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Stressed-out moms

Jen Klein is a New England-based technical writer and mother of three. When she isn't asking her kids to stop bickering, "caramelizing" the dinner or actively ignoring the dust bunnies under the couch, she enjoys knitting, gardening, pho...

Bogged down by minutia

With so many details to remember in a day, it can be hard to step back and see the big picture of how things are going. Whether it's your child's overall development, school issues, financial goals or any of the other many issues we parents face, details are important -- but so is that bigger picture.

Woman overhwhelmed by billsWhen your son doesn't seem to be grasping a specific topic in algebra very well, seeing that he's getting the overall concept can be difficult. When your daughter's temper tantrums are so hard to handle on a day-to-day basis, remembering that this is part of child development and that she is learning about appropriate behavior can be hard. When you're budgeting tightly and are disappointed that there's nothing extra, checking the progress on your new-house fund can be reassuring -- and helps you see that budgeting in a more positive light.

Bigger picture, bigger understanding

When we step back to take a look at the bigger picture, we gain perspective that can help us make the best choices for the longer term.

For example, in dealing with your child's school issues, stepping back to look at and ask questions about curriculum and the greater goals of a school year can help you make a better choice about a smaller detail. Maybe you don't have to get your child a tutor for a math just yet; if your school has curriculum that "spirals" -- that is, reintroduces topics again and again -- you may be able to wait a bit and not throw your schedule into a tizzy. When the topic comes around again, your child may grasp it that time, or you can get that tutor then. Either way, understanding what has come before and what may come next helps you make a forward-looking decision, rather than deal only with the issue in the moment.

Get more tips on setting your child up for homework success here.

Details are still important

You still need to take care of the the little things that make up the big things -- but if you don't see the big picture now and again, the little things can seem bigger than they are.

If communication with your teenager is not so great one day, it doesn't mean the whole family needs major relationship therapy. You still need to work on the communication, not give up on it, but you can remember that overall, it's been okay. You don't want to turn the blip in communication into something bigger, nor do you want the blip to become something bigger than it is. It's a fine line to walk.

No matter what, when we as moms work so hard on the details of family life, it can be hard to see the big picture. Now is a great time to take a big breath, step back, and see it all for it is. Chances are, it's pretty good.

more tips on managing stress:

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