Spring Cleaning With Your ADHD Child

Spring Cleaning With Your ADHD Kid

Spring Cleaning With Your ADHD Kid(s)

It is spring in the US and for many folks that brings with it the celebrated and feared “spring cleaning.” Whether you have ADHD or not, spring cleaning can feel invigorating and refreshing – and it can also feel overwhelming and tedious. 


When you have ADHD, or a child with ADHD, it becomes even more complicated. Getting past the “wall of awful”, and tackling spring cleaning can present a real challenge for anyone with ADHD, especially the younger you are.


Let’s chat about why that is, and what can we do do help our ADHD kiddos to be able to handle something like spring cleaning without meltdowns.


Spring Cleaning With Your ADHD Kid



Spring Cleaning Challenges with ADHD


Tackling something like spring cleaning requires activating and utilizing many executive function skills. As we know, kids (and adults) with ADHD struggle in some ways with more than one challenge in the executive functioning world. Here are just a few of the challenges that may crop up.


  • Sustaining Attention/Working Memory – remembering what they are doing, or remembering what steps to take, is likely to be a big challenge.
  • Planning, Organizing and Prioritizing – in order to clean, you have to be able to plan what you are doing, organize tasks and objects, and prioritize what things to work on. Kids with ADHD struggle often with all of these executive functions.
  • Sensory Struggles – kids with ADHD may have sensory triggers that make some cleaning tasks difficult – this can mean textures they don’t like to touch, or smells or other senses that overwhelm them. 


There are so many other factors and executive functioning challenges that go into cleaning such as overwhelm, impulsivity, time blindness, task initiation, boredom – are all other things that might be struggles for your kiddo with ADHD and may make it difficult for them to engage the way we may with them to when it comes to cleaning.


Spring Cleaning Together


Here are some tips and ideas to encourage spring cleaning that may help if you and your ADHD child work together.


  • Gamify Decluttering – make it fun by making decluttering their bedroom a game. Set a timer and challenge each other to how many things you can put away. Or how fast an activity can be completed.
  • Room Redesign – offer to help your child redesign their room – making cleaning the byproduct of the bigger goal – a refreshed new room – might do the trick!
  • Treasure Hunt/Scavenger Hunt – great with younger kids, make it a treasure hunt or a scavenger hunt. Make it personal and fun – 3 dinosaurs, 2 books, and 1 bucket of legos.  For example. 
  • Give Away – many kids like the feeling they get when they do something good. Instead of throwing things away, find a way to gift away toys and other items no longer used by helping your child see the value in recycling items.


Working together with your ADHD kid to get these things done will provide not only the end result of a tidier space, but also give you amazing bonding time with your child and fosters collaboration and creativity.




Spring Cleaning Independently


Working together with our kids to get stuff done is great – but how do we foster independence and autonomy in our older kids who may need to utilize these skills?

Here are some tips for things you can do to help your ADHD kid to get the cleaning done without your continued presence.


  • Break Things Down – Manageable chunks is what you aim for. Not “go clean your room” but possible “Pick up the dirty clothes.”  More manageable equals more likely to comply without overwhelm.
  • Use Visual, Audio, or Electronic Reminders or Alarms – Find out what works for your child. Will setting an alarm to do their work help? Do they prefer a verbal reminder? Do they respond well to checklists? Lean into what works.
  • Create A Custom Playlist – for some many of us, music can be a great way to convince our brains that our bodies aren’t as bored as we are. Pair up listening to the child’s favorite music or podcast while cleaning.
  • Offer Autonomy and Choices. Autonomy is SO important to kids with ADHD. Many ADHD people simply struggle with being told what to do. Instead, offer choices. Instead of “put your laundry away” try “would you like to put your laundry away now or vacuum the stairs?”. Compromise and collaborate offers better chances for success.


Remember to connect and collaborate with your ADHD kid. If your child continues to struggle or refuses to help clean up, get really curious about why. Are they bored? Having a sensory struggle? Need something to be successful? Getting curious and figuring out the why opens to door for new ideas and collaboration.




One More Thing

Whether you are a person with ADHD doing some spring cleaning yourself, or a parent/caregiver for someone with ADHD and you are helping them with spring cleaning – one of the most important things to remember is to reward progress and reward effort. Perfection isn’t necessary.


If they did some things well, praise that. If they made an effort and got any part of the task done, reward or praise that. Don’t necessarily point out what they did wrong or didn’t do right after they’ve made an effort. 


Instead, praise what they did well, and then next time you ask them to do the same task, add IN what you saw that needed improvement, like, “hey Jack, you did a great job last time tidying your bedroom – can you do the same great job and also remember get under the bed?”


Kids with ADHD often have Rejection Sensitivity Dysphoria and criticism can feel like a personal attack. Focusing on the positive helps kids get that needed dopamine good job feeling that may lead to them doing the task again.


Need More Help?

If you and/or your kiddo are struggling with things like spring cleaning, organizing, prioritizing, task initiation, and time management – book a free discovery call today and let’s chat about how to get from where you are now to where you want to be.


Book A Time To Talk Today


Kat Sweeney, MCLC


🌻Don’t Delay Joy🌻

Kat Sweeney, MCLC


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