Any working parent will tell you that the exhaustion of early parenting is more than just sleepless nights (although those can be pretty brutal). What is equally draining are the constant demands on our time, attention and mental bandwidth. One of the biggest culprits is decision fatigue – the need to be constantly making choices, big and small, about our children, work, health, food, laundry, home, social lives, extended family…you get the idea.
Making countless decisions is tiring. What should I wear today? What should we have for dinner? When is the baby due for a checkup? What home maintenance needs to happen and who’s going to schedule it? It’s easy to fall into a state of overwhelm and exhaustion.
In her book, The Lazy Genius Way, Kendra Adachi introduces the principle of Decide Once. With the Decide Once mindset, the goal is to automate our choices as much as possible. Adachi has a Monday “uniform” she wears every Monday, no matter the season – black with denim. In the winter, it might be a black sweater or blazer with denim jeans or the reverse – a chambray blouse with black pants. In the summer, it’s a t-shirt with shorts. No matter the occasion or the season, Monday is decided and she doesn’t need to stand in her closet figuring out what to wear.
Lots of us do this already – maybe it’s Taco Tuesdays or takeout on Fridays. Some families have a loose theme for every night of the week! It’s not to say that you can’t deviate from the structure if you want to, but having a “set it and forget it” plan simplifies everything from shopping and menu planning to food prep and saves energy in not having to make countless decisions over and over again.
After years of trying to squeeze in workouts wherever I could fit them and constantly falling short of where I wanted to be, I made a decision around exercise. I go running on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays before my kids get up. I try to squeeze in a walk with my dogs on the in-between days if my schedule permits, but if it doesn’t, I’ve kept my commitment to myself, and that’s enough. If I’m traveling or one of the kids has a rough night or I wake up feeling unwell, the plan changes. But that’s the beauty of a good plan – it is a flexible strategy that takes the guesswork out of the everyday.
Even mundane tasks can be more automatic. What if you had a standing order of staple groceries or household products delivered every week or twice a month? Consider having an HVAC person come on the first day of fall and spring every year to perform service, or schedule a carpet cleaning every six months on the first Monday. Dentists caught onto this strategy years ago – they know if left to their own devices, most people would never call to schedule their six-month cleanings on time. Now, dental visits are almost always scheduled before you leave the office and “call the dentist” is removed from the to-do lists of people everywhere. It’s kind of genius, actually.
Life demands so much from us and there are so many things that DO require our thought, care and consideration. Do yourself a favor and make today the day you “decide once” on just ONE thing that could make your life incrementally easier. Think of all of the time you might save for the things that really matter.
Categories: Working Parents