Thursday, May 30, 2013


A new survey says that three is the most stressful number of kids a mum can have.

I can certainly attest to that.

When I was pregnant with my third, someone warned me that the third wasn't just an extra little person around the house, it was more like adding 10 extra people.

Oh how I laughed. I thought it was a funny thing to say.

Once Lorcan The Fierce arrived into my life and my workload increased 10-fold because of the bloody clothes that need washing [Drowning in a sea of clothes], the floors that needed sweeping, the bums that needed wiping and the pacifying that needed doing of the other two when they tried to compete for mummy's attention [The torture of kids], I knew exactly what the fella with the 10 extra kids comment meant.


And so it was with a wry smile that I read this survey from which confirmed my belief that having three kids is the hardest number of kids for stress levels. Big familes always say that their older kids help out with the younger kids, but when they're all very young (mine were effectively 3 under 3), and you're breastfeeding, nobody can help; it's just bonkers.
On a scale of 1-10, with 10 being the most stressed, the average mum of 3 in the survey said she was 8.5, which is pretty damn high.
Mothers of four or more children actually reported lower stress levels because once you get to a certain critical mass of kids, you let things wash over you more and stop battling for that all elusive control.
Many mums say that going from three to four is an easier transition than going from two to three kids. Because once you have chaos as your norm, you've raised your game and you expect nothing less than chaos all the time. [My chaos crew]
When you have two, you try to manage it, you still have some semblance of control and you try to steer away from chaos.
My big thing was that once no3 burst into our world, the adults in our house were outnumbered by kids.

I survived by meeting up with other mums and bemoaning my situation. Arranging playdate swaps. Blogging. Taking some breathing space for me. Getting the big two to school/playschool. Calling on the invaluable help of grandparents who adore little Lorci. Encouraging daddy to help with chores and kiddie duties. But mostly I stopped being hard on myself if I didn't get to do things that I wanted, and I tried not to take life too seriously, even in the middle of meldowns and bad behaviour.
Here’s my advice if you’re thinking of having a 3rd: Forget about reading a book or a newspaper, keeping the house nice or doing any exercise (make friends with your wobbly belly), when you have 3 it’s all about survival and you're lucky if you have a shower every other day.
You have to let go a bit… to say "it doesn't matter"... you have to be willing to turn a blind eye sometimes... you have to choose your battles or the kids will grind you down… and you have to brace yourself for World War 3 at any given moment in time.
And yes, now there's something quite fuzzy and satisfying in my soul because I survived my first couple of years of parenting three young children.
Here’s the full list of what stressed mums out in the survey:
Money worries, balancing the demands of work and home, feeling like their husbands are sometimes just another big kid demanding attention, and beating themselves up over not being the perfect mum.
A staggering 75 percent of mothers said they stress more about the pressure they put on themselves to be “perfect” than they do the pressure or judgement they get from other mums.
•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. Oh yes I know that feeling. My 3 year old Diva
•Nine out of 10 moms stress about staying fit and attractive. Nah, I gave up on that a long time ago!
For me, my stress causes are:

  • Screaming – my 3rd had silent reflux as a baby and was very angry with it.

  • Lack of sleep

  • Playing up/attention-seeking behaviour from the other two

  • Not having enough hands

  • Choosing which one to chase after when they run off in different directions
This blog post is for my friend Vicki who is expecting her third child at the end of this year. She won’t know what’s hit her!
Also for my cousin Sally who has four children. I remember her words when they visited us in Cork after I’d had my second child: “It’s always a party with four”. Looking forward to combining our 7 kids for a 'party' in Wales in July.

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1 comment:

  1. It is very true. Three can seem like 13 but before you know it your eldest will be in college, your middle child about to start and it will just be you and your youngest at home. At the point you will wonder where the time went!
    Enjoy now. It really doesn't seem to last very long (although I appreciate when you are going through it, it seems to never end...) and I remember someone telling me the same thing 15 years ago when my number three was growing in me. Now its all girlfriends and xbox.


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