Household Chores For Adults With ADHD

Household Chores For Adults With ADHD

Do you lose track of your household chores? In this article, we'll dive into the challenges people with ADHD face related to cleaning - from ADHD symptoms to managing a cleaning schedule with an ADHD spouse or family members. We'll explore why house cleaning tasks can make us feel overwhelmed and discuss strategies like creating a cleaning schedule. Whether you're an adult with ADHD or supporting someone who is, this article aims to offer an empathetic and comprehensive look at managing daily chores.

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Written by

Alice Gendron

Founder of The Mini ADHD Coach

Reviewed by

Alice Gendron

Founder of The Mini ADHD Coach
In this Article

Reviewed by

Alice Gendron

Founder of The Mini ADHD Coach
A word form our expert

6 ADHD Triggers That Can Sabotage Your Cleaning Schedule

Navigating the winding road of chores can be a perplexing maze when you're an adult dealing with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). One moment, you're about to replace a light bulb the next you’re fixing your car (did you get the reference?). 🤷‍♀️ When you have ADHD, the mental hurdles for even some of the simplest task can feel monumental.

Challenges with maintaining a cleaning schedule can be particularly perplexing for undiagnosed ADHD adults who have yet to develop coping strategies. It’s not just about doing the dishes or tackling house cleaning; it's a complex dance with your brain, juggling with sudden bursts of hyperfocus, and getting overwhelmed by the huge amount tasks and distractions we face on a daily basis. If you or your spouse often feel defeated by your house cleaning schedule or your mental health takes a hit from the stress of it all, you're not alone. ❣️

In this article, we will unpack six common ADHD experiences that can mess with your ability to stick to chores. So, if you or your ADHD partner are trying to navigate the challenges of house cleaning and chores, stick around for some tips tailored just for you! 😊

1. Feeling Like Your Household Chores List Is Just a Wishlist

We all know that to-do lists are a classic strategy to bring some order to our ADHD brains. ✅We enthusiastically jot down a list of all the cleaning tasks we will tackle, but let's be real: how often does that list actually turn into action? 😅

Creating a list for house cleaning often feels like drafting a wishlist rather than a to-do list. 😂 At that moment, scheduling the task of deep cleaning the living room followed by putting away the laundry might feel entirely realistic. And while mental health experts often highlight the benefits of writing things down, for many adults with ADHD, it takes much more to stay motivated and transform that list into a sparkling house. ✨

2. Being Called ‘Lazy’

 Ah, the infamous 'lazy' label. 🙄 It's almost like a rite of passage of neurodiversity. For example, you might be in the middle of a cleaning task like vacuuming one room or doing laundry, and before you know it, you're on the sofa, distracted by your phone. Without realizing you've lost focus, someone judges you because they think you're lazy or avoiding house cleaning.

The reality? We're not lazy - we're a bundle of motivation waiting for the right spark to set us off. 🌟Once that spark hits, good luck trying to stop us; we'll zoom through that list of chores. 😆

It's not like we enjoy having a messy house or letting those dirty dishes pile up. 🤷But our ADHD brain operates on unique principles, often needing a push or external motivation to get us going. ✊

Dealing with the 'lazy' stereotype is not just about defending ourselves but also breaking down that stereotype for the greater ADHD community. Leaving this stereotype unchallenged has long-term consequences for many people's mental health. And for some of us, it can send us into a bit of a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’, whereby we begin to believe that we’re lazy, and that there’s no point even trying to clean in the first place. 🙈

I’m not saying you should not aim to change this bad habit, but the first step is acceptance and understanding what is happening. From there you can engineer a plan to help you become a better version of yourself.

For example if you need the extra social push to stay motivated, invite some friends or family members over. Sometimes there is nothing like some good ol’ peer pressure to get your shit done. 😆

3. Unpredictable Bursts of Hyperfocus

Do you ever get those rare but magical moments when you go from 'I can't even look at this clutter' to 'let's deep clean the entire house?' Sometimes, it's like a switch flips, and I'm suddenly all in, giving house cleaning my undivided attention - no schedule needed. 💪

I can’t count the amount of times I’ve felt stuck in the mud, seeing chores and other administrative tasks pile up despite all of my efforts, before clearing them all out in one glorious day of hyper productivity.

