December 19, 2008,
J.C. asks from Inver Grove Heights, MN on December 17, 2008
SAHM My Brain Is Turning to Mush
I was a professional woman and have always considered myself strong and assertive. I quit my job in June and love being with my kids and feel truly fortunate to be able to be with them. Unfortunately I feel like I am loosing my edge and my brain. I brought my car into get repaired today and I know about cars and have always been able to have intelligent conversations with mechanics but today I felt like I was unable to be assertive like I forgot how. I go out with my friends, I am in an ECFE seperating class, I read books, I bring my kids someplace daily, I spend time with other SAHM's during the day but I still feel like the only thing I can be passionate about is talking about my kids. I need some suggestions on how to keep my edge and my brain.
E.K. answers from Milwaukee on December 18, 2008
Wow I thought it was just me....There might be an actual syndrome called the SAHM syndrome. Where the brain just mushes away. Well, for me I just started working again part time and realize something has evolved and I really am not the same person. I think It goes with the reality that all of my energy, thoughts, love, concern ect are with my kids. I really have a hard time focusing on anything else. I look at it like this: this is the part of my life where I live for my children. It is temporary. I commend you on staying social like going out with friends, reading books and getting your children out daily. A lot of SAHM's isolate and totally loose touch. I am not a rocket scientist but I hear the more brain activity you keep your mind in, the better. Have you thought of taking a class at the community college or something? That might reassure you that you can still use your noggin plus give you a night to yourself. Hope you have a Great Holiday!
1 mom found this helpful
S.S. answers from Milwaukee on December 18, 2008
A year ago I was in the same boat (and still feel that way some days). Although I still kept up on current events and things, I just felt like I wasn't doing anything for me. I started to think about what I was passionate about and what I enjoyed doing. In my previous life, I was a marketing professional and enjoyed writing. So I decided to start a parenting blog (www.UggaMugga.com).
I now get to write (a creative outlet for me) about products and concepts for families (something I'm passionate about). I love to pass along wonderfully designed products, healthy recipes and fun activities for families to help improve their life..."discoveries to calm the chaos" is the site's slogan.
My friends all thought the site would fall to the wayside when I had my third child last month. But I need the outlet even more now...to do something for myself and to keep my brain active. In the end, I feel I'm a better mother and wife for it.
The blog is read in 101 countries around the world...not too shabby for a stay-at-home mom who felt at her wits end a year ago. Who knows where you'll be next year!
A.G. answers from Minneapolis on December 18, 2008
I know exactly what you are going through! I was a teacher for 7 years and loved it. It has been a hard adjustment to stay home. Recently I started doing freelance editing, and that has really helped. It gives me an outlet for my brain and helps me feel useful. I know I am useful as a mom and housekeeper, but for some reason those things just don't meet all of my needs for feeling fulfilled. I also took some classes and renewed my teaching license. Keeping my foot in that door, and finding a new career that I can do from home has been good for me. I would suggest trying to do some freelance or consulting work. You can feed your professional self and make a little extra money as well.
G.G. answers from Minneapolis on December 18, 2008
I have a different kind of recommendation for you: MPR radio. I listen in the morning getting ready for my day, in the car running errands, and during naptime when I can. They have intelligent and interesting adult topics and conversations all day long. I find myself learning constantly and staying in touch with current affairs in a way I couldn't when I was working full time! I feel like an adult when I'm listening, and it challenges my brain. I especially notice the effect on my language skills. I know just how you feel, and this helps me a ton!!
