Preventing Brain Atrophy

So a few weeks ago I promised I would write about how to not get bored as stay-at-home mom.  Some of you may laugh because you’re so busy getting dinner on and driving your children all over the county that you haven’t had time to ask yourselves this question.


Crowd control is one of the many demanding tasks of mothers.

However, that brain of yours might be sulking in the back corners, wondering why you’re always neglecting it.  Mine gets in these sullen pouts all the time, and I have to treat it like that queen it is or it just stops working for me all together.   We’ve got to keep that muscle in shape, and you’re favorite little phone games don’t count as good exercise.

But it’s hard for us to do give our brains the treatment they deserve when our modern world is so stuffed with stimulation, stimulation with no depth, stimulation that might leave our brain good and rattled but not any stronger.  If we always choose the shiny and loudest things to entertain us, our brain might become brittle, hardened, and inflexible.  Is that what we really want?

So I advocate that every woman needs to make a goal or two to work out their most important muscle in their body. Everyone may do it differently according to their talents and hobbies, but I’m going to tell you what I (try) to do.

I have this little system in place when I’m home that keeps me sane.  I put fifty things away.  I do something with one of my children (such as fifteen minutes of piano or reading) and then I read a chapter of a book, and it’s usually a book that has some intellectual or emotional heft to it.   This month I’m reading Mansfield Park by Jane Austen.


I have a goal of finishing one of these books every month.  I also try to read a few critical essays on the piece.  Did you know that Harold Bloom, probably one of our country’s greatest literary critics has compiled over a hundred different books of fabulous essays, each book on a different great work?  I plowed through almost all of his essays on Mansfield Park when we were on vacation to Capitol Reef, and my brain was singing.


Harold Bloom has a compiled book of essays on almost any classic you might consider reading. These essays bring much more insight and depth to the classics.

We may not think that giving our brain this attention is necessary, but we never know what opportunities are waiting for us. Maybe you want to study a foreign language or learn all you can about horticulture—and who knows?  Maybe you’ll get a chance to live in France or teach gardening classes.

While Ben Franklin’s friends were out gambling and drinking during their free time, he tried to dedicate at least two hours a day to study and self-improvement. And look how he turned out?  He only ran several great newspapers, discovered electricity, invented bifocals and other handy inventions, signed the Declaration of Independence, helped draft the Constitution (and mitigated some pretty intense discussions), and served as ambassador to France.  Not bad, eh?

No more excuses girls!  And boys!  Sorry for the soap box.  Will try to avoid them in the future.

What do you do to keep your brain in shape?



  1. After just reading series like The Hunger Games and Divergent (and of course books on babies and kids) for the last few years, I recently decided I needed to read a more intellectual book and found one of my husband’s business school books on the shelf: The Memory Book. Although I have only read the preface, I am excited to work my brain out again and hopefully find some cool memory tricks in the process!

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