Combatting mommy brain

Before I was pregnant, I’d heard vaguely of things like “pregnancy brain” and “mommy brain.”  I didn’t really have an opinion about them.  Like many things, I didn’t give them much thought until they happened to me.  I suppose I wasn’t completely sure they existed until I experienced them myself.  A blog post from a friend got me thinking about it recently.  This friend is a mother of five who are 6 and under.  I’d say she ought to understand this phenomenon.  I’ve been thinking about it this last couple of weeks and come up with some ideas why this exists.

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I think the biggest factor is exhaustion.  It starts when you’re pregnant.  It’s been three years since I was first trimester pregnant, but I still remember that level of exhaustion.  It was rough.  I also remember the time I almost caused a wreck when I was seven months pregnant and driving in a nearby big city.  The lanes changed unexpectedly and I sort of freaked out, which is out of character for me.  But, I was exhausted and just couldn’t think of how to solve the problem.  The next day, I sat on the edge of a packed exhibition hall at a conference and took a nap.  Just that tired.

When you’re tired it’s hard to think.  It’s hard to rationalize.  It’s hard to problem solve.  Actually having the baby doesn’t do much to help with that exhaustion.  Honestly, having a toddler doesn’t help me either.  I am thankful to get to sleep through the nights for sure.  I’m not as exhausted as I once was.  But, constantly taking care of someone else who can be quite demanding is exhausting.

Another big component to mommy brain is distraction.  It’s hard enough to finish a thought without interruption, let alone a task.  I’m not sure I could count how many conversations my husband and I have tabled until after the kiddo’s bedtime.  And on the weekends when he’s home and entertaining the kiddo, I get reminded of how quickly I can get ready when I’m not stopping every two minutes to help her track down a toy she has to have or pretend to eat the cupcake she’s giving me or open the door she accidentally closed all the way or save the dog from having too much plastic food stuffed in his face.  The list could go on.

Aside from actual child distractions, moms are constantly getting distracted by things that need to be done.  For example, a couple of nights ago, we’d put Lexiana to bed.  I had something I needed to get from our bedroom.  On the way, I spied her sippy cup with a bit of milk in the bottom sitting on her activity table.  I picked it up and went to the kitchen to rinse it out.  Then I realized I needed to run the dishwasher.  Five minutes later, I finally made it to our bedroom.  Fortunately, that time I remembered what I had originally set out for in the first place.

My notebook keeps me organized. I store a pencil in its spiral so I am never without one. A small binder clip marks the current date so I can flip right to it. I use my notebook for everything!

So, over these last three years, I’ve learned how to combat this affront to my brain power.  I have mentioned it before, but I must mention it again: I LOVE my notebook.  It’s small.  But, it keeps my life organized.  I write down everything from when I need to e-mail a grandma about babysitting to when I need to clip coupons to when I need to pay bills to when I need to complete tasks for work.  I even have tasks I do on the same day each week.  I write blog posts for every Monday, Wednesday and Friday; I wash towels and whites on Mondays; I wash clothes on Wednesdays.  And, yet, I am still prone to forget these things without writing them in my notebook.  Some days I roll out of bed and have no clue what I need to do until I look at my notebook.  I wouldn’t be successful at my work and meeting deadlines without it.  I wouldn’t be successful at taking care of my family without it.

Maybe not everyone loves lists like I do.  (I’ve literally put on my list to print out a packing list before vacation; I have one for myself, my husband, my child and our dog.)  But they save my sanity.  They make me happier and keep me on track.  If there were two things I’d give to a new mom it would be a smallish notebook to write to do lists in and a Schick Intuition razor.  (I used to schedule when I’d shave my legs.  Thanks to that razor, I easily do so every time I shower.  Nice!)  You can combat mommy brain and also have smooth legs.  Win, win!

Along with my notebook, I also love Post-It notes.  I like the standard square size OK, but I LOVE the small rectangles.  Since I was pumping and labeling breast milk bottles with them back in the day (I’d put when the milk was pumped and when it needed to be used or frozen by), I’ve kept a small pack in my silverware drawer for easy note making.  Of course I also have some in my desk.

This week I’ve used Post-Its to remind myself to pack a diaper for my toddler’s nap time she’d be having at her nana’s house.  I used another one to note on the blackberry containers that I hadn’t cleaned them, yet.  I used a third to make a note on a bottle of children’s acetaminophen what does my kiddo could have and when for the same trip to nana’s house since she’d face-planted at Target the night before and split her lip.  I use Post-Its a lot.

My notebook and Post-Its help me combat mommy brain.  What about the rest of your moms and expectant moms?  What do you do to remind yourself of stuff and stay organized in some way?

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