By Vicki Little
When my children were babies, I felt like I was going crazy because I kept losing things (mainly my mind, but my keys and the pacifiers were close behind). My friends told me that this would pass. I was just earning my “mom brain” badge of honor, and all moms go through it. I have been waiting for that mom brain to go away for 9 years! I spend a good portion of my day trying to remember if I closed the garage door, signed some paper, or fed the dogs — in addition to searching for a child’s lost shoe and reminding my husband to pick up one of our children from an activity, of course. Multi-tasking and parenting go hand-in-hand, so our brains are often overworked, leaving us feeling forgetful at times.
THE TODDLER YEARS
According to international mental health and parenting expert Lynette Louise (otherwise known as The Brain Broad), “Memory challenges are most often a focus challenge when experienced by young moms. Generally, their minds are on their children or chores while functioning out of habit. Then, when they do something slightly different, they can’t recall what they did. A simple example would be listening to your child and wiping his nose while setting the keys in an unusual spot, or forgetting to close a car door.”
The problem isn’t memory but rather excessive multitasking, where mom’s focus is being spread too thin while trying to help too many people. Louise recommends slowing down. When you do need to remember something you typically forget, be intentional about putting your focus on it. For example, picking landmarks in the parking lot to recall where you parked. Get your children involved since leading them in their memory skills will improve yours. Louise suggests saying things such as:
“Let’s all put our things away where they go.” Then do it.
“What is the best way to remember this street?” Then find it!
“What time should we go pick up Daddy? Let’s put it on the calendar and sing a time song.” Sing it!
“Who gets to pick the next outing?” Chose it!
NOT SO YOUNG ANYMORE
Many moms find that when their children aren’t so little and they aren’t so young themselves anymore, they are still having a problem with memory. In fact, it may even be getting worse. If we can’t use “mom brain” as an excuse anymore, are we just doomed to experience memory loss as we age? Not according to Certified Holistic Health Coach Ramona Fasula, who is also author of “A Health Coach’s Guide to Heart Health.” She brings good news that no matter how old we are, we can build new brain cells. She suggests that we focus on three main areas to improve our cognitive functions:
Food affects more than just a grumbling belly. It also plays a major role in our moods, energy, and even mental clarity. Fasula recommends focusing on getting enough B12, Magnesium, Omega-3s, antioxidants and water.
- B12 — Found in animal products, low levels of B12 can actually cause you to score lower on cognitive tests and lead to brain shrinkage. Vegetarians and Vegans should take a B12 supplement to make sure they are getting this crucial vitamin.
- Magnesium helps the brain to speed the transmission of messages while also relaxing the blood vessels, allowing more blood to flow to the brain. Hummus lovers have an advantage here as garbanzo beans are the best source of magnesium. It also can be found in green leafy vegetables, whole grains, lentils, pumpkin seeds and avocados.
- Omega-3s have long been recognized as essential to brain function, particularly DHA. What you many not know is that it also promotes brain healing. In addition to salmon and other fish, Omega-3s can be found in walnuts, flaxseeds, brussel sprouts and cauliflower.
- Antioxidants have been linked to improvements in learning, thinking, and memory. Fasula reveals that they also aid in the reduction of neuro-degenerative oxidative stress, which makes them critical in slowing memory loss. Anti-oxidants are easily found in blueberries, dark-colored grapes, red berries, green leafy vegetables, and sweet potatoes. Foods with deep rich colors indicate the presence of antioxidants according to Fasula.
- Water — Yep, still important that you get enough water each day! According to Ramona, water gives the brain the electrical energy for all brain functions, including thought and memory process. Further, she says, it has been proven to help you think faster, be more focused, and experience greater clarity and creativity.
2. Mental Exercises
It is true that as we get older we lose brain cells, but Fasula asserts that we can create new ones through mental stimulation such as crossword puzzles, learning a new language or playing an instrument. You can also check out websites with brain games such as Luminosity and Games for the Brain.
Possibly my favorite because now I not only have an excuse, but I’m being told that I have to sleep more! Fasula states that it is thought that the part of the brain that stores our long-term memories replays the events of the day and commits them to memory while we sleep, helping them last long-term. Lack of sleep also causes us to have poor judgement, foggy brains, and clumsy hands. Further, it can make it hard for us to retain new information that is coming at us each day. Fasula recommends getting at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep a night. Now if only she could make my kids leave me alone so that it is uninterrupted sleep!
Have you worried about memory loss as a mom? What have you done to become less forgetful?
Vicki Little is a work-at-home mom with two young kids. A Colorado native, she is the Publisher and Editor of Macaroni Kid Aurora and Downtown Denver. In her free time, she enjoys volunteering, reading, camping, or enjoying a bottle of wine with friends.
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