From ‘baby brain’ to ‘mumnesia’

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I remember life before children (well, just about), when my memory was slightly more intact and I really only had to think about myself and my own schedule. But now, with a 4 year old, 6 year old, husband, career and two mischievous kittens, my memory appears to have gone astray. These days it’s very much a case of ‘if it ain’t written down, it’s gonna be forgotten’.

With two children in school, our schedules seem to be even more all over the place. We have different days for PE, after school clubs, reading days, forest school, homework books and show and tell. There are my own work meetings, my husband’s jollies very important work trips to Belgium, vet appointments, social outings, exercise sessions and a gazillion other things that are going on in our lives at the moment. My poor brain just can’t remember all of this stuff I need to remember.

Was baby brain the start of it?

When I was pregnant with my first child, I experienced my first dose of ‘baby brain’. It was a phenomenon that I had heard of but, if I’m honest, probably didn’t really believe existed. Oh boy, how wrong I was! Pregnancy did funny things to my mind and memory (and my body, but that’s a whole other blog post). I went from being fairly organised to being, well, not organised – primarily due to the fact that my memory decrease seemed to be in direct correlation with my growing bump. The bigger my bump grew, the poorer my memory became.

It was at that time that I found myself buying a diary and using to-do lists in earnest. Before that, I was pretty good at remembering appointments and things that I needed to do. Pregnancy just seemed to dissipate any memory cells that had been clinging on. I knew a bit about how memory worked from my psychology days (well, what I could remember anyway) but baby brain wasn’t something that I really knew much about. I wanted to find out more. So with my research head on, I trawled the internet to see what I could find.

Normally, in my day job as a researcher, this would be the section where I start summarising the research literature I’d found and the arguments for and against the existence of baby brain. I’m not going to do that here as I couldn’t do it justice in a blog post. Also, there was one thing that my research gave me that was so much more important to me at the time; the stories from other mums and mums-to-be who felt they were going through the same thing as me. Whether the experts believed baby brain did or didn’t exist wasn’t as important to me as knowing that there were other women were going through this too. It was so comforting to know that I wasn’t alone!

From ‘baby brain’ to ‘mumnesia’

Naively, I thought that everything would return to its pre-pregnancy state once I’d had the baby but instead I found myself slipping further into a fog of forgetfulness. I’d find the milk in the cupboard, walk into a room and forget why I was there and get part way through a sentence and forget what I was talking about. However, I always remembered the important things like feeding my baby, changing his nappy and remembering to take him home when we went out. Phew!

By the time I was pregnant with my second child, my baby brain hadn’t really disappeared but I was finding ways to manage it. My little boy was 14 months old when I became pregnant with my daughter. This time the impact of baby brain wasn’t such a shock (if only the same could be said about the impact of pregnancy on my body the second time round!). I was definitely still experiencing that familiar pregnancy fog, but with a toddler to think about and work to focus on, I really just had to deal with it in the best way I could. I would literally write everything down, from appointments to shaving my legs. I was determined not to forget a thing.

As my children have got older and we’ve moved on from the baby stage, I still find myself struggling to remember everything if I don’t write it down. I now refer to this phase of my forgetfulness as the ‘mumnesia’ phase. This is a term sometimes also used to refer to baby brain, but I think it’s fitting to the challenge of remembering everything I need to remember as a mum.

For me, I believe my mumnesia is the result of many things, not least of all sleep deprivation (do children ever sleep through consistently?!), juggling work and family life, keeping up with school activities and schedules, and the busy lives that we live in general. There’s only so much this poor old brain of mine can cope with. So I’ll continue to write things down, try not to leave things to the last minute and stay on top of our busy schedules. But if I ever look a little lost, disorganised or distracted, it’s probably because I am. Would I change it though? Not for the world.

Did you suffer with baby brain? Do you still have mumnesia? I’d love to hear about your experiences.

Mami 2 Five

The Secret Diary of Agent Spitback

17 thoughts on “From ‘baby brain’ to ‘mumnesia’

  1. oh so true. Though I have my own theory about its cause. Before we had children, okay I had to remember the occasional thing for himself but mostly he was on his own (he is after all a grown up). As your children become more mobile and sort of independent, you become the memory bank and observation tower for two or even three people! Now it’s completely different. And it’s not just remembering which days are swimming or whose party is coming up, It’s also “where are my shoes” and “I’ve got no socks” and “have you seen my car keys”.

    So is it any wonder that without systems (which, let’s be honest we never used to bother about before) we’d just disappear into a pile of never-ending questions. And is it any wonder that stuff we could hold in our heads, when it was just our life we had to remember, no longer fits! And I do wonder if hubby takes advantage of the fact that I am (apparently) the designated holder of all information and so doesn’t bother to hold onto anything “domestic”.

    This was really brought home to me a few months ago on the walk to school and wondering why sometimes it can be so stressful. Answer – because you’re the eyes and ears of not just yourself but two whole other people as well. That takes dedication, commitment and concentration!!

    I’d like to say with a child approaching 10 that it does improve, and maybe it does to a certain extent though you still have to create the systems to help him remember things and then teach them to him. But the thing about memory is that once it’s gone, it’s gone. Long live the list – whether traditional paper or digital!

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  2. Hahaha, I wrote a very similar post just recently!!! After my fifth child (who is now two) my brain turned to mush and I haven’t been able to remember barely anything since! Thanks for linking up with #sundaystars x

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  3. Mumnesia is a pain in the neck! In my pre baby life I was organised and efficient – that was my ‘thing’. Now I spend most of the day walking around in circles and remembering-then-promptly-forgetting to do the same thing over & over again. Oh so frustrating! I’m glad to hear this is a common phenomenon and it sounds like I might as well stop waiting for improvement to arrive any time soon! #abitofeverything

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  4. I hate to tell you this, but im 42, my youngest is almost 16 and I still have mumnesia. The damage is irreversible!!
    Thank you for linking up, Tracey xx #anythinggoes

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