Forgetting – How to Remember Not To
On the weekend I had an epic mummy fail. To add to my shame it was daddy who came through to save the day. My daughter was invited to two parties, same day, same time. Of course I told her that she should go to the party of the first invitation that she accepted, and the neighbour’s birthday would just have to wait until another time. A few times during the week and on the party day I was constantly asked what time the party was, and I repeatedly answered 2-4pm without checking the invitation (BIG mistake). And then at 11:30 Daddy has a look out the window and asks “why are there kids next door if the party doesn’t start til 2?” Gulp. Check the party invitation… 11am-1pm. Shit. Luckily Miss was already dressed, presents wrapped and ready to go, and we were only 35 minutes late for the party.
This kind of memory failure has been happening for a little while, but in all fairness I do have three kids who all have their own social, schooling and sporting schedules. Yes it’s hard to stay on top of all the kids’ stuff, but what about mine? I have a bit of a sweet biscuit tooth, and we were without bikkies for a whole week because I forgot multiple times to write them onto the shopping list, so the level of motivation doesn’t matter! I also accidentally stood up my best friend to a soccer match. It rained, causing me to make a few calls to decide the fate of the day, and it totally slipped my mind that I was meeting my BFF there and didn’t call her. Harmless enough but it does bother me quite a bit when I can’t keep on top of it all and forget stuff.
These are prime examples of the limitations of my memory, and unfortunately it would appear that the more I have to remember, the more I have to forget also. I make lists, I make use of my calendar, I have a ‘system’ of piles. I try to not let anything slip through the net. But it is a mother’s prerogative to have a million things in the forefront of her mind, so what can we do to make the holes in our net tighter and tighter? Having struggled with this issue I have developed these tricks to aid my ailing mind!
Make lists – for the shopping, tasks for the day, whatever makes your life easier. And it’s no use making a list and packing it away neatly, it has to be visible. In your face lists that are easy to see and accessible to add to.
Attaching school notes and invitations to the calendar – whenever I get notes about events at school or for kid’s birthday parties, I staple them to the calendar so they are in a place I won’t miss. Funnily enough I actually have a two-calendar system, one has month-by-month events, and the other has year/term notes from school. Looks messy but is a great reference.
Doing things in the moment – picked up the Athletics Carnival permission slip and fretting that you haven’t signed it yet? Don’t put it back down, sign it and stick it in the lunchbox! Right now! Just like our Decluttering Diva advises in her article on getting organised, dealing with things in the moment will save you a job later. Or a pile thereof.
Doing instead of worrying – we think that if we are worrying about something then we are doing something about it – wrong! Fretting about things that need to be done does nothing but take up valuable space in our mind. If you can DO something about it, then that’s great. If not, then don’t waste your time and headspace with worry.
Using tech – there is so much technology to help us out with remembering stuff, make use of notes and memo apps. Emailing yourself is another trick that can help you to remember a thought. We don’t always have a diary handy, but our smart phones never leave our side.
Put a voice to your actions – my mum also struggled to remember everything and so she took to using pneumonics and rhyme to assist her memory. Still to this day I can hear her saying “Raa raa I’ve locked the car. Hardy har har”. Saying out loud things you need to remember creates a new verbal memory in your brain so there’s another failsafe!
Look at your schedule – are you trying to do too much? Of course you are, it’s in the nature of the word parent. Allowing yourself a little time to breathe in between the hustle and bustle gives your head the well deserved rest it needs.
Leave notes/lists where you keep your keys – or any other strategic place.
Singular focus – multitasking is a part of life, but spreading our memories too thin opens up those holes in the net. Try to focus a bit more on the task at hand and zone out the noise. Well that isn’t very realistic I know, there is a certain volume that just can’t be ignored. Consider it a challenge in concentration.
If you can think of any others then please let me know! Sometimes I wish I had an extra brain for storage, like an external hard drive. That would be fantastic, although probably a bit cumbersome to cart around, but then so is the guilt of forgotten parties and standing up best friends!
Emma Eastman 2014
Emma is a busy mum of three, part-time paid in money and part-time paid in love. The other time she is SuperWoman. Chasing after small children, stopping fights, standing up to injustices, a lot of cooking and dashing off to school in a tearing hurry take up most of her time. And then there’s the washing! After studying psychology (BA Psyc) Emma cannot help herself but analyse the way things are in an attempt to understand the world.