Conquer Mommy Brain: Discussions, Classes, Essays, Podcasts and TV

by Lian on September 4, 2013

A common refrain I hear from moms is, “ I love my kids… but I miss my brain.” You get so wrapped up in the logistics of your life, you succumb to Mommy Brain.   Too many details, too little time… and where are my car keys anyway?

Motherhood doesn’t have to mean a lower IQ, but you need to commit some energy to staying engaged.   Try some of these easy tips to Conquer Mommy Brain.

Brawn or Brain? I say the Kitchen Cousins are both.

Upgrade your Media  Sure, every mother deserves a few guilty pleasures when it comes it TV watching, but resist a steady diet of Housewives, Bachelorettes and those guys with the ducks. TV is excellent these days. Take advantage of the great writing, acting and directing. Start small: aim for at least one thought- provoking hour of TV a week. Non-fiction types should try a documentary on History or Frontline on PBS. Love culture and art? Check out the Sundance Channel for one of my faves, the series Iconoclasts, which pairs two great artists from different fields in conversation. Network TV has Elementary, Shark Tank ( Yup,  very good business advice on that show) and  The Good Wife (okay, that’s a little soap-y!). Cable is an embarrassment of riches in terms of great writing and directing with great shows from Justified to Veep to almost anything on BBC America like Broadchurch. Any, if you’re wondering if  Kitchen Cousins on HGTV counts as a ‘guilty pleasure’ or a Brain Builder, I say both.

Make The Wait Worthwhile   Motherhood can mean a lot of waiting—in carpool lines, in doctors’ offices, at sports practices.  Use the wait wisely! Take out that tablet and fire up the New Yorker or Harpers. (Or Coastal Living  because a mom’s got to dream, doesn’t she?) Review the list of most e-mailed stories at The New York Times website to stay on top of the latest.  Stimulate while you wait!

Use Technology on your Time   There are thousands of fascinating, free podcasts available online at your convenience.  And podcasts are like Netflix: once you crossover, you never go back. Figure out how and when to listen to shows on your time, and you’ll never turn on the same ol’ stuff on the radio again.You don’t need an an i-anything to take advantage of podcasts; you can listen right from your home computer while making dinner. I’ve been hooked on art history lately and have listened to most of the podcast lectures at the Norton Simon Museum site. Moving onto the Met next!  Other podcasts to check out are Speaking of Faith with Krista Tippet , The History Chicks and Stuff You Missed in History Class.  Like politics, find The Bugle with John Oliver. Or for one hour of a mix news, life, and humor, try my Chaos Chronicles weekly podcasts.  Or how about the Satellite Sister Word-write festival, our interview with authors series. Click here: 

Walk and Talk   Reinvigorate your mind and body with power walk/discussion combo.  Find an exercise partner with similar interests and commit one walk a week to discussing current events, an op-ed piece from the paper or the latest book you’ve read. Make a point to talk about the world at large before you talk about your laundry at large, at least for the first mile! Debating the latest from Capitol Hill may even burn more calories!

Go Beyond the Book Club   Too easy to talk yourself out of book club because you can’t get out the door thanks to the kids homework? Here’s one trick that’s worked for me: putting my money where my intensions are! Lots of theater companies or orchestras have really reasonable season ticket packages available.  Spend the money up front on the tickets, and then put the dates on your calendar. It’s harder to bail out at the last minute when you’ve bought the ticket! Plus, live theater or live music is always a treat.

How do you stay on your game intellectually? What shows, podcasts, papers,  writers or live events do you love? Comment here.

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Lian September 5, 2013 at 8:11 AM

Love the title Pop Culture Happy Hour. Will check that one out, thanks Jennifer.

Jennifer September 4, 2013 at 6:11 PM

Great post Lian! The two podcasts that I enjoy most after your two ;) are This American Life and Pop Culture Happy Hour, which has introduced me to some more sophisticated entertainment. The other way to keep your brain active is to learn new things – a new recipe, a new craft, a different way to get to work – they all help too!

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