Big picture parenting

Woof. It’s been a week of parenting highs and lows for me. The highs are the best feelings I know, but the lows…Uhg. They’re among the worst. ⁣

I’m really trying to think, “Big picture” when things are rough. Parenting young kids involves so much minutia — cleaning butts, halving grapes, wiping boogers. It’s easy for me to think that’s all there is, and that those things in and of themselves are important. But they’re not exactly. What’s important is my kids learning life skills, having support in their health and wellness, and (most of all I think) feeling loved. ⁣

Here’s an example (and, warning, I totally want to give myself a gold star for this ⭐️). We started my oldest kiddo at a new afternoon preschool this week. On his first day, he was feeling nervous and pulled out every stall tactic known to 3-year-old-kind. The final straw was lunch, which he was refusing to eat. I could feel my patience crumbling into dust. But! I didn’t yell. Somehow, I thought, “Big picture!” I realized the goal wasn’t eating, per se, it was having a good experience at school, and I was pretty sure being hangry wasn’t going to help that. So, I reimagined how to get calories in him. I improvised a floor picnic! We pretended to be hungry dinosaurs! When he still wouldn’t eat more than two bites, I was flexible in a way I’m usually not around meals (I reeeeeaaaally don’t want to be a short order cook), and I offered him fresh fruit instead of the perfectly tasty grilled cheese I’d made, which he’s always hungry for (Minor humble brag, but wait till you hear what’s next!). Then I gave him a chocolate chip granola bar and some Halloween candy! — in the car! (which I hate to clean of crumbs). ⁣

And guess what? Keeping the big picture in mind worked. He was not too hungry to function, and he had a great first day. (And I felt good about myself, too, which is no small thing.)

big picture parenting

Published by Emily P.G. Erickson

Emily P.G. Erickson is a freelance writer specializing in mental health and parenting. She has written for popular digital publications, including Everyday Health, Health, The New York Times, Parents, Romper, Verywell Mind, WIRED, and more. Emily is a professional member of the National Association of Science Writers (NASW), the American Society of Journalists and Authors (ASJA), and the Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ). Previously, Emily researched PTSD for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and earned a master's in psychology. You can find the latest from Emily at

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