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Mothering in Hard Times With Jaclyn Paul


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I interview Jaclyn Paul, author of Order in Chaos. We talk online book tours, parenting during pandemic times and what she’s creating these days. You can find Jaclyn at @jaclynleewrites on Twitter, @jaclynpaulwriter on Instagram and @TheADHDHomestead on Facebook. Check out her book Order from Chaos (aff) and her latest content on  The ADHD Homestead and Patreon.

TRANSCRIPT

Okay, today’s guest is one of my favorites. She’s the writer of Order from Chaos, which came out a while back, but I just noticed it been kind of out of sorts. Jacqueline , welcome to the podcast.

Jaclyn

Looks. I was on mute. Thank you. Oh,

Sarah

yeah, it’s great to have you. And I was going through your stuff yesterday, and I noticed you, you have a virtual book tour going on and all kinds of fun stuff. Or maybe

Jaclyn

it was a one off event, I’m not sure. The so I had planned an in person book tour. And I, that was in over the winter, I was planning that. And obviously, that didn’t happen. So I had the opportunity to do this virtual event with a local bookshop here in Baltimore. And it was I had hesitated to do it because I was attached to this idea of the in person events. But yeah, it ended up being really fun. And I feel like now I want to, I want to explore the options to do more of those since it, it really does seem like the kind of in person book tour that I had envisioned is just not happening anytime soon. So in the virtual events, I had readers from Japan, and you know, all over the world. Wow, join that event, which obviously could not have happened with any location I had on my original. So

Sarah

that is so cool. Well, for those of us who aren’t already familiar with your background, can you tell us a little bit about your diagnosis story and what you’re all about your your ADHD homestead book?

Jaclyn

Oh, sure. So I, I did kind of write notes, because I’m terrible about thinking on the spot, even about my own my own story,

Sarah

of course,

Jaclyn

but which I think is an add thing, but

Sarah

is it a pressure? Yeah, Beyonce called the spot. It’s definitely, from my understanding ADHD? Yeah,

Jaclyn

yeah, it’s tough because you can know so much about something and then someone asks you about it, and you’re like, I think ADHD alien has a comic about that, that I can be so knowledgeable. And then you ask me a question. That’s obvious. And I just stare at you blankly in terms of my diagnosis in so in late high school, I was seeing a psychologist for something unrelated. And I. I asked about ADHD, I think I had had a boyfriend in like ninth grade, who had an ADHD diagnosis and took medication for it. And I think that started putting up some red flags for me. And because there were a lot of things that we related on in that way more that I’m even seeing later in life looking back, but I asked, I did this assessment on the computer, which was like a specially designed torture device for people with ADHD. And it produced a somewhat damning bar chart. And the psychologist said, well, you have to decide whether you’re going to pursue this medically. And I was like, Oh, no. And so I just Yeah, I got the whole thing I had had with another, because I always hang out with the boys. And notice all my stories involve boy friends, because that was all my friends. Anyway. Yeah. I had this one. entanglement. This boy who he had a really terrible experience with any depressants, which also looking back as an adult. I’m like, Oh, I think they should i think that that one is not supposed to be prescribed to teenagers. But he had a very bad experience on it. That was very traumatizing for me. Oh, wow. As soon as the therapist said you will you have to decide if you want to address this medically. I was like, Oh, I don’t. I was so put off of anything that affected your brain chemistry. And then I talked to my guidance counselor at school who had said, Oh, well, we would have to do an assessment that involved your teachers and your parents. And then that also scared me off because I was like, Why don’t want me involved?

Yeah.

Jaclyn

And so I just sort of dropped it. Because I was I was really afraid of involving my parents or my teachers, because I think I did such a good job of masking. Yes, that I was like, fearful of being told, oh, there’s nothing actually wrong with you except you. Right? I didn’t feel safe doing that. So I and I was also I was getting Did student I was a very linear linguistic thinker, so I could engineer my school experience. So I did not have to try very hard yet. And so I, you know, I did I did my grades, fine, I should have challenged myself more and stuck with maybe anything that I decided to pursue, but on paper, everything was fine, right. And then in my 20s, once you get into real life, there’s not like an easy a. Yeah, so you create your own structure, I have an interview on my blog that I did with a, a researcher and professor, my cousin, actually, but he advises a lot of postdocs. And he had, I did an interview with him on my blog, where I guess he actually interviewed me as a guest thing. And we talked about grads, grad students go through this, too, that a lot of people with ADHD will do great in their undergrad, but, but really, really struggle in the PhD because it’s, it’s not structured and real life isn’t structured either. And so it all kind of fell apart, I have this whole story, as I talk about on my blog, and in the book about how I went to my employers at the time employee assistance program. Yeah, get like six free, like Crisis Counseling things. But that’s how I got the ball rolling for my adulthood. You know, I would say I got a prescription, I didn’t necessarily got, you know, I did a whole heck of a lot of research on my own to find out what else you have to do. Because most people you can’t, the medication can be very, very necessary. Like it was necessary for me to do all the other stuff I learned about but the other stuff was necessary to complement the medication, it kind of had to come together. And that part I did on my own, but but I always tell people about that employee assistance program, because many, if not most employers have it. And at least, I was an HR administrator. So our program actually covered the entire household. So anybody living with you, even if you’re not related, you know, has a crisis situation, you can take advantage of it. So it’s and you don’t have to do the whole weight thing where you call somebody who’s been recommended. And it’s like, well, we can get you in in a few months. It’s like, No, I’m like, my life is falling apart now. Right? And it’s, yeah.

