Have you ever been stuck in decision making paralysis?
Like, when you’re having one of those days and just can’t pick out what to wear. You’re standing there, staring into your closet, looking at all your clothes. You tell yourself, “Okay, just pick out a shirt. It’s hot so short sleeve will do.” But, you struggle.
“Well, the red one is nice but I just wore it last week. I think. Maybe that blue one. Oh, but there’s a button loose. Okay, the green print, even though it’s a slender cut and I feel bloated and gross.”
And then you have to decide on bottoms. Pants, skirt, or shorts. Denim, cotton, or polyblend.
With all that struggle, you get frustrated with yourself. You’re wasting time and energy. And you know it shouldn’t be this hard.
But, the choices are overwhelming and you can’t seem to focus. Before you know it, there’s a pile of clothes on the floor and you still aren’t thrilled about your final decision. Plus, that mental fog seems to cast a shadow on your day, making it hard to function.
And that struggle can feel even worst when it comes to homeschooling. There’s just SO much to decide! It’s like a meme: You know you’re a homeschooler when you struggle with deciding on:
- Homeschool approach
- Homeschool curriculum
- Homeschool planner
- Routine vs. schedule
- Time of day to start your homeschool
- How many days a week to homeschool
- Year-round vs. traditional vs. random
- Box curriculum vs. eclectic vs. online
It’s enough to make you want to crawl right back under your comforter with a flashlight and a good book!
What is it about decision making that can turn us into gelatinous blobs?
Problems with Smart Decision Making
Well, there are a few different factors that might get in your way and not let you make smart decisions for your homeschool.
- Too little information
- Too much information
- Too many cooks in the kitchen
- Emotional attachment
- Lack of emotional attachment
- Lack of sleep
When you don’t have enough information, you can feel like you’re grasping at straws. For example, new homeschoolers might fall into this category. You might not be able to name, let alone describe, different homeschool approaches.
Or maybe you’ve been bombarded with information. Homeschool conferences, catalogs, and sites all flashing “the best” curriculum that will solve all your problems.
If you’re working with your husband and kids to make decisions, it can feel overwhelming with the various opinions, personalities, and feedback. Or when you’re kids are playing and the T.V. is on and there’s way too much noise to think.
As a homeschool mom, it’s also super easy to get emotionally attached to the decisions you make. You feel like your decisions reflect you and your abilities. You want to do and be the very best-and that type of pressure can make smart decisions feel impossible.
Or maybe you’re just so tired and scared and frustrated that you’ve gotten to the point where you just don’t feel like you care very much. So, picking curriculum or a routine or whatever starts to feel like throwing darts with a blindfold on.
And I can’t tell you how many times I’ve severely struggled with decision making according to my monthly cycle. Hormones wring me out and turn my brain into Swiss cheese. I’m lucky if I can figure out what to have for breakfast!
And when I don’t get enough sleep, forget it. It’s almost as bad as the hormones.
Fortunately, there are several different things you can do to make smart decisions, even when life is busy. When you use these ideas and break down struggles into more manageable chunks, you’re on your way to being a smart decision maker.
Breaking Down Smart Decisions for Homeschool Moms
To help you make smart decisions for your homeschool, think about these three types of decisions:
For your daily decisions, you consider things like what time to start your homeschool day, how long your homeschool day will be, subjects to cover, and completion of work. On a daily basis, you also decide on home management tasks like meals, chores, errands, and appointments. Some of these activities can be broken down further into hourly tasks.
Weekly decisions are also more short-term tasks. Projects and loop scheduling might fall into this category.
Your long-term decisions deal with things like extracurricular activities, academic path, career exploration and choices, and even spiritual growth and development. Your overall vision for your homeschool comes into play with long-term decisions.
Now, these examples of decisions can easily crossover into each other. For example, if your kids participate in extracurricular activities, your daily decision of homeschool start time may be affected.
The good news is that you CAN make smart decisions-daily, weekly, and long-term for your homeschool.
