Feeling drained by parenting choices? Tips to lighten the load

Does the thought of making another choice about your child leave you feeling exhausted? You’re not alone. Here’s how to ease parental decision-making fatigue.

Being a parent is tiring, but when you throw in the seemingly endless decisions that have to be made, it can sometimes feel all consuming.

Some sources have estimated that we make around 35,000 decisions a day, so it’s no wonder it can feel overwhelming.

But when almost every decision you make as a parent feels like there’s so much riding on it, how can you calmly navigate your way through?

What is parental decision-making fatigue?

Feeling fatigued from making decisions is something many parents experience.

Australian Psychological Society president Dr Catriona Davis-McCabe says this is because parenting takes a lot of energy and mental processing.

“Combined with juggling everyday life, parents can experience decision-making fatigue quite regularly,” Dr Davis-McCabe says.

“If you’re more irritable, having trouble processing information, or start procrastinating or avoiding making decisions, you may have fatigue.”

Why it’s so hard for parents to make decisions

“Decision-making can feel especially tiring when there are large consequences for the decision that you’re making in the present to the future,” psychologist Tunteeya Yamaoka says.

She says we often want the best for our kids and making decisions about them can often be quite emotional as there are a lot of unpredictable aspects about the future.

There’s also the sheer volume of decisions that need to be made in a day, which can impact your level of fatigue.

“If you have lots of small decisions to make throughout the day, that can add up and feel like you’re making a bigger decision,” Tunteeya, the founder of Ikigai Psychology, says.

Coping strategies for parental decision-making fatigue

It might not be possible to completely remove the volume of decisions that need to be made when you’re a parent, but you can make the process a little easier.

Try these simple approaches:

Focus on what is important

“By reminding yourself of what’s truly important and focusing on what you can control, you can start to remove some of the anxiety you may be feeling,” Dr Davis-McCabe says.

Create a routine

It may also be worth trying to remove some of the decisions you have to make, by automating them or planning ahead.

“Trying to plan out the small decisions you need to make, like a weekly meal plan, can also be a useful way to use your time more efficiently and relieve you of some daily stress,” she says.

“Setting up more structure in your child’s week, like a TV or sleep routine, can also lessen the day-to-day calculus many parents experience.”

Let your child make decisions

Research has also found a positive correlation between young children’s decision-making ability and their self-esteem, so consider letting them make decisions where appropriate.

For example, at breakfast, provide them with two options and have them choose which one they’d like to eat.

“Accept that whatever decision you’re about to make, it may be the right decision. It might turn out to be the wrong decision, but whatever happens in the future, just know that you did the best that you could in the present moment,” Tunteeya says.

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Written by Tania Gomez.