When I was in college, I could remember lists and tasks. I juggled work schedules, class schedules, event schedules, and homework schedules. I used a planner to keep track of big things, but day-to-day living was kept in my brain. After college, I was a hiring manager for a store. I was responsible for scheduling employees, interviewing for new positions, the daily running of the front end, and facilitating new hire trainings. That was easy compared to the managing I do now. And it seems like my brain is starting to pay the price. Oh, how I miss my brain!
Many days, I wake up with a brain full of things that need to get done, should get done, or would be fun to do. In those few quiet moments, I plan out my day and know exactly what I’m going to do and when.
Then the children wake up. And it’s “Get dressed. Make your bed. Do you have your homework? Do you have your glasses?”
Sometimes it’s “Honey, where are the car keys? Have you seen my papers? Where’s my lunch box?”
Then it’s “Mommy can I have a juice? Do I have to change out of my pajamas? Can I have a snack?”
Add in the baby wanting to be held, wanting a juice, needing her diaper changed – All of that in the 30 minutes before the bus arrives to take the school children to school.
I close the door, after goodbye hugs and kisses, turn around to see my last two children waiting for me to do things – and my brain goes blank.
Gone is the carefully prioritized list of things I need to do, should do, and want to do. It’s completely empty. So, I resort to routines to get through the morning – which is helpful. But, boy do I miss my brain! I miss its ability to recall what needed to be done, and pay attention to the special, non-daily, events. My husband will tell me a list of events coming up at his work. Anything past item number two gets lost inside my brain. So, I have to ask him again, and again, until I get the list written down (two at a time).
It’s not like I’m ill or scatter brained. My brain seems to know what it’s doing. I think my problem comes from managing five little bodies – their health, education, social development, life skills development, and ability to make positive relationships with others. I add to that the management of the house and meals, nutrition, and recreation. Sometimes, I even need to manage things for my husband – like finding his car keys, belts, or shoes. (Which may have been carted off by our baby somewhere during my watching her, so I’m the last adult to have seen where they went to.)
I’ve tried to overcome this with lists and routines, calendars and visual aids scattered throughout my house. These things help to create order and help my brain know what I need to do next. There are days that juggling everyone’s schedule, needs, and homework takes all of the management skills I’ve ever learned. I’ve developed a simple weekly calendar that helps me keep everything straight. It’s very simple in its design — I don’t like using a lot of ink on something I’ll throw out the next day. It’s effective because it keeps my focus for the week right there on my fridge where I can be reminded of it every time I go to snitch some chocolate chips. (A sanity staple around here.) Here’s the PDF, Moms organization chart, for anyone interested in using it.
I’m hoping, in a few years, the franticness of the days will calm, I’ll be allowed more sleep at night, and my brain will recover from these years as a Mommy. Until then, I’m sure I’ll be just fine. Every Mommy suffers from Mommy Brain, right?