Sarah

Um, gosh, there’s so much to unpack there. But yeah, I, I had heard from other people and academia that they were, they were wondering whether there was a higher incidence of ADHD in academia. But I think the way you framed it makes a lot more sense that it’s just that it gets caught. And it’s so in your face when you’re transitioning from a structured environment to a grad student environment, that would make a lot of sense when you’re on your own.

Jaclyn

Yeah, it’s everywhere. And it’s exactly I’ve also been told, this is I’m pretty sure this is backwards. But you’re too smart to have ADHD, which is

Oh, that

Jaclyn

is that’s a huge thing. It’s still out there. But yeah, I mean, your creativity, your IQ and your personality, it’s all completely it’s, and it’s not because, right, and ADHD is a it’s a specific thing. And it doesn’t, it doesn’t and I push back against the creativity thing, too. Because, you know, I, there are people who say, Oh, well, people with ADHD are more creative or more this or that. And I think that can be really damaging for folks who don’t feel like they’re that in their head. Well, I’m not even ADHD, right?

Sarah

Yes, that’s a good point. I, I would have to say I’m more on the the less creative side, I’m more of like to gather facts and synthesize them, but I don’t create fiction, for example. You do. Is that correct? Your fiction writer, as well? Or do

Jaclyn

ya been a fiction writer before a nonfiction writer?

Sarah

Yeah. Um, so I have actually felt that before like, hmm. You know, like, I don’t fit that prototype. But that’s, that’s really interesting. I totally agree with you. And I think that’s a reason a lot of us like, especially women, we’re already facing the stereotypes of all you can have it your it’s a guy thing, and then on top of that, and you’re performing so well, and we’re also good at masking things. So it’s like, well, I totally relate to that. So now that you’ve been blogging about your home life now with your family, what kind of observations have you noticed, especially Since COVID-19, like how does ADHD collide with being like a mother and that kind of situation and the household?

So big question, is

Jaclyn

there a lot of levels, and I guess it’s specifically talking about the pandemic I did early on. In March or April, I was on Liz Lewis, who had healthy ADHD her past and we talked about is this, you know, kind of our time to shine? Not really the So, realistically, pandemic has probably made most of our ADHD symptoms worse.

Sarah

Yes.

Jaclyn

And there’s a thing out there too, that people love to say, like, well, everybody’s a little ADHD. And it drives me bananas aggravated. But it comes from somewhere. And that’s the, under the right kind of stress. Yes, even the most organized person in the world can start to or the, you know, most the neurotypical can start to exhibit ADHD like symptoms. And yes, I think, you know, the problem is, that happens to us, too, right. So that same stress and disruption happening all the time, especially those of us who have relied on specific, like routines and structures to get by and it’s all just imploded. Um, you know, we’re, we’re sort of sliding on the same scale, except we started out point. So yes, I think that, you know, people are not like, Oh, yeah, this is what ADHD is, we’re evolved to do, we’re born for this. If you’re not feeling that way, that’s totally okay. And understandable and reasonable.

