Dave and I often joke about how we are somewhat “boring” in the sense that we don’t DO a whole lot. Some of our extroverted friends might even say we are “really boring”… and honestly, I’m not offended by that because it’s mostly true!
Considering Dave and I both lean more towards the introverted side of the spectrum, we both tend to prefer being home with just our family versus going out anywhere, especially with 4 young children who are bound to be hyper, crazy, loud, destructive, and messy for at least part of the time we’re out!
Another reason we prefer staying home is because it’s fewer decisions we have to make!
For example… Going Out to Eat:
Anyone who has read my blog for any amount of time knows that, aside from Culver’s and sometimes Arby’s, we NEVER go out to eat… ever.
We’ll order pizza or get a car-side-to-go order from a local restaurant if we want a special treat or if I want a night off of cooking, but we never actually go IN to a restaurant other than Culver’s or Arby’s — and even then, Dave and I would definitely prefer to just go through the drive thru and eat at home.
Dave and I did get a gift card to a local restaurant that doesn’t have a to-go menu, so we actually went out, just the two of us, earlier this summer.
It was definitely nice to be out without kids, but we both agreed we didn’t have to do that again for a while. We’d rather just drop the kids off at one of our parents and enjoy a quiet meal at home!
Yes, we save money (and calories) by eating the vast majority of our meals at home… but the real reason we don’t enjoy going OUT to eat is because it requires so many extra decisions on our part.
- where should we go?
- will it be kid-friendly? if not, who will watch the kids?
- has everyone gone to the bathroom?
- is everyone loaded up in the car?
- where should we park?
- how long will it take to be seated?
- can our kids wait that long?
- what should we order?
- what will the kids like and eat well?
- what should we do while we wait for the food?
And then there’s the constant “checking in” from the waitress to see if we like the food, if it tastes good, if we need anything, if we’re going to get dessert, if we need a box, does it still taste good?, etc. etc. etc.
When we stay home, I simply make the food that’s on my menu plan for the week — usually without a recipe because it’s something I’ve made many times before. When it’s time to sit down, I know the kids will like it (most of the time!) and we can simply enjoy our meal without constant interruptions.
I know this is a somewhat silly example, but it just goes to show how many extra decisions we need to make when we go out versus when we stay home. Right now, making extra decisions is one thing I try to do as little of as possible as it easily drains my energy and my patience — both of which are often in short supply these days!
Here are a few other ways I reduce decision fatigue:
I wear the same jewelry all the time.
I rarely ever wear any jewelry outside of my wedding ring and 2 pairs of earrings I keep in day and night.
This means I never need to think about coordinating my jewelry with my outfit (it’s all white gold so it goes with anything), and packing for any sort of trip is a breeze!
Also, sort of along the same lines, but I do my hair the exact same way every day — it takes me 3 minutes and I’m ready to go!
We keep all library books in one basket.
Over the past 6 years, we have checked out (and returned) thousands of library books. We go every week and get 20-30 more books… and to date, I’ve never lost one, nor have we had any fines (knock on wood!)
This is not because I have an amazing organization system for library books — but rather, because we have one central location to store them, and my kids know this.
We have a large “book basket” in our office and that’s where ALL the library books live. The library bag is right next to that basket, so whenever we decide to go to the library, the kids put the books into the bag and we leave.
We don’t need to search through the entire house to find our books. I don’t need to keep track of what books we have each week. And I really never worry about books being overdue because I know the books will be in the basket. Period.
I run and empty the dishwasher every night after dinner.
This might sound like a ridiculous addition to my list, but I don’t really love emptying the dishwasher — especially not during the day when I’m trying to make food, corral my kids, and keep the kitchen somewhat neat and clean.
So knowing that I never need to worry about the dishwasher until the kids are in bed at night (and knowing that Dave is around and often empties it while I’m putting the kids to bed) means one less thing to worry about or remember to do during the day.
Also, we run the dishwasher EVERY night after dinner — even if it’s not 100% full. This means I never ask the questions “should we run it? should we wait? is it full enough?” I just run it and move on with my day.
Obviously, since we never go out to eat (see beginning of post), we usually have the same number of dishes to wash every day — this helps the process!
We eat roughly the same things for breakfast and lunch each day.
Again, this might sound boring, but it’s just one more way I’m able to limit the number of decisions I need to make each day (and honestly, my kids prefer fewer options).
