I used to pride myself on my sharp memory. I could remember every middle school teacher I ever had and what three outfits they rotated through each week. I could remember recipes. I could even remember my friends’ phone numbers (of course this was when you actually needed to know someone’s number). Now it seems I can’t remember what afternoon activity my kids have, if I remembered to pack them a drink for lunch, or if I paid my mortgage. So what gives?
Working memory and long-term memory are the ones we hear about most. Your working memory stores small amounts of information for a short amount of time. It gets us through until we jot that appointment down permanently in our calendar. Whatever you can remember the next day is attributed to your long-term memory. If your brain thinks these memories are important enough it stores them. That’s how you can remember your first pet’s name, or the name of your first crush. Apparently it is rare to remember every detail of an event or person, but your mind fills in the blanks with what makes sense.
We all know sleep is important and we hear this all the time. Sleep helps our body metabolize (sleep = skinny?), sleep keeps you healthy, and sleep helps your memory. So what is a mom to do when she is constantly woken up with sick kids, a snoring husband, or a happy toddler ready to start the day? Another key to a keen memory is an active social life according to a recent survey at Harvard University. Now this is something a mom can wrap her mind around. Girls night is a must!
Overall the best way to preserve memory, as suggested by many surveys, is to stay fit. The brain area essential to long-term memory, the hippocampus, functions better with exercise. So maybe that barre workout is doing more for your mind than your core.
Of course there are natural and unnatural common causes of memory loss that cannot be ignored. Alzheimer’s Disease, depression head injury and stroke-related dementia can all cause cognitive problems.
But even with a decent amount of sleep and regular exercise I believe it comes down to the heavy burden on a parent to keep everyone’s life in the family organized. From swim meets, music recitals, paying bills and trying to feed your family a healthy meal, you can easily get overloaded. So maybe the answer is to take a step back, take a deep breath, declutter your life and find time for yourself. Oh, and of course the girl’s night out to keep up that social life!