If you’ve got one under five, you’re stretched.
If you’ve got two under five, you’re beyond capacity.
If you’ve got more than two under five, well, living in the South, I’ll simply say, “Bless your heart.”

My boys are almost two and four. I’m just beginning to emerge from the fog of baby years and enter the throes of two rough and tumble little beings attempting independence. Most of the time, I feel like we’re making up this parenting thing as we go. But there are a few survival tools I’ve gathered for the days I’m barely keeping my head above water.

1. Appreciate what’s working.

Every kid will provide unique frustrations in each season. My underweight three-year-old, for instance, can go days without expressing hunger. We’ve been through specialists, nutritionists, and feeding therapy. Meals are tough. When the scales show he’s down half a pound and I want to tear my hair out, I have to remind myself that this is only one piece of who he is. Despite the slow growth, he’s healthy. He sleeps a solid 12 hours at night and takes a good nap every day. He’s curious and articulate. Chances are that when your preschooler is driving you nuts in one area, something else is working so well you rarely even think about it.

2. Find your people.

I don’t care whether you’re an extrovert or introvert, whether you’re a working parent, or stay-at-home parent. You need at least a couple other parents in your corner who can laugh and cry with you and tell you that no, you’re not the only one whose formerly sweet 18-month-old can turn into a howling, temperamental beast at the drop of a Mega Blok. If you don’t have people right now, be bold. Make the first move and invite a family from preschool or church or the park over for a fine dinner of . . . well, probably chicken nuggets on paper plates.

3. Refuel.

I’m preaching to the choir here. Once the kids are in bed, my Type A response is a frenzy of meal prep and cleaning while I put my brain on autopilot with Netflix as my companion. I’m slowly learning ways to instead structure a time in my routine to actually be still and refuel–like walking the dog at night or listening to the Bible in the morning while I’m getting ready.

Those are just a few ways that I’m surviving the preschool years.