It would be easy to assume that “more kids = more stress” is an accurate assumption. And to a point, that belief stands correct. However, according to People and Today, the moms who experience the highest levels of parental stress aren’t those with a “Brady Bunch”-sized brood. Rather, moms with 3 kids report more anxiety than any others.
There’s a pretty simple reason why moms with 4+ kids don’t stress quite as much as their 3-kid counterparts: there just isn’t enough time in the day. Psychiatrist Dr. Janet Taylor told Today that “there’s 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. You have to let go… and then you’re just thankful when they all get to school on time.”
While surveying the 7,000+ mothers who participated in Today’s study about mom stress, Dr. Taylor noticed a significant uptick in anxiety from expectant moms pregnant with their third children, especially in comparison with moms expecting their second kids. Essentially, the survey revealed a level playing field of stress for moms with one or two kids, a drastic difference once a third kid enters the equation, and a major drop-off once the fourth arrives.
What’s behind all this maternal stress? Of course, the answer differs for every person, but the survey indicated money as a major stressor, along with a lack of hours in the day and (unfortunately) a lack of support from their partners. Interestingly, the Today study suggested that 60% of surveyed moms felt more anxiety over their female children than over their male kids. Considering the political landscape surrounding women these days, this is — regrettably — hardly a shock.