Any Moms Out There with ADD? How to Cope with Forgetting Things like BILLS

Updated on May 26, 2010
K.J. asks from Westmont, IL
22 answers

Hi Mamas,

Since becoming a mom, and even more-so, since becoming a SAH mother of 2, I feel like I can't focus on anything anymore. I know that it could just be "mom brain," but it's getting progressively worse.

Over the past few months I have incurred overdraft fees for forgetting to transfer $ from our savings to our checking, forgot a few credit card payments (resulted in getting slapped with late fees and interest rate penalties), lose my cell phone or wallet several times a week, and my keys just about daily (the last time I had forgotten them in the ignition of my car and the car radio was on all night long.)

I tried to get myself organized by getting a 3-ring binder for the bills, shopping lists, etc., and that works for a while, but then I still run into trouble. Sometimes I'll start on a task (such as bill paying), and then get interrupted by the end of a nap, doorbell, phone ringing, etc. and I can't seem to get back on track again later. (I just noticed yesterday that I had forgotten to send the 2nd to last payment on our 0% financed HDTV and now might have to pay the $600 in deferred interest if I can't talk them into having pity on me.) I'm causing such problems, and I can't really ask my hubby (a doctor) for help because he's overwhelmed with his work for the next few weeks, until his office finally gets electronic medical records.

I've also started several projects around the house and can't seem to focus on any of them enough to finish them. I feel like I'm losing my brain (I say my brain, because I don't feel like I'm going crazy--just not able to focus). My hubby could give me Ritalin, but I really hate to take medication if other interventions can work. Any ideas?

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So What Happened?

As always, you ladies offered some amazing suggestions and advice. It had never even occurred to me to use the Yahoo calendar...heck, I never even noticed it was there! Sooo many great suggestions and it is nice to know that I am not alone in my struggles. It helps me stay motivated to know that I'm not a failure at this stuff...just a mom ;)

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answers from Chicago on

I could see myself falling into the same predicament. I will walk out of the room with the intention of doing something and when I get to the other room I have already forgotten why I am there.

I write down everything. Every time I need to do something I e-mail myself and keep it there until the task is complete. I sometimes wake up in the middle of night forgetting to have done something so I just send myself an e-mail. This way I can't forget about it. Just create a system and keep doing it. Without my lists I would not get anything done.
I hear you. Good luck!



answers from Rochester on

Someone suggested a dry erase calendar and I also suggest that. Every month at the beginning of the month I redo the calendar, write down all the events that I know for the month (I write special events like appointments in one of the corners that won't be erased so I can copy them down on the right days later) and as things come up, I write them down on the board WHILE on the phone or as soon as I read the email. It can be difficult to stick with sometimes, but it has helped a lot and its right there on the fridge so I see it constantly. All payments, appointments, birthdays, tv shows I want to watch, if I need to call someone etc.. it all goes there. Last time my son was sick I also wrote down his eating times and how many ounces so I could keep track and compare it to diapers. I have left a run down of my son's schedule for my husband while he's watching him. Its literally my brain sometimes!

Good luck!

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answers from Seattle on

<grinning> There are about 1001 coping mechanisms for dealing with ADHD off of meds (although if you suspect adhd... absolutely get a referral to a great psychologist). DO check out this book or the updated version

Meanwhile though... as an adhd-c mum... her are my favorite tricks for exactly what you asked

Bills getting lost in the shuffle:

1) HIRE AN ACCOUNTANT. I miss my accountant. I got one when I was in the military, and again had one when I was single. But the combo of having a baby and my DH and I both being in school meant that there was NO money left over for one (ugh... 2 college tuitions, plus 1 preschool tuition). Have I mentioned I really reeeeeally miss my accountant? I'm talking I miss them like I would miss my right arm. I can get by without them, but just not as well nor as easily. Here's how it worked. All my bills and my paycheck went straight to them. She paid all my bills, & then separated my money out into my various accounts (savings, personal checking, etc.) which I had total and instant access to. Because I didn't make a lot of money, she made sure that I got access within 24hrs. With her clients that had more money, she usually stayed a paycheck behind. Accountants work for either flat fees, or a percentage. I used the percentage method in the military ... and then when I started making "real" money I went for the flat fee.