K.C. answers from Davenport on December 18, 2008
During my SAHM years, I felt just like you do, that I had nothing interesting to say unless it was about my kids and often people would give me that look...OMgosh..she's going to talk about her kids again....that's all she ever talks about. I got tired of it so I took some classes in the evenings (two nights a week)...classes such as sign language and belly dancing, something fun and interesting and interactive. I also took a writing class, a pottery class...just little things to get me out of the house that were fun and interesting to try. I went through the Adult Education classes that our local area school district offers. They were relatively inexpensive and I got to learn about and try my hand at different things. The dancing wasn't through the school, I went to a dance troope to learn and what fun! I absolutely love it :) and the gals that I dance with are awesome...I now get together with them to dye veils, perform in public (community events, nursing homes, etc.) about once a month for fun...keeps my mind active, my social contacts fresh, and the classes give me interesting things to talk about :)
M.M. answers from Minneapolis on December 18, 2008
You'll be happy to know that you are not alone in feeling this way. I try to keep busy through volunteer work. Check out the Junior League of Minneapolis (www.jlminneapolis.org). It's a great volunteer organization, gets you using your brain, and is a great place to network so that when you do get back to work you have some contacts and leads. You can also check out the Lions Club or the Junior Chamber of Commerce. I'm also a private tutor. I used to be a teacher so this worked well with me, but I have other friends who take on contract jobs in their fields so they stay current and can work as often as they want and from home or in the evening.
T.B. answers from Minneapolis on December 18, 2008
I have a little saying by my computer -"Of all the things I've ever lost, I miss my mind the most!". Your mind is still there, it is just refocusing. You mentioned you read- keep doing that and try to find a book club where you can have an intelligent (non kid related) conversation with other adults. Check bookstores and library's, or start one of your own in your neighborhood or among friends. If kids are your focus, read about raising children - it's not mush, it's just a new interest (new career?) Read the paper daily to stay up on current issues. Use the internet to dig deeper into a story that interests you. I like the idea of taking a class- it gets you away from the kids and among people who don't want to talk about kids. You are not just a sahm, you are a role model and number one teacher to your kids. Maybe some psychology classes would be interesting. I'm at a point where I'm finding bible study very interesting - and I love how it applies to my life as a mother (Moses is very much about parenting!) Enjoy the years with the little ones -they grow so fast!
H.O. answers from Minneapolis on December 18, 2008
I highly recommend MOPS(mops usually offers a speaker and free daycare while you meet) or Moms Club and if its an option seek out a Mom or home daycare for one day a week. I too went thru the brain mush stage. Nothing like a book club to get you reading and talking about something besides kid life.
Not that there is anything wrong with that.
I read the paper or the internet to keep myself abreast of the real world. I still occasionally go to lunch with my old coworkers though I left over 6 years ago.
I also now volunteer 1 day and 1 night a week between the local foodshelf and as our church secretary. I have the chance to interact with adults and exercise my brain.
There are certainly paid positions but with volunteering you are helping many people and if you or the kids are sick its volunteering and they understand.
With the Moms swap my girls get a chance to play with their friends and I get a chance to have lunch with Daddy or an errand done all by myself.
Staying home is what you make of it and once you find things to do on your terms you will find that your brain is not mush.(eta to correct your brain is not mush) Those kids just sponge up so much of it those first 5 years!!!
And you will survive the sun deprived snowy cold winter. Bundle up and go have some fun.
H. =Mom to a 2yr old girl, 6 yr old 1st grade girl and 14 year old boy. Happily married for 7 yrs to my soulmate.
L.M. answers from Green Bay on December 18, 2008
I hear your concerns; it's one of the reasons I chose to stay working full-time after my son was born this year. I work from home (as does DH) so it's a weird combination of SAHM and working mom, but it works for us thus far.
You don't mention what profession you were in, so I'm not sure if this will help you or not, but I would suggest seeking out some online communities that may be involved in your profession if they exist and trying to stay active through that kind of interaction.
D.G. answers from Minneapolis on December 19, 2008
J. - you probably got lots and lots of response to your request. You're right, the brain does "get soft" like any other muscle when it's not being exercised. While I was never able to be a stay at home mom when my kids were little, I now own my own business. I work out of my home, set my own hours and the company I work with fits in with my vision and voice. I'm available to my son to pick him up from hockey practice (on a moments notice) and to go Christmas shopping this afternoon with my college-aged daughter who is home from school. If you're interested in hearing more, let me know.