But

Jaclyn

the other thing I noticed was that as a whole family ADHD situation over here, we’ve had to over the years learn very intentionally how to live with each other, we’ve had to learn a lot of coping strategies and structure and we’ve had to do very intentionally what a lot of neurotypical people I think might do on autopilot. Uh, huh. Yeah, yeah. And the pandemic kind of destroyed most people’s ability to run on autopilot. So we already had, in a normal situation, it would feel like, wow, HD is a lot of work, right? And it is, we have to intentionally do all this stuff that just comes naturally to others. But at the same time when this happened, I mean, we’ve kind of seen everything fall apart before we’ve seen chaos before and yes, knew how to adapt already. Because it wasn’t as new. I don’t think that kind of total loss of control is not new. So yes. But it was like, it’s not the ADHD itself that helped us all the work that we’ve had to do to live well with it. Yes, that helps so much. And

Sarah

I also like the way you framed that because I’ve been telling people and I’m just now realizing, as you’re speaking that it’s a it’s a way of framing I’ve been telling people, well, I’m use I’m used to chaos. So COVID hasn’t completely on Earth, my life because I’m just so used, and I am it’s true. But I like the way you framed it, I’ve had plenty of practice coping with that kind of stuff. It’s not that it’s like, all out of my control. And I’m so used to crazy, and that’s just it, I’m just used to it, it’s you, it is work, and you and your family did a lot of work over the years. So then when COVID hit, it’s not like you just magically, you know, have the skills you were develop, developing them all along, which

Jaclyn

Yeah, and that’s the thing is people who don’t, didn’t have to develop those skills, now are stuck trying to do the skill building as a family when you’re in that crisis mode, which is, I mean, this whole situation has not been a time to try to take on new skills. It’s just every level not ideal. Yeah, very stressful.

Sarah

Exactly. That’s, it’s like, um, you know, I read somewhere that pressure exasperates your ADHD symptoms, and if that’s the case, it’s like, we’ve had gasoline poured into the fire, it’s not, not really the time that you want to, you know, become your best self anymore, all falling apart. So, I think you’ve already answered this, but I was going to ask what you would tell the ADHD moms out there right now if you could tell them anything and what would you have to say to them?

Jaclyn

So I think my big thing as I was thinking about this in the shower, last night, I was like, Don’t do it. Don’t don’t carry this all yourself. Right. And I think that there are some possible silver lining here and that were big adherence to we have this book. I don’t know if it’s close enough for me to grab it, but it’s called duct tape parenting by Frankie. hopeful, huh, probably mispronouncing your last name, any dodgy duct tape parenting. But she talks a lot about self sufficiency and how, even at a very young age children are far more capable than most parents sort of, like, honestly expect them to be. And that they should be doing more for themselves because they’re, you know, when they turn 18, you’re supposed to have taught them everything they need to do to live on their own. And if you cram all that into the last like, year or two that they’re with you, then, you know, that’s not, that’s not helpful to anyone. And I think ADHD families need this even more for two reasons. You know, one, you know, we are kids, they have ADHD need to learn life skills, they need to learn them early, they need to this is their safe place to practice and learn and mess up. Um, you know, because the real world is not going to cushion their screw ups the way that you know, we will when they’re 12. Yeah, but for us, too, if you’re a mom with ADHD, or a dad, but I feel like this pandemic has really put into relief, how much a lot of this is falling on mothers, in a way, that’s really not okay. Um, but, you know, if you’re in that situation, and you have ADHD, you know, you can’t be doing everything for everybody, you’re gonna have a huge meltdown, and you’re gonna get burned out. Um, so anyway, we’re now having more time, I’ve been doing more of the skill building with my kiddo. Like, last year, I knew he was like, six, he could make his lunch and packet, but I didn’t teach him because, you know, it’s also in the morning, I made my husband and my kids lunch, and I packed it and I sent them out. Right. But it was because as the morning I was more concerned with the morning running smoothly, that, you know, like, while teaching the sandwich thing later, you know, now I’ve taught him how to do a whole lot of stuff and done, you know, skill building things with him, including now he makes sandwiches for himself and his dad for like, every every weekday, and then Wow, weekends. Um, but he also I assigned him stuff to do that’s like pinos sweep the upstairs hallway or the stairs, bring in the trash can from the curb, whatever. And stuff that’s little, and he can do it. He’s seven. Um, but it’s just it is very helpful. It’s like a burden lifted from me too. But it’s also like, this can be stressful for kids. And you’re, you’re not piling on to them. Right. They’re learning the to feel like competent and self sufficient and in control of something. And, and that is probably in terms of mental health, very important for kids, because they, you know, they do appreciate being able to do stuff, you know, if you frame it the right way, it’d be like, go get the trash can. Because why? No, because then it’s about it’s about the power struggle, right? You know, testing out the boundaries, and, you know, power structures. But, you know, it’s very important to me to make him feel like a valuable part of the team. And also just be flexible. We started out summer vacation with, I would write him a list of stuff to do every day. And I wouldn’t want him to bug me until the list was done. started pushing back. I talked about this in my weekly Patreon video this week about how he started pushing back and I was like, Okay, why is this listing failing? But no, he just didn’t need it anymore. Oh, he sort of is self directed with his day. Yes, like, oh, that Steel Building pieces done. So you know, be also flexible and realize, you know, things, things that you’ve put there to scaffold the skill building eventually, they might not be useful anymore. And it’s not because you screwed it up. And you couldn’t even keep this going. Even though it was helping. It’s actually just

Sarah

because it was working. And it worked because it was working.

