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I’m a mother with ADHD – staying on top of chores, time-keeping and being patient are all challenges I face


A mother who suffers with Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) has spoken out about the problems that the condition causes for new parents. 

Geraldine Kostrewa, 28, from the south west of England, has described how time-keeping, staying on top of chores, planning parties and managing moods all pose a particular challenge as the parent of a toddler. 

But she has also described how her little one helps her cope. She says her and her four-year-old daughter sometimes even have a ‘brainstorm’ to explain why ‘mummy gets frustrated’.

Geraldine, known as Cherry, says her condition means simple things like household tasks, birthdays and appointments become problematic.

Cherry was first diagnosed with ADHD as a child after teachers became concerned about her lack of attention in class.

Geraldine Kostrewa, 28, from the south west of England, has described the particular problems that ADHD poses for new parents, ranging from time-keeping and staying on top of chores to planning parties and managing moods

Geraldine Kostrewa, 28, from the south west of England, has described the particular problems that ADHD poses for new parents, ranging from time-keeping and staying on top of chores to planning parties and managing moods

Her parents, after stumbling across misinformation about the condition, decided not to seek treatment – and so Cherry was in the dark about her diagnosis until she went to university.

At 23, Cherry felt like her ADHD was under control, and hoped she could carry on without thinking about it too much – until she had her daughter Hannah, who was born four years ago.

After becoming a parent and struggling to cope with increased responsibilities and daily household tasks, she came across a video showing how the condition can affect mothers.

Relieved that she wasn’t alone, Cherry began to consider how ADHD was affecting her parenting – she struggled with managing her time, dealing with fluctuating moods and handling overstimulation.

Now, Cherry, who shares her experience on her social media under the handle @cherry.adhd, has found coping strategies that have helped her to manage her ADHD alongside family life. 

‘I was diagnosed with ADHD at the age of six or seven in Switzerland – my teachers brought it up,’ said Cherry. ‘I didn’t know about my ADHD diagnosis until I was 23 and in university – I suddenly remembered having all these tests done, so I asked my parents.

‘They said that I was diagnosed with ADHD, but it didn’t exist. I was medicated briefly as a child until my parents came across this book that said that ADHD was just a made-up condition.

‘My parents didn’t know any better at the time – they’ve been a lot more open-minded now. I disregarded it myself a little bit, until I became a parent and really struggled. 

Geraldine, who goes by Cherry, posts on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook with a view to reducing the stigma around ADHD and drawing attention to the positive traits common to many people who have been diagnosed with the condition

Geraldine, who goes by Cherry, posts on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook with a view to reducing the stigma around ADHD and drawing attention to the positive traits common to many people who have been diagnosed with the condition 

‘Knowing what I know now, I know that ADHD has massively impacted my entire life. Memory has impacted me – for example, remembering conversational details, but not the ones that I need to.

‘There’s a massive difficulty with staying on top of daily household chores. They’re already really difficult when you’re not a parent, but with a child, there are even more things to do on a daily basis and it’s more important to stay on top of them.

‘I’m constantly running late, and I struggle with planning things like appointments and birthday parties. I also have executive dysfunction – so difficulties getting started, planning and prioritizing, or finishing and reviewing tasks.

‘When I became a mum, I really struggled with overstimulation and emotional dysregulation. Being able to be patient can be really hard, because if you have combined ADHD or hyperactive impulsive ADHD, that’s a big part of it.

‘I was trying so hard to be that perfect parent that other people seemed so effortlessly. I started to snap a lot and I felt like a bad parent and a bad partner.

‘I’m a gentle parenting mum, so it became really apparent that I had emotional dysregulation.’

Cherry, as a ‘gentle parent,’ avoids shouting and prefers to work with her daughter to deal with conflict and difficult emotions by talking them through  – which became increasingly difficult as she struggled with her ADHD symptoms.

Geraldine has explained how her toddler, Hannah, aged four, helps her cope with her ADHD symptoms. When Geraldine has become frustrated, mother and daughter will 'brainstorm' different responses to the situation

Geraldine has explained how her toddler, Hannah, aged four, helps her cope with her ADHD symptoms. When Geraldine has become frustrated, mother and daughter will ‘brainstorm’ different responses to the situation  

Emotional dysregulation is a common symptom of ADHD that involves a difficulty to control emotional responses to situations.

