Diagnosis: Inner Tube Brain

While I was pregnant, other moms would tell me to watch out for “Mom Brain.”  After careful examination of my symptoms (i.e. turning on the washing machine before taking the clothes out, forgetting the three items I wanted to buy at the grocery store), I’ve diagnosed myself with this condition.

I like to think of my current state as “Inner Tube” brain.  Just like an inner tube in a pool, some things go right through the middle.  Other things land on the inner tube, but then slip right off the side.  Only every once and awhile do things get stuck in the middle.

From what I’ve heard from other moms (both new and experienced), this is my new normal.  I can do nothing about it, so I’m not going to try.  What I can do is figure out how to counteract the symptoms.  Here are the treatments that are working for me:

Write it down

This has always been important for me, but now it’s even more so.  Once I’ve written the item down, it can fall off the side of my Inner Tube.  I don’t have to continuously remind myself about it.  Using Workflowy (see last week’s blog post: The Product Files: I ♥ Workflowy) has been a great tool to help me keep track of items I would typically forget.

Prepare more

When I prepare for the next day at night, I give myself more time to think about what I need.  I don’t have as much preparing to do during the day, so I have time to think more clearly; clearer thinking equals more thoughts getting stuck in my Inner Tube.

Word of caution: Don’t take this to the extreme.  One day during X-man’s nap, I prepared the jogging stroller for a jog, the diaper bag for a shopping trip, and the kitchen for dinner.  None of those things ended up happening because X-man woke up not feeling well.  

The times when I think I have every detail prepared are the times my plan goes in the garbage.  I try to focus on a few key items such as, preparing the coffee machine, loading the diaper bag, and showering at night.

 Focus on the task at hand

It’s easy to think that if I do three things at once, I’m more productive.  But when I try to multi-task, everything starts slipping off the side of my Inner Tube.  Writing an e-mail, playing with X-man, and making dinner at the same time means nothing gets done well.  When I focus on the task at hand, it gets done earlier and better.  Of course, sometimes I have to keep X-man entertained while making dinner, but I don’t have to try to write an e-mail at the same time!

Which task to pick...Make dinner? Play with X-man? Check e-mail? Looks like X-man wants to cook!
Which task to pick…Make dinner? Play with X-man? Check e-mail?
Looks like X-man wants to cook!

Get help

I’m not talking about professional help (at least not yet); I’m talking about my husband.  I don’t have to do everything, nor do I have to control everything.  If I have less to think about, more of the items I really need to remember get stuck in my Inner Tube.  These are a couple examples of how J and I have split-up household work:

  • – He sorts the laundry at night; I do it the next day
  • – One of us does the meal planning; the other one grocery shops
  • – One of us cleans the floors; the other one deep-cleans the kitchen

Give myself a break

This is actually the most effective treatment I’ve found.  I will forget things.  Things won’t always get done exactly how I’d like them to be done.  Some things won’t get done at all.  And that’s all okay.

While my condition is serious, it isn’t terminal.  The above treatments are helping and I think I’ll pull through.

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