Friday, 14 August 2015

Mommy Mental Health: Keeping Your Mind Sharp (Part 1)

In our family of three girls, two of us are currently enjoying the challenges and joys of parenting daily, and the third sister is currently earning her Bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management. As much as a relief as it is when you’ve finished a rough semester of tight time lines and rough exams, the lifestyle of a student is a wonderful experience. Manage your own schedule, plan your own time, and of course, you have the flexibly to socialize whenever you want!

Sounds like maternity leave... except, if you’re a stay at home mom, or have light part time duties, guilt and exhaustion usually prevent you from doing much for yourself. You might experience some of that freedom, without the constant presence of friends, or the stimulation that classes and readings offer. That very first stage of motherhood can be as boring as it is tiring, and long nap times are more likely filled with housework or Netflix.

Why not combine some of that independence with some low commitment learning? It will give your brain some exercise, and might just offer an interesting topic to talk about over dinner or baby groups. We are going to look at two different approaches to banishing the baby brain without emptying your pocket book in the process. Today's options are FREE!

Mini Documentaries and Independent Films – If you’re pinned to the couch anyways, whether you’re breastfeeding or just too tired to move, why not watch something a little more exciting than reruns of the Simpsons or the talk show of the day? You can search for some ahead of time to add to a favourites list or set your PVR, so you just have to hit play. Try looking up lists of Oscar nominees from those little known categories, or asking your friends for some suggestions. Start with a few tv shows with some synapse tickling material. Here are a few shows I enjoy:

·         Through the Wormhole – Discovery Science (Science and Philosophy)
·         Inside Man – CNN (Politics and Social Science)
·         Brain Games – National Geography (Science, Sociology, Psychology)

Websites (ie. Lumosity) and MOOCs – If you happened to be sitting in front of a computer and you’re looking for a little more brain training; why not consider a training program. It can be as easy as a few minutes of game-based play on a site that tests for memory and logic, or as involving as a Massive Open Online Course. Never heard of a MOOC? You're not alone. Luckily we have a clever resident librarian to tip us off!  Google describes MOOCs as "
  1. a course of study made available over the Internet without charge to a very large number of people.
    "anyone who decides to take a MOOC simply logs on to the website and signs up"

A quick search of the available material and I found courses in economics, Spanish, nursing, and a lot more. Delve in to some material that has interested you for a while without the tuition fee to go with it! 

Library and Community Center Classes - If part of the reason you're feeling slow and unchallenged is spending too much time in the house, why not see what resources are in the public spaces near you. There are things you can do with or without your little one in tow. Just having conversation with new people can lighten your mood and help you find an interesting hobby. Join a book club, learn to knit, learn to dance, or improve your computer skills. Since you're out anyways, pick up a book to bring home with you. It might (and by might, I mean definitely will) take you a little longer to read with a kid or two around the house, but giving yourself 15 minutes to read, even light subject matter will utilize a different aspect of your brain. Personally, I love an Agatha Christie mystery. They are well written, witty, and relatively short, so it won't take up too much room in your diaper bag or purse!

How do you shake off the mommy fog on a budget? Tell us about it on Facebook!

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