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How many child/ren do or did you want?

Posted by on May. 9, 2013 at 10:32 AM
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1 mom liked this

http://www.today.com/moms/mom-survey-says-three-most-stressful-number-kids-6C9774150

Mom survey says: Three is the most stressful number of kids

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, according to an exclusive TODAYMoms.com survey of more than 7,000 U.S. mothers released Monday. Call it the Duggar effect: Once you get a certain critical mass of kids, life seems to get a bit easier.

Blogger and author Jill Smokler, her husband and their three wonderful, darling (and sometimes just the teeniest bit stressful) children. Is three really the most stressful number of kids?
TODAY
Blogger and author Jill Smokler, her husband and their three wonderful, darling (and sometimes just the teeniest bit stressful) children. Is three really the most stressful number of kids?

On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most stressed, the average mom in our survey puts herself at 8.5. What’s stressing moms out? Plenty, from money worries to balancing the demands of work and home to feeling like her husband is sometimes just another big kid demanding attention. But the big secret of mom stress is that a lot of it comes from within: 75 percent of mothers said they stress more about the pressure they put on themselves to be “perfect” than they do the pressure or judgment they get from other moms.

“You always hear about the mommy wars, but I feel like we’re judging ourselves more harshly than anyone else,” says Jill Smokler, 35, “Scary Mommy” blogger and author of “Motherhood Comes Naturally (And Other Vicious Lies).” And she should know from stress: She has three kids, and totally agrees that it’s the most stressful number.

“Going from one to two was an easy, breezy transition,” says Smokler, a Baltimore mom whose children are 5, 7 and 9. “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.”

More stress nuggets from the online survey of 7,164 U.S. mothers, conducted the week of April 17 by TODAY.com and Insight Express:

  • 46 percent of moms say their husbands/partners cause them more stress than their kids do.
  • 72 percent of moms stress about how stressed they are.
  • Biggest cause of stress: 60 percent say it’s lack of time to do everything that needs to get done.
  • 60 percent of moms say raising girls is more stressful than raising boys.
  • Nine out of 10 moms stress about staying fit and attractive.

Dr. Janet Taylor, a psychiatrist in New York and TODAY contributor, said mom stress is a problem she sees daily in her practice.

“Moms are acutely aware of the fact they do not have the time to take care of their own needs,” Taylor said. Forget reading a book, exercising or fun hobbies: Some moms barely have time to shower.

“Before you’re a mom, you take that for granted,” Taylor said. “When you are a mom you just don’t have the time.”

She laughed when she heard that having four or more kids was less stressful than three. She’s a mother of four, including a set of twins – and agrees with the survey findings.

“There’s just not enough space in your head” for perfectionism when you get to four or more kids, Taylor said. For example, she recalls with her fourth child she didn’t bother with things like obsessively covering all the outlets with safety plugs. “It just gets to be survival!” she joked. Plus, she thinks moms hit a groove once they get past the outnumbered phase of having three kids and into the seriously outnumbered territory of four or more.

“The more children you have, the more confident you become in your parenting abilities,” Taylor said. “You have to let go… and then you’re just thankful when they all get to school on time.”

Taylor’s children now range in age from 19 to 25, and while she says the stress differs from the hands-on parenting years, it always remains. “Now I get stressed out by things like, my oldest has a job interview and my youngest is in the middle of finals,” she said. “I’m on the other side… hopefully you can feel like you’ve prepared them well.”

A daily stress level of 8.5 on a scale of 10, the average that moms in our survey report, takes a toll on mind and body, Taylor said. She recommends her stressed-out patients try this exercise: Take five minutes and draw a pie chart showing how you actually spend the hours in your day. Then flip the paper over and draw a pie chart of what you’d like to be doing. Pick one of the things that’s on chart two (what you want), but not chart one (the reality), and figure out a way to make it happen.

More kids, less stress? Karen Hobert Flynn, with her husband and four sons, says going from three to four was an easier transition than going from one to two or two to three kids.
Courtesy Karen Hobert Flynn
More kids, less stress? Karen Hobert Flynn, with her husband and four sons, says going from three to four was an easier transition than going from one to two or two to three kids.

“You have to be able to say no to your kids, to your spouse, to your friends sometimes,” Taylor said, explaining that many women find that part really hard. “Instead of making the perfect lunch for your kids, go for a walk by yourself. Even if it’s just 10 minutes, take some deep breaths and focus on what you need.”

Karen Hobert Flynn, 50, said saying "no" to some kids’ activities is one sanity-saver as a mom of many. Her four boys now range in age from 11 to 16, and she and her husband both work in demanding jobs – he as an attorney, she for the grassroots lobbying group Common Cause, which often requires her to travel to Washington, D.C., from her home in Middletown, Conn. Her rule has always been: One after-school activity per child.