Now, through a combination of working with her support network to establish routines, working on her self-love and self-esteem and communicating with her partner and her daughter, Cherry feels that she is able to manage her ADHD and parent to her strengths.

‘Oftentimes with emotional dysregulation and the overstimulation that comes with it, you have a lot of guilt and shame and a critical voice inside your head, which can make it worse.

‘My parents raised me in a very authoritarian manner, so I tried to ‘re-parent’ myself by telling myself the opposite things that I was telling myself in that moment.

‘Instead of telling myself that I shouldn’t be angry or shouldn’t be feeling this way, I had to tell myself that it’s okay to feel frustrated or overwhelmed – by doing that, I was calming myself down.

‘Verbally processing things has been very helpful, because with ADHD, it can be very hard to automatically internally process things.

‘I’ve also been taking some time to myself – when I feel that tension rise with my partner or my child, I go in a different room.

‘I explain that mummy is feeling frustrated and finding things difficult at the minute and needs some quiet time. I then go and have a little breather and block out noise and turn off any distractions to reduce overstimulation.

‘Now, she does the same thing! When she’s feeling frustrated, she’ll tell me ‘I’m angry, mummy – I need some quiet time!’ She responds really well.

‘I have been making sure that whenever I have times where I’ve snapped at her, or if I’m generally feeling dysregulated or overstimulated, that I own up to it and apologise afterwards.

‘I tell her that it’s never okay for mummy to shout at you, it’s not okay for anyone to shout at you.

‘I explain what frustrated me and that it’s not her fault and I love her – then we brainstorm what would be a better response from me next time.

‘It shows her that her parents aren’t perfect and we’re still learning, and that it’s important to own up to your mistakes and there’s no shame in apologising.

‘It also teaches her ways to manage that emotion if she’s ever feeling that way. I’ve been trying to focus on my strengths – for example, I’m spontaneous and can do a lot of fun activities with her.

Sadly, Geraldine's parents did not take her ADHD seriously when she was a child and it wasn't until she was in university that she received a full diagnosis

Sadly, Geraldine’s parents did not take her ADHD seriously when she was a child and it wasn’t until she was in university that she received a full diagnosis 

‘I try to break playtime up between activities to work around my difficulties. I try and work her in to daily chores, which makes it a fun activity.’

Cherry shares her experiences online – with a combined following of over 830k across TikTok, Instagram and Facebook – in the hopes of reducing stigma around ADHD and showing other mothers that it’s alright to talk about their struggles.

She explained: ‘It can be really easy to start feeling guilty or like you’re not good enough of a parent.

‘Do be careful when looking for information because unfortunately there is harmful content out there. Not everyone will be well-read about the condition and a lot of people spread misinformation unfortunately.

‘A lot of people still feel like ADHD is just a label that people want as an excuse for laziness, or that it doesn’t even exist. It’s so problematic because it keeps people from seeking help and support when they actually need it because there is still a stigma around it.

‘With ADHD, there’s often this feeling that we’re never good enough and we’re always failing to live up to our potential – but you are good enough. It takes a lot of work, but life does get better once you know your struggles and where they come from.’

WHAT IS ADHD?

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a behavioural condition defined by inattentiveness, hyperactivity and impulsiveness.

It affects around five per cent of children in the US. Some 3.6 per cent of boys and 0.85 per cent of girls suffer in the UK. 

Symptoms typically appear at an early age and become more noticeable as a child grows. These can also include:

  • Constant fidgeting 
  • Poor concentration
  • Excessive movement or talking
  • Acting without thinking
  • Inability to deal with stress 
  • Little or no sense of danger 
  • Careless mistakes
  • Mood swings
  • Forgetfulness 
  • Difficulty organising tasks
  •  Continually starting new tasks before finishing old ones
  • Inability to listen or carry out instructions 

Most cases are diagnosed between six and 12 years old. Adults can also suffer, but there is less research into this.

ADHD’s exact cause is unclear but is thought to involve genetic mutations that affect a person’s brain function and structure.

Premature babies and those with epilepsy or brain damage are more at risk. 

ADHD is also linked to anxiety, depression, insomnia, Tourette’s and epilepsy.  

There is no cure. 

A combination of medication and therapy is usually recommended to relieve symptoms and make day-to-day life easier. 

Source: NHS Choices 



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