21 Aug Decision Fatigue: How it Affects Moms and What to Do About It
Something has been happening in the Varner home lately.
I finally pinpointed what it was and how I could fix it.
What was the problem? I’m just gonna be honest here: I was becoming a really grumpy mom.
I couldn’t figure out why I was being such a pain. I was being a pain to my husband and I just was kind of grumpy with my kids and I didn’t like that version of myself.
So I started to pray and be specific about asking the Lord why I was so cranky all the time. And one of the things that I discovered is that I was suffering from decision fatigue. It’s not something we talk about much, but I know I’m not the only mom who was suffering from it, so that’s what we’re going to talk about today.
Psst…if you’d rather listen to this post, just click here!
In this post, you’ll find out:
- what decision fatigue is
- how it affects moms, and
- what we can do about it
As moms, if we struggle with this and don’t deal with you, it will result in a really grumpy and weary mom. And when you’re grump and weary, you can’t parent with purpose.
We can’t be the women that God has called us to be and the mothers that were called to be, if we’re struggling with this type of fatigue.
So let’s get right into it and figure out how to fix it.
How Many Decisions are You Making Everyday?
The average amount of conscious decisions that an adult makes everyday is about 35,000 decisions.
That’s 35,000 decisions you make every single day. And it probably should be double that for mothers because we’re making decisions for ourselves, for the pets, for the kids, for our husbands. Basically, we’re making decisions for everybody.
The problem is that by the time dinner rolls around and you have to decide what to make, your brain has already made so many decisions and you’re tired. You’re just beat, and you don’t want to do anymore.
And that’s what causes decision fatigue for us and it affects moms most because we struggle with this constant having to decide between one or the other, having to choose, having to make decisions.
Even if they’re small decisions and it’s not just the decisions like what to make for dinner, but it’s decisions on how we respond to a situation or how we choose to talk to our children. Those are all decisions that need to be made on a daily basis.
And if we struggle with just making too many decisions and having that type of fatigue that comes from having to make decisions all the time, we get really grumpy just like I was.
I was really struggling with this. I was super grumpy.
We get really irritable, to be honest, we just get weary. We get tired and that puts a damper on trying to live your purpose and trying to parent with intention when you’re weary and tired all the time.
And that’s something that I want to put a stop to. I want to enjoy my time with my children. I want to live with intention and whenever I’m struggling with this kind of decision fatigue it, it seems like things fall through the cracks.
We’re not really intentional about what the decisions are that we are making.
We’re just kind of making a fly-by-the-seat-of-our-pants type decision.
Sometimes you have to make those kinds of decisions, but if it becomes the norm we end up in a place where we really didn’t want to be because we’re too tired to make a decision.
So what can we do about this? I mean, if we’re moms, there are decisions that must be made. And we fall into the trap of believing that there really isn’t anything that we can do about it.
But I believe that there absolutely is something you can do. You’ll hear me say “living with intention” and “parenting with intention” a lot because that’s my focus.
As I parent, I want to have a reason for why I do everything. Even in trying to let go of some of the decisions that I make every day.
Living on Autopilot…the right way
The way that we can start to avoid this kind of decision fatigue is to put as much of those small decisions as possible on autopilot. And that sounds horrible even as I’m typing it, but I want to explain what I mean by that.
If you can automate your life, if you can streamline as many small decisions as possible, then you can avoid decision fatigue.
As we create routines and those routines become second nature, they help you limit the conscious decisions you make on a daily basis.
What if you didn’t have to figure out what was for dinner? What if you took some time and planned meals and grocery lists, so all you had to was look what was on the list for that week and went and purchased it?
There’s not a lot of decision making about it, you just see it and go.
So I want you to think about the things that you can possibly put on autopilot in your life. Here are some examples:
What Time You Get Up
The first thing you can automate is what time you get up. If you wake up on a whim, or if you’re constantly hitting snooze over and over, those are taking up decisions before you even get out of bed. Every time you hit that snooze button is a conscious decision.
