Minimalism has so many benefits. You hear me talk about them all the time! But one of the benefits that I haven’t talked about yet is the positive impact minimalism can have on ADD. Living with ADD amplifies the feeling of being overwhelmed by a never-ending to do list and expecting perfection 100% of the time. But when you clear your space, you free your mind of striving too hard. Believe it or not, physical clutter adds to the struggle of being able to focus!
This issue is super close to my heart and it was a true honor to sit and talk with fellow-mama Chelsea Reinking. Her journey with ADD and motherhood is empowering! Whether you struggle with ADD or not, I believe you will find great value in listening to this episode.
In This Episode, Allie Discusses:
How ADD or ADHD can affect you as a mother.
The difference you will see in your quality of life when you clear your space of physical clutter.
The correlation between physical clutter and your ability to focus properly.
Things you can do to immediately break the mental cycle that ADD traps you in.
Tactical tips to help you refocus when you feel overwhelmed.
Mentioned in this Episode:
Chelsea’s Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Chelsea's Paper: With Minimalism Comes Freedom When Living with ADHD
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Mom life. We are surrounded with the message that it’s the tired life. The no-time-for-myself life. The hard life. And while it is hard and full of lots of servitude, the idea that motherhood means a joyless life is something I am passionate about putting a stop to. I’m on a mission to help you stop counting down the minutes till bedtime, at least most days. I want you to stop cleaning up after your kid’s childhood and start being present for it. Start enjoying it. I believe in John 10:10 “that we are called to abundant life” and i know mothers are not excluded from that promise. Join me in conversations about simplicity, minimalism and lots of other good stuff that leads to a life of less for the sake of enjoying more in your motherhood. I’m Allie Casazza and this is the The Purpose Show.
ALLIE: Hey friends. Welcome to another episode of The Purpose Show!
I'm extra excited and really honored to be coming to you with this episode. We're talking about some pretty serious stuff here today with Chelsea Reinking.
She is kind of an amazing mama. She's just finished writing and is about to submit a paper for college on the effects of minimalism on people who struggle with ADD. This issue is close to my heart as my mom struggles with ADD, so I'm really excited to dive in and talk to Chelsea about this topic. Thank you so much Chelsea, for taking time to talk with us.
CHELSEA: Well thank you Allie. I really appreciate it.
ALLIE: You are diagnosed with ADD, correct? And you wrote your paper on the effects of minimalism and ADD. So, we want to hear from you. Can you start with a little bit of a background of your story, what made you want to get into this topic, how ADD has affected you?
CHELSEA: Right. So, I have struggled with learning. I went to public school throughout my whole life. In third grade, I remember having such a hard time with spelling tests. My mom noticed this as well and would seek to get help for me. My teacher said, “Oh, she's fine. She doesn't need any assistance and we'll work through it.” And through that came a diagnosis of a learning disability, which actually didn't get really diagnosed till 2014, when I went back to college when I met with my doctor. It was just labeled as a learning disability and wasn't titled ADHD. With that came not really getting help in the public school system until I got to college. So, it has been such a struggle.
It beats you down as a person when you fail over and over and over again. That is another thing with ADHD emotions, that frontal lobe comes into play when it’s talking about emotional things. You are more likely to feel all the “feels” and cry, so I will try and hold it together.
ALLIE: Do whatever you need to. I don't know if you've listened to a lot of episodes, but I have cried a couple of times on my show. I ended up sobbing during a live stream in my Purpose Society Group last month. What we're doing is important and it's important to us. When I'm talking about my story or depression or PPD or whatever, I get super emotional. I totally understand. It's all good. I think it also helps people understand the importance of this, and anybody who maybe is diagnosed with ADD or ADHD thinks they might have that issue, this is going to communicate in such a powerful way to them that it's okay and there are things they can do to lighten that load.
That's where I want to go with this episode, is just like, “Okay, if this is speaking to you, how can we lighten your load?”
Chelsea, I would love to hear from you. How does ADD or ADHD affect you as a mother specifically?
CHELSEA: Oh, that's a loaded question. For example, when I'm making dinner. My daughter is two years old and she loves her mama. Making dinner for me is a struggle. Following a recipe, getting everything out on the counter and following through with it, finishing the task at hand without burning anything.
But then when you have a toddler or an infant needing you and being called in that other direction, you will completely just want to crack and break and cry and scream. And then especially if you have a spouse at home, maybe doing their self-caring because they just got done with a hard day's work and trying to respect that. All of that anger builds.
So it’s really learning to work through those moments, being able to calm yourself down and have positive self-talk and say, “You know what? If for the next 20 minutes Melanie is crying at my feet, that's okay. Can I encourage her to go get a different toy or something?”
