June 22, 2015
Heather Gibbs Flett

There are some definite perks to breastfeeding that go way beyond the obvious nutritional and bonding benefits. But, let’s admit it, there are also some not-so-great parts about the whole thing. For starters, it can get a bit boring and sometimes, even isolating. I used to feel absolutely ‘banished’ when I would go into a quiet room with my beloved newborn for 45-effing-minutes per side during a party or event. I was so sad to miss out.

But this post is not about enjoying your lovebug for every second (which you still should do!). It’s more about how to cool things you can do on your smartphone or tablet to pass the time and build your brain a little in the process.

Here are a few things to check out:

  • BrainHQ app. Got Mommy Brain? This app has been found to build or recover age-affected neurological health, so why not give it a whirl? Spend 20 to 30 minutes on these brain exercises (available for the iPad).
  • Online classes. Udemy offers courses on “virtually anything” with popular classes in coding and business. I also see one on drawing a kitten and mastering aromatherapy potions! Khan Academy is one place to learn everything STEM from kindergartners through calculus. Check out their MoMA curriculum. Both boast millions of students (and none will tell you to cover up!).
  • Brain teasers. I used to love brain teasers as a child. These little quizzes and puzzles are great for speedy nursers; here are a few to try right now.
  • Strategy board games. There are some pretty addictive iPhone apps for this out there. My favorite breastfeeding companion was the Ticket to Ride app; I don’t know why, but it was my go-to nursing game. But there are so many games out there to test your brain, so go on and choose your fave.
  • Ted Talks are often a nursing-session in length and will inform you on so many wonderful topics. Nearly all of them will give you something interesting to say when you rejoin that barbecue outside.
  • Read a book. My kindle is lightweight and my phone as the app, too so I have no excuse to get behind in book club. Read a brain book or just catch up on your bucket list of 100 books to read in a lifetime.

All that being said, it’s also important to just get back outside, socialize with friends, try new things, notice your baby, and generally put the screen down to keep your brain in tip-top shape. (At Rookie Moms, we’ve assembled hundreds of ideas to have more fun with your baby, which you should definitely check out.) The important thing is, though, never stop doing, and never stop learning — now and always.

To quote leading neuroscientist, Michael Merzenich, from an interview with Forbes Magazine, on the matter of brain health:

“I have a flower garden, a vegetable garden, an orchard, a vineyard, beehives, a wood shop, a potter’s wheel and a kiln — and can often be found making wine, jam, mustard, bowls, sculptures, cabinets, spaghetti sauce or a kite. It explains the time I devote to ping pong, jigsaw puzzles, Boggle or catch, where fast reactions, adaptive memory and working memory come into play. In every case, I take such activities seriously. My performance and progressive improvements matter to me. The key is continuous challenge.”