10 Ways to End Mommy Brain

Lindsay GaskinsIf someone gave you some money every time you were told to "treasure every moment of motherhood, it will go by so fast," you'd be a gazillionaire.

But you probably wouldn't know where to find the jar of money, so it wouldn't matter.

Mommy brain is real. And it sucks always being the mom who forgets "C" day is gym day (so her kid must wear sneakers) and Friday is show and tell day (so, yes, the kid can bring a toy to school). 

So The Stir asked Lindsay Gaskins, CEO of Marbles: The Brain Store and mom to Lulu who can still remember where she put her keys this morning, for simple tips to improve memory ... so we can recall the days before our kids started driving us nuts.


1. The goal is to train your brain -- not strain it. While doing daily puzzles in the newspapers, start off with a level of difficulty that’s demanding, but still doable. As soon as that level starts to feel easy, move on to the next to keep challenging yourself. For a new set of puzzles, try The Little Book of Black and White Crosswords or The Little Black Book of Sudoku Puzzles.

2. Try a new jigsaw puzzle. Instead of using a picture of the finished puzzle as your guide, try to do as much as you can without sneaking a peek.

3. Have you ever wanted to learn a second (or third, or fourth) language? It turns out that in addition to being helpful for foreign travel, learning another language is one of the best ways you can stimulate your brain. Teaching your brain to hear and process new sounds and configurations forms new connections in your brain. Whether you have an overseas vacation planned this summer or maybe just a weekend away, consider bringing a language-learning program along with you.

4. Time yourself to see how long it takes you to create a word in Scrabble or fill in a clue in a crossword. On your next attempt, try to increase your speed and shave off a second or two.

5. Need a boost to your workout? Music may augment the effect of exercise. Research reported in Scientific American Mind evaluated two groups of volunteers -- one that completed a workout in silence and the other that listened to Vivaldi's Four Seasons. Both groups had an improved mood post-exercise, but the verbal skills of the group listening to music improved twice as much!

6. Stress not only affects the body, but also prevents the brain from operating in top form. Take some time each day to quiet the mind and focus on the positive social connections you have in your life -- it will help your body and your brain.

7. Laughter really is the best medicine. Studies show that understanding jokes can also give your brain a workout. So feel free to let loose and let your brain reap the benefits!

8. Did you know that you're more likely to remember something if you're in a place that resembles where you originally learned it? Sometimes it's a certain smell, type of lighting, or color that helps trigger a memory in the brain. Being aware of multiple elements in our surroundings may help us more deeply process the experience and make it easier to recall later.

9. Get out and play! You may think that play is just for the kids, but as Stuart Brown highlights in his book Play, it can encourage efficiency, productivity, and creativity for all ages.

10. Try using your non-dominant hand (your left hand if you’re a rightie, or vice versa) on hand eye coordination activities. It forces the creation of new brain cells and the pathways between them -- plus it’s, well, just more handy being able to use both your right and left hands.

How do you work your memory?

Image via Marbles: The Brain Store

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