You’ve probably heard the term “Mom Brain”. In fact, the term even has its own entry in the Urban Dictionary. It’s discussed in parenting books, psychological and scientific literature as well as social media and television shows.
The Science Behind Mom Brain
Research has shown that women’s brains change after giving birth, which allow moms to be better in tune in the needs of their children. A study at Autonomous University in Barcelona showed that these changes typically last for two years. My oldest is six, and I’m still more in tune with her needs and interests than mine sometimes. I can tell you her teacher’s favorite color, but I may not be able to tell you what I had for lunch.
That study also showed that it’s not just mothers who experience changes in their brains after child birth. Fathers and non-biological parents and caregivers have increased activity in the amygdala, which is responsible for processing emotions. We all want what’s best for our children, so we are emotionally invested in them.
Mom Brain on TV
I loved the show The Middle, which was about an average family of five in the Midwest trying to get through each day despite often hilarious mishaps. After having kids, I really related to the mother of the family.
In one episode, her whole family makes fun of her for not being able to remember the name of “that actor in that movie they saw”. Then, she realizes that her kids are to blame for her forgetfulness and inability to remember certain pieces of information. Sound familiar? With three kids in three different schools, she kept track of everyone else’s schedule. On top of that, her kids constantly asked her for help. She decided to set up specific Office Hours when the kids could come to her with questions and anything they needed help with. That way, when Office Hours were over, her mind would be free to remember things like actors’ names. Unfortunately, her Office Hours plan didn’t quite work out, and she had to go back to the usual way.
When my sister was pregnant with her first child, she forgot something mid-conversation and said, “Oops, pregnancy brain!” As an experienced mother of two, I said “That doesn’t go away after birth.”
While the responsibility of taking care of newborn babies is extremely overwhelming, so are the additional activities that come with older children! With a kindergartner and a preschooler, my Mom Brain is maxed out. For example, I feel like I need an assistant for the school paperwork alone.
When I see the science behind “Mom Brain” and how prevalent it is in our culture, it seems we’ve just accepted it as a reality of motherhood. But mothers and mental health professionals are sharing ideas of how to reduce “Mom Brain” so moms can think clearly and not be burden by the mental load.
While “Mom Brain” might be a reality, I don’t think it’s one we have to accept.
Using the Fair Play Method to Reduce “Mom Brain”
While “Mom Brain” may be used lightly, there could be some heavier burnout behind it. When we find ourselves simply blaming things on “Mom Brain”, it may be time to look at the bigger picture. Seacoast Moms writer and Fair Play Certified facilitator Tara has written about the Fair Play Method developed by Eve Rodksy. Tara stresses the importance of the sharing the burden of the mental load with your partner and evenly dividing household tasks to help reduce “Mom Brain.”
There may be something else causing lack of sleep
Tired moms typically blame lack of sleep on small children. However for some women, there could be bigger health issues causing them to feel tired all the time. It’s important to talk to doctors about your concerns and not let those concerns be brushed off because you have children- that’s medical gaslighting. The Seacoast Moms’ Sleep Consultant Directory is a great resource for moms to get more sleep.
Self-Care Helps De-fog “Mom Brain”
It’s also important for moms to take a break to feel less foggy and more focused. Of course that’s always easier said than done. Exercise is always important for our mental and physical health. Yoga helps us focus on ourselves and each moment instead of thinking of clutter in our brains. If you don’t have time for an in-person yoga class, there are plenty of YouTube videos. There’s also some great instructions for restorative yoga written by Seacoast Moms’ writer Rachel.
Technology to the Rescue for Moms
When you’re tired of relying on our own brain to remember your to-do list, there’s an app for that! I have reminders for taking out the trash, taking vitamins, other household chores, and phone calls I need to make. For me, the Reminders App on my phone helps get the to-do list out of my brain so I’m less stressed and can think clearer. My husband and I share an online calendar, which helps both of us to remember events and activities.