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Having 4 kids is less stressful than having 3, survey finds

By Devon Dolan  |  Posted May 8th, 2013 @ 8:37am


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SANDY — Being a mom with any number of kids can be stressful, but a new survey shows having three children is more overwhelming than having four, or even five.

In a survey of more than 7,000 U.S. mothers, todaymoms.com found that mothers with four or more children report lower stress levels than those with fewer children. They dubbed it the "Duggar effect."

Andrea Lewis, a mother of eight who lives in Sandy, said it was when she had her third child that she became completely overwhelmed.

"The third baby came and all of the sudden we were outnumbered as parents," she said.

But with the fourth, fifth and even eighth child, her perspective changed. Her parenting style is now more easygoing.

Julie Hanks is a licensed therapist at Wasatch Family Therapy and often works with stressed mothers. She said by the fourth child, it's impossible to keep a constant watch and have a clean house.

TODAYMoms.com survey results
  • 46 percent of moms said husbands/partners cause them more stress than their kids
  • 72 percent of moms stress about how stressed they are
  • 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
  • 9 of 10 moms stress about staying fit and attractive

Source: TODAYMoms.com

"You can still have pretty high expectations of yourself with three, but by the time you get to four it's like you have to let something go," Hanks said.

Lewis said her parenting style changed once she had her fourth child. She used to get frustrated when one of her kids would write on the wall, but now she's taking a different approach.

"I could teach and teach the 2- and 3-year-old, ‘We don't write on walls, here's some paper,' " she said. "But really it's going to pass. Whether I teach them or not, it's going to pass."

The survey also revealed that on a scale of 1-10 with 10 being the most stressed, the average mom put herself at 8.5. However, the root cause of stress isn't always just their kids. Moms cited husbands, staying fit, lack of time and even stressing about how stressed they are as reasons as well.

In fact, 46 percent of the women surveyed said their husband or partners caused them more stress than kids.

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