Sunday Snippet: Easing Parenting Decisions Fatigue
Being a parent can be exhausting. We are constantly making decisions for our children, some with little impact on our overall life, and some with monumental impact, nonetheless, they are decisions. It is important to have a solid foundation to base all decisions off of in order to create consistency for your child. Here are some helpful tips from Megan Blandford’s article, How to Ease Parenting Decision Fatigue.
- Pick your battles
- Give your kids the ability to make decisions
- Plan ahead with rules that work for your family
- Make decisions during clear-thinking times
Read more about how to ease parenting decision fatigue below!
“What’s for dinner tonight?”
Already today, I’ve decided 300,000 things (give or take) for my kids, ranging from if it’s okay to take toys to school to whether one child can have a sleepover the next night, and everything in between.
My brain is refusing to work; this feels like one decision too many.
If this scenario sounds familiar, then you might be experiencing decision fatigue.
Decision fatigue is a psychological state that’s caused by making lots of choices. It might feel like your brain wants to shut down or you find each decision becoming harder and harder.
It’s a condition that’s often discussed in the business world. Company leaders and politicians speak of automating the inconsequential decisions so they can focus on the big things: Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg shared a photo of his wardrobe stocked with grey t-shirts and the caption, “First day back after paternity leave. What should I wear?”
But if your days are anything like mine, then it’s true that parents are regularly facing decision fatigue too.
The decisions you’re making may or may not be difficult ones, but it’s the sheer number of them that can seem overwhelming.
“The younger your children are, the higher the volume of small decisions you have to make, and as they get older there are often less decisions but they’re bigger decisions,” says Kirstin Bouse, clinical psychologist and author of The Conscious Mother.
And the result of this fatigue? “Sometimes you just cave, because you’re so tired of having to think things through,” Bouse says.
So, how can we ease the decision fatigue in life as a parent?
PICK YOUR BATTLES
Don’t sweat the small stuff, they say … but what’s the small stuff to you? And what’s the big stuff?
It’s important to figure out the battles that you believe are worth sticking to. “Get really clear on your value system,” advises Bouse, “because that becomes the filter that all the queries go through. Having a strong sense of your values and what’s important to you can make decision-making easier.”
GIVE YOUR KIDS THE ABILITY TO MAKE DECISIONS
As your kids get older, it’s easier to give them the authority to make some of their own decisions. This is good for them, and also takes some of the load off you.
One common question that adds to the decision burden is the use of technology, and Bouse offers this advice for helping to ease that question: “You could tell your child that they have a certain amount of time on the iPad each week, so they can choose how and when they use that time.”
PLAN AHEAD WITH RULES THAT WORK FOR YOUR FAMILY
If you can set guidelines that work with your family values, then you could make daily life a little easier.
Knowing where you stand on the bigger issues that relate to your child’s age can help you to make one big decision, rather than being constantly asked about things like extracurricular activities or sleepovers.
“If you don’t agree with your child having sleepovers, then the decision is made and you don’t have to go through the process each time,” says Bouse, adding that communication is the key. “You need to talk to your child about it and explain the rules, perhaps coming up with a compromise.”
MAKE DECISIONS DURING YOUR CLEAR-THINKING TIMES
Making some decisions away from the chaos of the day can be really helpful in easing that feeling of having to decide everything in the moment.
For example, can you make a weekly meal plan so that one daily decision is already taken care of?
Personally, I’m considering taking a leaf out of Zuckerberg’s book and automating some of the small decisions. I hope my kids are looking forward to Spaghetti Bolognese every night for the rest of the year.