We rotate between the following choices — all served with cheesy scrambled eggs, bacon and/or sausage (I cook up big batches once a week), and fresh fruit.
- muffins or donuts for a special treat
- oatmeal (usually served with a smoothie instead of eggs and fruit)
Dave and I often just eat leftovers from dinner the night before. However the kids don’t like leftovers so they choose one of the following… served with fresh fruit, raw veggies, pickles, and maybe a few chips.
- PB&J sandwich
- meat & cheese roll-up (on a tortilla)
- sliced summer sausage, sliced cheese, and crackers
I promise, we do not get tired of these options — in fact, the kids often get upset if we try to do something different!
This makes meal times SO MUCH LESS STRESSFUL and it makes packing school lunches super easy with fewer decisions to make.
I do laundry on specific days.
I’ve never been one to put certain chores on certain days of the week — but a couple years ago, I got so fed up with our laundry situation that I tried designating 2 times per week for laundry to see if it worked.
To my surprise, it made an enormous difference in how I felt about doing our laundry — basically eliminating all my frustration because I never thought about laundry any other time during the week.
There are definitely exceptions to this rule (if kids are sick or wet the bed) but other than that, I’ve been sticking with Tuesday mornings and Friday evenings as my designated laundry times, and I don’t think about laundry any other time of the week. It can be piled up super high… but I don’t care because I know I will wash it all within a matter of days.
I wear roughly all the same colors.
No, I definitely don’t have a super minimalistic wardrobe… but I DO have a pretty fantastic mix-and-match wardrobe consisting of only a few colors that all go with each other.
This makes getting dressed each day a breeze (even with our crazy West Michigan weather) and packing for any sort of trip or vacation is no effort at all (at least not for my own clothing!)
I also stick to my favorite brands of pants so I know exactly what size (and colors) to buy when shopping at thrift store or online.
We don’t do activities after dinner.
I definitely know this will change as the kids get older, but right now, we rarely ever do any sort of activity after dinner.
Once we’re finished eating dinner, the kids think it’s fun to eat their dessert on the front porch while Dave and I clean up the kitchen. Then we play a game, play outside, play upstairs, etc. until it’s time for bed (they go to bed early, so it’s not that much time!)
We don’t go out, we don’t play with friends, we don’t go to the neighbor’s house, we don’t watch TV or do anything “electronic”, etc. etc.
Once in a very great while, we’ll have the boys take rests in the afternoon and we’ll surprise the kids by going to a park or splash pad or a friends house after dinner; or we’ll let them stay up “late” to watch a show and eat popcorn… they think it’s just the greatest thing ever! 🙂
This might not seem like a big deal, but since our kids know this routine, they aren’t constantly asking to go to the neighbors’s house, go to a park, watch TV, or whatever.
I’m certain I could give 20 more examples of little (and big) things we do to reduce the number of decisions we make on a daily and weekly basis.
Each individual example might not seem like it would make much of a difference on it’s own (and sometimes it doesn’t) but when added together, they make a huge difference in the flow of our days, in the number of decisions we need to make every day, and in the over-all mood/tone/feel of our home life.
Dave and my brains are freed up to make other (different) decisions instead — what sink to buy for our bathroom renovation, what color to paint the cabinets, what post to write for Thursday, what activities to do with the kids, what our menu plan will be for the week, when Dave needs to have his classroom ready by, what school supplies the kids need, how long Clara’s nap has been, etc. etc.
Of course, YOU will most likely have totally different examples of how you reduce decision fatigue — for example, you might serve cereal every morning for breakfast and choose not to do any house projects. You might have a very minimalistic wardrobe but wear tons of jewelry and accessories.
There’s no “right” or “wrong” choice for YOU – unless you start feeling overwhelmed with your life and all the choices and decisions you have to make everyday.
When you start feeling overwhelmed, it’s time to study your life, examine your routines, think through your days, and look for ways you can reduce the number of decisions you’re required to make every day.
- Maybe you pair down your wardrobe.
- Maybe you limit your menu options for at-home meals.
- Maybe you hire someone to take on some of your responsibilities (at home or at work).
- Maybe you quit some of the extra activities you currently do.
- Maybe you implement a new routine to streamline part of your day or week.
Whatever the case, reducing the number of decisions you are required to make each days can go a LONG ways in helping to simplify your entire life.
Believe me… I know from experience!