Mom Brain: when you can recall the entire theme song of Doc McStuffins but cannot remember the last thing you ate or when you last showered. When your vocabulary is reduced to that of a 5-year-old because it has been weeks (months?) since you have had much adult interaction without kids around. When you go to the kitchen and immediately forget what you went in there for. When you trail off in mid senten…
The other day, I searched and searched all around me for my cell phone. I found it in my left hand. What is wrong with me? It’s the same thing that has been wrong for the past 10 years: Mom Brain. It’s a real thing. It’s the chronic, longer-lasting version of pregnancy brain – also a real thing. The difference is that pregnancy brain only lasts a short while, whereas Mom Brain? I’m not sure you ever really recover from it.
Most days I feel like I’m walking around in a brain fog. My husband will be talking to me and he gets a blank stare in return. He always comments, “The light is on, but nobody is home.” Oh, she’s home alright, keeping track of the millions of things that keep the household running behind the scenes.
I often say that dates and times of birthday parties and the laundry list of things to do stays at the forefront of my brain, and everything else just sits in the back. I can remember how much medicine each of the kids need, what foods they will eat/not eat, which lunch box belongs to whom, Wednesdays are signed paper days at school, Fridays are spirit days, favorite colors / toys / foods / comforts / songs, doctors appointments, weekly commitments, grocery lists, and on and on and on … but to recall the name of the … I can’t even remember what I’m recalling the name of … Mom Brain also causes Writer’s Block.
Here are 6 things that I have found to help improve Mom Brain:
I feel like the first thing to go was my vocabulary. Big words just starting slipping from my mind, or I would misuse them. I remember thinking, “I’m smarter than this!” So, my husband and I started playing games after the kids would go to bed, just to keep my mind working and active. I love Scrabble, Scattergories and Bananagrams for speed and quick word recall. We love playing logic puzzles together, competing to see who can solve the problems first. (Yes, we are nerds.) But strategy games are my favorite: Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride and Sequence help work those brain muscles back to their full potential. Then there’s also card games, Rummikub and Dominoes that are fun and quick. Bonus if these games require you to add up scores; they help prepare you for helping with math homework!
I know we don’t get much quiet time, but if you have littles at home, there is nothing wrong with fitting some quiet time in their schedule in addition to nap time. In fact, teaching them how to play by themselves for 30 minutes or so is great! You need to force yourself to sit down and read during this time (dishes can wait)! I like to alternate between motivational books and fictional books. I need a good balance of both. Motivational books include self-help and faith-based books that activate introspect, reflection and motivation. I recently fell in love with the book Love Does by Bob Goff and have some more faith-based books in my queue. Fictional books allow my brain to get lost in a faraway world. I am currently reading the fantasy series The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson and I revisit The Flute Keeper series by my friend, Ashley Setzer, often.
Find a hobby:
When I became a mom, I felt like I lost a little bit of my identity, especially after transitioning from being a teacher to being a stay-at-home mom (future blog post!). I needed something that was just for me, so I picked up a paint brush. I became really passionate about painting which eventually led to a home business, teaching basic acrylic classes at ULL and gaining membership to the L’Acadian Art Guild. Now, painting isn’t for everyone, but find something that is for you! Here are some suggestions from our LAFMB writers: photography, graphic design, gardening, writing, running, lifting weights, dancing, tennis, yoga, cooking, baking and blogging! Or really work your Mom Brain and learn how to speak a new language or play a musical instrument! ULL’s Continuing Education department offers a ton of personal enrichment classes from which to choose!
Maintain your health:
This is probably the hardest one for me considering I eat like crap, binge watch Netflix shows until all hours of the night, and for years my “exercise” was chasing toddlers. But hear me out. First, get a good night’s sleep. In that newborn phase, sleep is hard to come by, but once they start sleeping through that night, try not to binge watch Netflix shows until 1am. I know, I know, not as fun, but you’ll thank yourself in the morning! I suffer from less brain fog after a good 8 (sometimes 9) hours.
Second, eat well. I have recently noticed that when I substitute sugar (donuts and cinnamon rolls) for protein (yogurt, eggs and bananas) in the mornings, I wake up faster and have more energy for longer periods.
Third, exercise regularly. I recently started running, which, if you know me, is almost laughable. It is that I NEVER thought I would do and have claimed more than a hundred times before this year, “I don’t run.” It’s definitely not something I thought I would ENJOY doing. After about a month (or 2) of trying a lazy girl’s version of Couch-2-5K, I ran my first mile ever! And I enjoyed it! Running has become a stress relief and clears my head. I don’t get to do it as often as I like, but I definitely feel a change in my mind and body when I do it regularly.
- Get a good night’s sleep
- Eat well-balanced meals
- Exercise regularly
And bonus! Doing all of these things makes Mama less irritable. Everybody wins!
One of the biggest triggers for Mom Brain is stress. If you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, go take a mindless breather. Get your head back on straight. Take a bath, go for a walk, pray, stretch, call a friend, take a nap, read the Lafayette Moms Blog while you hide in your closet and eat chocolate…. You’ll be a better mom for it and that extra break will feel like a cat nap for your mind.
Talk to adults:
The more adult interaction, the better! Sure, you might not be analyzing the laws of thermodynamics, and you might still be using words like “potty” and “boo boo” fluently, but maybe you can talk about adult things like … the funny thing your kid did at breakfast. Or how horrible potty training is. Or whatever it is that adults talk about. Open up your calendar and plan it out: go on at least 2 play dates a week, one mom’s night out each month, 1-2 date nights with your husband per month. If you have the luxury of getting out of your house weekly, join a couples or women’s small group at church. Don’t be afraid of the cost to hire sitters. We cut out cable so we could fit babysitting into our budget. Best. Decision. Ever! Many times our date nights are cheaper than our sitter fees, so just get creative! Long walks and playing tennis are free … just saying. And if you haven’t been invited to many play dates or mom’s nights out … plan your own! You can do it!