Having minimalism worked in with this as she's getting older, I see how beneficial it is because now when I say “Can you go get a toy or a book,” she knows exactly which one she wants because she doesn't have a million toys to choose from.
And the other thing going back to the kitchen is now I have set it up to work for me instead of against me. For example, a utensil, like a spatula, I only have two maybe, where you could have way more than that. I would grab a spatula that I don’t really like and that one would go in the sink, because I only used it once and decided I wanted another one. So, definitely pairing down on what you have around you eliminates those overwhelming factors.
ALLIE: Since you brought it up and that's where I wanted to go next, let’s talk about the idea of minimalism and this philosophy of less clutter physically. We talked about this when you interviewed me for your paper - how you were repeating what I'm always trying to get across and I love how you said it - that it's not just about having a clean space, having an uncluttered space.
Everyone always says this to me and it drives me crazy. I know that they mean well, but it drives me crazy when they say it - being organized. It is not about that at all. I'm actually a really disorganized person. I'm a really busy person with a lot going on and you have the same thing and you have the ADD struggle. It's not about wanting to be super organized. It's a fight for survival. It’s a means to a simpler, more abundant life in the middle of chaos.
Can you maybe focus on an area aside from your kitchen, since you already shared that, where minimalism has profoundly impacted you? How have you seen such a difference from clearing your physical clutter to improve your quality of life?
CHELSEA: Right. This one’s very personal. My birth mother died when I was 9-months-old. I was given a lot of items of hers later on in my life. Of course, I wanted to keep all of them, because her mother, my grandmother, had saved these things.
In 2017, after joining the group that you had on Facebook, I really thought about pairing down more. I went through all the items, worked through all the “feels” and I got rid of a lot of it. Number one, it's not my birth mom. It’s not going to bring her back. It doesn't really keep her memory alive because those memories that are given to me are storytelling from other people, so they are still there.
I did actually keep something longer. This last Christmas, Christmas 2017, I was going through the box of Christmas items and I found the stocking she had made. She passed away in December. She made stockings for us. Her name was Melanie, which is my daughter's name. I'm going to call her Grandma Melanie. Grandma Melanie made stockings with our names on them. I asked myself, “Is this giving me joy or does it just really made me feel sad?” It really made me feel sad, so I took a picture of the two stockings and got rid of them. So not only has that freed space in my home, but it also freed space in my heart. That made sense.
That emotional attachment to things is really just holding people back. And once you can let go of those things, it totally frees you to fill yourself up with all the good in this world.
ALLIE: I love that you used that example. That was so amazing and so personal. I think that it's really good that you did that because there are so many different types of emotional attachment to items.
Personally, we have come through such a difficult time as a family, Brian and I as a couple, from going through poverty and real financial scarcity. Now that we're on the other of that, I will find myself struggling with holding onto things “just in case.”
There's that and then there's widows and people who have struggled with loss, and then your loss of your mom when you were so young. There's so many different avenues of sadness or fear-based keeping things. Everybody has some version of that. I haven't had anyone on the show that has shared that “Oh my gosh, I need to keep this just because.”
Also, I think it's really empowering. You didn't really know your mother because she died when you were so young, and it's almost like out of everybody that I've ever talked to, it seems like you would be the one to really understand that struggle. You overcame that and I think you're amazing for that. That's so, so incredible.
So, you realized the physical clutter was adding to your struggle with focusing. Focusing on what matters. Focusing on what you need to get done right now. It was distractions. Then there’s the emotional level with your mother. Those things were keeping you sad, keeping you back, instead of being able to move forward and be open to the positive emotions of the things that are happening in your life right now.
I was texting my mom about you after we had spoken for your interview with me and preparation for this one. And my mom was like, “Oh my gosh, I'm so overwhelmed. I have so many things I would want to say about that or want to say to her and she sent me this text I'm going to read you.
CHELSEA: Is it going to make me cry?
ALLIE: I don't know, but it made me really emotional for sure. I was texting her, “I'm crying right now. I'm so sad.” I wanted to read it because it gets the point across. As a person that doesn't struggle with ADD, I think that this gets the point across. If anyone is ADD, it would give them that validation that this is something that can be very normal and common, but you might not even realize you're dealing with.
My Mom said, “I think when you're in the throes of this season of life that you're in right now (talking about raising kids) and you are scattered like I was, you get caught in this vicious cycle of surviving in your daily life, perpetual disorganization, being overwhelmed and then beating yourself up for not being able to get your (I'll say crap) together. So, it's a horrific cycle. I'm just coming off that crazy cycle even though I haven't really been in the complete throes of raising kids for some time because really the struggle is internal, not just external.”
