Decision fatigue is a real thing. When we first started homeschooling, I was exhausted by the end of the day purely from the never-stopping stream of questions I was asked. In the beginning I coped by buying lots of cereal (to eliminate at least one food decision) and giving the kids two "question sticks" during individual work time to eliminate the unnecessary questions that were born of laziness or boredom.
Those things definitely helped, but a little bit of decision fatigue is always going to be there when you are making parenting and teaching decisions for multiple kids all day long. Lately, this has really been bothering me when it comes to screen time, or in our house, iPad time. I felt like every hour of the day someone was asking me if they could play. My 4 year old was asking constantly during our morning school time, and the others seemed to be rushing through afternoon work to be the first one to ask. I felt guilty for letting them OR I felt guilty for not letting them. Lose, lose for me. Constant confusion and frustration for the kids because there was no consistent expectation and inevitably I would give one kid too much and another kid not enough.
One week I'd finally had enough and came up with about the simplest thing I could think of, but it has turned out to be really effective.
I first thought about what an appropriate amount of time for each kid would be in a week. Then I broke it down into 3-5 time slots. This varies per age. For instance by 10 year old has 5 slots, "15 min, 20min, 25min, 30min, 35min" and my 4 year old has 3 slots "10min, 15min, 20min".
If they are done with their work for the day, it is an automatic YES, that they can use one of their time slots. They pick the amount and set the timer. I NO LONGER HAVE TO WATCH THE CLOCK AND WORRY ABOUT EVERYONE GETTING EQUAL. HALLELUJAH!!
Now, here is what I found to be the most brilliant. This was on the fly, because Luke asked "What if they have a bunch left over on the last day and they are fighting for time?" If they have any time slots left, they have the option of trading it in for money. Right now we are in India, so a 20min time slot is worth 20 rupes (about 30 cents). And it is working! They are monitoring themselves, spending less time on the screen, and earning some money! This extra value of saving/earning/self-discipline was not something I was aiming for at all, but it has been a nice surprise.
You can get a copy of this great resource over at my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Let me know how it works for you. If you are interested in any other kind of personalized form for your classroom or home, let me know!
How do you help alleviate Decision Fatigue in your daily routines?
Luke and I are married and have five little munchkins that travel the world with us. I blog about living overseas, travel, kids, homeschooling and graphic design.
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