“You can do Boy Scouts or a sport. We didn’t do five sports. We said ‘no’ to intense travel teams,” she explained. And she said it didn’t limit her boys; they’re all playing competitive team sports at school now.

Having four has its advantages, she said. Each child has a built-in playmate; they tend to pair up so no one is left out. And her backyard is always full of kids, even though they have far from the fanciest swingset in the neighborhood.

“We have a critical mass. Kids in the neighborhood would want to come here because it’s an immediate party,” she said.

For her and her husband, going from one child to two was a big adjustment; transitioning from two to three, “you’re outnumbered,” and adding a fourth child was “not as big a jump.”

She says she keeps stress at bay by staying organized, connecting with other moms, cultivating good babysitters, relying on her husband – and of course, not taking life too seriously, even in the midst of teenage drama.

“We laugh a lot,” Flynn said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

Read more about the results of the Mom Stress survey all this week on TODAY Moms. “Like” us on Facebook to get updates and tips on how to stress less.

by on May. 9, 2013 at 10:32 AM
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Replies (1-10):
Vertical15
by on May. 9, 2013 at 10:34 AM

I've always said I want five.  Now that we have three (and I am stressed!) I'm not sure.  We need a bigger car and a bigger house to have more comfortably and while we want to move anyway, its not going to happen for a while and so we are rather unsure if we will have one more let alone two.

sukainah
by on May. 9, 2013 at 11:14 AM
1 mom liked this

I always wanted 2 and that's how many I have.

TigerofMu
by on May. 9, 2013 at 11:40 AM

I'll be happy with as many as God gives us, but at this point that appears to be 6.  I agree that three is the most stressful, because someone is always left out.  The older two have already formed their bond (or the younger two form an instantaneous bond as in the case of twins), and there is always one on the fringe.  Once you get four or more, it is easier, except for when it comes to vehicles and hotel rooms...those are a royal pain!

Vertical15
by on May. 9, 2013 at 12:14 PM
1 mom liked this

 I agree about the vehicles and hotel rooms!  Or just traveling in general beyond the front door!

Quoting TigerofMu:

I'll be happy with as many as God gives us, but at this point that appears to be 6.  I agree that three is the most stressful, because someone is always left out.  The older two have already formed their bond (or the younger two form an instantaneous bond as in the case of twins), and there is always one on the fringe.  Once you get four or more, it is easier, except for when it comes to vehicles and hotel rooms...those are a royal pain!


 

TigerofMu
by on May. 9, 2013 at 12:50 PM

yes!  Most hotel rooms have a max occupancy of 5, and that's with a rollaway.  It's a challenge, though more hotels are starting to cater to families with suites and "family" rooms, but they are expensive.  I really like the ones that have two rooms, so DH and I can have our own room.

Quoting Vertical15:

 I agree about the vehicles and hotel rooms!  Or just traveling in general beyond the front door!

Quoting TigerofMu:

I'll be happy with as many as God gives us, but at this point that appears to be 6.  I agree that three is the most stressful, because someone is always left out.  The older two have already formed their bond (or the younger two form an instantaneous bond as in the case of twins), and there is always one on the fringe.  Once you get four or more, it is easier, except for when it comes to vehicles and hotel rooms...those are a royal pain!




EthansMomma2010
by on May. 9, 2013 at 1:26 PM

 i wanted a large family, but not all biological. i'm an only child and dh only has 2 half sisters and we always said we didn't want large age gaps or an only child. at the moment we are stuck with just one child because we are too young to adopt and can't get pregnant. we plan to adopt a child close to ethan's age first and then work on adopting more children. idk if we will every try again for a biological child though.

seems normal to me that 3 would be stressful. nothing is even!!! that would drive me insane. lol

cafemochaplease
by on May. 9, 2013 at 2:29 PM
1 mom liked this

Great question, Vertical15! We always said we wanted "2 or 3". Now that we have 2, we're staying with 2!

loveTHEviking
by on May. 9, 2013 at 2:32 PM
1 mom liked this

I have 2 boys & that's enough for me!

mamamedic69
by Deanna on May. 9, 2013 at 8:54 PM

I have 2 right now but they are so far apart that it's like I have two only children. I would love one more. I will have three but only two living at home.

collinsmommy0
by on May. 9, 2013 at 10:05 PM
Lol. I totally want 3 kids!

We are stopping at 2. If we have 3, then it will be a 'whoops' but a happy whoops!

Seriously, though, in our area - Silicon Valley - it's really tough to have 3. Hardly anyone has SUVs or minivans so bigger parking spaces basically don't exist.
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