Opinions are divided as to whether Baby Brain is actually a myth. When I was pregnant, everyone told me I would get absent-minded. I was fuzzy headed and I did a few ridiculous things, including accidentally locking myself out of the house while wearing pyjamas. However, I often wonder if I just noticed these events more because people told me they would happen. If I really analyse things honestly, I was quite good at being absent-minded before I was pregnant. Those that live with me will attest to this; pre-baby, I was known to put my keys in the freezer and ‘store’ full tubs of butter in the dishwasher.
I think it wasn’t so much a case of brain drain, but, rather, that my attention was directed to the upcoming birth of my son. Professor Helen Christensen at the Australian National University in Canberra followed 2000 women over a 10-year period. She tested cognitive abilities at different stages, and her study revealed that there was no difference in cognitive ability before or after pregnancy. She concluded that changes in behaviour were a result of mothers directing their focus to the upcoming birth instead of concentrating on daily activities.
As with anything to do with health, opinions are still divided. In another rather scary 2002 study, Angela Oatridge of Hammersmith Hospital in London looked at brain scans of women before and after pregnancy and discovered post-pregnancy brains were smaller. If this fills you with horror, you will be relieved to know that this was reversed six months after delivery.
For me, the real brain drain happened after the birth of my son. It wasn’t the pregnancy or being a mum that caused it, but rather the extreme lack of sleep. There were days when I couldn’t piece together simple sentences, and I even developed a mystery stutter. The broken sleep had slowed my poor brain down. My pace of living was also slower; instead of rushing around meeting people, teaching classes or writing reports, I spent hours holding and gazing at my beautiful son. I was living purely in the moment, rather than planning ahead or thinking about past events.
Now that my son is a little older and I’m getting (a little) more sleep, I find myself craving more activities to keep my brain ticking over. As any stay-at-home parent will attest, it is always lovely to get out and speak to adults when you are spending most of your time talking to yourself and your very patient baby.
Boredom, isolation and lack of sleep are seen to be top contributors to post natal depression. Gone are the days when we had entire communities chipping in to raise a child. We live our lives in relative seclusion and it is sometimes hard for new parents to find opportunities to connect and engage. Here are our top local activities that are child-friendly, but geared towards parents. Hopefully, they will help you get that brain ticking over and connect you with other like-minded souls.
Culture Mammas promise to ‘nourish your mind with art and culture events where little ones are welcome’. They hold gallery visits, talks and workshops for parents to connect with other art makers and art appreciators.
With its pram-friendly venue, family art days, markets and periodical art talks for parents, Substation makes it easy for parents take in art and culture in a fantastic local venue.
Footscray Community Arts Centre is an Australian Breastfeeding Welcome venue, which means that it has ample room for prams, changing room for infants and places to feed comfortably. Aside from their fantastic art programs they run parent- and child-friendly events throughout the year. There is something for everyone, with exhibitions, music events, theatre productions, picnics, drawing classes and even dad and child animation sessions.
If you feel like you have spent too much time around the house, but don’t have childcare, Mumma Afro will get your blood pumping again. The class is geared for mums and you can bring your baby along.
Want to learn more about our fantastic area, take in our surrounds and eat great food? Lauren Wambach of Footscray Food Blog runs tours of the local markets, as well as tasting sessions. While it is a little tricky fitting prams on these walking tours, babies in carriers can come along.
Yarraville Community Centre offer a huge range of courses AND they offer occasional daycare. Get some much-needed respite while learning something new. With dance, art, gardening, sewing, computer skills and more on offer, there is something for everyone.