I have become famous in my family and friends for my terrible memory. While I never had a photographic memory to begin with, it has gotten really bad after the birth of little H. So much so that three months postpartum I went to the doctor especially complaining about my poor memory. The doctor, a wizened old lady with kids and grand kids of her own peered at me for a few seconds. And then asked do you forget to feed your baby, do you forget to wash her poop, do you forget to give her medicine when she is sick. When I answered no to the all these questions she said my memory is perfectly fine and I am just suffering from mommy brain. I still insisted she give me some supplement for my memory but she just brushed me aside. To my credit the only serious blooper I committed was forgetting H’s three month vaccination. After that my family was diligent about asking me and reminding me about any upcoming vaccinations. When I googled about poor postpartum memory I realized researchers have coined the word momensia for it.
Two and a half years down my memory fails to show any signs of improving. And I just have one kid! I am often found standing in front of the open refrigerator thinking what I came to get. According to my mom this happened to her only after four kids. Guess it is the ‘asli’ diet in their childhood which gave them an edge in the memory department. And of course whenever I leave the house to go for a sleepover at my mums, I often come back after five minutes to retrieve the very important thing that I forget. Both my mother in law and mother now know not to lock the gate till at least fifteen minutes have passed from my departure! I have forgotten my phone charger countless times, not to mention stuff like keys, wallet all because I changed my handbag. And the most important forgetting diapers! There is an unspoken rule of poop, the only time you forget to bring the diapers and an extra change of clothing that is the time your child will have a major poop disaster right in that very important family wedding or dinner. You and your husband will exchange worried glances each time a loving uncle or aunty would want to pick up your toddler. Once on an outing, I made my hubby stop at a mall, buy diapers from the supermarket and then changed H’s diaper in the mall’s changing room. I have a mantra for dealing with such accidents, pause, take a deep breath, tell yourself you will be laughing about this in a few years! And then tell your husband this also because you can tell he is thinking about his expensive car seat covers!
So over the last two years I have collected a few tips to counter momnesia:
- Download a to do list app like astrid on your phone. There are also many family apps which you and your hubby can use jointly like cozi. But it never worked for me because hubby dear would just ask me to remind him instead of upadating and setting a reminder on his cozi account. So personally I like astrid. It sets you make multiple lists e.g. you can have a grocery list so when you find yourself at the grocery store unexpectedly and cannot think what you needed, you have the list. Similarly it lets you set recurring reminders like I set one for my daughter’s and my vitamins. There is also a list for today, you update it for everyday. I like to make my to do list for the next day before bedtime, or in the morning after Fajr. That ensures I do not forget any important tasks for the day. And ah the sweet pleasure of ticking off tasks off my to do list.
- You know how random things to do occur at the most inappropriate moments. Make a master to do list on a piece of paper or cardboard and stick it on your dressing mirror or someplace where it is very obvious. Then attach a pen too. And whenever a random thought occurs write it down IMMEDIATELY. I repeat write it down immediately. Do not wait to finish the task you are currently doing because for sure it will leave your brain the minute you finish the current one. Also have a separate to buy list, you could have it on your phone on astrid. Being a pen and paper girl, I also like a nice big list on my dresser too, one column showing things to buy and one column showing things to do. From that master to do list and to buy list I transfer things to my daily to do lists on my phone. Also a good idea is to plan your whole week. That ensures you do not forget any important event like doctor’s appointment or vaccinations.
- If you are a desi mommy like me and live in pakistan, you might also want to have a list of things to tell your maid. In the mad preschool drop off and pick up rush I often forgot to give instructions to the maid and would later fume when she would do things the wrong way or I would have to do her errands just because I forgot to tell her. With the maid instruction list this problem was solved.
- Plan your menu especially your breakfast menu with a few alternate plans if you have a fickle toddler like mine and limited time in which to feed her. I have a weekly menu of dishes which I know my toddler likes plus there is always one simple backup plan. So if H refuses to eat the omelette I lovingly prepared for her (wrings hands in frustration), I give her a simple cheese sandwich or raisins and bananas. Plan your daily lunch and dinner menu. That prevents you realizing at the last minute that you have forgotten two ingredients for today’s dish. Once you have the weekly menu, you can do the weekly grocery. See easy peasy.
- Another important one which I learned after many mistakes. Always have your diaper bag ready. Replenish your diaper bag as soon as you come from a trip or at least the very next day. This tip usually prevents the diaper forgetting the disaster!
- If your mum lives in the same city and you often go for sleepovers or just spending a day then you would have to lug a whole bag of clothes for your little ones. In that case have a handy checklist to make sure you do not forget anything. A sample checklist could include stuff like onesies, socks, shoes, caps, sweaters, vests, phone charger etc. Of course an easier options is to keep some clothes there. Usually this does not work for me in winters because I often keep a limited stock of clothes for the short Karachi winter and cannot afford to leave clothes at mums too. But it works great in summers.
- If you have a toddler and often go out then keep some ready to grab snacks handy in your fridge. This minimizes the chance of you forgetting them and countering a middle of the trip car tantrum fueled by hunger.
- Last but not the least, embrace your forgetfulness and kick guilt out. You are only human and among a million things that you have to keep track of, it is ok to forget a couple. Remember as long as you have a healthy, happy child the rest is all ok.
Ok mamas, that is all for now, though I am sure I am forgetting something crucial! 😀