kids

This is the exact number of kids that cause the most stress to mums, according to research.

Parenting is a labour of love. We all adore our kids, and would do anything for them, right? But that doesn’t mean it’s easy. Which is why you may think that parents with more kids are more stressed than ones with less; but a 2013 study, which has resurfaced this week, indicates that’s not necessarily the case.

The study, which surveyed 7,164 mothers in the United States, was conducted by the US Today show. It concluded that mums with three kids are more stressed out than those with one, two, four or more children.

New York psychiatrist Dr Janet Taylor explained to Today that apparently many mothers don’t begin to relax in motherhood until after their fourth child. And she’s speaking from experience, as a mother of four – including a set of twins.

“There’s just not enough space in your head for perfectionism when you get to four or more kids,” she said.

“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.”

The survey also found that mothers with four or more kids reported less stress, because once a ‘critical mass’ of kids is reached, family life seems to hit its stride.

Which makes you feel for mums of three kids – and think of one of the world’s most famous families of three kids: the Cambridges.

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At the time of the survey, Scary Mommy website founder Jill Smokler told Today that she knew after having her third baby that it would be hard.

“Going from one to two was an easy, breezy transition,” Smokler recalled. “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 tremendously stressful,” she confessed.

Coming from a family of four kids myself, my mother would often say that having four had its advantages, because it was an even number – so it was easy for us kids to pair-off, and as a consequence, we didn’t fight as much.

Other interesting findings in the survey were that most mums rated their stress level at eight and a half on a scale of one to ten.

And in findings that will not come as a surprise to some mums, 46 per cent said that their partners stressed them out more than their children did.

But the biggest source of stress was the pressure mums put on themselves; 75 per cent of mothers reported they worried more about the pressure they put on themselves to be perfect than they do the pressure from external sources, such as other mums.

All the more reason for us to remember it takes a village to raise a child, and we’re all in this, together.

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