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“Take off your shoes before you kick your brother in the head!”

I said that once while on the phone with my sister. I told her to hang on a sec and blurted out those words. I didn’t even realize what I said until she started laughing. As I started to chuckle, I amended my instructions to my son, “Oh! Don’t kick your brother in the head.”

Moms of preschoolers deal with a crazy time in their lives. It is chaotic and wonderful, messy and creative, stressful and joyful. You love these little bundles of holy terror ripping through your universe. But sometimes that chaos can push you to the edge. I’ve been there. At one point, I was home all day with three kids under the age of four. As I write I’m sitting on the other side of that stage in life. I now have four kids ranging from 7-17 and you know what? I survived the preschool years! You can too.

Here’s some of what I learned to help you make it out alive.

Let go of perfect.

Pinterest is for ideas and an occasional good laugh, not a standard by which to measure anything. Our social-networking age can be a blessing and a curse. While it’s great to get 50 Cool Ideas for Her First Birthday Party, it is not great to judge yourself if all you can muster is a cupcake for a kid who won’t remember it anyway. Your house won’t look like a magazine and, let’s face it, theirs doesn’t either until the photography team shows up to stage it. Some days she may look perfectly coordinated in an adorable ensemble and some days you leave the house and pray no one sees you. Laugh at the imperfections and embrace flexibility.

Balance is a myth. Shoot for rhythms instead.

A friend of mine recently said she believes the idea of balance is a myth. As moms we juggle too many things at once to find balance between them all. Instead of seeking to have an elusive balance of fairly divided time, look for the rhythm your life currently falls into and seek ways to work around it. Are you in the naptime stage? Then planning your entire schedule around naptime is not a failure as a woman or making your life revolve unrealistically around a child. It’s a sanity saver. If your world is ordered around the needs of a newborn, know that this stage passes quickly—trust me. Find your rhythm without shame, knowing new seasons are on the horizon. Each new season brings its own rhythms.

They will one day be potty trained. I promise.

They are not going off to college in pull-ups. There will be days when you think they have it and days when you wonder how on earth you thought he should have left the house in big boy pants. Try various methods until one works for your child. Each kid is unique and some are easier than others. And some take a REALLY long time. This is just one of those things you do by trial and error with survival as the goal.

It’s OK to laugh at the ridiculousness sometimes.

When your second son is sick with the stomach flu and your eldest shoves a candy wrapper so far up his nose he needs to go to the ER (this happened), you need to laugh. When you need to push the toys aside to make a big enough space to fall into an exhausted heap, laugh. We’ve all been there. Sharing the ridiculous stories with good girlfriends can lighten the weight of it all.

You can do this!

Sometimes you need to cheer yourself on with that simple mantra. Post it on a note on your mirror. Put it on a t-shirt, for Pete’s sake! I believe God knew what he was doing when he gave you those kids. You are uniquely gifted to handle their personalities because often they are reflections of you. Even an adopted child will adopt some of the quirks from the home they are loved into. Children are a gift and the journey of helping them grow and develop into unique individuals is a wild ride. Remember some stages are more exhausting and some more rewarding. But you can do this!

Jenn Buell is a speaker, writer and MOPS alumni. She’s also a widowed mom of four amazing kids, raising her minions in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. She’s loves speaking at MOPS groups and to women to encourage them in the ordinary of life. You can connect with Jenn at or on Facebook.