Everyone wants the “perfect” number of kids. We want the best for the kids, the best for us as parents, and maybe just a little bit of that vision of the perfect, happy family sitting around the dinner table. But what is that magic number?
When I had my second little one, some moms would ask if we would have another. “You know, going from one to two kids is the hardest. After that, having three is no big deal,” says the mommy who suspiciously only has two kids but still has this knowledge. But this was not the first time that I had heard this “fact”.
Mommy Myth: Having two kids is more stressful than having three.
So I started thinking, would it actually be easier to have three kids? I mean, going from one to two was pretty crazy. But I’ve figured out how to change a diaper with one hand while wrestling a sharpie away from the toddler with the other. If there was another baby, the older two could keep each other entertained. It sounded like it could be right. I had some research to do…
If you read the much-publicized results of a survey done by TodayMoms.com this past May, you would have to think that the “two is harder than three” myth was just that – a myth. The survey of 7,000 moms found that three children was the most stressful to have. Moms of two or even four kids reported lower stress levels. (Interestingly, the average stress level for all moms was 8/10. But I’d believe it!)
So, is that the end of the story then? Having three is the most stressful? Of course, it’s not that easy.
A survey of 2,116 families in the U.K. in 2011 had different results. They determined that having four children, specifically four girls, was the most stressful number of kids. It stated that having four little ones, regardless of the gender combination, was more stressful than three in every case. This was different than the more recent findings. However, those involved in this survey still insisted that three kids are more challenging than two, seemingly busting the “two is easier than three” myth.
So, where does that leave us? Basically, no one can say what the least stressful number is for your family because everyone is different. Every family is different, every child is different, and every parent is different. Having two kids when they are less than two years apart with one with medical problems could be way more stressful than a family with three children, each five years apart and healthy. Or maybe it wouldn’t be. That’s the point. It’s too subjective.
It’s fun to read the results of the surveys, but they really mean nothing to you as a parent. You have to figure out what works for your family. This is one myth that research just can’t debunk.
What do you think is the most stressful number of kids to have?