We all know it, we all hate it, the dreaded “Mommy Brain!” You know that crazy sense of chaos that makes moms feel like they are loosing control of everything in their lives.
We have all had days where “Mommy Brain” takes over and whether it’s forgetting where you parked the car, dropping your kids off for school late (AGAIN), or forgetting to set the timer on the oven and burning dinner the mommy brain monster can make any bad day worse and make you feel pretty inadequate.
In my day job as a Speech Therapist, I work to aid patients who have experienced neurological injuries or illness to strengthen, re-develop and overcompensate for cognitive deficits. I provide my patients with techniques and strategies to improve their memory, attention and multi-tasking skills, all of which are critically important to function in our daily lives. Moms usually experience deficits in these areas because their brains are so overtaxed trying to care of themselves and everyone else in their family. I find myself using these strategies more often than I’d like to admit and when I don’t well…YIKES, I’m a mess! These strategies, when used routinely, can help in retention of new information and establish routines which can (hopefully) decrease forgetfulness.
1) Make a list-I keep a few ongoing lists that really help me keep up with things (to-do, grocery, baby milestones etc.) Lists are also a great way to feel accomplished, if you actually stick to them and cross items or tasks off as they are completed. There are tons of list making apps that are free and accessible at the touch of a button on your smart phone or tablet. My family really utilizes a grocery list app that allows us all to add items as we think of them from our smart phones so when we are ready to go to the store the grocery list is already completed.
2) Maintain a routine-Yes, this is hard to do with kids in tow but it can be especially helpful during busy and stressful times (mornings, dinner prep, bed time). Doing things consistently at these times better helps kids (and you) to anticipate what will happen next making toddler tantrums less likely and older kids are able to help more without instruction. I also find that when I am able to keep a consistent routine I am much more productive and forget things less often since my memory of carrying out certain tasks has become ingrained.
3) Keep commonly used items in the same place-Keys, phones, purses, backpacks are usually the things we search for most as we are dashing out the door in the morning. Create a central location for items that are must-haves when leaving home and be sure to keep them there so they aren’t forgotten. Get your family on-board with storing and retrieving their belongings from the specified location so mom doesn’t have to remember everything. Making sure you can see these items when you are leaving the house is also helpful.
4) Develop (and use) a reminder system-I personally prefer to use my smart phone to remind me of appointments and other scheduled activities, which is risky considering it could crash at any time, so back-up often. Paper date books and planners are another option but a little more inconvenient in the digital age. Other reminders are as simple as setting timers while cooking, placing memos on the fridge, using a pill box for medication. Be sure to keep length of notes and messages concise so they aren’t overlooked and make sure to enter them into phones, calendars etc. as soon as you can or you will likely forget. I have also seen tons of ideas online for creating a family reminder and message center which would be a great way to keep up with everyone’s activities in one place.
5) Get rid of clutter-Important papers and even reminders can get lost or go unnoticed when buried in a pile of papers or junk so be wary of the ever growing pile of mail on your tables, desk and counters. Sort through junk mail and school papers daily to keep piles from forming.
While these strategies aren’t fool proof, once you make them a part of your daily routine they will surely help you maintain your sanity and battle the dreaded enemy…MOMMY BRAIN.