Is it just me, or has brain fog taken over lately?

Every day we are faced with thousands of decisions, some conscious and some not. Lately, I’ve been having a hard time making some of the easiest decisions. I heard about decision fatigue — a state of mental overload that can impede a person’s ability to continue making decisions — and it resonated with me. If there’s one thing I know:

Decision fatigue is real.

Ask my husband, who jokes about my inability to make decisions on things as simple as which restaurant I’d like to order takeout from. But lately, it’s been more than just the simple decisions that are wearing me out. As moms, we often make most of the household decisions, from which summer camps our kids sign up for to what’s for dinner. Then there are the heavier things, like what to do when a child or family member is sick, or managing our family’s doctor appointments. It’s all exhausting.  

But something has changed that makes decisions so much harder lately, especially as those decisions continue to pile up. What is it? The pandemic has moms drained and out of gas, mentally, emotionally, and physically. I don’t remember the last good night’s sleep I had. When I wake up during the night, my mind is racing. (Why does this not happen to my husband, who can fall back asleep in an instant? I envy people who are able to wake up in the middle of the night and NOT have their minds race.)

On top of all the day-to-day decisions we make for ourselves and our families, the pandemic introduced an additional set of decisions we’d never had to deal with before: Were playdates safe? Family gatherings? Travel? What kind of masks to buy? Do I need to get tested? Am I a close contact? Is my kid a close contact?

It has felt like it would never end. It’s been mentally and emotionally draining. And decision fatigue, as I have learned firsthand, can lead to decision avoidance. Life has certainly gotten more complicated.

If you feel like you, too, are suffering from decision fatigue, what can you do about it?

Get your sleep.

This is easier said than done, and I’m the first to tell you I don’t sleep as well as I’d like.  But make sleep a priority, for both you and your kids.

Prioritize the important things.

Don’t worry about the rest. Organizing your sock drawer can probably wait. Keeping up with routine medical appointments can’t.  

Make a decision and stick with it.

Don’t regret past decisions. There are no wrong decisions, only what you feel is right at that moment. Make what you think is the best decision at the time, and move on. 

Develop routines if you don’t already have them.

Kids thrive on routines and schedules. Turns out, so do we. Plans often change, but having some kind of daily routine will help you get through the day.

Try meditation. And get some exercise if you don’t already.

These are two reliable ways I know to clear my mind. We need to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others. There are some great free apps for meditation, such as Insight Timer or Calm.

Ask for help.

Don’t feel that you have to handle things alone. That’s what family and friends are for, to offer support and hopefully step up if you need it.

Now let me decide what to go make for dinner…

Cheryl Mastrogiovanni
Cheryl is a native of Salem, MA, and now resides in Arlington with her husband and son. A graduate of Boston College, she has been a high school counselor for over 20 years and enjoys helping seniors navigate the college application process. A lifelong Boston Bruins fan, Cheryl began attending hockey games with her father in the original Boston Garden at the age of 8, a tradition she is now sharing with her son. Cheryl published a children’s picture book about the Bruins, and is also passionate about soccer, Cape Cod, all things Italian, and spending time with her family. As much as she loves to travel, she equally loves coming home. Loves: playing soccer on the weekends, GOOD pizza, hot summer nights, '80s music, sneakers, and being organized Dislikes: long meetings, loud noises, messiness