Top 10 Tips for Organizing Your ADHD Household

When ADHD is in the marital mix, it can be a real challenge to get household chores done without one or the other feeling exasperated, angry or shamed. Often, the non-ADHD partner feels resentment over doing more than his/her share or having to constantly remind the other to do what needs to be done.

The AD/HD partner might feel angry at always being told what to do and may feel unappreciated for the efforts being made, which sometimes feels like they aren’t “good enough” no matter how hard he/she tries.

Here are my top 10 tips for organizing your home when one (or both!) partner has ADHD:

  1. Call upon each person’s strengths. Choose the right chore! If one likes being outdoors doing physical things, assign lawn work to that person. If the other loves listening to music, give that person light housework where he/she can wear headphones while working.
  2. If boredom is a problem, rotate jobs so that there’s less chance of procrastinating or not finishing.
  3. Folks with ADHD typically do better when there are visual cues. Place a white board in a highly visible place, listing chores, who’s assigned to do them, and when they should be done. Leave room for a check mark, so there’s a feeling of accomplishment when the chore is completed.
  4. Reward yourselves. Make a weekly dinner or movie date if you’ve finished all the chores on your chart.
  5. Delegate! If you can afford to hire people to help you out, do it!
  6. Change your expectations. No one says there’s a law that beds must be made daily.
  7. Get the kids involved and make it a family affair. Give each family member a room or task to be in charge of. To prevent boredom, rotate chores.
  8. Communicate. If you feel unappreciated, angry or misunderstood, discuss your concerns before the resentment builds to unhealthy levels.
  9. Be playful. Write down the chores, toss them in a bowl and pick your chore for the day or week. Or draw straws. Think of creative ways to get things done.
  10. Find a way to use the time to be together. For instance, while one is paying bills, the other can be filing.

Terry Matlen, MSW, ACSW, a psychotherapist and consultant in Birmingham, Michigan, specializes in adult AD/HD and is the author of "Survival Tips for Women with AD/HD: Beyond Piles, Palms and Post-its.” She is the director of  and  She can be reached at [email protected].



Thanks that is interesting - I get the feeling my husband likes routines too... But only the ones that are about his own stuff and interests...

Any alternatives to doing the dishes and taking out the trash?

I am surprised that so many other couples have decided to delegate washing the dishes and taking out the trash to the ADHD spouse. It seems like such a simple task and yet it never gets done... Does anyone have any experience with delegating other jobs to the ADHD spouse? How about having him/her agree to something for half an hour every evening, but not necessarily the same thing? It sounds counterintuitive, but I wonder if it might work?

household chores

Routine is the answer, along with praise which will help make it part of their routine.  If your partner doesn't get interrupted than doing the chore at a certain time and part of a routine works.  Like doing the dishes or taking out the trash first thing in morning or after they come home from work.   If part of their routine it will be pretty consistent unless the routine is interrupted than you might find the water over flowing in the sink or the trash left by the door.        


Yeah thanks - everyone is saying that it is the routine that bores them, but my husband likes a certain number of routines. I just wish I knew how to get him started with some routines that aren't just about his own things (to which the household does not belong!).

I guess even adhds are different! Anyhow, isn't it weird how we have all chosen the dishes and the trash for the adhd spouse?!

I love routines. It's like

I love routines. It's like they're chocolate, I respond so well to them however if I get one routine in, if it changes or get switched out I will react on that. I'm not sure if this is my ADHD or if half is my personality or if it's something else. But I've always assumed it's the ADHD as I see the routines as life working and me not getting into trouble. My husband doesn't even take things into discussion with me anymore (like compromising who does what etc). He just puts the post-it on my day plan that says laundry or whatever. And I do it without a problem since how, when, what and why was already answered for me = no extra strain put on my ADHD.

My husband does the dishes and the trash, haha. The trash I think makes a lot of sense, the dishes are for me kind of random. I just really hate doing dishes while laundry, vacuuming, dusting.. I kind of like doing it :)

The Zone

I am no expert on this, but I know that Barry Sears, inventor of The Zone Diet, has done a study on the effects of fish oil on children with adhd.  If you go to and do a search for "adhd" you will find a lot of references.

I trust this diet very much; I did it once and felt fabulous, had more energy and lost weight.