According to this recent study, the most stressful number of kids to have is three.
From my experience, I actually found having only one the most difficult (although I was a mom to an 'only child' for a very short time). It seemed odd to me to focus so much time and energy on one baby. It just wasn’t stimulating enough and, quite frankly, I found it a bit boring. Looking back, I was at Law School at the time, so I’m not sure how boredom factored in. I’d take a warm serving of boredom today if it was offered up.
I was a much happier mom once my second child arrived (15 months after my first). In retrospect, I must have been anxious for baby number two since I managed to squeak a miscarriage somewhere between the first and second baby. My third baby came not all that long after the second.
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, I had three babies under the age of three and my eldest was well on his way to an autism diagnosis. On top of that, I swear to this day that my third’s personality was so difficult; she was as much work as two. There were also no fancy three kid strollers back in those days, so we had to create a make-shift triple stroller that involved a child’s plastic lawn chair with a harness. Those were not glamorous days.
Now, I have six of them! And, in some ways, my life seems simpler now. Sure, there are crazy schedules, homework and social lives to juggle, but it's still way easier. People say “bigger kids, bigger problems”, but let me tell you – my life is far less problematic now than it was back when I had three in diapers.
I think the difficulty and stress isn't actually in the numbers, but has more to do with closeness in age and how much support the parents have around them.
I can, however, see why three would be considered the most stressful number of children for many. I have a couple of theories that may not be popular with parents of three, but worth considering:
Maybe it’s a personality thing. Kids don’t stress me out the way they do many parents. If I was 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 if you choose to 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 were stretched thin enough at two – so that third child stresses them out. With kids, you have to like more than the “idea” of it. The reality can be harsh.
So mamas, what are your thoughts? How many kids have you got and at what number was it the most stressful?