Are you in danger of developing the mommy brain?

Did you know that 4 quarts equal 1 gallon and 2 pints equal 1 quart? The Gallon Man on my wall reminds me of this very useful information every morning as I prepare delicious meals for my children (or not so delicious meals). He stares at me with his kid drawn eyes daring me to learn more. He reminds me that I am a mom. He reminds me that I am a stay at home mom. He reminds me that I am a homeschooling mom.

Yet, even though I am a mom, I am also an intellectual adult. My brain longs to be challenged and stretched. I desire more. The simple homeschool project turned life lesson challenges me to reach for more. Remembering the liquid equivalents we all learned in elementary school is just the beginning for this mom. I will not be in danger of the mommy brain!

I am content with where I am and who I am; nevertheless,  I desire for more of God. I desire to see dreams come to reality. I desire to learn new things. I desire to become better at my craft. I desire to be better at being ME.

Life beckons us time and time again to serve, to humble ourselves, and perhaps even lay down a dream for a later time, but if we are not careful,  all our mommy choices suddenly escort us to into yet another rapidly fading evening. The evening unfolds another night of dreaming those longed-for dreams we have forbidden for the waking hours. We are then welcomed to life once again by that slow moving morning when one hour feels like five. The days run into each other, and there seems to be no time for anything else. Life gets put on repeat without any intermission to rest, discuss the drama, or just grab a piece of chocolate.

There are many times in our lives, such as becoming a stay-at-home mom, when life seems to mow over us. These seasons honestly require an adjustment period.  Life is different. The things you did before, you might not be able to do now. There truly may be things that you put on the back burner for later, and that is certainly admirable. I believe with all my heart that moms are the most sacrificial people on the planet. Every mom deserves a metal for her years of service to her children.

As much as a blessing our kids are, in the midst of all the never-ending noise and snack requests, we can suddenly get the mommy brain. Before we know it, we forget the names of our kids on a regular basis. We lose our sunglasses to the tops of our heads, and we can’t remember if we ate lunch or not. Our brain gets overloaded. We lack intellectual stimulations and normal adult conversation. Remembering things like liquid equivalents seem a bit more complicated than they should be.

Are you getting the mommy brain?

Let me ask you, have you ever gone to the store with your baby and started up a really long conversation with someone in line or at the check-out counter just to have an adult conversation and feel normal? Have you ever gotten excited about having to make a dentist appointment so that you can talk to an adult on the other end of the phone, even if it is just about planning your 7:30 am vacation to the dental chair?  Have you ever ambushed your husband when he gets home from work with all the conversations you have had with yourself in your head all day long?

I am guilty. I have done all of these things multiple times. It sounds so sad to say that, but it really isn’t at all. It is just real. If you answered “YES” to any of those questions like me, you could be in danger of the mommy brain! Not to worry, you just might need a bit more brain stimulation and more interaction with adults, and you will have to be extremely intentional to get it. The Sesame Street episodes are just not working for you.

In the last few years, I have made stimulating my brain consistently a very serious goal of mine. I felt my brain slowly turning to mush, so I have purposely ordered my life to ensure that I am constantly learning, bettering myself, and having intellectual conversation. If you are a stay-at-mom, you know this is important. I do not have to give you the data to prove it, but you also know how difficult this can be. It is a part of taking care of yourself. You are a mom, AND you are an intelligent adult whether you are presenting a PowerPoint to top executives or making a gallon man with your homeschooled kids.

So, here are just a few ideas to get those wheels turning & the brain juices flowing. I am certainly not the expert, but perhaps we can brainstorm together of some ways to get that mommy brain working for you instead of against you.

1. READ, READ, READ.
It a new year. It is a great time to make a reading goal, such as reading one book per month or a certain number of books per year. And, just to make sure we are on the same page, Brown Bear, Brown Bear does not count as your book for the month. Pick books that challenge your mind, learn something new, or join a book club.

2. MAKE SOMETHING.
I love using my hands to create something. Sometimes just putting the jungle gym in our backyard together, making a scrap book with all our my kids baby pictures, or chalk painting that old dresser is enough to get those juices flowing for the day. (Don’t know how to chalk paint? Take a class on it or read a book about it!)

3. DATE YOUR HUSBAND & YOUR FRIENDS
Consistent human interaction, adult conversation, and meaningful relationships are necessities. They can not become a last priority. Dating your husband with little people all around you may mean lots of stay at home dates, and that is OK. Just get creative and try to think of ways that you can connect with one another besides just vegging out on the couch and watching a movie.

Date your friends on FaceTime or Skype if you can not meet up WITHOUT KIDS. For several years, when I had a baby and a two year old, we only had one car that my husband drove to work every day.  I could not meet for playdates or join the mommy group. The evenings were hard to get away, because I was breastfeeding the baby.  It was honestly very hard to get any interaction, so I had to be  intentional. Weekly Skype dates and phone calls with friends became a top priority.

Put your dates on the calendar, and do not cancel or reschedule unless you absolutely have to.

4. LEARN A NEW SKILL AND/OR WORK FROM HOME
This could take many different forms. Maybe you could learn a skill that leads to starting an Etsy shop. You could start a blog. Your new skill could lead to a really cool stay at home business. I am amazed by the things some of my friends have come up with to not only stimulate their brains, but even bring in some income for their family. I assure you that you have something to offer someone else. They might even want to pay you for your service or product. For example, after we had our first baby naturally, I was hooked on learning more about natural childbirth. My curiosity turned into teaching others about it. Now 6 years later, I have a very successful and fulfilling natural childbirth business providing a variety of classes to other couples in my community.

Just a side note: If you find a  hobby that turns into profit, a ministry to others, or even just an outlet for you, look at it as a job. Treat it with respect, and strive for excellence in it.

5. GET DRESSED IN THE MORNING
This may sound silly, but it is one of my most tried and true ways to get my brain pumping every day. It is a choice that I make every morning with great intention. If I am planning to have a day of rest, I mostly wear sweat pants and a t-shirt. If I planning to have a productive day, I get dressed like I am going somewhere. Most days I don’t ever leave the house, but I pretend like I am.

6. CHOOSE THE WORD & PRAYER
Ask Jesus to renew your mind & read the Word of God. Seek wisdom & revelation from the Word. Even if it is for just a few moments in the morning, take the intermission.

Mommy-hood is hard. It just is, but I challenge you and myself to get those wheels turning. You will inevitably still have moments when you find your toothbrush in the freezer, your car keys in the dryer, and you give your kid the dog food while the dog enjoys his gourmet mac n cheese. These moments happen. They can get the best of all of us, but let these moments remind you that you have a brain that deserves your time and attention.

Be blessed and go learn something new today!

Cathy

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