He knows

Jaclyn

but so he Yeah, it’s so it’s, I think that my biggest piece of advice, you know, generally is to teach, you know, really teach that life skill stuff because I think a lot of us, especially really, you know, busy parents who are like, before this, we’re both working outside the house, you know, everybody gets home at like 7pm and you don’t really have that much time at home together. That skill building stuff can really fall by the wayside because you want to maximize the value of that time, like little slice of the day you have right now that everybody is together. You have time to work on, you know, sort of training on those skills and you know, your kids can really actually help you a lot more than Maybe think they can and anything to relieve the overwhelm of the ADHD mind. Right? Like, right. really paying attention my working memory lately that like that’s Yes, the thing that lets you hold more than one thing in your brain at once. Yes. That. So there’s a bajillion things to do it feels like just oh, wow, this is wait.

Sarah

Yeah, um, wow, a lot of good things there. I loved hearing you talk about team, how you guys are all a team are all working on this together. And I mean, that’s got to feel good for him that he’s able to contribute to the team and help and it’s really fine. My daughter’s three and a half. And you were talking about working memory. She remembers everything, she’ll see me leave the house without taking my meds and she’ll say mommy take your meds. Because she just sees everything. And so I actually have been using that, like, not literally like I wouldn’t trust her to remember something super, super dire. But every once in a while, I’ll say, hey, remind mommy today that we have to do the thing or whatever. And she loves that little slice of responsibility. Even a three and a half. It’s like she sits a little taller. Like, you know, I’m contributing to feel like Yeah,

Jaclyn

well, you know, something I forget what my my kiddo did recently that he noticed something in the house and said something about it like, Oh, this is a problem. And yes, Oh, geez. Yes, I just, like waiting for paying attention and noticing because obviously I was not like, but that’s Yeah, that’s the thing is sometimes we need a little bit of extra support. And if if we let our kids into the process, yeah, you know, also, if he doesn’t feel like a valuable member of the team, then he’s also just not going to listen to anything that I tell him to do. You know, he’s really obstinate and then you know, then it’s really like butting heads. And

Sarah

so make them a stakeholder.

Jaclyn

And please, like Yeah,

yes.

Sarah

Delegate. I’m loving this, you can do a whole like, instead of duct tape parenting, like HR parenting.

Jaclyn

Many of the same skill sets being like a good manager, good human resources person. And, you know, managing a family, same thing. Not everybody is as old and worldly, I guess.

Sarah

So where? Where can people find you? You mentioned your you do some weekly dispatches on Patreon. Is that is that still going on?

Jaclyn

I do. Yeah, I try to post a little video every every now and one Patreon. And I also do I have a biweekly podcast for my patreon that is called audio blogs. And it’s the audio narration of whatever most recent blog post plus a little whatever intro I choose to, you know, talk about before and then my blog posts are monthly. So then on the off weeks, I I then have stuff I pull from the archives and add narration to so I would say if you’re really an audio person, that is the spot to be but yeah, and my website ADHD homestead dot yes has if you scroll on a phone, you have to scroll to the bottom and on the theater, it’s on the side. But the about the author section has all my social media stuff on it. A lot of my social media requires you to spell my name, which is not the problem. So I like giving the ADHD homestead that’s smart. You can Yeah, find all the rest there, including the you know, Patreon or whatever. But yeah, the Patreon has been fun because I’m not a huge social media person. I never have been. Yeah, that way. And it’s just not my thing. I’m not gonna have the 50,000 followers on Twitter or whatever. But right Patreon, I can share a little bit more freely, I guess. Yeah, just kind of do whatever and give a little bit. As I work on my next book project, I’ll probably start posting, you know, readings and stuff from from that. I also post my blog posts as soon as the rough draft is done, and then you can go in and see like I turn on track changes. So you can see the like evolution from the rough draft to the finished product. So

Sarah

I love the creativity there that that is so cool. I I’ve seen a lot of the creators on Patreon and it’s like, how did they come up with these ideas? It’s incredible. It’s It’s great. Well, thank you so much for joining me and I can’t wait for my listeners to check out your stuff and I can’t wait to check out what you have going on. And have a wonderful rest of the week and thanks again.

Jaclyn

Thank you. This is fun.

Sarah

It was really great. Take care Bye



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