When I moved into my new house, I dreaded the idea of being surrounded by boxes, unable to unpack for who-knows-how-long while renovations were being done.
How would I cope?
Instead of freaking out, I’ve been calm, happy, and productive. My friends and I have been equally mystified.
Then, it hit me: I’m living in ADHD paradise.
1 ) Banish boredom
Like many adults with ADHD, frequent moves were a part of my undiagnosed life. I always found setting up a new home exciting.
Realizing that my nomadic days might be over, I confided to a friend, “I’m scared that the moment the renos are done, I’ll get bored.”
Having ongoing renovations is heaven-on-Earth for someone who thrives on change. I feel like a six-year-old waking up on Christmas day, every day.
2 ) Guilt-free messiness
Friends dropping by? No worries. While renovating, you can forgo the age-old ADHD ritual of yelling, “Just a minute!” while running around trying to get the place presentable before letting your pals pass.
Now, I amble slowly toward the door (slowly so I don’t trip, bump into anything, or step on anything breakable), open the door and purr, “Come on in. Don’t mind the mess, I’m still renovating.”
Not only do I not feel embarrassed about the mess, I can even gloat a little because I’ve snagged the best contractor in town and everyone else is queuing up for months to get their roofs repaired before the Canadian winter turns our homes into impromptu igloos.
3 ) Letting go of control
Sometimes “Don’t touch the stuff on my desk,” means “…or I’ll never find it again.”
I’ve spent most of my pre-ADHD diagnosis life feeling out-of-control. And yes, I’ve been accused one or two times of being a “control freak.” (In self-defense, sometimes “Don’t touch the stuff on my desk,” means “…or I’ll never find it again.” )
These days, I’m experiencing the unusual thrill of letting go of control. My contractor’s great; he has impeccable taste; he’s conscientious, talented, experienced, and capable.
It helps that he discusses everything with me, and lets me call the shots. Which, technically, gives me some control; still, when push comes to shove, he’s the guy with the sledge hammer and the power tools.
Normally, that would be scary. Incredibly, it’s a relief to turn it over to someone else.
4 ) OCD and perfectionist-friendly general contractors
Many of us with ADHD also have perfectionist and Obsessive-compulsive tendencies (or actual co-existing diagnoses). To my delight, my contractor sweeps up after himself; regularly hauls away the garbage; and is a detail-oriented perfectionist.
My worry-wort tendencies are curbed, my fear of annoying the neighbors allayed, and my OCD and perfectionistic tendencies are satisfied.
5 ) ADHD-designed digs
By renovating, I can customize my home to accommodate my ADHD lifestyle and interests. For example, my living room will be part music room and part sitting area.
I have an office for writing, a room devoted to reading and editing; and a yard for landscaping and gardening.
Renovating can tweak your digs into ADHD-friendly spaces where you can be yourself, encourage and support your interests. Instead of being tucked away in its case, leading to my procrastinating or forgetting to practice, my bass guitar will sit in its stand in my music area, decreasing the chances that I’ll be distracted by whatever else catches my eye. (ADHD rule-of-thumb: the shiiiiniest thing wins.)
6 ) Overcome distraction
Paradoxically, instead of feeling overwhelmed by rooms full of unpacked boxes, my life has been simplified. While packing for my move, I was forced to be organized, and forced to focus, or I’d lose track of important work-in-progress.
Once in my new home, it was fast and easy to find current projects in boxes I’d marked, “Office / Mission Critical.” I was up and running in no time.
With everything else still packed in boxes so I can easily move them as each room gets renovated, I have no choice but to focus on priority projects. Distraction is safely packed away along with my non-essential belongings.
When renovations are over (cue Peggy Lee: is that all there is?)
So, what will I do when the renovations come to an end?
I’ll finish unpacking, decorate, and hang paintings. Thus, I’ll continue to enjoy stimulating daily changes. Hurrah!
Next summer, it’ll be on with the landscaping and garden-creating.
As you see, in spite of my fears, renovating has been great for my ADHD. Now, pass me the hammer.
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Last reviewed: 25 Oct 2012