How Homeschool Moms Can Combat Decision Fatigue

Life is full of decisions, and the life of a homeschool mom is unusually full.

  • We decide what's for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
  • We decide on curriculum, activities, and schedules.
  • Making the appointments, arranging get-togethers with friends, and even booking the vacations often fall to us.

Sometimes it just gets to be too much. Coupled with the hundreds of questions we are asked daily, homeschooling can feel overwhelming.

When Decision Fatigue Hits

Decision fatigue has hit hard this time. I can't answer another question or make another decision. There have been some big decisions lately, like not participating in our homeschool co-op this year, which was an overwhelming burden on my decision-making abilities. Then there are the small daily decisions which aren't monumental or life-changing but snowball until I feel trapped under an avalanche.

When I reach this point, my default reaction has often been to stop making decisions, which is itself a decision. Oh, the irony.

But the problem is that this solution can only last for a short period. It doesn't address the underlying issues. So what can we do as an overwhelmed homeschool mom to combat the insidious nature of decision fatigue? Here's what I'm going to try.

1. Batch the Decision Making

I tend to be a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants type of gal, which by default means not much in my life is scheduled or routine. This aspect of my personality is a significant cause of decision fatigue.

So my first step is to look at my week and make some of those decisions in advance:

  • What day can we get to the library?
  • When can we make it to the gym?
  • Do I have a day with no commitments?
  • Assign a day for shopping that hopefully coincides with other errands.

I know this seems natural to all the organized, habit-oriented mom, but for the rest of us, this needs to be a conscious practice.

2. Relinquish the Need for Control

How Homeschool Moms Can Combat Decision Fatigue Do all of these decisions require my input, or am I just feeding a desire to feel in control? Do I truly need to decide what clothes the children will wear? Maybe on holidays, but it won't hurt if they otherwise don't match.

Think of all the decisions you're making, and determine which ones you could give up without any significant adverse effects. Moms think so many of these decisions are up to us, but often the issue might not even require a decision. So release your  grip and let the non-essentials fall to the wayside.

3. Automate Where Possible

Automation is the area I need to work on the most. To me, schedules are just a piece of paper, and they hold no power over me. So I need to focus on creating automation in my life which will lessen the mental load I carry around as I try to remember everything.

So what can a homeschool mom automate to take some of the decision making off her plate?

These all seem pretty simple, but they would add up to a significant increase in our time to relax or focus on other priorities.

4. Just Say No

It's okay to say no. I'm very protective of my time, so I usually have little trouble saying no, but I know this isn't true for everyone. You think once you say yes, the decision has been made, but often that yes begins a long line of future choices and mental energy expended.

This string of future choices is one reason I decided to quit our homeschool co-op. For us to participate, I needed to teach. Obviously, this created a year full of decision making, planning, and choices that were taking too much of my time and mental energy.

It can be tough to say no to things that you enjoy or appear to be a positive addition to your life, but you have to look at the bigger picture. Will the benefits outweigh the mental load and decision making energy required? This answer will be different for everyone, but you certainly need to consider this before agreeing to every good opportunity.

5. Just Make the Decision Already

Some people can quickly make a decision and stick to it. They don't seem to question themselves or whether they made the right choice. Others second guess every decision they make, including what they ordered for dinner.

I can fall into both camps, but I know I feel better when I just make the call. Often we cause ourselves more stress by second-guessing our decision, even the small ones.

Why do we do this?

Maybe because we believe there must be a right answer, but is this true? Most decisions come down to preference, and there is no right or wrong answer. So make the best choice you can with the current information and move on. It certainly makes me happier to be done with a decision than agonize over the process.

Time Is Our Most Precious Resource

Homeschool moms don't get paid for our efforts, so we tend to underestimate the value of our time. But we shouldn't. Time is our only real wealth, and how we use it is precious.

Homeschool moms don't get paid for our efforts, so we tend to underestimate the value of our time. But we shouldn't. Time is our only real wealth, and how we use it is precious.

I don't want to spend my time worrying over frivolous decisions when I could be focusing on more important things like homeschooling and loving my family.

So with that in mind, I'm on a mission to alleviate decision fatigue wherever I can. It won't be easy, but with consistent effort, I hope to decrease my daily mental load which will allow me to focus on what really matters—my family.

About the Author

Bethany Ishee

Bethany is the mom of six always homeschooled children who one day realized she'd lost herself in the process, probably under a pile of laundry. Her eclectic style of relaxed homeschooling draws upon classical to unschooling methods and everything in between.

While homeschooling her children, teaching at a Project Based Co-op, and writing about learning outside of school, she still tries to find time to read a book, drink coffee, and pay the bills. Read more from Bethany on her site Real inspiration for the authentic mom.


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