2.06.2014

My Prediction on How Stressful Three Kids Will Be

I'm sure a lot of you have read this article by now, as I've seen it circulate through Facebook a few times. Apparently Today.com surveyed over 7,000 US moms and the results tell us that moms with three kids are more stressed out that moms with four kids. Here is an interesting quote:

"The study found that while transitioning from two to three children is overwhelming for parents because it means they are outnumbered, mothers tend to 'let go' once they reach four children."


So they are saying we need to have four kids to 'let go' and be less stressed? I'm sorry, but I don't buy it.   I realize that I don't actually have three kids yet and maybe I will eat my words some day, but I can assure you that I'm not going into this assuming it will be easy. There will be stress, sure. There was also stress as a new mom to my only child. And again when we transitioned to two children. I understand that having three kids means you are 'outnumbered' and the defense switches from man on man to zone. Three kids means a lot of 'needs' that will rest squarely on my shoulders (and my husband's, and our 'village' that is here along with us). But my bottom line is that how can one generalize to say that 'three kids is the hardest number' when there are so many unique factors to consider?


Doesn't it depend on the kid? I hear that there are mythical babies out there who sleep through the night at 6 weeks. I simply cannot imagine what life would be like to get solid sleep before the year mark of a baby's life. Some babies have colic, some babies are seriously ill, some are needy and have 'intense' personalities. Some don't sleep (mine). Some babies are really challenging when it comes to getting them to eat and gain wait. Let's say you have one of these difficult personality traits in a baby, but he's your first child. Don't you think that this mom would say that 'ONE CHILD IS SO HARD!' ? Or what if you have an 'easy' baby the first time around and then payback comes with number two? Pretty sure that mom would say, 'HOLY COW, HAVING TWO KIDS IS STRESSFUL!' And that is ok! Mad props to all moms with any number of children, no matter how easy or hard they may be. It's hard and it's different and it's also wonderful, if you ask me. I think it's more about each individual child and their challenges versus some 'critical mass' number of children that is 'hardest'. Isn't the concept of stress a thing that is in the eye of the beholder? It's really very subjective and personal.


This brings up a thought that has been swirling in my head for a bit, one that I might also mention in an upcoming blog post about the 'best advice' I've received. I believe that people are as happy as they make their minds up to be---a quote I've had written in my high school 'quote book' for years now. Some people will be miserable and negative and stressed and will try to bring other people down along with them with their complaints. And trust me, we ALL have those moments---but I'm talking about the general mindset of people, not just a bad day here or there. There are simply the 'woe is me' people of the world who never seem to snap out of it, right? 


I also think that some of the most positive, optimistic, and laid back people in the world also happen to have intense challenges in their lives. They have major stresses, too. But it's all in how you handle it. Have you noticed that those who are dealt really crappy cards in life (cancer, the loss of a loved one, serious illness in the family, financial difficulties, etc. ) can also be the ones that seem to handle it with grace? I guess it's one of the times when the cliche 'God won't give you more than you can handle' rings true. Again, I'm not saying that anyone with heartbreaking circumstances doesn't deserve to complain and feel badly about their situation. They do! But I also believe we can control our reaction to events, but we cannot control what happens to us in life. 


Why can't we make a conscious decision, as mothers with three children, to 'let go' right now? Why does it have to take a fourth child to learn that lesson? The article clearly states that mothers stress more about the pressure they put on themselves versus the pressure they feel from others. Isn't that another can of worms in the world of moms? I think we are all our own worst critics. 


Maybe those 7,000 moms who were interviewed for the survey are right in that three kids is the 'most stressful' number. But I just don't agree with generalizing that ALL moms of three kids are the 'most stressed' moms. I think it depends on the mom and the kids and all of the complex circumstances around their lives.


So my prediction on how stressful three kids will be for me? No clue. Probably hard but not impossible. It depends on what type of child we are given this time around, so what is the point of speculating before it happens? There will be an adjustment period, a learning curve, some low points and hopefully even more high points of having three children. I can't promise that I'll never be stressed out or have my whiny posts on this blog at times, but I can promise to focus on the positive as much as humanly possible. I realize how quickly these little kid years will pass, I realize how blessed we are to have two-going-on-three kids. The other day-to-day stresses in life really need to take a back burner to the bigger picture of priorities. Less stress. More laughter and sarcasm. 


There will be wine at that point, too, which will surely help;) Maybe those 7,000 moms aren't big drinkers? 


Time to insert a random picture of my kids that must be included in a post with so many words. The caption: I 'only' have two kids right now so I should save all of my stress for when there is another one of these guys posing for the camera, I guess. My kids are not perfect and definitely have their challenging STRESSFUL moments…but they sure are cute;) Plus, Nate says we are NOT having four so I better get used to the stress level of three at some point!


