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Mum Brain is real... and it’s not a weakness


Dammit! Why did I pick up my phone again?

I know I needed to do something. Something important. But then I saw the 30-odd WhatsApp notifications. Then I spotted the email about home learning resources. Now I’m sitting here, scrolling through my news feed trying to remember why I picked up my phone in the first place?


Any ideas?


This sort of thing happens to me all the time, and it’s not just my phone that derails my train of thought. I’ll often open the fridge door and stand there, staring, with no clue what I was looking for.

Or I’ll go into a room to fetch something, but end up spending 15 minutes in there, fussing about and tidying up, then end up leaving without the item I initially went in for.


How did I become this person? Pre children I was productive, I was organised. I had memory retention skills to rival an elephant matriarch. So why have simple daily tasks become such an uphill struggle?


I’ll tell you why: it’s because of my Mum Brain.


You’ll be hard pushed to find a mother, especially one with very young children, who hasn’t complained about her ‘Mum Brain’. You’ll hear her mutter the phrase, usually in an apologetic tone, after she’s said something daft or forgotten about something she was supposed to do.


But here’s the thing: there is growing evidence that Mum Brain isn’t just an unfortunate side effect of parenting, but a biological change that happens when we give birth.


Becoming a mum significantly alters the grey matter in our brain. And the effects of these changes are still evident for years after giving birth.


So isn’t it about time we stopped thinking of ‘Mum Brain’ as a flaw? Yes, it may be frustrating to know that our cognitive function isn’t what it used to be, but maybe it’s nature’s way of telling us that a good memory isn’t a key performance indicator for the role of ‘new parent‘.


Besides, us mums are doing rather well under the circumstances. We’ve got a job that requires us to keep a small human alive, at all costs. That’s a pretty hefty responsibility, and the fact that we can accomplish it with a brain that’s effectively been rewired is a massive accomplishment.

When you think about it in those terms, it’s unreasonable for a mum to be expected to remember everything all of the time.


So next time you’re caught up in a moment of mind fog, go easy on yourself.

If you can remember, that is.

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