The study found that women with three kids were more stressed than those with fewer kids. They felt outnumbered and having a third kid increased their stress levels. Moms with three kids were also more stressed than those with four or more kids.
“There is just not enough space in your head for perfectionism when you get to four or more kids. The more children you have, the more confident you become in your parenting abilities,” said Dr. Janet Taylor, a psychiatrist who commented on the study.
As a mother of three, I couldn't disagree more.
Our first two children are close in age, while our third was born when my younger daughter was almost 6. Both of my daughters were fairly independent when their brother arrived. They often volunteered to feed him, watch him and play with him (sadly for me, they took a pass on diaper duty). Having three kids did not make us feel outnumbered as parents; in fact, it helped lighten the load.
According to the study, a mother of one or two felt more in control, while mothers of four or more children were less self-critical because it’s hard to be perfect with so many kids.
With three kids, I became less concerned with ensuring everything was equal and stopped judging myself.
For me, that pressure to be perfect was more profound when I had two kids. Before my youngest was born, I was continually trying to divide myself in half. I didn’t want either of my daughters to feel that I favored one over the other. I spread myself way too thin making sure they had the same number of activities, the same amount of special "mommy time," the same help with homework, etc.
With three kids, I became less concerned with ensuring everything was equal and stopped judging myself. My focus changed to giving each of my children what they seemed to need and less on measuring it. My time may have been more divided with three, but I had plenty of love to go around.
Having three children is definitely hectic and I found myself pulled in many different directions on a daily basis. But this pace actually helps to decrease my parenting stress, especially as the kids have gotten older. When one of the kids was doing something that was making me tense, I could always find joy in some of the other stuff going on.
Being a mother of three has created both chaos and balance. Yes, there are triple the things to worry about, but there are also three times as many things to cheer about.