These unpredictable bursts of focus are like a gift and a curse for people with ADHD. On the one hand, when the hyperfocus hits, you can get more done in an hour than most people could in a full day. You might even find yourself tackling chores that you've been putting off, like sorting through those dinner dishes or organizing a room. You become a whirlwind of productivity, and it's super gratifying for our dopamine-craving brains. 😍

On the other hand, hyperfocus is a fickle friend. It can desert you just as quickly as it appeared, especially if something more intriguing comes along or you start feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of tasks ahead. You're washing dishes one moment, and the next, you're lost in a YouTube rabbit hole. 😬

4. Hitting a Wall Halfway Through

Have you ever had those days when you start strong and then crash hard halfway through your to-do list? You're scrubbing away, and suddenly, you hit a wall and just can't seem to push through it. 😧

Here's an example from my own life. Recently, I was in the zone, cleaning up the clutter in my house. I had my timer set to help me keep track of tasks, and it felt good. 😁 But then I found an old family photo, and my focus evaporated. I was down the nostalgia rabbit hole, calling family members and recalling fun stories. When I realized how much time I'd lost, it was too late to complete my cleaning tasks for the day - and I gave up.

For adults and kids with ADHD, maintaining a consistent focus is tough. And it's not just about willpower - there's an actual neurological struggle behind the scenes. The part of our brains responsible for executive functioning has trouble gauging how much time a task will take and sticking with it. So when you hit that wall, it's not a character flaw; it's just one of those pesky ADHD symptoms making itself known. 🤷‍♀️

5. Getting Sidetracked by More Interesting Stuff

Being side-tracked by other things while doing your chores is a typical experience for someone with ADHD, as their mind constantly seeks more stimulating activities. Sometimes chores can make you feel bored, and that’s a common ADHD trigger that can divert your attention to more stimulating tasks.  Here's a common scenario: you're in the middle of doing the dishes, and your phone buzzes. Now, for neurotypical folks, this might be a mere blip on the radar. But for people with ADHD, that tiny buzz might as well be a siren call. 📣 We end up putting things on hold, swiping open our phones, and an hour later, the dishes are still there.

It's not that you're lazy or don't care about your house cleaning; ADHD brains are wired to seek novelty and stimulation. So, if something more exciting than your current task comes up, your brain wants to jump on that train. 🤩No matter if you've got all the tools laid out for a deep clean, your brain may steer you off course and get distracted.

6. Getting Sensory Overload

So, you're ready to tackle your chores, armed with all the cleaning products you need. 💪But then, you pop open the bottle of cleaner, and that intense chemical smell fills the room, and you feel like you can't breathe.😮‍ For some, these smells are just a part of the task, but for those with ADHD, it's like an assault on the senses.

It's not just scents, either. Bright lights while cleaning the ceiling can feel like staring into the sun. 🌞 Touching something gooey while washing dishes makes you want to drop the sponge and run. Sound familiar?

The real trouble here is that these sensory challenges aren't minor annoyances; they're one of the many ADHD symptoms and can seriously hinder your ability to complete tasks. What's happening is your brain is getting overwhelmed with stimuli, and it's throwing in the towel. For ADHD adults, the senses can be hyper-responsive. It's not about being picky or overly dramatic; it's how our brains are wired. 🧠

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Chore-Busting Techniques for the ADHD Brain

House cleaning is a universal struggle, but for people with ADHD, it often takes on a different dimension. Let's face it; few people enjoy cleaning, ADHD or not. 🤷So, how do we tip the scales toward making house cleaning less overwhelming and more manageable? 

Chores with ADHD adults is like navigating through a maze where every turn introduces a new, unexpected challenge, requiring innovative strategies and supportive tools to reach the goal efficiently without getting lost in intriguing side paths.

Here are a few tips that might allow you to get a head start on your chores and create structure when it comes to cleaning. ⬇️

Create a Routine that Sticks 

One idea to manage your household effectively, despite ADHD, is to incorporate a reliable, well-structured, and feasible cleaning schedule tailored to your abilities and preferences. To conquer the continuous cycle of chaos, it's imperative to perform small cleaning tasks on a regular basis, thus avoiding the accumulation of work.

Consistency can be challenging, but it's important in effectively managing ADHD. Scheduling your cleaning tasks at a specific time can create a routine that becomes a habit. So, grab a calendar or open up your phone's reminder app and start slotting in time for chores. It could be every Saturday morning, or you may want to take the leap and assign a small task every day of the week. You might be amazed at how a set schedule helps you stay on track and gives you a sense of control. It might be beneficial to write down your entire chore schedule, breaking it down into small, manageable tasks to prevent feeling overwhelmed.