2) If you have to do your bills yourself... a VERY big trick is to "never touch anything more than once". That means that when you open your mail, you open it piece by piece and pay each one as you get to it. ANOTHER is to print off a monthly calendar (solely for bills)... and fill in each bill on it's day due, along with the *overestimated* amount. When you have little ones, this means you can't do bills in the daytime if you want to get them all done at once... but only after they've gone to bed for the night.

Projects around the house: ((be warned, I forget where... but there's this amazing quote: "Housework is the job description from hell for people with adhd." It's the boring and repetitive nature of it. Our brains LITERALLY (not figuratively) shut off. As in the synapses don't send the information correctly in "boring" situations. Add tedius and never ending, and we're sunk. Many adhd types do stellar in their careers... but home isn't single purpose oriented. My H could never understand how I could run a VERY business (or land airplanes, and constantly be receiving performance awards, although he could understand the rescue swimming & combat medicine... but all 4 were high adrenalin jobs. ADHD meds mimic the adrenalin jump. Look at the calm/smiling person while the world is blowing up around them, and 1 will get you 20 they're adhd... we're wired for adrenalin, not tedium.)

1) This is going to sound familiar... HIRE A MAID. Even if you can only afford twice a month. If you can afford weekly... go for it!!!

It's almost impossible to start and finish projects when you're preforming rear action against the daily mess. Not to mention the deep cleaning that needs to happen. A maid (unless you have one come live with you) doesn't mean you don't have to clean... it means you don't have to clean as much... and that you have a "blank canvass" to start with at least twice a month.

2) If you can't afford to hire a maid... there are actually a lot of ADHD cleaning tips and tricks. Whole books have been written on the subject of adhd cleaning. (Flylady, and other "normal people" cleaning methods just don't work). I can't spend the time listing out even 1/10th of the tips & tricks... but here are my favorites:

- Make it fun. I do it by playing music and dancing while cleaning. Others I know order in pizza and beer and have a weekly cleaning night on Thursday evening, so they can enjoy their weekend.

- Make sure everything has a home (and the more specific the home the better. If the "home" is the living room... it will probably end up in the living room... somewhere. If the "home" is on the 3rd shelf of the bookcase next to the piano on the right hand side next to the green book... You have about a 75% chance of finding it there. (And 9 times out of 10) if it's NOT there it will be NEAR the bookshelf. Kids rooms... I'm fond of open bins... so I can literally "huck" said object into the correct bin... (and it makes it fun for kids to clean)

- Negative space. If your counters and tables are clear... you could actually be wading though mess... but your eye gets drawn to the big negative space so it LOOKS clean. Ditto the floors.

- Right angles. If you HAVE to have piles of things, or set them on you negative space... if they're set at right angles... it LOOKS clean. Try it. Take a stack of stuff and fling it across a table. Now take the same stuff and set everything equidistance apart at right angles to each other and the edge of the table. Optical illusion at it's OCDest.

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answers from Chicago on

Yes. I have ideas. Sounds like me over the years, but not the t v part. You are stressed, that's all. First of all, just finish what you are doing. That's it. Do not start other things. Put the thing you are doing right in front of you, tape it to yourself, whatever. Then do that one thing. Do not worry about the other things. Dishes will be there, projects will be there. Take care of those first.
Next, I have learned since I look on the computer a lot. Email yourself, or use that computer calendar. Lie and tell yourself the bill is due two to three days earlier. Then pay it then. Throw out the shopping lists.Every single time you are at the store buy toilet paper, paper towels and things you use often. Always. Even if it is only one or two rolls. Same with anything else you need or buy huge quantities of laundry soap for instance. Sounds like you are at the store a lot anyway, so get what you remember and need.
If you are not using the computer for much, get a giant calendar and put it up on the wall and use that as your reference. The minute you get a bill in the mail, list the due date on it. Two days early if you pay by check or internet. A week early if you mail it.Get in the habit of looking at it every day.
Who cares if it looks obnoxious. And don't take ridalin.. It will make you look spacey. Just kidding -if you need it you will...