10 Powerful Ways to Make Smart Decisions for Your Homeschool
1. Brain Dump
Use a brain dump to get it all out of your head and onto paper. Set a timer for 10-15 minutes and just start writing. Drawing is okay, too. Focus on the topic that you’re struggling with and get it all out. No self-editing. No worries about grammar, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation.
When the timer goes off, step away from your brain dump for a bit.
Come back to it and circle what stands out to you. With the information that you gathered, what can you do right now to help your struggle? What type of materials or feedback do you need to acquire to make smart decisions? Continue to ask yourself questions to figure out what you CAN do about the struggle and where you might need help.
2. Mind Map
Use a mind map to help you organize your thoughts and feelings about that struggle. You create a visual picture that will help you dig deeper and uncover possible solutions or even more questions to ask yourself until you reach your decision.
Write down your #1 homeschool struggle in the center of a piece of paper. Draw a circle around it. Write down all the ideas that enter your mind that relate to this struggle (very much like a brain dump).
Take out another piece of paper. Write that struggle in the center again. This time, go through all those ideas and only add ones that are closely connected to your struggle. Use lines (like branches) to connect these ideas to your struggle. Time to take a break!
When you come back, consider what words or phrases need to be tweaked or crossed off. Also, look for areas that you know you have solutions for (and just need to implement) and areas that you need to seek out help. Add notes or reminders. Customize it and make it work for you.
You can continue this process as many times as necessary. And you can transform your mind map into action steps by labeling with numbers, if applicable.
3. Decision-Making Tree
Use a decision-making tree to help you break down a large topic into smaller chunks. Your main question/topic/struggle goes at the top middle of your paper. You ask yourself a yes/no question and continue this process until you arrive at your decision.
This tool gives you a trail of your decision-making process and how you arrived at your decision. Intellspot shares instructions and examples of decision-making trees for real-life situations.
4. Pros vs. Cons List
Create a simple pros vs. cons list by placing all of your “Yes!” reasons on one side and all your “No!” reasons on another. You can even create a middle ground (let’s call it “Maybe”) if you have a few reasons that don’t clearly fit on either side. Sometimes seeing the pros and cons lined up against each other is enough to information to help you make smart decisions.
5. Prayer/Meditation/Quiet Time
When your thoughts and feelings are racing, the best thing to do can be to find a quiet spot to just sit and reflect. Or let all thoughts and feelings evaporate into the air so you can create space and energy to deal. Giving yourself permission to stop and regroup can help you make smart decisions.
And sometimes, you just need to get active! Exercise, cleaning, and decluttering can help you clear the cobwebs and make room for smart decisions. Getting outdoors and gulping up fresh air does wonders, too.
Maintaining a personal journal is a fabulous practice to make smart decisions. Journaling provides you with safety and freedom to let all those thoughts and feelings out. You may notice a pattern over time that gives you the answer you need. For journal prompts related directly to homeschooling, check out Journal for Finding Your Homeschool Groove 🙂
8. Peer Support & Encouragement
Friends and peers who just get it can be fabulous sounding boards when you need to make smart decisions. Rock Your Homeschool! Facebook group is a community of homeschool moms who share encouragement, support, and fun. Also, you can connect with other homeschoolers at co-op or meet-ups.
9. Mindful Research
When you do mindful research, you create a list with specific resources, ideas, or materials to search for. You write down exactly what it is you’re looking for and why. And you put on your blinders and don’t let new and shiny distract!
Being aware of times when you make smart decisions and when you need to put them off until a later time is wise. When your hormones are raging or your sleep has been interrupted for the past week, give yourself permission to delay decision-making, if at all possible.
If either of those factors is constant, consider when you function best-morning, afternoon, or night? On the weekend? After a cup of hot tea? Try your best and run your final decision by a trusted peer or family member.
You are not alone in your struggle with decision-making. Use these ideas and tools to make smart decisions and build your confidence as a homeschooler and any other important role you serve.
Do you struggle with making decisions?
How does it affect your homeschool life?