According to a recent study, the most stressful number of kids to have is three.
I remember being a mom of one—though it wasn’t for long—and finding it difficult. Truthfully, I didn’t find it exciting enough, and there were times it could be quite boring. When I look back now, and think of how I was juggling a baby and law school, I wonder how the word boredom ever factored in. These days, I’d jump for a warm serving of boring.
I was a happier mom once my second child arrived, 15 months after my first. Even after suffering a miscarriage after we had our first baby, there was still a very small age gap. It goes without saying, our third baby came not all that longer after the second.
And yes, three was stressful, but I found it was more about the circumstances than it was about the numbers. I was living far away from my family, had three babies under three, and my eldest was well on his way to an autism diagnosis. There were no fancy three-kid strollers back in those days, so Daddy-o had to create a make-shift triple stroller that involved a child’s plastic lawn chair with a harness—those were not glamorous days.
If I were to offer a theory on family size and stress, it’s less about the numbers and more about closeness in age and how much support someone has at the time.
Saying that, I can see how three would be considered the most stressful number of children for some families:
- It’s a parent personality thing. Kids don’t stress me out the way they do many parents. If I had been stressed at three, I would have stopped. So, yeah—people with more than three kids are probably less likely to stress out about kids. You have to be tolerant of a certain chaos levels when you have a big family. It can absolutely be too much to take.
- Maybe some people with three kids like the “idea” of a big family, but two really was enough —so that third stresses them out. With kids, you have to like more than the “idea” of it, because the reality can be bigger than you ever imagined.
Did you have a “perfect” number in mind when you started your family? Is there a number of children you found particularly stressful?