Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…
We only have so much energy in terms of decision making that we are allotted each day, this is a fact. Decision fatigue is what occurs after we have made a myriad of decisions in a given day.
Consider when you have had a long day at work and you come home and your children are asking for things that you would not normally allow mid-week, but because it’s been a long day and you have already processed dozens of decisions at work, your reserves are depleted, and you acquiesce. Afterward you wonder how did that happen?
That is not just you, that is every parent the world over – at the end of the day we are tired, vulnerable and sometimes agree to things we normally would not permit. Too much screen time on a school night. Pizza again for dinner. I have been known to let my children have a Starbucks frappuccino for dinner. What mother in her right mind does this? They are full of sugar calories and good for no one.
Why does this happen? I have an explanation. At the end of a long day we have already used up our decision making quotient and have no reserves left to buffer us. So when our kids badger us, we capitulate. That is when bad things happen. This has a domino effect; mixed messages to kids always come back to haunt us.
How do we protect ourselves from decision making overload? Information is power. Being aware of our vulnerability after a long day is crucial.
So, if we are struggling with a diet, for instance, and are making healthy decisions around that several times during the day, along with the other life or work related decisions that we make on a daily basis, – voila! The decision-making part of the brain finally says, “I’m done – I have no more energy for today.” When our kids detect that we are vulnerable they move in for the kill, and we are left wondering how that happened.
To protect myself from decision fatigue, I try to eliminate unnecessary decision making. How? I decide what to wear the night before. I make a list at night for the next day with my top priorities so I don’t have to do that when my brain is fuzzy in the morning. I plan the little things that are time consuming and energy consuming, like dinner for the following day. I train my children to plan and organize their day the night before. I assign them tasks and enroll their help with getting work done around the house. That way I don’t get caught in their whirlwind of chaos in the morning when we are trying to get out the door.
My goal is to do the things that set me up for a great day, not spend 30 minutes deciding what to do next. When I eliminate some of the confusion by planning in advance the night before, the big decisions will take care of themselves. Try it, see how it improves the quality of your life.