Untitled

20 comments:

  1. Holy crap love these words! From a mama whose kids don't sleep and a little man who tried not to grow - being a mom is hard. Period. It's also the best thing in the world. Mike and I were joking that the moms moms who were happy with three - most likely were now those happy moms with four so they didn't count. And that most of the miserable moms were miserable at two kids - three just compounded the sorrows. You're gonna rock this three thing.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Exactly, Nessa---you nailed it with your thoughts on the moms with three kids who were also stressed at two, and those with four who were also NOT stressed with three. Very well said. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  3. That article is bull. Also, "the transition from 1 to 2 was easy breezy"? Shut up. I really hate when anyone says that ANY number of kids is the "right" number to have. Just have however many kids YOU want. And the idea that you magically stop caring about baby-proofing after kid #4? Um really, does anyone truly baby-proof after kid #1? (Ok we didn't even do that). I do not want another kid, but I really don't think I'd be that scared about the actual logistics of parenting another one - more so the logistics of life and needing a new car, childcare, etc. Parenting - eh, whatever. I also don't particularly care if a kid is crying because I'm not tending to their needs immediately so I'm sure that would help ;) I'm 100% certain that you'll love life with 3 (most of the time, obviously, not every moment) - just because you LOVE LIFE ANYWAY!!!!! Downers will be downers no matter what.

    ReplyDelete
  4. With about 2 weeks to go until we meet our baby #3, I'm so glad to have read this. I know there will be stressful times and adjustments, but I agree it doesn't have to be "the worst number." I plan to enjoy the high points and repeat the phrase "this too shall pass."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One of my favorite phrases of all times.

      Delete
  5. I totally agree. It 100% depends on the kids and the parent's attitude. I have awesome kids. I find 2 kids easy 75 percent of the time. I welcome a third. And I hope that third child is as easy going as my other 2, and maybe a better sleeper. But I have low expectations. I expect to have broken sleep for the next 2 years or more of my life. I expect to probably never eat out once the third child is mobile. I know I might not want to wrangle 3 kids on my own in public....ever. I might have a filthy house that people don't want to come into (hope not!). I might NEED to put Henry in preschool (something I vowed as a SAHM never to do). But maybe? Maybe none of that will happen. Expect the worst and hope for the best. I find parents' with high expectations of what their baby will be like are the ones who feel overwhelmed and stressed. No matter what number baby that is.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I could have four Caseys and be the least stressed mom on the block.... one Summer is all I can handle, most days.

    I agree that there are way too many variables to make statements like that. And I also think you guys will do awesome! Are you finding out what you're having this time?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Micaela--we will find out in less than 2 weeks! Feb 18 to be exact. And agree that girls and maybe second borns can be more...spunky than their big brothers ;)

      Delete
  7. I'm in a really bad mood after reading that article. I for sure thought 1-2 was harder than 2-3. And to me it's not at all being outnumbered that stresses me out but just the baby/toddler phases that are the most difficult.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I totally agree with this. I think so much has to do with the attitude of the person. And honestly, 0 to 1 was WAY harder than 1 to 2, mostly because I'd relaxed so much by the second time around. And I can imagine that will be even more magnified with the transition from 2 to 3. Sure, it will be hard at times, but what isn't? 1 was hard sometimes, 2 is hard sometimes...and honestly, the moms I know of 5 or 6 are WAY more stress free than the moms of 1 or 2. So I think your level of letting go is directly related to the number of kids. Ha!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Ha! I read that article too. Honestly though, as someone who really did find the jump to 3 children MUCH more challenging than the change from 1 to 2 kids, I found a sense in relief while reading it. I'm not alone! Three kids is hard and other moms out there feel like it's hard too - phew!
    I am a very positive person with a cheery outlook on life in general and I absolutely ADORE my children and thank my lucky stars for having each and every one of them, but after Walker was born, for the first time in my life, I felt truly stretched thin. Being a mother - the best mother I can be- to my children is the my #1 priority in life right now. It's my job. And for a bit there, I wasn't able to mother in the way I wanted to because I was feeling overwhelmed by the needs of my little people. I read that article at just the right time. I don't like to dwell on the negative, but sometimes it's nice to know your in good company, you know? And heck, even though I found the transition to 3 kids challenging, it doesn't mean I wouldn't have a 4th! I jokingly sent the article to my husband after reading it telling him that a 4th is what we need ;)
    I am sure you will totally ROCK having 3 kids and hopefully even be blessed with a good sleeper this time around (fingers crossed!). But if you ever have moments where you feel like there just isn't enough of you to go around and you need to vent - I'm your girl! Solidarity, sister! I've been there and it's tough, but it's just a season, like anything else. And sometimes knowing that other moms have walked a mile in your shoes and made it out the other side still in tact is all the reassurance you need to get through those stressful moments. I think that's why this article really resonated with me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, girl. Hugs. I know having 3 was a rough transition for you at first and I'm sure I WILL feel stretched to thin at times with one more. But I know you've said it before, wasn't Walker just a tougher baby IN GENERAL? Your girls were great sleepers and he just wasn't, right? I feel like that is another one of my points that it depends on the BABY and not simply the number of kids you have, related to stress. Maybe #4 for you will be a great sleeper and therefore the transition will be great!

