Some of my colleagues and friends seem impressed with my blog. It may not be the sparkling content, either. A comment I hear from family and friends is, ‘Wow, how do you have time to do that?” This year I took on a new leadership role at my school. I’m doing more at work than I’ve ever done and at this exact time, I chose to release my blog to the world. The truth is, though, I’m not drained.
The Juggling Act
I’m juggling a lot of balls at work, and at home because I share care of my three children with my husband. We don’t do daycare, but we send the toddlers to part-time nursery school a few days per week. The two-year-old deserves her own special caregiver, in all honesty. She’s the most beautiful piece of work I’ve ever met! When I come home, my time is for my children. I engage with them, talk about their days, sing nursery rhymes, and go for bike rides to the park.
So, how am I managing this? There were YEARS when I never finished all the laundry at one time. In fact, the first time I ever finished the laundry in my house (not including summers) was during the DC Blizzard of 2009. We were out of school for 2 weeks. I had no excuse not to get it done. With untreated ADHD, how did I manage to finish college? And then have a baby and complete grad school? Those were easy–when the goal was close to fulfillment, my motivation kicked in. However, once graduate school was completed and I started my teaching career, things got hard.
Although being a teacher is a good fit for an ADHDer, I still had difficulties. My poor attention to detail and my lack of planning skills hurt me and it hurt my students. In my first year, I was only 40 minutes ahead of my students in lesson preparation. In following years I made too few copies or misplaced a quiz (once or twice). I got better by reading books, but I had many “survival days.”
Life as a mentee
Once I was in my teaching “comfort zone” I realized I wasn’t going to get better without two things: knowledge, and firsthand information from someone who knew what they were doing. Enter S. S, AKA, my work mom, was and still is my friend and mentor. When I was fed up with a student or a situation at work, I sought out her advice. She also had a son with special needs and gave honest feedback about my concerns for B. When I questioned whether to build out my house, take up a new union job, or send my son to private school, I looked for her. When my stepsister was tragically killed in a car accident, I ran into her classroom with tears streaming down my face and said, “Can you talk?” S left her students in the capable hands of a para-educator and sat me down for a hug. I never felt lost in my career or my life. I knew if I had a question, I could ask and S would listen.
As an ADHDer, I’ve begun to realize how much I lean on mentors and friends. Besides the human connection piece, if you really want to get something done, you need to be accountable. S is not going to let me down, but, more importantly, she won’t let me let myself down. If you want to get better at what you’re doing, FIND A MENTOR. Seek out someone who has done it before. She’ll be better than you, have more advice for you, and won’t let you fall unless that’s the kind of wake-up call you need.
For this blog, I also sought out a mentor. Ms. Money Montana‘s blog connected with me on a personal level. I was inspired by a woman who had accomplished things I too wanted to accomplish. The way she thought about life and described her beliefs around money, family and values were so in-sync with my own that I had to reach out to her. So, I did.
I chose to blog about my experiences with ADHD and my son’s experiences in public school. I had a goal of a blog with 1,000 plus followers. I was going to change the world for ADHD families! I would show how I helped my own family, celebrate success and failure, reach out and touch hearts with my words and my hopes for a calmer future. My struggles were self-doubt and lack of action. In order to do what I set out to do with the blog, I had to write. I had to have ideas and put them into words. Then, I had to edit the words so what I wrote truly captured my ideas and my story. In the first few weeks of mentor calls with Ms. Money Montana, I was a pure ADHD procrastinator. I sent her 500-600 word articles the night before OR THE DAY OF our evening mentor call. And Ms. Montana took it all in stride. She had her plan, figured out how to reach me, got me on course, and this blog was born.
If you’re an ADHDer and you want to get more done than you ever thought possible–FIND A MENTOR. Make yourself accountable to your goal and the sky is the limit.
Life as a Mentor
Luckily, I’ve also had the joy of mentoring about 7 new teachers in my life. One teacher, I encouraged to leave the profession, and she did. Others have been listened to, lifted up, emotionally supported, or just helped to pass a Praxis exam. Every experience I’ve had mentoring a teacher has enriched my own career experience. It reminds me of what it’s like to be new at something. It allows me to connect and fulfills my yearning to help others in a meaningful way. If you feel like you’re stuck in a life-rut or a comfort zone, seek out a mentor! Your possibilities are endless!
Has mentoring helped you with ADHD symptoms? Have you considered a mentor for yourself or your child? Please comment below.