Tuesday, May 19, 2015

How to Keep Track of Life

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With each child that we have had, I have felt a chunk of my brain become all consumed. There are a lot of things to keep track of: nap times, bed times, how people like to be dressed for sleep, food issues, cleaning, teaching, schedules, milestones...I mean, even just rotating clothes the children have outgrown is a part time job all by itself. Throw seasonal changes in clothes in the mix and forget it!

There is just a lot to keep track of.

It is enough to make your brain feel like it will explode.

As my kids got older and I added more into the mix, I would find myself doing things like realizing 15 minutes into a piano lesson that my child was supposed to be AT said piano lesson. I had to start putting reminders on my phone because sometimes I just couldn't remember what day of the week it was (is it seriously Tuesday already!?!?) or that I was supposed to be somewhere or do something.

And people, I have a freakishly good memory. Or I had one until my children started filling up my head.

You must outsource your thinking. By that I mean that you can't try to keep track of it all in your head. You may have been able to keep it all in your head when you were just worrying about you and your own life, but now you have a child (or a few). If you try to keep it all straight in your head, you are bound to forget things. 

Write down the things you are tracking. You might write it in a simple notebook. You might write it in a planner or on a calendar. You might have a tracking sheet for schedules. You might keep a running list of things you need to do. There are a lot of ways to write things down. Experiment until you find something that works for you.

I have found my brain really works well if I sit down and write things out. There is something about that kinetic movement of writing things down that makes me remember it better than if I just try to commit it to memory or even input it into my phone. 

Here are some free printables I have created to track stuff that I have available for you:

If you have more than one young child or a young child mixed in with older children and their crazy lives, you will need to keep track of things. Don't rely on your memory to get you to that important school function or to remember exactly how long your baby's optimal third waketime length is. Just write it all down (and make sure you write it somewhere you can find it again). 

There are a lot of apps out there to help you track and manage things. There are baby trackers. There are water intake trackers. There are to-do list apps. There are calendar apps. I have a post on my favorite apps I use. I wrote it almost two years ago, but many of the apps are still my most used. To this day, my favorites are Cozi for keeping track of the family calendar and Mom's Daily Planner by Yadahome for keeping track of my to do list. These things are my backup brain so as soon as I think of something I need to do, need to buy, or need to remember, I can put it in these apps and let it leave my brain.

There are simple things you can do. I will put something like, "Sign up for storytime" on my to do list scheduled to come up on the first day of each month. Then I don't suddenly remember on the fifth one month about storytime and call the library and find it is full. 

You can do the same for going through clothes and toys. 

Some things just don't have to be worried about. You don't have to track everything. You don't have to be on top of every little thing. Make things easier where you can. For example, Brinley is going on 3 and still has some 18 month old sized clothes hanging in her closet. The world is still turning. I have no driving reason to get the clothes out unless they don't all fit (I don't have a younger child waiting to wear them). My simple way of getting clothes out is when she wears something that is too small, I put it in the laundry, wash it, and then put it in the clothes to get rid of rather than back in her closet. 

Another example is deep cleaning. I enjoy cleaning. When I had two kids, I deep cleaned things top to bottom frequently. Now, I am thrilled with most things getting deep cleaned once a year. I have to just let it go. It is never all done at the same time. It is slowly through the year. 

If things are too much for you to keep track of, think of ways you can help outsource your brain work and also think of things you can let go of for the time being. 

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Ashley B. said...

Have you found that multiple children wear down your brain, or is it certain ages or stages that are most wearing? I, too, am accustomed to a good memory, but am experiencing major lapses and forgetfulness. I only have one son and he is quickly approaching two years old. I'm afraid of what will happen to my newly feeble brain when another child is added to the mix.

Valerie Plowman said...

For me, it has been harder with older children because there is more to keep track of with older children. It is so much more than eating, sleeping, and playing. It is lessons, sports teams, friends, school, homework, school activities...There is more of a disrupted schedule so it is harder to have a normal routine in place.

Something you might consider and look into is a possible thyroid problem. Hypothyroid can cause brain fog. Pregnancy can cause hypothyroidism. Fun huh? ;)


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