So if you want to streamline your decisions and you want to put that decision on autopilot, set it for a specific time and then make one decision to get up at that particular time instead of making six decisions to hit snooze.
When you’re in a state of decision, so say the alarm sounds and you spend the next nine minutes of the snooze button trying to decide if you’re going to get up or not. That’s nine minutes of decision making.
So instead, set your alarm and as soon as it goes off, spend five seconds making the decision to get up, then you’re up.
You’ve just saved nine minutes of decision making because you’ve gotten up at the same time every single day.
It doesn’t have to be 5:00 in the morning, it can be whatever time that works best for your season of life right now, but set the time that you wake up and then wake up at that time every day.
I have a particular time during the week that I wake up every single day and then I have a particular time on Saturdays and Sundays that I wake up.
And once I have kind of that set in stone, I try not to hit snooze.
I’m not going to say I’m perfect, I’m definitely not, but I try to limit the amount of decisions that I’m making even with the first decision of the day.
The next habit to put on autopilot is exercise. Exercise at a particular time each day. Have a plan that tells you exactly what weight you’re gonna lift. Then and you can just look at the plan, and boom, do it.
There’s no decisions, or “oh no, what am I going to do today? Should I go outside? Should I cycle? Should I swim?”
There’s not a lot of that decision making because you have it listed out. You have a plan. You just follow the plan and go for it. That’s what it means to be on autopilot in my thinking.
Why having a uniform can be a good thing
Another example, and this is something that it’s going to be different for every woman, but whenever I think of putting my life on autopilot, one of the things that I do is my wardrobe.
At the beginning of every week, I choose my outfits for the week.
And to be honest a while back, I decluttered my closet extremely. I wanted to have a closet that I could walk into and be able to grab anything off the shelf and just be able to go and not have to think about it too much.
I pared it down so I have a certain type of pants that I like to wear in a certain way that go with basically any blouse in my closet. I have about three go-to shoes.
I have more shoes than that, but I have certain shoes that I wear on a regular basis.
The next step with this is to try to choose clothes that go together. So it’s a uniform of sorts and not in a bad way.
I read an article once online that talked about how whenever you have a “uniform,” it becomes your personal style.
It becomes super easy to find clothes that fit with that “uniform.” It’s easy to mix and match between your wardrobe because you have a specific style and once you have that ingrained in your thinking, choosing your clothing becomes so much easier.
Choose them in advance to streamline even more. You can line them all up. You just grab that day’s outfit, you know they’re all ironed, you know that there aren’t stains or holes in them because you’ve chosen them ahead of time.
What you’ve done is you’ve made all the decisions at once. So instead of spending 15 minutes each morning deciding what you’re going to wear, maybe you spend 15 minutes deciding what you’re gonna wear for the entire week.
Pare Down your children’s wardrobe
I’ve also simplified my boys’ outfits. I used to get really elaborate in their outfits and I made the mistake of purchasing “outfits.” You know what I’m talking about: those shorts that only go with one shirt. The shoes that only match a certain dress.
But I’ve really moved away from that. They have some jeans that they wear and then they have sports shorts that they wear. And pretty much any shirt they own can match with any pair of pants or shorts that they own.
So since they’ve been 4 and 5 years old, they’re able to pick their clothes themselves and I don’t have to worry about that.
It’s a decision that I don’t have to make, but I don’t have to stress that they look like wild children either.
On special occasions I’ll make them dress up a little bit more, for pictures or something like that, but to be able to hand off the day to day decision making has been great.
That eliminates tons of decisions I don’t have to make on a weekly basis.
One of the biggest decisions that we make on a daily basis, is our meals.
When it comes to meals, each family has different tastes and schedules, so you just have to find what works for you and your home so that you’re not struggling with this decision fatigue.
Keep reading for a few different tips so you can make meal decisions with intention. What we’re trying to avoiding is you always running to the drive through at the last moment because you didn’t come up with anything to make that night.
