Researchers reveal the most stressful number of children you can have
Having grown up as an only child, my boyfriend torments me with the idea that we'll ideally have 10 kids when we're older. He claims it's so they can hang out and run amock and grow up together, and also that the chances of us being sad and lonely seniors will be far less great if we've got a big pool of offspring to keep coming to visit us.
Look, I won't deny it's a good plan but A) my poor body, and B) how the hell would that work logistically? Think of the house you'd need, the minibus, the food. It'd cost a fortune, and it would be complete mayhem. If Cheaper By the Dozen is anything to go by (great flick btw, so is the sequel), I'd say with confidence that having a double-digit amount of kids is too much. So what's the "ideal" number of kids, to avoid that kind of stress?
Well, a new study has looked into exactly that, and it turns out the "most stressful" number of children you can have is actually way lower than you think. The TODAYMoms.com survey looked at 7,000 mothers from the US and assessed their stress levels as related to the number of children that they had, and it turns out the number to avoid is three.
Yep, three. Seems an innocent enough number, but it turns out that mothers of three stress way more than those who only have one or two kids. And funnily enough, it was found that mothers who have four kids were generally the least stressed of them all.
"Mommy blogger" Jill Smokler told Today that she can totally relate to the statistics.
"Going from one to two was an easy, breezy transition," she said. "Two to three, everything was turned upside down. I do not feel like I have it together. You only have two hands! Just crossing the street and not being able to physically hold all their hands I find tremendously stressful."
But why is four the ideal number of kids to have? According to New York psychiatrist and mother of four Dr Janet Taylor, it's just because you eventually learn to loosen up and stop trying to control every little thing. "There’s just not enough space in your head" for worrying about perfectionism when you get to four or more kids, she says.
"The more children you have, the more confident you become in your parenting abilities," Taylor continued. "You have to let go… and then you’re just thankful when they all get to school on time."
The survey found that 60 percent said it’s the feeling of having no time to do everything that needs to be done that causes them the most stress, and that an astonishing 72 percent of mothers stress about how stressed they are. Yeesh, looks like moms just need to chill the F out.
And did you think that raising a couple of angelic little girls would be easier than a few tyrannical boys? Nope, turns out 60 percent of moms said raising girls is way more stressful than raising boys.
Well, looks like the number to aim for is four or higher. I'm still not convinced 10 kids would be less stressful than three, but if science says so... Let's see.