Could you be suffering from decision fatigue?

If you’re a parent, then the answer is quite simply yes. However, because that would make this blog post far too short, I will elaborate a little more.

Decision fatigue is actually a thing. Yes it is. And it represents something far more than just mere tiredness. Decision fatigue farts in the face of tiredness. A judge, for instance, used this phenomenon as a way to explain why he had let a dangerous, previously convicted, criminal walk free. He’d had one too many decisions to make that day and was completely fuzzed.

As a Mum (and Dad but more Mum unless there is no Mum and it’s just Dad), you have to make an estimated 46,782 decisions regarding your child per day. This quadruples exponentially with each further offspring you spawn. Fact.

Let’s consider the question of dressing a child:
What is the weather forecast?
Do I believe that weather forecast looking out the window?
Am I going out and then in and then back out again?
Am I going on any car journeys?
Am I taking the pushchair just in case?
Is this knitted cardy too chunky for the carseat straps?
Is this knitted cardy warm enough for the pushchair?
Who are we seeing today?
Are they likely to judge me for not bothering with clothes today?
Am I likely to want to stab myself when the child falls over in a muddy puddle right outside the front door?

I’m totally decision fatigued and we haven’t even made it downstairs to decide what packet of crisps they want for breakfast.

In an actual, real life experiment, some boffins carried out research on decision fatigue. Three groups had varying levels of different choices regarding purchasing a computer.  One group just had to ponder the advantages and disadvantages without making a final decision, another group had to short list the ideal features for a computer and the third group had to figure out everything on their own, including making the final decision on what computer to get. The third group were obviously the most fatigued and as a result had depleted self control and will power.

What happens when we have no self control and will power?  We reach for the sugar-laden delights. This is why supermarkets put all the good stuff near the tills. They’re literally taking advantage of our diminishing mental health. The dirty bastards.

In the same study, they measured what happened to the decision fatigued group after they had a hit of glucose. Why their abilities to make decisions improved of course! (They really did.)

So, if you’re having a particularly difficult day despite having a great nights sleep, and you find yourself staring into space when someone asks how your day is, or you want to punch your partner’s eyes off for asking where the baby wipes are – don’t despair. You’re not going mad and you haven’t got ME or leukaemia. Decision fatigue has set in and it’s essential to freebase a bit of sugar. And that is desperate advice coming from a dental professional. 

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4 thoughts on “Could you be suffering from decision fatigue?

  1. I definitely have this. I hadctrouble choosing between peanut butter or jam on my toast this morning. After staring at the toast for a good half hour I ended up having to have both. And cold toast.

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