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Mommy Brain

The easiest memory boosters

Some ways to remember the things you shouldn't forget:

Look, snap, connect
Can't keep the names and faces of the moms in your playgroup straight? Try this tactic from Gary Small, M.D., author of The Memory Prescription: When meeting someone new, focus on her, pick out a distinctive physical feature (red curls, funky glasses, husky voice), then connect that trait with something familiar in your mind. (The red hair is like your sister-in-law's, for example.)

Borrow the Game Boy
Many of the games kids play are great for shoring up big people's ability to focus: Concentration, Simon, just about any video game, says Green, who swears by a version of Ms. Pac-Man that she can play on her TV. Or check out games and puzzles online; the ones on SetGame.com and JigZone.com will give your brain a good workout.

Say "ohmmm"
Meditation can be especially helpful for perpetually distracted moms: It teaches you to be able to home in on the things that matter and block out everything else. To reap the benefits, say practitioners, you need to meditate most days  -- but just ten minutes of staying focused on your breathing is all it takes.

Write it all down
The human brain can only hold about seven bits of information in working memory at a time (that's partly why phone numbers are seven digits), though it can obviously store a lot more than that, says Green.
Heather Salzo of Danbury, Connecticut, has had countless memory slips since her son Christopher was born a year ago; now she swears by sticky notes. "I leave myself a note at night in the kitchen, and it's there in the morning to remind me. That's been a lifesaver," she says.
In Nashville, Jess Hill, mom of three, keeps a three-ring binder with pocket folders clipped inside, one for each member of the family. "I slip all school forms, class phone lists, party invitations for that kid or parent in his or her folder," she says.

If the days, weeks, or years since you became a mother feel like one big blank, give yourself a break. So what if you can't remember the name of the last novel you read or where your husband took you on your last birthday? What you'll never forget are the things that really matter: your baby's first smile, your toddler's first halting steps, the endearing lisp your 5-year-old developed when she lost her two front teeth, and the utter joy of being a mom.

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