L.D. answers from Minneapolis on December 18, 2008
I don't have advice, but want to thank you for your post. I feel this way at times. Sometimes I think I don't have anything to talk about but my kid and that I've lost all my interests that I had before. From reading other peoples posts it sounds like it is important to get invovled in something that is not related to your kids. I have rediscovered sewing and reading.
B.J. answers from Minneapolis on December 18, 2008
Just as an aside- as both a prof. and a sahm and a mom with a home bus. and young twins-- in others words I've done it all but single mom- it is much harder to be a sahm than it is a prof. where you focus on that task alone.
So- maybe you're being too hard on yourself expecting too much.??
On another aside- that might have nothing to do with that- you might just be deficient in omega 3 fatty acids. After kids your body takes 3 years to replenish that nutrient unless you are using supplements throughout. Omega 3's are so important- espec. for organ health- organs including your brain. That by the way is what your fetus/kids take it from you for- fetal brain development. So if you're not - find a good omega 3 and see if that takes care of that "mom brain". Might be that simple and you'll know in a month.
Hang it there- it's hard to shift gears and maybe you'll find you need to mix both- not everyone can be just a sahm. I'm one of them.
About me- 48 yo Med. perfusionist, wellness coach and mom to 7 yo twin girls.
J.W. answers from Minneapolis on December 18, 2008
I echo the NPR suggestion - and add one: a book club. Join one, or start one - but make sure that it's a serious one, where you will truly read and discuss the book, not just have social hour (although there will always be a little of that.) You can start with just a few others (helps if they're also parents, because you'll have similar schedules, but not at all required.) My book club is a lifesaver - both because I'm READING really good books - and because I get to spend two hours a month in a room with some really smart, perceptive, articulate, passionate women who just happen to be mothers . . . Two hours a month might not seem like much (it isn't) but it makes a huge difference when they're such a fulfilling two hours. We have some kind of strict rules - you MUST read the book, three absences and you're out (building intimacy is important for people to feel comfortable expressing their thoughts), and the person who chose the book for the month prepares a list of real questions for us to talk through. And we've recently instituted the "talking piece" (you must be holding the object, whatever it is, in order to speak) because we've grown quite large (10!) and in our passion started to speak over each other too much. There's always time for a free-for-all, too, but we wanted to make sure everyone had time to be heard. It sometimes makes me feel like a totally stay-at-home-mom cliche (oh, I'm in a book club) but, hell, it keeps me feeling like a human, not just a child-rearing machine. Good luck!
E.B. answers from Duluth on December 18, 2008
No advice, just sympathy. I was a teacher for 8 years before staying home, and this is WAY harder, for all the reasons you mention. I also struggle with the fact that, as a teacher, my kids at least occasionally showed me they appreciated me. At home...well, that's allll up to my husband, and that's a lotta appreciation! I have no idea whether I'm successful here; teaching, I had a basis for comparison. Anyway...I'm into the subbing thing part time, and I'd love to go back full time as soon as a position opens. If you're planning to go back to your professional job, I would definitely suggest doing something to keep your foot in the door. It's been a year and a half, and even though I'm subbing, I feel like I'm totally out of the loop! Also...I hope this isn't too condescending...you can think of mommying as "professional" and put the same level of research into mommying--I find that trying to be "stellar" (by my own standards; I dont' think I'm a competitive mom; I know many moms who are waaaay better than I am!) in ways that matter to me help. I like cooking, so I try hard to be very healthy and make wonderful meals. That matters to me, and it helps! I don't know if there's much advice there...but hopefully you know you're definitely not alone!
S.K. answers from Minneapolis on December 18, 2008
I went through this, too. My suggestion would be to find some "adult" hobby for yourself. For me, it was writing a book. (I am still looking for a publisher on the first one and working on a second.) I also read articles on the internet and try to stay up to speed on current events, financial investments and politics to keep my brain moving.
I have also started several businesses from home over the years. None of them have been very successful long term, but I learn a lot from them. Sometimes I have to make staying at home more businesslike for a couple of hours a day so that I can really cherish the times I get back on a kid level.