I thought the end of that was really eye-opening for me. Yeah, raising kids is chaotic externally, sure. But that she's feeling like she's just coming off of it…
Some background…I'm sorry, I'm jumping around. I'm the oldest of four and I'm way older than my siblings. My parents had me a few years into their marriage. My mom was struggling with some serious internal stuff from the way that she was raised and so there was a big gap. My parents didn't have any more kids for a while, so my siblings are much younger than I am. My youngest sibling is about to graduate from high school and I'm 31, so there's a pretty big gap there.
I thought it was so interesting that even though she's been out of “the thick of it” for years, that she feels like she's just now coming out of it, because the chaos is internal. She continued to say you make it up in your own head. You can’t focus, so there's extra chaos internally when really on the outside, it should be pretty manageable. Do the laundry, make dinner, spend time with your kids, help them with their homework, get them in bed. But inside it's this mess of distractions and brain clutter.
So, would you agree with what she was like? What would you say to what she's saying?
CHELSEA: 100 percent! It was amazing. Actually, it really reminded me of part of my paper in the introduction. I say living with ADHD amplifies that overwhelmed feeling of the never-ending to do list and expecting perfection 100% of the time. I feel like our brains are just beating us down over and over and over again.
Allie and I actually have very similar stories with our background. My youngest sibling is 9 and I am 30.
ALLIE: Okay. Wow. Even bigger gap. So, you get the big gap thing.
CHELSEA: Totally. It is exactly what she says. For someone that struggles with ADHD
that method of, “Okay, what needs to be done right now? What needs to be done later? And what doesn’t really matter.” We don't have that, because everything feels like “It has to happen now, or else, I'm failing.” It is expecting perfection.
Everyone needs to listen to episode 29, where Allie talks about perfection. I have listened to it now a couple times. With ADHD, it is a struggle of delegating tasks in our mind and really thinking in the moment, “Why am I here? Why did I come into this room? What was I going to do and do I really need to be here?”
Definitely adopting having less around you to distract you when you do that is good.
ALLIE: Yeah. This was eye-opening for me, talking to my mom, and in a couple of ways. First of all, the burden, the way that my mom described how she felt like this, I felt the burden of “if I struggled with that, I mean really, I don't know if I would have been able to have four kids.”
So then in turn that would have directly impacted what I'm doing as a person, my life choices. My first thought was, “Oh my gosh, I simply could not handle that every minute, that burden, and also have four children.” We probably would have had fewer kids unless I had found some solutions with it. I was so burdened just by hearing her talk about it.
People who are struggling with this it is affecting their lives in profound ways that they may not realize because that's all you know. That's the way that your brain works. If that's all you know, you only know you.
I'm just tearing up as I was listening to you talk because it’s this realization of, “Oh my gosh, my mom did such an amazing job!” I didn't even know that she struggled with that until she told me when I was older, and she was figuring it out when I was in high school.
To encourage you and anybody listening who's falling into this camp, the kids - we think you're doing great. We don't even notice. We don’t think, “Seems like mom can't focus like other moms can.” I never noticed or knew anything. My mom did a phenomenal job; she's the best mom ever. I never knew.
Also, to give hope to you and to anyone listening that has this issue, that I think it is all internal, just like my mom said. It is internal and even your doubts and your fears about what this is doing to you as a mom and your family is very internal.
Sure. There are things that you notice, how mom was a little scattered or she seemed really stressed out, but every mom has that in some way. It’s just a little different for you.
When you buy something, you buy it with your time. With minutes from your life. Not just with your money. Studies show us that less clutter equals less stress and more time. It is really as simple as that.
This was the founding reason that I created Your Uncluttered Home. It has become my most popular, globally-praised, decluttering course that I designed for moms who want to live their lives more than they want to clean up after it.
It is truly the A-Z of minimalism. Every room. Every area. Every nook and cranny of your house totally uncluttered. This super extensive, extremely detailed course is literally everything you need to become a minimalist momma who is able to be a lot more present for what matters most.
To learn more about the course, go to alliecasazza.com/allcourses.
This really is the short-cut version. The exact journey that I took as a mom, 5-6 years ago, that got me to this point of an uncluttered, minimalistic motherhood where I am spending the least amount of time on my house every day.
Motherhood is just way too sweet a time to be spent struggling so hard and living in survival mode day in and day out. Our stuff is really the cause of that.
If you want to start this lifestyle, if you want to simplify your life… I believe that it all starts at home.
Simplify your life. alliecasazza.com/allcourses.
ALLIE: Okay. Getting back on topic. From that text from my mom, we were texting through and trying to come up with one question that she would want to ask you, just to be a voice for somebody who's struggling with ADD. This is what we came up with: What are some things a person struggling with chronic overwhelm can do to immediately improve their life or to break the mental cycle that ADD traps you in?