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answers from New York on

We've all been there. It's mommy brain cause by stress, not eating right, and lack of sleep. Focus on taking care of yourself more and you'll see an improvement. I started using to help me organize my life and household and it made a huge difference.

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answers from New York on

You need to find your natural organizational method. If you forget to put things into a binder, then it's useless! I'm an organized person, but nothing like my husband who files everything and has a three-page spreadsheet for our budget!

I am a "pile" person, so I have found that having three baskets on our kitchen buffet works...

I have found that if I have two nights per month that I pay the bills it works for me. All of the bills go into a basket when they come in- immediately. Then I sit down every-other-Tuesday night and pay them. I have all of my "bill supplies" in that basket, except the checkbook, and pay them in batches. You typically have several weeks between the arrival and due date of a bill.

I have another basket where we put our keys and cell phones and other "pocket stuff" (my husband's phrase). Whatever goes in the pockets, goes in the basket.

The final basket is for mail/papers that need to be dealt with- permission slips, invitations, statements. I go through that stack on Thursdays- act on it and then either file it or throw it away.

I would love to think that I could eventually get to a point where I could go through the mail when it comes in and deal with it immediately, but realistically that won't happen! As for the "stuff", we tried hooks, charging stations, and other "organizers", but really the basket works best!

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answers from Milwaukee on

I have ADD/ADHD and have been diagnosed since high school (would have been diagnosed in grade school but were I went the teacher/school had to say get tested/evaluated for it, a parent could not just take a child in).

Anyway this is something I struggle with everyday my whole life and I do not take medication for it. If it is something that you have struggled with all your whole life and the below ideas do not help then maybe medication. BUT if this is something that is happening just recent because life is getting busier DO NOT medicate for it, you need to get control of your life another way.

Here is what I do:

Have TWO calendars, one in my purse & one on a wall that I pass a lot through out the day (kitchen for me, also it is one of those calendars that have large boxes so plenty of room to put everything importnat on a day). Everyday I check to make sure they are the same, and if something is missing or crossed out on one I add it to my other so they match. This way no matter where I am I can look and go 'YES or NO' to doing something I may or may not have time to do. On the calendar I have when bills are due, if I charged something to a credit card I write down pay off card on a date that is actually a date before it is due. When I have done an activity or paying a bill I check it off so I know I did do it. This really helps keeps ones life organized and I never forget anything since EVERYTHING is written down where I can see it multiple times a day!

POST-IT NOTES everywhere! If I know there is a important bill that has to be paid I put post-it notes all over reminding me to pay it and I am not allowed to take down the note till I actually have done it. I put the notes through out the house; bathroom, computer area, kitchen, bedroom (any places you send the most time and will see the note). When I have done that item I check it off on the calendar as well as take down the reminder notes.

Daily To-Do Lists. If I know my next day has A LOT of things going on I make a list the previous night on everything that I need and want to get done on that day. EX: Get Up, Shower, Dress, Get Kid(s) up & Dressed, Breakfast, Kids to School, Pay Bills, Dishes, Laundry, Lunch, Laundry, Relax/Computer, Pick Kids Up, Library, Kids homework, Dinner, Kids clean up their messes, Make treats for kids class, Fold Laundry, Kids Bed, Relax/Read Book/TV, Bed. As you notice EVERYTHING is put down that way the more you cross off the more you see that you got a lot done plus if you missed something/ran out of time you can add it onto tomorrow's To-Do List but you can see the MUST that need to get done like paying bills (sometimes I even highlight them so they stand out).

If you are on the computer a lot you can use yahoo calander, msn calander or similar... even though I am on the computer a lot I prefer to have something on the wall. I do have my various credit cards and bills accounts set to alert me by e-mail as well as a paper statement, that way it is another reminder.