Also, your 3 year old will soon be getting to where you can do more "grown up stuff" with her - read her chapter books, play board games, take her to plays or baby showers - it gets so much easier when those stages come along. And a couple of years from now she will be in Kindergarten and those days of having her with you all the time will be gone.
L.B. answers from Minneapolis on December 18, 2008
One thing that's helped me is knowing this is just a season of your life...your kids will grow so fast and progress through lots of stages. And, each stage will be a challenge. I totally get where you're coming from! This year, however, my son is in 4th grade, and I volunteer in his classroom for "math enrichment." Wow! What a challenge! I'm decent in math, not a pro, but decent, and these kids really test my knowledge! I work with my daughter's 3rd grade class in reading once a week and, again, what a great challenge! The baby stuff is fleeting, so enjoy it...and the brain mush. You'll re-sharpen up those skills as the kids work through school. Schools always need volunteers. For now...enjoy.
M.S. answers from Sheboygan on December 18, 2008
Your brain is NOT turning to mush...you have a lot on your mind that simply can't be explained or articulated to a auto mechanic. You probably had your kids with you for this excursion, no? So (like I do when I'm out with my kids)you're probly thinking about your little girl's ability to tell you if/when she needs the potty, how long your car's gonna be out of commission and what to do about the kids til then (does the waiting area have toys? Can I walk to a park/mall/McDonalds? Is it too far/cold to walk? What about lunch? Where's the nearest changing table?). Did I bring all the baby stuff I'll need? Will they miss nap today? How will that change the rest of my day? etc, etc, ETC!!!
All the while you're trying to take in all the automotive information. Give yourself a break!
Also, this world undervalues motherhood enough, the last thing you need to do is shame yourself about being passionate about your new full time job. Don't be so concerned about keeping your edge about things that don't really matter as much as raising your kids does to you now. When you had your full time carreer before you had kids, did you research and become involved in how to be a good mother? Of couse not! Because it didn't matter to you then!
My advice, stay active in those pursuits that matter to you--and forget the rest! If that means that you're not "up on" a few things, so be it. You're raising your kids and you can catch up to everything later, when they're a little older. I sounds to me like you're a little shell-shocked with the magnitude of your new position, and just need a little support to see the worth in what you're doing. Peace.
J.F. answers from Minneapolis on December 18, 2008
I do understand where you are coming from. I've been home 85% time with my little one (and she is Daddy the other time). I wanted to second what April suggested. I am also a teacher and have found that tutoring part-time allows me to keep my skills sharp (academically and socially). It also gives my daughter and I some away time and Daddy some extra one-on-one time. You didn't mention what you did professionally. Could you tap into that and do it very part-time? Could you apply another skill set that you are good at? If you don't need any extra money, maybe volunteer your services somewhere. Maybe it could be a leader of a group that does most of the delegating and organization.
Also, even though you mentioned what you are doing to help, it seems that you are with your kids 100% of the time. If so, consider one night out doing something you enjoy. I scrapbook Friday nights (most of the time) and do nothing but talk about my daughter while I'm there....BUT, everyone else talks about their kids, too!
Good luck! At least you are recognizing a need for yourself and doing something about it. I don't call that total "mush!"
C.H. answers from Minneapolis on December 18, 2008
Honestly I don't think it is just staying at home but motherhood in general that turns your brain to much! Seriously. I have been both a mom that works outside the home and a SAHM and I had trouble even as a professional after I had kids. It is like all the worry, things to do and love that you have for those little lives (3 in my case) suck everything else out of your brain... look at how we care for ourselves?! (not very well sometimes if you're like me)
To cope, I keep lists, visit with friends, participate in as many of my hobbies as I can (scrapbooking, photography, writing, genealogy), and challenge myself to solve problems creatively. And, I give myself permission to "do over" when I can - if I haven't stood up to the mechanic (or whoever) I call them back or see them again and say "ya know" let's discuss this again - or you know I really don't think that is best let's review my options again... etc... I also keep a part time job open as a possibility if the right opportunity would come along but I still think my brain would be mush?!