I feel like we talked about simplifying and minimalism being that thing, but I wanted to ask you anyway, to open the floor to anything else you want to say or to branch off of that even more.
CHELSEA: You definitely talk about this. In every single episode you congratulate the women listeners that they're taking time for themselves or you say, “Good morning, Beautiful Mama!” and that is the first thing that every single person struggling with this needs to sit down and say, “I am enough.”
The number one thing I think that needs to be done is you need to set yourself down and say these words out loud. Truly intake them. Say, “I am enough. I am beautiful inside and out. I am loved by the Lord. This is my life and I have control over my life. I do have control.”
And then start generating, “What is your goal?” Even taking the simple steps for that day, “What is my goal for today? What will make me feel accomplished?” Work that in. If it is during making coffee. If it is during nap time or during a shower. Making time for yourself.
I listen to this podcast while I'm in the shower because that is really the only time I have for me. Designate that time.
So, there we go. First, identifying a goal. Second, identifying a time and making yourself do it and stick with it. And if you get distracted, that is OK. Refocus your mind.
ALLIE: Do you have anything tactical or more practical that helps you with that? Like does it help you to write it down and look back at that piece of paper? What was I going to do today? Is there anything that helps you refocus or is it a total mental thing for you?
CHELSEA: Initially it does start with paper, but that paper is not in your hands all the time. Or your phone is not. Or your calendar is not. So, it really does become a mental game. Especially when I get stressed or overwhelmed, I feel myself side tracking.
This morning for example, we're getting ready. I went into my room three times from the bathroom. I have no idea why. I had to go in there and I had to say this out loud, “What am I doing?” and redirect myself back into the bathroom to finish getting ready. I don't know why I went into the bedroom. That sounds so weird, but for some reason I wanted to stop and do something and go into the bedroom. But I had to realize, “okay, why did I come in here? There’s no real reason, so go back into the bathroom and finish getting ready.”
It does really help to say these things out loud. Just say, “Why am I here? What is my focus, what is my goal?” And then identify those things and then follow through. I think when we hold ourselves to the expectation of making a list every day, it won't always happen. Knowing that you can refocus your brain and tackle what is needed to be done at that time is really amazing.
ALLIE: I just love that so much. I'm trying to sound super smart and add to it and I have nothing to say because I love what you said. It was so encouraging and also practical at the same time. It's easy to talk about grace or talk about giving yourself space and not really give practical advice and you just did both so well.
Oh my gosh, that was so good. I can't wait for my mom to listen to this.
Thank you so much for your time.
Is there anything anywhere that you want to link to or anything you want to say to wrap this episode up? I feel like that was just so good. I just want to end there. Is there anything you want to add?
CHELSEA: Just be kind to yourself today. Give yourself a pat on the back.
Thank you so much for having me here.
I'm actually taking a detox from social media right now. A lot of things that are coming due so I need to stay focused.
I would love to give you my paper after it is completely done and have that available for people to read.
ALLIE: Yeah, we can link to it in the show notes. Definitely.
CHELSEA: Okay, perfect. If anyone has any questions I would love for them to feel free to email me.
ALLIE: We’ll put that in the show notes. Thank you so much for making yourself available. You can just tell you exude passion about this. I think it's very overlooked for mothers specifically, and maybe that's just because I'm not in it and looking for things, but I have never come across anybody who has as much passion, knowledge, care and grace for people who are struggling with this.
I really applaud you for what you're doing and the way you speak on this topic. I'm really honored to have you.
I hope that this episode gets into all the ears that need it so, so badly.
So, thank you so much again. This was really, really great.
CHELSEA: Thank you Allie. I really appreciate it.
ALLIE: Okay guys, we will link to Chelsea's email if you're struggling and you just want to reach out to her or to thank her for this. Whatever it is, we’ll link to her email address. We'll definitely link to her paper that she wrote when she's finished with. We'll link to all of that so you can get more of Chelsea and all the work she's been doing on this after this episode.
And as always, if this episode was impactful for you, tell us. Leave a review on itunes. Reviews are everything and I always appreciate it.
I’ll talk to you guys next time.
This was an episode of The Purpose Show. Did you know there is an exclusive community created solely for the purpose of continuing discussions surrounding The Purpose Show episodes? And to get you to actually take action and make positive changes on the things that you learn here? Go be a part of it. To join go to facebook.com/groups/purposefulmamas.
Thank you so much for tuning in. If you are ready to uplevel and really take action on the things I talk about on my show, and get step-by-step help from me, head to alliecasazza.com. There are free downloads, courses, classes, and ways to learn more about what the next step might look like for you and to focus on whatever you might need help with in whatever season you are in right now.
I am always rooting for you, friend!
See ya next time!
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