      I will definitely have my moments with three, for sure. I've had them with my other two horrible sleepers, too. But I do think going in with 'low standards' helps---I know I probably won't sleep for a good year, I won't have enough hands to help, the older kids will have to fend for themselves a bit more than I'd like. I might still be surprised by how HARD it is, but I already have it built up in my head to be a huge transition. Maybe it won't be as bad as I think but we will see. Either way I will get through it, like you have, and hopefully won't ALWAYS rate my stress as 8.5/10 like these moms said on the survey. It doesn't seem like you would rate yourself that high right now, either, now that the sleep issues are better and routines are better!

      Hugs!

      Delete
    2. That's true, Walker has definitely been our most challenging baby. And there were/are certainly moments where my stress level has approached the 8.5 mark, but I would not say that is my average stress level. Life has been far to good to us to be that stressed out. I like to save my stress for the big stuff ;) God forbid we ever face the big stuff.
      Having a 3rd child is definitely a game changer, I have yet to meet anyone who says differently, but there really are WAY more amazingly wonderful aspects to having 3 kids than bad :)
      Have you read this piece yet?!
      http://shortwinded.net/so-you-would-like-to-have-three-children/

      I laughed and cried through the whole thing. "Having three kids is not “kind of like having two kids, but with more Christmas presents.” It is a whole other universe, a universe that is just as shocking as that transition to having your first child, only also a universe that’s kind of like running a marathon and hitting a wall and then being handed some bricks to carry while you run the last 7 miles." Hahaha - yup that about sums it up :)
      Seriously though, as crazy as life with 3 is, I wouldn't trade it for the world and I love every second with my precious babes :)

      Delete
  10. Good comments Julia! I read that article too and was kind of annoyed - here we are again, trying to compare and figure out "who has it the worst." Ugh. So annoying! I know plenty of people with 1, 2, 3 or even 8 kids (seriously, my neighbor has 8!!) and they all have their stories about what's bad and what is good. You just make it how you have to. From someone that wants 3, maybe 4 kids, I don't really worry about the "perfect" number of kids. Obviously, we don't want 4 kids just because it's "easier" than 3, we want four because that's how many feels right for our family. I really hate articles like this in general, along the same lines of that one about a year ago "don't call my daughter pretty," just annoying and so much negativity! There's enough struggles deep in the trenches with babies and toddlers anyways, I would prefer to keep my outlook sunny and embrace the good moments of having 2, 3, 4.... kids.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hey Julia! It's Emily Feldman. I have to say my 3rd baby was by far my easiest ever!! (and that made it a very smooth transition from 2 to 3 kids) you can do it!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I fully agree that there are far too many variables to each person's situation to say which transition is the hardest or how many children are "the best" or "the easiest." I get that there's a tipping point for each person where you let go, but that VARIES. Because, you know, variables. :)

    ReplyDelete
  13. Good post, J! Obviously so many variables. I pray we will get our easy babies with #3!!! But even if we don't, we will survive. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  14. As a mom of two, I can't really comment on the transition to 3, but it seems like it would HAVE to depend mostly on the personalities of your individual kids! Someone with 3 easy-peasy babies is going to have a totally different experience than someone with 2 very challenging children.

    Where did you find that tower of animals puzzle that T is laying next to in the last photo? It's awesome, and I think H would love it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We have a few of these big floor puzzles---I just checked and the brand name is 'Crocodile Creek'. Maybe Target or Kohl's? Or just check online. Very fun!!

      Delete
  15. Thanks! I coincidentally had another of their puzzles (a 100 piecer, way too challenging for my 2.5 year old!) in my Amazon cart, so I went ahead and bought both. I tried doing a 12-piece Melissa and Doug puzzle with him the day before this one arrived, and he didn't really understand it. But this puzzle came last night, and we played with it this morning - I LOVE it!!! The animals are big enough that it's much easier for him to figure out which pieces are supposed to fit together, and he did really well with it. I'm so happy you happened to post a photo of it, because I doubt I would ever have randomly found it on my own!

    (I was logged in under the wrong account - my private, journalish blog - when I commented originally. Sorry! Also, I hope you don't get this twice, because I got an error the first time I hit publish, so I'm resubmitting).

    ReplyDelete

Thank you for taking the time to comment on my blog! You won't see the comment appear right away, since I have to approve each one of them (darn spammers), but know that I appreciate your thoughts.