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answers from Stockton on

You obviously have the internet so here's what I did years ago to help me.
Sigh up for a yahoo email account and set up the calendar feature to e-mail you every month when each bill is due. You can do this with Outlook but you can't check it from anywhere like yahoo.
Also - get an online banking account and set up as many bills as you can to email you their statements.
Set up a file in your email marked BANKING & BILLS and put all incoming bill emails in it marked UNREAD and then delete them once they're paid. You'll save on paper mail mess and save a few trees too! And you can't lose the bill in your e-mail!
Any bills that are a set amount each month like car payment or mortgage have your bank account set up to automatically pay them at a specific date every month.
Also, if you've lived in the same place for over a year most of your utilities like gas, water and electric will look at your usage and average it out to a set amount so you can set those bills up to pay automatically. This helps us a lot because we live in an area that is 90-100 June - October and windy and cold in winter so our gas and electrice bills vary a lot. In winter our gas bill is around $100-150 and as low as $20 in Summer. Averaging it out helps make a set budget and reduces the bite on our wallet in winter. ;)
Always put your stuff like cell phone keys etc. in the SAME place every day so you don't lose them and make sure everyone in your home knows that is where Mommy's stuff lives so they don't move them.
I'd avoid Ritalin unless a phsychiatrist thinks you need it - it's a strong drug!
Try doing a yoga class - it really helped me focus and improved my balance and stress levels.

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answers from Fresno on

I feel your pain. A while back I posted a question about how my "mommy brain" never went away, and in fact seems to be getting worse over the years!

Anyhow, what I do for bills is have all my bills sent to It's less than $10/month and they receive your bills, notify you via e-mail that a bill has arrived, and then when you log onto the website (I do it about once per week), you can view the scanned bill, take action on it (click on the "pay" link, choose the date you'll be paying the bill, file the bill, etc.), etc. If you don't pay a bill, they will keep sending you reminders that you have bills sitting there waiting to be paid. Also they notify you if a bill was expected but did not arrive. (Nice, huh?) It makes it VERY easy to view everything you have coming up, as well as to see what your past payments have been on your various accounts. I use it for everything from insurance payments to the water bill to the phone bill to credit cards to dentist and doctor payments.

And then, to keep track of your checking account, get Quicken or Microsoft Money. It's very easy to download your latest transactions from your bank (I think just about every bank in existence supports these two programs now), and then based on the payments you've entered into Paytrust, as well as your projected income, you'll know if you need to transfer money from savings to cover any payments that are coming up.

It does take a little time to get everything set up in Paytrust, but honestly I'd be behind on every payment in the world if it weren't for that service. It takes me less than half an hour a week to keep on top of the bills this way.

I hope that helps. I don't have a cure for mommy brain, but at least that's a solution for keeping your finances straight! =)

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answers from Killeen on

Get a big calendar (dry erase) hang it in the kitchen (or where you spend most of your time) and write everything on it! I have ADD and that works for me!



answers from San Francisco on

Isn't this the worst feeling? There are some great ideas to help you organize and set up reminders below. I know someone who does training for Moms, Working Moms, etc. She also tries to determine what works for YOU. A system that works for me, may be totally useless to you. Her business is called Change Happens (

Also, this could be a medical issue but I wouldn't have your husband prescribe Ritalin yet anyway Have your thyroid, blood sugar, and things like that checked. Could this be a case of sleep deprivation?

All the best!



answers from Dallas on

I got a giant old timey calendar at Walgreens and just hung up in kitchen to view each day - the whole family can add stuff as well. I also have a notepad in every room of the house to immediatly write down stuff or I will forget within an hour!

You can set up on-line bill paying with your bank and it can either automatically withdraw or you can manually do it and set up reminders via your cell phone or email account. We have overdraft, but they do charge after so many a month - inquire with your bank.

