my daughter and I live in a very small house (750 square feet) with almost no interior doors. For parents of a normal child, trying to get some adult alone time would be challenging. For parents of an ADHD child, this may seem impossible. Without sharing TMI, I’ll just say that we haven’t succumbed to that fate. I’ll explain how we manage to get some privacy and keep our ADHD child happy/occupied.
1 – Stop hiding your romantic life from your kids.It’s completely natural for parents to be affectionate with each other. It’s ok to tell your kid that you need some privacy for a certain amount of time. Your child will benefit from having parents who are connected with each other and happily not frustrated.
2 – Lower your expectations.Obviously you can’t lock yourselves up for hours on end. Save those marathon moments for when your kids are at ballet class or at playdates. To keep connected in the meanwhile, learn the art of the quickie. If it’s hard to get right to it, learn the art of flirting on the smart phone and get things started ahead of time.
3 – Share the fun.I can’t imagine anything more irritating than seeing someone sneak off for a good time while leaving you hanging out with nothing to do. Don’t do this to your child. Create a special “private time” bag with toys for your child to play with when, and only when, mommy and daddy need some privacy.
4 – Be predictable.ADHD kids have no concept of time. Use a kitchen timer so there is an end in sight for your child. Make sure you give yourself enough time. To prevent premature interruptions, you may want to try out this method before actually needing privacy, increasing increments of time until you’re sure you can get your child to give you ample private time.
5 – Leverage TV and computer games.If you can, do not let your ADHD child watch TV or play any video/computer games. TV has this wonderful opiate effect on most kids, even those with ADHD. Combined with the timer, you can usually get an 30 minutes if the child is not accustomed to watching TV or playing video games and can be distracted with it.
6 – Don’t feel guilty.Your child will eventually grow up and have to learn to entertain themselves. Although it seems like you and your partner are the only ones benefiting, enabling your child to occupy themselves independently of other people is a skill they will need when they get older. Help them gain independence now in a familiar setting.
Finally, if you do get private time, make sure you offer rewards and lots of praise if they leave you alone and occupy themselves without destroying the house or themselves.