Three is most stressful number of kids to have

Family with three kids

Being a parent is equal parts incredible and maddening, all wrapped up into little humans that rule the roost. And now mums have revealed what they think is the most stressful number of children to have, as well as what else makes them tear their hair out.

While most mums will tell you that each age and stage of parenthood comes with its fair share of stresses, they insist having three children is the tipping point.

Third time’s a charm? Apparently not if you’re mum

Three kids camping

A survey of more than 7000 mums by TODAY Parents found that their stress peaks when they have their third bub. It showed that mums of three stress more than mums of one or two – and those with four or more kids actually reported lower stress levels.

But it’s not just the number of kids that’s stressing mums out – the survey reported that on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the most stressed, the average mum was at an 8.5. Things like money worries, work-life balance and even their partners are adding to the stress on mums’ shoulders.

Almost half of the mums surveyed said their partner caused them more stress than their kids. Almost three-quarters of mums stress about how stressed they are, and the biggest cause of stress is not having enough hours in the day to get everything done. Interestingly, 60 per cent of the mums said raising girls is more stressful than raising boys.

Psychiatrist Dr Janet Taylor told TODAY Parents that self-care is sorely lacking in motherhood.

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

And as for four kids being less stressful than three – Dr Taylor is herself a mum of four and agrees with the survey results.

“There’s just not enough space in your head for perfectionism when you get to four or more kids,” she said.

Want to know how to make life with three tots easier? Here are some great tips for parenting trios:

If you want to compare notes with other mums who have one, two, three or more kiddos, head into our closed pregnancy and baby groups. There’s always a kind ear and advice, any time day or night.

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