For chores/projects, I have a planner and write down everything that needs to be done around the house and just do a little bit at a time, as to not get overwhelmed. I also drink a coffee first - that seems to keep me going! Good Luck - I didn't read all the prior post and I am sure most suggested the same!



answers from Pittsburgh on

I don't think you have ADD....have you been diagnosed or was that just for fun? Sorry--confused.
I do NOT have ADD but do many, many, many of the things you mentioned. Life is HECTIC!
Check out to help you with ideas for organization.
Try (I know it's hard) to take 10 minutes every night to summarize what you need to do the next day and "reload" make sure your wallet & keys & purse are together. Take a quick glance at the bill stack (I write the amount & due date on the front of the envelopes when they come.). Set O. goal to accomplish for the next day.



answers from New York on

I can't tell you how often I leave my keys in front door - Luckily I usually find them before my husband comes home from work!

SAHM is a full time job what you really need (and what my husband does!) is your husband to give you an hour or even 1/2 and hour for you to organize yourself and/or accomplish a task if you manage to stay organized of the course of a day.

Suggestion on overdraft fees - a lot of banks will link a checking account to a savings account and pull the money from there (typically smaller or no fee, and no interest) see if your bank will do this.

I also changed how I up on house projects (anything that would take longer than 3 hours)- I now save them for days when my husband takes our daughter out for a few hours (to the park, or visit his brother whatever) or I break them up and do them a little bit every day (i.e. emptying a closet - instead of all at once, deal with at least 2 items in a day).

It sounds like you are trying to do too much at once, get a handle on essentials and then work the other tasks in (Essential - bills, grocery shopping, vacuuming, laundry Other - Clenaing the closet, painting the den, scrubbing the shower, cleaning the stove etc.)

Good luck!



answers from Springfield on

I have put all of my bill due dates on my outlook calender and sync it to my iphone. So I get reminders anywhere that I am! When I get my reminders I don't dismiss them until I either sit down and write the check or more often I call in (I have added all of the phone numbers for my credit cards to my contacts) and pay the bill with a check by phone or my debit card. This has saved me tons! I had never paid a bill on time until 3 years ago and now I am almost never late with anything. I think all Mom's go thru this at some point! I know I did when my children were younger. Sounds like you need a little time to yourself to find some focus! The suggestion of Yoga was an awesome one! I also find that Accupuncture helps me calm down and refocus too!
Good Luck and Don't beat yourself up....your normal!!!


answers from Dallas on

I don't think it is an ADD thing. We all have moments when we get overwhlemed.

One thing I am SUPER on top of is our banking and finances. That is one thing that NEVER slips, that is simply not an option in my mind. We just have a mortgage and then the monthly electric, etc but I am OCD when it comes to banking and organization.

I manage the banking and finances for our personal accounts and well as the business account. A daily habit is to go online and reconcile everything. It may be an OCD habit but we have never incurred any fees.

To keep things in order...I have a portable file that has all business in it with files for the weekly expense report receipts, invoices to pay, checks, envelopes, stamps, follow up, etc. In this file, I do keep a bright green plastic file where i fil any personal expense that will be decucted from checking (ex: electric, gas, monthly country club charges, etc)

Another thing is I keep a DETAILED calendar on my Iphone and keep it synced with my computer with little reminders of things I needs to do (ex:change filter in aquarium, etc). I also keep a notebook and list things to do. office abilities and organization are top notch but when it comes to cleaning house I struggle because I do have a lot of paperwork with our business and I can easily spend a couple of hours on it at a time. I have to shut the laptop down, get the music going and then do chores.

I look forward to seeing the hints you get about jobs around the house. I routinely have some job started in every room.

You are not alone.



answers from Toledo on

I fee the same way! I am a very smart, driven, and together kind of person, but most days I feel like such a flake! Luckily I work from home so my employer hasn't a clue how bad it is. (I'd like to figure out how to stay focused on that during the day!)
I had to hand the bill paying over to my husband during my first pregnancy. I've taken over a couple of bills since then, and still cannot get them paid on time. My solution for that recently ha been online banking. I set up my checking account to automatically pay a couple of bills on certain days. This way I'm never late. I have the exact amount of money needed to pay these bills put into this particular account and I do not use it for anything else....this way if I need some extra cash...and forget to record it, I'm not slapped with overdraft fees. That money comes out of an account that automatically transfers out of our savings account if I mis-calculate or forget a transaction. (most banks do not do this at no charge so check out a credit union. There isn't a fee.) I'd get the financials figured out...then you can concentrate on the other stuff.



