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Does baby brain exist?

What is baby brain? Is it a debilitating condition that turns your brain to mush or is it an excuse for when you’re not on par?

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I can’t deny I’ve had my share of baby brain moments. Such as when I put a whole toilet roll in with the washing the week after baby was born and when I dented my brand new car by literally driving into a parked van. There has definitely been a post-baby change to my brain where at times I wonder what has happened to my mental state of mind. I actually hope baby brain is real because it’s nice to have something to blame – I’m not actually going mad, allegedly.

The good news is that as my baby has got a bit older, my moments of baby brain-ness have reduced. This increase in mental strength has got me thinking and I’ve developed a theory on baby brain…

I don’t believe that mums’ brains are being turned to mush. I think that mums’ brains are being filled with so much more information and are being used so much more, we’re actually displacing our old knowledge. A theory I’m calling BBD – baby brain displacement.

Learning how to look after a baby takes a lot of time, concentration and (without realising it) brain capacity. Your senses are heightened and you not only need to look after yourself but need to become automatically atuned to looking after another human being. We’ve all heard of a mother’s instinct. I think that this is something that your brain actually builds and develops. In the same way that your body is tired while you’re pregnant because it’s supporting another life, your brain is bound to become fatigued when it’s learning to do the exact same thing once baby is born.

Think about how much more you do when you’re a mum:

– Even when you’re asleep your mind is on alert for baby. In the early days, even the semi-silent sound of baby wriggling and opening their mouth can be enough to stir you from slumber. If that’s not instinct, what is?

– Your day takes meticulous planning. You have a 10am music class followed by a play date. You’re up at 7am (if you’re lucky) so surely you can get out in three hours? Routine: Up, nappy, bottle, breakfast, wash, dress, nappy, desperately try to help baby fall asleep so they’ve napped and are not therefore grumpy making any outing pointless, get yourself washed, dressed, sterilise bottles, pack changing bag with nappies, spare clothes, bottles, milk, muslins, wipes, clean dummies (once hunted for), toys and books to entertain, lunch (once you’ve figured where you’ll be and will they heat it). Then another bottle, set up the pram, leave the house, return immediately for a dirty nappy requiring a full change of clothes. Leave again – this time needing to run because you’re so late…already thinking about the next feed and nap.
Think we just rolled out of bed and leisurely rocked up drinking tea and eating cake? No, this was a military operation.

– When you’re doing something seemingly simple such as walking down the street, you’re not only concentrating on the task in hand but are on high alert for any hazard and foreseeing any potential danger or accident; there’s a pot hole at five paces, dog poo at eight paces, pebbles to be picked up at 16 paces, steps to mount at 20 paces, is that the sound of a car? Will that patch of gravel trip baby over? Is baby about to make a run for it? Will not crossing the road to pet a doggie make them roll on the floor in a tantrum rage? Do I bash the car that’s parked on the pavement with the wheels of the buggy? Wait, it’s tea time in 10 minutes and we’re 15 minutes away from home! And all this while singing wheels on the bus on a continuous loop.

– Then there are the endless to-do lists which circulate in your head and the panic of when you’ll get stuff done. If baby naps for only 40 minutes, can I wash and sterilise the bottles, clean up after breakfast, boil the kettle for tea, shower, change, make the bed, do the washing, pack the car ready to go out…oh and catch up on precious sleep? Not really. No wonder the tea never gets drunk hot!

– And don’t forget you’re doing all of this while being physically tortured by sleep deprivation. Fuelled by (cold) caffeine and as much cake as you can lay your hands on, you have to perform like a super hero when you’re so tired you could sleep standing up.

So the next time you try to put yourself down by worrying about having baby brain, think about the amazing feats you perform every single day in caring for, nuturing, feeding and entertaining your baby. All this with no experience, training, guidance or sleep. If you do have a “baby brain” moment, it’s not that you’re losing your mind. That piece of information has just been justifiably displaced.

What do you think of this theory? Leave a comment below or say hello on Facebook or Twitter.

Like this blog post? Read these:
Post baby: why I changed
Things parents do they’re not proud of

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10 signs you’re on holiday with a baby

This week we are having a much-needed break at Bluestone; Wales’ answer to Center Parcs. After the frenzy to pack and get here, it’s made me laugh at how much our holidays have changed post baby.

Here are my 10 signs that you’re holidaying with a baby: 

1.You decide it’s fine to leave the packing until the last minute. Then totally freak out when you realise you can’t actually do it while holding your baby or with them playing treasure hunt with everything you’ve put in the suitcase.

2. You realise you don’t have near enough clean baby clothes to last the week so have to stop en route to buy more. We came out of M&S with two new coats, a romper, pack of sleep suits, bag of baby grows and a swim suit. £100 gone and we’re only five miles away from home.

3. After being confident you’ll only pack the essentials and won’t overload the car, you pack every square inch of space in the car and celebrate being able to jam another spare towel or singing train. Having room for your legs is totally overrated anyway.

Overloaded car - picture from freedigitalphotos

4. You spend half the journey listening to songs about monkeys and the other half sat in silence hoping the rhythmic car journey will send baby off to nap. Obviously they don’t actually sleep until 10 minutes before the destination.

5. You can’t check in straight away so when shown where the pub is, you decline; you’re confined to the car and watch the rain until nap time is over.

6. Everything is done in pockets of time: so once you’re in, you dump everything and run to the pool – you only have 90 minutes until dinner time otherwise a meltdown will ensue.

7. Kids’ pools are suddenly the epitome of excitement once more – Blue Lagoon at Bluestone has a wave machine, rapids river ride, flumes, lazy river which goes outside and wet play zones. I don’t know who was happiest – baby or grown ups! Needless to say, we did take it in turns to hold the baby / ride the slides. Typically, our baby’s favourite was the staircase which we had to pull her away from after clambering up it 17 times.

Here’s a picture of the wave pool:

Wave pool at Bluestone

8. Your evening meal is now at 5pm and overlooking someone dressed as a clown dancing to Gangnam Style surrounded by a dozen hyperactive screaming children. But it kept baby entertained until dinner arrived and we were kept ‘hydrated’ with a nice glass of Birra Moretti.

9. You don’t feel guilty about going to bed by 9pm. Now this is something that’s taken us a while to learn. Usually on holiday, we excitedly stay up late drinking wine and enjoying adult company. As the week goes on, we slowly start to spontaneously combust from exhaustion. So this time around, my bedtime on the first night was 8.45pm. Up at dawn this morning with baby, I was feeling totally smug and raring to go. I’m sure I won’t be this sensible any other night of the week but I’m going to enjoy feeling awake while it lasts!

10. Your days are the most fun filled of any holiday in your adult life. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had my share of amazing action-packed holidays but there’s something about the infectious enthusiasm and unbridled joy from your toddler that makes you raise your game. Baby even makes simple things like exploring the holiday lodge a total adventure. But today we are going to visit Folly Farm before another trip to Blue Lagoon at Bluestone and I’m more excited about sharing with with my baby than when I went zip-lining across a Mauritian jungle, picnicked in the Grand Canyon or flew by helicopter over the Las Vegas strip.