When it comes to kids, three is the magic number… for stress.
Mothers of three children stress more than moms of one or two, while mothers of four or more children actually report lower stress levels
At least that’s what a survey from Today.Com claims, about which more right here.
More recently, you might have read this:
Parents of large families were found to have the most life satisfaction, according to a study by Australia’s Edith Cowan University.
Read all about it right here.
These articles provide welcome validation to those of us with larger families, who are more used to hearing things like this:
Boy, you have your hands full!
Don’t you know what causes that yet?
Better you than me!
I don’t know how you do it!
Are they all yours?
Do they all have the same father? (yes, someone did actually ask me that once!)
I don’t happen to think that five kids is that many because I grew up knowing many families of nine or ten. But it’s more than twice that 2.3 kid average, so it’s not the norm for most people.
Do I agree with the studies? Yes, for my own reasons.
For me, the most difficult parenting transition was from one to two kids. Once you find out that yes, you CAN love two kids, and you CAN split your attention between them, adding the third is not that hard (although waiting more than 12 months to do that might be good, not that I would know).
Going from two to three, the main change is that you are outnumbered. Once you are outnumbered, it doesn’t really matter how outnumbered you are! After three, it just gets louder. Really.
Three little kids was hard, though. Most of that first year is a blur. But since most of us don’t have kids in a litter, by the time you have four kids the oldest one can help you, probably quite a lot. I was on bedrest when William was born. Emily was ten, and made her own and her little brothers’ lunches every morning before school. By the time Lorelei was born, we had an in-home babysitter whenever we needed to get away.
Having lots of kids frees you from having to do All The Things, because it’s impossible to do all the things. Taking care of four or more kids makes you supermom without having to volunteer for everything at school, keep a perfect house, and do Pinterest-worthy crafts in your spare time (spare time–LOL).
Illusions of control are shattered as well. If you have just one kid, and he’s a brat, you think you are a terrible parent. Likewise, if your kid is perfect, you think you deserve the credit. Trust me, with four or more you are going to learn that kids are the way they are and it has a lot less to do with how you parent than you thought it did. This is immensely freeing.
As for life satisfaction, it’s not like I don’t crave personal fulfillment and viral blog posts, but it’s hard for me to imagine anything that could provide more satisfaction in the long term than helping to create ACTUAL HUMAN BEINGS who are all different and interesting and separate from you and who will be around remembering you (fondly, you hope) after you are gone.
Ha! I had mine “in a litter”. 0 to 3 kids was rough for sure. Since we were already outnumbered, one more wasn’t that much harder. I love my 4 boys, and am glad we have a large family. (And yes, it’s always loud. I took a Mommy time out in the minivan the other day after school just to relish the silence. True story.)
I only had two children, but my husband is one of 16. The older ones definitely helped raise the younger ones.
And someday we will miss the noise.
We’re fans of big families, but as newlyweds are still starting out small. Thank you for your insight!