So I have this theory about how the space in a mom’s brain is taken up. There’s only so much space in our brains.
When we get married a large chunk goes to our husband. We can’t rely on him to take care of himself. He won’t even throw out his holey underwear.
Then, each time we have a baby a large part is dedicated to that child. We have to think about all of their needs. It’s our job to make sure they’re met.It's so hard trying to remember #allthethings! #mommybrain #losethecape Click To Tweet
How to Remember Things Even With the Limited Space in our Mama Brains
The space left for ourselves shrinks. We’ve had this massive part of our brains taken over with the basic needs of everyone else in our family. Plus an onslaught of doctors appointments, details to remember for daycare and on and on. We can’t forget space for our jobs too.
This means we forget things. There’s just not enough space to hold it all. Maybe this is what people mean when they talk about “mommy brain?” To me, “mommy brain” makes it sound less than it is. Somehow childish and that’s not at all what it is. It is the responsibility that automatically comes with being a mother. Our brains are now full to capacity and sometimes the details slip through.
Interrupted sleep doesn’t help either. Deep sleep is when we process information. When you have a baby and you’re waking up every few hours, you’re not getting there. Your brain is not processing everything that happened throughout the day. That’s why you can’t remember feeding times or diaper changes from one day to the next. As it happens it’s important, but the next day you just cannot remember. You never processed (stored) it.
This is no failing of ours as mothers, this is just the way things work. We don’t just have interrupted sleep when we have infants either. Even if your children are good sleepers. Even if they start sleeping through the night at less than a year. There will be times when they wake you up.
When they’re older there’s the whole potty training issue. Let’s not forget about those night-time pukers. (Anyone else have a child who only pukes in the middle of the night?) We are dealing with disrupted sleep pretty regularly.
So sometimes we forget a word. Or why we went into a room. Or that we said we’d do something. We forget because we just didn’t have room for it in our brains. It’s not that we can’t remember things because all we want to think about is our baby. Yes, we love our babies. Yes, we think about them. A lot. But “mommy brain” just doesn’t cover it. The amount of new information in our brains doesn’t leave room for everything else.
We have to acknowledge this to be able to set ourselves up for success. If we don’t admit this is happening, we won’t be able to work with it. So admit it mamas. There’s just not that much room left. We’re moms though, we’re not going to let that stop us.
So here’s what to do:
Don’t beat yourself up.
Your brain capacity is a physical limitation. Recognize it as such. This is not a personality flaw. It’s not because you’re lazy. There’s nothing wrong with you.
Decide to do something about it.
You can do something about it. That is a decision you can make. You can decide not to ignore it. Not to pretend it isn’t happening. You can’t change the capacity of your brain. You can decide how you want to act.
Set yourself up for success.
There are a few different ways to set yourself up to remember something. They all boil down to one concept. Take action as soon as something comes up.
That action can be:
- Putting in a calendar reminder
- Writing yourself a note
- Adding it to your to-do list
- Sending yourself an email
- Visual reminder (see below)
It doesn’t particularly matter what action you take. The tactic is up to you and what works for YOU. What’s important is that you take action. Have a strategy in place that allows you to do this.
Personally, I use a combination. Calendar reminders, notes. My personal favorite is what I call visual reminders. These work especially well for things at home. I leave something out in an obvious spot. When I see it later I know I’m supposed to do something about it. This isn’t to add clutter to my house. It’s a temporary tactic to help me remember to do something later. It works for me.
A few things to keep in mind.
- Don’t dismiss something with the idea you’ll do it later.
- Don’t trust yourself to remember it in a convenient moment.
- Have a strategy. You may have to test a few things to find out what works for you.
Now it’s your turn. Let me know, what tactics will you try? What tactics work for you?
Rachel Bowman writes at Just Getting Things Done, a website for working moms that want to get their life back on track even if they barely have the energy to make it through the day. She’s on a mission to figure out how to balance the needs of her kids with her need to get things done, and help other moms do the same.