If you’ve ever put your cell phone in the freezer or changed a diaper twice, you know about mom brain.
Have you ever frantically searched for your eyeglasses only to realize that they were on your face the whole time? Or used the flashlight on your cell phone while rummaging through the cracks of the couch looking for (face-palm) your cell phone?
Have you forgotten your significant other’s name during a casual conversation with a brand-new acquaintance who — wait for it — had the exact same moniker?
If you answered yes to any (or all) of these questions, you might be suffering from mommy brain.
It’s a new-parent phenomenon that our wit and sharpness can dull during pregnancy and the early days of motherhood. Sleep deprivation, hormones, and tedium turn us into veritable walking, talking mombies.
But there may be more to it: A
Furthermore, this cellular activity is most pronounced in the frontal and temporal lobes that are responsible for helping us perform everyday cognitive tasks including social interaction. (Is that why simple conversations with co-workers and acquaintances were borderline painful when I was pregnant?)
My case of mom brain kicked into high gear when I was about 7 months along — and, well, three kids later, I’m not sure I’ve fully emerged from the fog. If you, too, are in the murky midst of this common condition, I’m here to tell you you’re not alone.
However, there are ways you can mitigate the “mush” and sharpen your skills. In solidarity, I’m sharing some true tales of mom brain, plus a few practical tips to help you get your edge back.
Some fellow parents were generous enough to share their own moments of mom brain.
Apple juice hijinks
My 7-year-old son asked me for an apple juice box. I walked to the fridge, took one out, and handed it to my 5-month-old in her highchair.
When my son looked at me like I had ten heads, I realized my mistake, laughed, grabbed it back, pierced the top of the juice box with the straw, and then handed it right back to the baby.
A fuzzy situation
My husband and I were going on our first date night since our little one was born. After 8 weeks of showering on an as-needed basis only, I wanted to feel — dare I say — sexy.
I washed my hair and shaved for the occasion. I envisioned my husband’s jaw dropping to the ground when I emerged from the bedroom. So when, instead, he started hysterically laughing, I was confused.
Turns out that I only shaved one leg — totally didn’t realize I was rocking one glam gam, one wookie leg.
The binky mix-up
There was that time that I was racing out the door to make it to an appointment. “Hey, honey, can you just give the baby her pacifier before you go,” my husband asked as he bounced our fussy daughter on his knee. No problem.
I located her beloved binky on the counter, ran back to my husband, and popped it… into his mouth. I will never forget the respective looks of complete confusion and mild horror on my husband and daughter’s faces.
Watch and wash
I brought the baby monitor into the laundry room so I could watch my 6-month-old nap, threw a dirty load in, started the washer, and walked out. I was confused when I couldn’t find the monitor anywhere.
Well, I guess it needed a soak and spin. I had to buy a new monitor, of course. Guess what? That one was accidentally fed to the trash just a few weeks later.
It was my first time doing school drop-off for my older kids without help since my new baby was born. I was so proud of myself for mastering the morning mayhem and getting all three kids loaded in the car.
When we pulled up to the carpool area, I was confused because there was literally no line. There were no people. There was zero activity. Maybe because it was a Saturday.
I guess I could have considered it practice, but it would be another 2 weeks before we were actually early again.
While there’s something to be said for the laugh afforded by the previous stories, it can be frustrating to feel foggy and off your game. If you’re looking to reduce the effects of mom brain, try the following.
Eat well and take your vitamins
It can be hard to focus on eating healthy balanced meals between nonstop nursing and endless diaper changes, but antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies like blueberries, broccoli, and oranges actually feed your belly and your mind.
These brain-boosting foods help to fight off free radicals that can cause brain-fogging inflammation. Nuts, eggs, green tea, dark chocolate, and coffee (all hail the must-have mom elixir) are beneficial too.
Omega-3 fatty acids in salmon or in those prenatal vitamins (which your doctor may recommend continuing for the duration of breastfeeding) also foster the growth of brain and nerve cells needed for learning.
Get your body going
As an exhausted mom, you might be tempted to spend your limited “me-time” vegging out on the couch. It’s called self-care, and it can be blissful. But when you can muster the energy to motivate, move your body and get some physical exercise — your body and brain will thank you.
Exercise causes the release of mood-boosting endorphins, reduces fatigue, and enhances your overall ability to relax. Furthermore, it can sharpen your mental acuity by getting more blood flow and oxygen to the brain and increasing the production of hormones that promote the growth of brain cells.
Take a cat nap
I know, I know. What new parent isn’t desperate for a few more precious winks? I may be preaching to the choir here, but more sleep means more brain capacity. If you’re struggling to stay awake and focused, try a 20-minute daily cat nap.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, that’s the ideal amount of down time to improve overall alertness and performance; anything more and you might feel groggy.
There’s an app for that
Instead of mindlessly scrolling through Instagram while baby naps (guilty as charged), play a few brain games on your phone, and give your mind a little workout.
So next time you realize you’ve been wearing a mismatched pair of shoes all day, take a break and a cleansing breath and do a little mental work.
The mom-brain struggle is real, and you may find yourself spinning your wheels trying to answer simple questions, remember common facts, use the right words, and locate your car keys. (Check the fridge!)
While you can’t always fight the fog and fatigue — it’s par for the new-mom course — there are plenty of healthy ways to get a (hairy) leg up on the situation.
And if you still feel like your brain is not entirely there? Show yourself some grace and kindness, and remember that this forgetful phase will pass. In the meantime, set your phone alarm, use Post-It notes, and have a good laugh.
Lauren Barth is a freelance writer, online editor, and social-media marketer with 10+ years of experience in the ever-evolving media space. She has been featured as a lifestyle expert on national television and radio programs and in digital and print magazines. She lives with her husband and their three little comedians in the suburbs of New York City. In her very limited spare time, Lauren likes to sip coffee, stare at walls, and reread the same page of the book she falls asleep to every night.