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If you’ve given birth and gotten through the initial recovery but you still feel out of it and just not yourself, you’re not alone. Researchers have found “New-Mom Fog” is a real phenomenon, and possibly related to the same hormonal changes that cause the “baby blues” about two weeks postpartum. These hormonal shifts combined with sleep deprivation can have a strong effect on what’s called executive function, which is the part of your brain that directs your attention span, learning ability and problem-solving skills. And then there’s the fact that with a baby comes hundreds of new, tiny details to keep in mind: diapers, appointments, laundry, feedings…. keeping a helpless baby alive requires a huge amount of brainpower, so it’s no surprise that details will fall by the wayside.
In other words, it’s completely normal and expected to feel like a little army of elves are in your house hiding your keys, purses and glasses, or to find yourself driving to the grocery store only to realize you’re halfway to your former job, or find to yourself completely flummoxed by questions like “plastic or paper?” or “what do you want for dinner?”
The good news is that the foggy feeling is a condition that will improve once your postpartum hormones go back to normal and you and your baby start settling into a routine, which typically happens somewhere between 6 weeks and 6 months. In the meantime, here are some quick fog-fighting tricks:
Have dedicated places near your front door for on-the-go essentials, like a hook for keys, a tray for cellphones, sunglasses and little stuff and hooks or a special spot for purse and diaper bag.
Sticky notes everywhere, and lists: your brain has enough extra to deal with – no need to challenge yourself to remember what groceries you need, sets of directions or phone messages!
Simplify: Run just one or two errands at a time and build slack into your schedule. Don’t take on new responsibilities like pets, volunteering or complicated projects if you can possibly help it.
Delegate: Ask your partner and older kids to take on specific chores, like dishes or laundry.
Don’t compare yourself to the way you were before you became a mother. Becoming a mother changes every cell in your body, every daily routine you were used to, every relationship you have. It’s the most extreme life transition a person could possibly experience. While things will get easier every day they’ll never be the same, and it’s unfair to expect them to.