“There’s just not enough space in your head for perfectionism when you get to four or more kids.”
At first glance, you might not realize why having three children would cause more stress than having four or more children. Some research has been done into the subject, however, and it shows that having three kids may be the biggest problem.
Let’s face it, having any children is going to be stressful on some days, regardless of their age. It is a long-term project that will require a lot of physical and mental energy on your part. The road to adulthood is not all negative, and you will find that children have a way of bringing a lot of love into the home as well.
According to a TODAY Parents survey of more than 7,000 U.S. mothers in 2013, mothers of three children stress more than moms of one or two, while mothers of four or more children actually report lower stress levels. Once you get a certain critical mass of kids, life seems to get a bit easier.
In addition to the number of children, gender also seems to play a role. 60% of the mothers said the girls were more stressful than boys. This could be because girls do require more attention and care in many cases. Then again, there will be those who debate that statement.
“Going from one to two was an easy, breezy transition,” said Jill Smokler, one of the moms who took part in the survey. “Two to three, everything was turned upside down. I did not feel like I had it together…just crossing the street and not being able to physically hold all their hands. I found this tremendously stressful.”
It would stand to reason that four children would be more stressful than three children. The study didn’t support that statement. Psychiatrist Dr. Janet Taylor said that for many parents, three kids is the breaking point. When you reach that point in your life, you will find that you are stressed to the maximum level. Beyond that point, the child raising process changes.
What’s stressing moms out? Plenty, from money worries to balancing the demands of work and home to feeling like husbands are sometimes just another big kid demanding attention.
“There’s just not enough space in your head for perfectionism when you get to four or more kids. The more children you have, the more confident you become in your parenting abilities. You have to let go … and then you’re just thankful when they all get to school on time.”
Once you reach four children, you tend to be more of a veteran in the child-rearing game.
There are also some additional statistics that were gained from this study:
- 46 percent of moms say their husbands/partners cause them more stress than their kids do.
- 72 percent of moms stress about how stressed they are.
- 60 percent say it’s the lack of time to do everything that needs to get done.
- Nine out of 10 moms stress about staying fit and attractive.
Dr. Janet Taylor, a psychiatrist in New York, says mom stress is a problem she sees daily in her practice.
“Moms are acutely aware of the fact they do not have the time to take care of their own needs,” Taylor said. “Forget reading a book, exercising or fun hobbies: Some moms barely have time to shower.”
“Before you’re a mom, you take that for granted,” added Taylor. “When you are a mom you just don’t have the time.”
She laughed when she heard that having four or more kids was less stressful than three: She’s a mother of four, including a set of twins — and agrees with the survey findings.
“There’s just not enough space in your head for perfectionism when you get to four or more kids,” she said.
Most parents would agree that raising kids can be stressful but some others insisted that husbands were even more stressful. Oh, the irony of it all!
The survey said that mothers tended to stress over their bodies more than anything else. You don’t need to be a doctor to know that significant physical changes take place during and after childbirth, especially when more than one child is involved. They stress over keeping their pre-pregnancy body but they don’t have the time necessary to work out and get it back again. This leads to additional stress and could even be part of postpartum depression.
Some others are also stressed out over not being able to get everything done every day. When you consider everything that needs to take place on a daily basis with kids in the home, it’s really no surprise that mothers come up short.
“When it comes to kids, three is the magic number…for stress,” – Chelsea Clinton, daughter of Bill and Hillary Clinton
Every mother (or father for that matter) who wants three or more children should be prepared for a life-changing event. The first child brings a lot of excitement. The second child tends to bring more stress and by the time you reached three children, you are on the verge of losing it. Once you hit four children and above, you can consider yourself a pro and you tend to manage the stress appropriately.
Even though children bring stress into the home, most mothers agree that there is nothing quite like motherhood. It’s nice to know that through all of the stress, we are dealing with something that is well worth it.