Consider simplifying breakfast and lunch.
I eat the same thing for breakfast every morning. I’m not really a huge breakfast person to my husband’s chagrin because he loves breakfast, but I’m not really a huge breakfast person and I just have the same thing everyday.
I set up a little corner in my kitchen where I have all my supplements and supplies for breakfast. It makes my morning easy to just go through the process and not have to think about it.
Next, I have two or three lunches that I like to alternate between for myself, my husband and my kids. They’re usually something that’s quick, things that I can leave at our office that even if I forget or I’m kind of busy in the mornings, I just know my food’s there and I can do that.
I try to find ways to simplify my life and to simplify the decisions that I have to make every day.
Let’s talk about dinner
One option for busy working moms is hellofresh.com, which is something that I have recommended in the past.
It’s a home delivery service where they send you all the food and recipes. When it comes, you put it in your fridge and then that night you grab one out and make it. All the instructions are right there and you just follow along. There’s no decisions to be made, which is nice. Just a heads up, though, it can get costly.
We usually order for 2 people and then add extra meat or potatoes or whatever the recipe calls for from our pantry.
My family and I go through seasons where we use once a month cooking or make one and freeze one where you spend one or two days of the month and get all the prep work done for your meals.
When I did this, a few, about a year ago, I gathered 15 meals and repeated each recipe twice. And all were freezer to slow cooker. So there wasn’t a huge amount of pre-cooking involved.
I mainly just threw everything in the freezer bags, labeled them, and then put them in the freezer.
For the next 5 or 6 weeks, most mornings I would go to the freezer, grab a bag and empty the contents into my slow cooker, set it and go.
I saved all my decision making for the one day when I prepped.
You can also make one dish to freeze as you’re making a dish for your family to eat that night. If you do that for 15 days, the next 15 days are already completed for you.
If you do make a quadruple batch, then you have the next six weeks finished for you without having to make a decision every night. It is a little bit more money up front to make that many meals at once, but you’ll find that you save more time and money when you aren’t going out to eat as often.
Trade Grumpy for Joyful
I share a lot about the biblical side of motherhood and home, but sometimes, you just need actions steps you can take right now.
I hope you enjoyed this post on the practical side of living with intention and how to avoid being a grumpy mom. Maybe that should have been the title, “how to not be grumpy mom.”
I get it, it can be tough. There are so many decisions that come into our minds every day. But if we can choose to take them out and put them on autopilot, then we can save our decision making for the really important things like which game to play with our kids after school or what book to read to them.
It’s not that we don’t want to make decisions, we just want to save the decision making for our loved ones.
Your Time with the Lord
Another area where you can simplify your life is in your quiet time with the Lord.
If you come to your quiet time feeling like you don’t know what to read and you’re shuffling through your Bible and don’t know what chapters to read, then I want to recommend my digital Bible reading plan. It’s completely free. Just click here to sign up. You download the app so each day you open the app and the plan tells you what to read.
And you’ll end up reading through the Bible in a year. But even if you just read one or two chapters, it helps you to make a plan ahead of time. You know that God’s going to speak to you through His word because that’s the way that His word is.
Related: How to Read the Bible in One Year
You get those chapters, read them through and there’s not a lot of thinking involved. You can save that decision making for your prayer time or the time that you spend talking with the Lord instead of just kind of shuffling through your Bible, figuring out what to read.
I really hope that these practical tips helped you.
If you’re finding that you just feel overwhelmed with how many decisions that you have to make, that there is hope for you.
You don’t have to go through your entire motherhood doing that. You can simplify your life a little bit. You can simplify your decisions so that you’re not struggling with this fatigue of having to make so many decisions for you and your family on a daily basis.
When you do that, you can really parent with intention and with purpose, and that’s my heart for you so that you can enjoy your motherhood and the time that you spend at home instead of just surviving it.