Have you felt like you’ve lost your mind since having a baby? You’re not alone. We can all relate to walking around in a forgetful brain fog during the months following pregnancy – and there’s good reason for that. Between the flood of hormones into the neurological system and a lack of good, restful sleep, it’s no wonder our minds don’t feel as sharp as they used to. The good news is that there are proven ways to combat mummy brain. Here’s how.
1. Keep a running to-do list
Mummy brain or not, who doesn’t love the feeling of crossing off items one-by-one and ending the day with a completed list? A running to-do list will not only help you keep on top of your productivity (and, of course, make you feel good), but you can also use it to jot down those fleeting thoughts that you know you’ll never remember later. I keep mine on the counter and write down everything I need to do the moment it crosses my mind, lest I forget. It’s got everything on it from “make next week’s dinner menu” to “call and make dentist appointments” and even “pay preschool tuition.”
2. Set calendar reminders with alarms on your mobile
If you’ve got a deadline, set the alarm with sufficient notification time to carry out the task in case you completely forget about it. In my house, our motto is, “If it’s not on the calendar, it doesn’t exist.” I have alarms set for everything – school drop-off and pick-up, meetings with teachers, even “pick up takeaway order” after I call it in so I don’t miss my dinner. Not only will this help you keep all of your commitments straight, but it will also contribute to ease your mental anxiety about all of the things you’re trying to keep track of.
3. Pay attention to your nutrition
Your brain needs enough antioxidants and healthy fats to function optimally. Make sure you’re treating your brain well so it can treat you well. Eat foods like nuts (especially walnuts) and flaxseeds, berries, avocados, and dark leafy greens. And if you’re breastfeeding, talk to your doctor about continuing with your prenatal vitamin. Just as when you were pregnant, your body is sending critical nutrients to feed your baby, and it may help for you to get an extra boost of them during this postpartum period.
4. Get organised and make routines
Even if your short-term memory is shot, your muscle memory is still alive and well. This means that the more accustomed you are to doing certain activities, the more your body will remember to do them automatically. Put a hook on the wall by the door where your keys automatically go when you come home – no more losing your keys in the sofa. Get in the habit of setting your clothes out the night before, so you don’t leave the house with two different shoes. Replenish your baby’s bag with clean nappies and put it straight into your car the night before you leave so you don’t forget it in the morning. Whatever your primary struggle seems to be, make a routine to combat it.
5. Practice mindfulness
You’re so busy just trying to get through the day, it’s easy to spend the newborn months on autopilot. Force yourself out of the fog for a brief moment to notice – and name – what you’re doing. For example, when you put your keys down stop for a second and think, “I put my keys next to the sofa.” Or, after you make the kids a snack stop at the edge of the kitchen to look around and think, “Did I put everything back in the fridge that needs to be cooled?” Just this quick, simple moment of mindfulness will save you a lot of frustration over misplaced items.
6. Read a book
The best way to keep your mind sharp is to use it. Reading keeps the neurons firing and helps maintain brain health. Plus, it’s a stress reliever – and we all can use that, can’t we? So the next time you get a few moments to yourself, grab a book and read a chapter or two. It will help keep your mind working well.
7. Get good sleep
Would you believe me if I told you that the average mother accumulates a sleep debt of 700 hours within their baby’s first year? No wonder your brain doesn’t work right – it’s tired. Sleep is critical to heal neurological pathways and repair brain cells, so make sure you prioritise it. It might not be possible to get a full, uninterrupted night’s sleep with a baby in the house, but you can maximise the hours you do get by going to bed earlier, eliminating electronics in the hour before bedtime, and making sure your bedroom is cool and dark.
The bottom line
It’s common to feel like “mummy brain” has stolen your mental capacity, but the good news is that’s short-lived and reversible. Even while you’re in the middle of parenting a newborn, you can help combat it by focusing on self-care, exercising your brain, and using common organisational tools like your mobile’s calendar alarms to help you keep it all together. This season won’t last forever, and neither will your mummy brain.
Do you have a funny “mummy brain” story to share? Leave a comment below!
Jenny is the mother of two, a blogger, and always on the mission to improve herself. When she’s not trying to remember where she put the car keys, you’ll find her giving actionable parenting advice, breastfeeding tips & more at MomLovesBest.com and on Pinterest.