answers from Dothan on

Ginko Biloba is great for memory, just increases blood flow to the brain. Start with one task at a time and do it till its completed. DO NOT start another Task till that one is 100% completed!! 1 day everyday 1 task. It will go lot quicker than trying to do everythign at once, I know your pain Im going nuts but i literally have to slow it down or I end up the fool. Dont let anything interrupt the process, no phone no doorbell or anything. Your not going to miss anything important !



answers from Chicago on

Sounds like you just have Mom Brain!

I'm similar to you, here's what I did.

Someone suggested and I agree! She has helped me so much! I bought her calendar and that keeps me on track with bills and such. I put the bill to be paid on the calendar a week before it's due. I check my calendar several times a day. Once the bill is paid I cross it off the calendar. Then I know if it's not crossed off then it's not paid!

I subscribe to the timer method. I have the flylady timer (but any timer would do) and I set it for 15 minutes. Her motto is "you can do anything for 15 minutes." Then I focus for 15 minutes on a task, whatever it is. When the 15 minutes is done I'M DONE. Even if the task is incomplete. Incomplete tasks are much better than something that was never started. Usually I finish the task way before the 15 minutes are up anyway. I've found that things I thought would take a long time actually don't. Did you know I can empty the dishwasher in less than 5 minutes?

I also subscribe to the "do it now" principle. I just do whatever needs to be done at the moment I see it needs to be done. I don't wait. If a phone call needs to be made I just make the call.

I have a flylady "control journal" with my housework tasks divided up for the week. I know on Mondays I vacuum, on Tuesdays I clean the bathrooms, etc. I have the list in plastic page protectors and I use a wet erase marker to cross off the item when it's done. I also have my vitamins and medication listed there too. I wipe the pages down at the end of the week to use again.

I'm disorganized and flighty but these small things have helped. With trying to be a mom and I homeschool it's easy for a day to get eaten up and nothing gets done! Then I just...forget. With things written down I don't forget :)

Good luck! And you don't need any medication except try to take a good multivitamin every day. Vitamin B-1 helps with brain function so if you're feeling foggy I suggest cutting down on sugar and carbs and taking an extra B-1 every day.



answers from Columbus on

do things like bills at the same time every day or week. write everything down in a place where you can't lose the list and can see it.



answers from Washington DC on

I don't have ADD, but sometimes feel like I do...

Get a large desk calendar (Staples, Walmart, Target). The professional kind that lay on the counter. Have large day spaces. Can be propped up either in the kitchen or near the daily exit door. I like this better than a dry erase, because anyone can erase it, and then you don't know. if someone messes with the table calendar, you can still see it.

1. Write down every PAYDAY for the year.
2. Sort through your bills.
- if there are bills that you pay online, using the due date, write a note to pay that bill 3 business days before its due. Ex. due on Monday, pay on previous Thurs.

- if there are bills that you pay snail mail, using the due date, go back 9 days to a mail day.

Then, as you pay things, draw a line through them so that everyone can see that the task is done.

When you need to transfer money, make a deposit, etc. Write it on the calendar. When ITS done, cross it off.

Keep the calendar in view so that hubby and kids can remind you if they see something isn't crossed off. Keep the entries simple and specific, yet NOT detailed so that if family and friends see it they don't know all of you business.

Ex. Pay cable bill, Deposit check, Transfer $ /Savings, Pay Best Buy
NOT: Pay cable $130., Deposit $400. Transfer $300/savings. Pay Best Buy $250.65.



answers from Norfolk on

I locked my keys in the car in the super market parking lot last month. Fortunately the weather was nice and my husband was only 40 min away with a spare set of keys (and I didn't buy anything that needed to be kept frozen). I could have called AAA, but with rush hour they would have taken longer than my husband to get there.
Find a bank or credit union with automatic bill pay.
It works great for anything where the amount paid is a fixed amount.

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