Equip Yourself for Success 

Half the battle in any task is having the right tools. It's much harder to muster enthusiasm for washing dishes if you find out you're out of dish soap and have to add another task to the list before you even get going. Research the best cleaning supplies and keep them in stock. You'll be more inclined to dive into chores when you have all the right stuff at your fingertips. You could get that novelty fix by experimenting with different tools and methods - check out some cleaning channels on social media and get inspired! 😉

Make it a Family Affair

Who says you have to do it all alone? If you live with family or have kids, assign tasks based on age and capability. Create a chore chart if you have to - this is an excellent way for your child  to learn responsibility and enjoy cleaning. 👶Remember, chores allow kids to experience things differently and develop good habits early on. 👍

Partner Up for the Big Stuff 

If you have ADHD or live with your ADHD partner, you’ll both know the struggles and the unique ways we can get distracted or overwhelmed. Divide and conquer; share responsibilities, especially for tasks that seem impossible or boring. Your strengths can complement each other if appropriately organized.

Build in Breaks and Rewards 

Let's be honest; chores can be boring. Spice things up by building in short breaks or small rewards. Maybe after vacuuming the living room, you can scroll social media for ten minutes before you begin the next task - just don't forget to set a timer! 😜This makes the process more fun and gives you little boosts of motivation to keep going. You can weave rewards into your chores, too - listen to your favorite podcast while doing tedious jobs to keep your brain engaged.

Opt for Sensory-Friendly Options 

Sensory overload is a real thing for people with ADHD - but there are ways to navigate it whilst cleaning. For example, if the smell of traditional cleaning products might throw you off, it might help to switch to unscented cleaning products or maybe even wear gloves to make the tasks less intense on your senses. Adaptation is critical here. 👍

Seek Professional Help When Needed 

If you find that the clutter is affecting your mental health or making tasks seem impossible, it's not a sign of defeat to seek a professional organizer. Sometimes, a fresh set of expert eyes 👀can offer a new perspective and actionable advice. Bonus points if they have experience with people with ADHD and can help you devise a system with your specific needs in mind!

Unfortunately not everyone can afford hiring help to handle chores or other tasks we are not good at, but if you can find a way to budget around it, it could be a huge boon for your life. The amount of time, energy and worry you can save by hiring professionals to handle the tasks that have been weighing you down can create fantastic opportunities if you’re able to reinvest that time and energy into productive endeavors that’ll end up footing the bill. 

It’s not easy to find the right person and to get to that point, not everyone can have a successful side hustle, but a lot of people with ADHD are able to leverage their creativity and passion into successful business ventures, so you can do it too! 💪


Navigating life with ADHD can get pretty messy. From house cleaning to paying bills, sometimes we might find ourselves losing track of time or feeling overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done around the house. 🤯But remember that these struggles make sense, especially when living with ADHD.

The idea here is not to craft a one-size-fits-all guide but to provide a set of strategies you can pick and choose from. Whether nailing down a routine, researching new ways to declutter your house, or leaving visual reminders about what needs to be done each week, these techniques can help create a system that works for you and the unique way you navigate life with ADHD. 💪

When cleaning or any other chore starts to feel like an insurmountable mess, take a deep breath. It's okay to ask for help or delegate; there's no shame in asking for support from your loved ones, or even a professional organizer. 🥰 Adapt your environment and routine to fit your needs, and watch how the seemingly impossible becomes doable.

Remember, life with ADHD is not about conforming to what the world wants you to be, but about creating a world where you can be your best self. The important thing is that your house cleaning eventually gets done, regardless of how, when, or by whom. And if you ever forget the plan for the morning or find yourself sidetracked, it's all good - there's always another opportunity to get back on track and feel in control again. ❣️

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ADHD & Chores: FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Do people with ADHD struggle with chores?

Chores can often be a challenging arena for people with ADHD. The need to focus on one task, from start to finish, can overwhelm mundane activities like cleaning. It's common for someone with ADHD to start a chore and then get bored or distracted, leaving it incomplete. The struggle can often lead to a buildup of clutter in the house, adding to feelings of overwhelm.

Do adults with ADHD need routine?

While sticking to a routine might seem boring or constraining to some, it can be a lifesaver for adults with ADHD. A set routine provides a structure that can make tackling chores or things on the to-do list more manageable. But for routines to be sustainable for ADHD brains, they need to be flexible and adaptable, as we need novelty to stay interested. This might look like having a few different systems in place that we can switch between, such as having two apps that we cycle between. It might also look like having various routines for different days - anything that keeps us engaged is excellent and more likely to stick.

How can handling chores for neurodivergent people affect their mental health?

For neurodivergent individuals, especially those with ADHD, completing chores can often be a double-edged sword. On one hand, a clean space can offer a sense of accomplishment and reduce anxiety. On the other, cleaning can be stress-inducing, especially if there's a lot to tackle. Hence, finding a balance and a routine that works specifically for you is vital. For example, you might find it easier to work in short bursts, or getting the more demanding tasks out of the way at a specific time during the morning is more up your alley.

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